Carers UK warns of an increasing financial strain on unpaid carers in advance of an anticipated hike in the energy price cap.
On Friday, August 26, 2022, Ofgem, the British government agency that regulates the electricity and gas markets, is anticipated to announce another rise to the energy price cap.
The cap was increased by 54% in April, resulting in an annual increase of £693 for 22 million families.
This coming Friday, Ofgem is anticipated to announce a second price rise, effective 1 October.
Due to their limited ability to make a living and their inability to reduce expenses without jeopardising the safety of the person they care for, unpaid caregivers are particularly sensitive to all forms of escalating costs.
Unpaid relatives who care for elderly, disabled, or severely sick family members are consequently highly concerned about the consequences.
Carers UK’s Under Pressure: Caring and the Cost of Living Crisis study, released in March 2022, discovered:
- 45% of caregivers said that they could not pay their monthly expenses.
- The percentage of caregivers concerned about their ability to pay their bills has increased from 21% to 55%.
- 49% of caregivers relied on savings, 26% utilised credit cards, and 14% utilised bank overdrafts.
- 58% of individuals were reducing their heating usage to manage their budget, and 14% had already fallen behind on their utility payments.
- 83% of caregivers were concerned or highly concerned about their ability to handle their monthly expenses if costs continue to rise.
Since March, the impact of increased prices on many caregivers has grown substantially.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “We know that thousands of unpaid carers on lower incomes – especially those providing round the clock care – were already worried sick about the expected increases to energy costs back in March, and how they would manage. Things have got much more difficult since then.
“As it is, nearly half of carers are already unable to manage their monthly expenses – cutting back on essentials, using savings or taking out credit cards to keep the person their care for warm and healthy.
“Some have no way of meeting the rising costs and face extremely difficult decisions that are keeping them up at night.
“The Government must take urgent action for carers specifically, ensuring those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance are included in the extension of the Warm Home Discount scheme, and receive targeted financial support with energy bills.
Those unpaid carers providing 35 hours or more of care each week also need the Government to address the rate of Carer’s Allowance, just £69.70 a week, which sees their limited support falling behind inflation.
“Without targeted support, too many carers and the people they care for will be pushed further into poverty, impacting their quality of life and that of the people they care for.”