Unpaid carer ineligible for £500 Welsh Government support as she earns £25 too much

Ed Davey presses Boris Johnson on Carer's Allowance

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The Welsh Government announced the £500 payment in March, in recognition of the vital role unpaid carers undertook during the pandemic. However, a woman looking after her disabled daughter is ineligible for both the £500 and Carer’s Allowance payments as she earns just £25 over the threshold.

The criteria for the Welsh payment is that an unpaid carer must be claiming Carer’s Allowance in order to receive it. 

Carer’s Allowance in turn has an earnings threshold that has not been increased in light of inflation nor the national living wage increase. 

To be eligible, carers cannot earn more than £132 per week, but Nicola Jones says she earns just £25 too much and is immediately disqualified for both payments. 

She told Wales Online: “There are family members caring for a loved one that can’t claim and they’re missing out and yet they’re still doing what somebody on carers allowance is doing.”

Ms Jones has been caring for her daughter Amara since she was born. 

She explained that Amara had a twin who was stillborn and starved her of oxygen. 

Due to this Amara has a developmental delay, cerebral palsy, vision impairments and epilepsy. 

She also cannot talk and is incontinent, all together resulting in “a lot of complex needs” which Ms Jones has to meet. 

To be eligible for Carer’s Allowance, carers must spend a minimum of 35 hours per week carrying out caring duties. 

While it does not have an exact limit on the amount of hours carers can work outside of these duties, it does limit the income they can receive. 

As this threshold has not risen in line with the national living wage increase this month, it will see unpaid carers having to cut their hours back or potentially lose Carer’s Allowance altogether. 

Previously, unpaid carers could work 14.36 hours per week without breaching the threshold, now they can only work a maximum of 13.89 hours. 

Ms Jones works part time in a school, with her wages breaching the threshold by just £25, but she has noted that it is not just money that keeps her at work. 

She said: “Outside of work I don’t socialize, only when we have respite. We’ve got friends and everything, but Amara comes first, she’s always come first on it. You know, I’ve given up jobs in the past for her. I used to work for the ambulance service when she was a lot younger. 

“I couldn’t get any childcare for her as she got older, so I gave up that job. I was off work for six months then one of her nurses offered me a position as a one to one for a child in a school. 

“And that was back in 2003. And I’ve been in the school ever since.”

Ms Jones lamented that so many people like her are missing out on the £500 payment, and believes that the Welsh Government should expand the eligibility. 

She also explained the toll that rising costs are taking especially with the likes of electricity and energy due to Amara’s much-needed medical equipment. 

She said: “We’ve got a three floor lift and we have an air mattress. So that’s an added cost to our electricity bill. 

“Currently I am on a fixed rate so I pay £124 pound a month. When I renew it will go up to £300 pound a month.”

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