Recognition and support must go hand in hand for unpaid carers | Social care


It’s with pleasure we feature the latest guest blog from Tony Hunter, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). As part of our call for evidence coverage, he explains why i

Source: Recognition and support must go hand in hand for unpaid carers | Social care

Family carers; How they are not recognised


Family carers in the UK are saving this country millions.

Carers Allowance

An immediate family carer can receive £58.45 to care for a family member, provided :
You look after someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit.
You look after that person for at least 35 hours a week.
You are aged 16 or over.
You are not in full-time education.
You earn £100 a week or less (after deductions).
You satisfy UK presence and residence conditions.

The minimum wage is :
2012 (current rate)

Year 21 and over £6.19
18 to 20 £4.98
Under 18 £3.68
Apprentice* £2.65

So to compare for a 35 hour week

Carers allowance for over 16 years £58.45
Minimum wage for under 18 years £128.80
Minimum wage is 21 or over £216.65

The Carers Allowance is not a payment for looking after your disabled relation, but a benefit for giving at least 35 hours per week to look after the relative. Mostly the carers will give up their normal employment to do this, but are allowed to earn £100.00 a week less deductions..

Both the Carers Allowance and Minimum Wage are taxable.

Whether you are taxed is dependent on your total income with regards to your tax free allowance currently for someone under 65

Personal Allowance 
2012-13 tax year
Basic £8,105
Income limit £100,000

As the Carers Allowance is technically a payment for giving up your paid employment, when you reach retirement age and you receive your pension from the State, the Carers Allowance is no longer paid to you, but you still retain the right to receive it. So if a younger member of the family wishes to take on the responsibility of Carer, the permission of the original carer needs to be obtained before the benefit can be passed on.

So in effect for at least providing 35 hours per week care, a carer is not receiving the minimum wage. When you take into account there are 168 hours per week and normally the working week is no more than 36 hours or at least 48 hours, according to the Working Time Directive, there are 120 hours per week provided by a carer, assuming the disabled person requires 24/7 care, which on an over 21 years minimum wage is £742.80, a discrepancy of £684.35 owed to a 24/7 carer.

While it is not Slavery, as this was abolish in 1833, from which no payment was given, it is something.

What it is, is the LOVE that a carer holds for their disabled relative, which is not being considered by this Government or for any previous Governments. The Personal Family Carer is providing a commitment to a responsibility, that is unfortunately lacking in some who are in paid employment.  many people in employment do it just for the money and that is their commitment, how many of these people would do their job for the hourly rate of a Personal Family Carer, which for the minimum of 35 hours is £1.67 per hour and that is the minimum hours for the benefit. When normally this is for up to anything from 35 hours to 168 hours, what a commitment this is for £58.45 per week.

I do realise that it will never be possible to pay a family carer the correct amount, but at least they should be recognised for the service and the cost savings they are bringing to the country.