‘State of Caring in Scotland – The financial impact of caring in 2023’ which presents the results of a survey of over 1,770 unpaid carers shows that those who are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for unpaid carers, have been hit particularly hard by rising prices and the cost-of-living crisis. Four in ten (41%) said that they were struggling to make ends meet and had to cut their expenses to the bone and were falling into debt and arrears as a result.
State of Caring in Scotland 2023
Even more concerningly, the number of unpaid carers on Carer’s Allowance cutting back on essentials continues to grow, more than doubling since 2021. Today, 44% of these carers are cutting back on food and heating versus 22% just two years ago. This has led to one in six (16%) carers on benefits being forced to visit foodbanks.
Worryingly the level of rent or mortgage arrears has rocketed for all carers, with one in six (16%) struggling to meet these costs. With carers ability to increase their incomes restricted by their caring responsibilities, many carers reported fears of losing their homes.
Richard Meade, Director of Carers Scotland said:
“This year’s State of Caring lays bare the devastating financial impact of caring in a cost-of-living crisis on Scotland’s 800,000 unpaid carers.
“Carers have told us about the significant poverty they experience, with rising costs, limited incomes, and the impossible choices they face just to make ends meet.
“Substantial numbers of unpaid carers are floundering and can see no end to the current financial storm. Governments and public authorities must act now, not just to prevent further crisis, but to give unpaid carers any hope of a brighter future.”
Carers Scotland has produced a series of recommendations including urging that hardship funding should be made available this winter to help protect carers from poverty.
The charity also urges the Scottish Government to move forward at pace with their introduction of the Carer Support Payment, which will replace Carer’s Allowance in Scotland. This will for the first time allow carers who are in full time education to receive the benefit, but a clear timeline needs to be laid out as to when more significant changes to the benefit will be introduced.
Carer’s Allowance is money to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs. Carer’s Allowance Supplement is an extra payment for people in Scotland who get Carer’s Allowance on a particular date.
The Scottish Government has announced that the new Carer Support Payment will open for applications in pilot areas from November 2023, subject to parliamentary approval of regulations setting out rules and eligibility.
Adults living in Perth and Kinross, Dundee City and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, will be the first to be able to apply ahead of phased national rollout from Spring 2024. The benefit will be available nationally by Autumn 2024.
Shirley Anne Somerville, Social Justice Secretary in the Scottish Government said:
“This change and the delivery of Carer Support Payment will be a key milestone in our ongoing work to improve support for unpaid carers, and we are committed to further changes to make the benefit work even better in future.”
Many unpaid carers face a bewildering array of funding arrangements and may not know who to go to for help with rising costs and any payments they may be entitled to. There is a mixture of financial help provided by : UK Government, Scottish Government, Local Authorities and support is available from The Third Sector. When you are already struggling with caring this is a complex system to get your head around.
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The report makes 14 recommendations.