A leading charity is calling on the Tory Government to exempt home carers from the controversial cap on social security benefits.
Carers UK says people who care for elderly and disabled loved-ones, and whom are already “struggling to make to ends meet”, are being “unfairly penalised” by the policy.
The call comes as the Government prepares to respond to a High Court ruling, which found that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against disabled claimants and their carers.
The DWP did not contest the ruling, but Carers UK say families are being “left in limbo” because the Government has yet to implement the ruling. Delays or a failure to comply with the ruling will result in carers facing even greater financial hardship, they say.
The cap on benefits is currently set at £500 a week for couples and single parents whose children live with them, falling to £350 a week for single adults who don’t have children, or whose children don’t live with them. However, this is set to be reduced to £20,000 a year outside London and £23,000 in the capital in April.
There are currently around 1,400 Carers Allowance claimants subject to the benefit cap, but this is likely to rise when the cap is lowered.
Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: “Two months have passed since the High Court ruled that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against disabled people and their carers.
“Whilst the Government considers its position on the ruling, carers continue to be unfairly penalised by this policy.
“The benefit cap places a further strain on the incomes of carers, many of whom are already facing serious financial hardship and struggling to make to ends meet as a result of their caring role.
“People who are providing full-time care to a loved one are finding it near-on impossible to cover the extra costs of the benefit cap.
“Carers contribute so much to society, indeed the value of their support is worth £132 billion to the UK economy every year. Subjecting those who provide unpaid care to the benefit cap is unfair and inconsistent with the Government’s own aim for the policy.
“The DWP must act now to enforce the High Court’s decision and amend legislation to ensure carers are no longer penalised by this unfair policy.”
The Government is facing mounting opposition to the benefit cap. Labour MP Frank Field, who also chairs the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, has written to the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud, calling for parents caring for adult children with a disability to be exempt.
And the House of Lords are about debate an amendment to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which if implemented would exempt those in receipt of Carers Allowance from cap.