This week is Carers Week, a chance to recognise the outstanding work of the millions of people in the UK who provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, older or disabled family member, friend or partner.
But carers do not always get the recognition and support they deserve, with around 1.4 million people providing over 50 hours of unpaid care per week, according to figures in the last census.
And those carers who are eligible for Carer’s Allowance by providing full time care for someone who gets a qualifying disability benefit, often don’t have enough to make ends meet.
That’s why I’m backing the Carers UK ‘Fairer for Carers’ campaign, calling for an increase in Carer’s Allowance in England to reflect the huge amount of work they do.
Carer’s Allowance is currently the lowest benefit of its kind at £64.60 per week, but it is due to increase by £8.50 in Scotland while staying the same in other parts of the UK.
This simply isn’t fair for hardworking carers in St Helens who will receive a lower rate of financial support just because of where they live.
The St Helens Carers Centre estimates there are around 23,000 carers across the borough, with more than a thousand new carers registering with the Centre in the last year alone.
The Government must step up to the plate and address the financial hardship that many carers find themselves in, often because a loved one falls ill or grows old.