Thousands of people receive carer's allowance in Nottingham – amid calls for reform

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Thousands of unpaid carers are receiving benefits in Nottingham, new figures show.

A charity says unpaid carers "need and deserve better" and has called for the whole system to be changed.

Millions of people provide unpaid care to family, friends and loved ones across the country.

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Those providing care for more than 35 hours and earning less than £151 a week are eligible for a carer's allowance – a weekly payment of £81.90.

Thousands of unpaid carers are receiving benefits in NottinghamThousands of unpaid carers are receiving benefits in Nottingham
Thousands of unpaid carers are receiving benefits in Nottingham

Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show there were 6,460 people receiving the benefit in Nottingham as of last summer, the most recent available figures.

A further 1,787 people were judged to be eligible for carer's allowance by the Department for Work and Pensions, but were not claiming it – potentially due to receiving other benefits which disqualify them from it, or receiving a top-up to other benefits instead.

The Government recently revealed 34,500 people across the country had been 'overpaid' the benefit, due to breaching the earnings limit, and have been fined as a result, with some fines reaching tens of thousands of pounds.

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The Carers UK charity has called for the benefit to be reformed, with the earnings limit set at 21 hours of minimum wage work a week – currently £240.24 for those age 21 or over.

Tamara Sandoul, head of policy and public affairs said: "Millions of unpaid cares who are eligible do not apply for Carer’s Allowance. As well as it being a relatively low benefit, as we have seen from various news reports, the risk of running up overpayments may not be worth it."

Census data from 2021 suggests there are 5.7 million unpaid carers across the UK, and 2.1 million people provide at least 35 hours of care a week in England and Wales.

Carer's UK is calling for "wide ranging" reform of the benefit, and wants to see a new, non-means tested payment for carers of state pension age.

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Speaking in Parliament, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said: "Carers often work long hours in very difficult, trying circumstances, and they receive the lowest benefit of the lot."

He praised the work of unpaid carers, adding they save the NHS and the Government billions of pounds.

"Were it not for unpaid family carers or carers who receive the very limited allowance, the NHS would literally fall over," he added.

Across England, nearly one million people were claiming the benefit as of last summer, with a further 400,000 deemed eligible by the DWP.

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Unpaid care is predominantly carried out by women – 71 per cent of recipients of carer's allowance in Nottingham were female.

Across the East Midlands, 76,000 were receiving the benefit last summer, with a further 32,000 eligible for it.

A spokesperson for the DWP said: "We recognise the importance of carers, who play a vital role in our communities, and we keep all of our benefits under constant review.

"From April, Carer’s Allowance increased to £81.90 a week, giving carers around an extra £1,500 a year compared to 2010."

"Carers in low income households may also be eligible for additional financial support such as Universal Credit, or Pension Credit," they added.

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