The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to raise Carer's Allowance by £1,000 a year, to help support 1,842 carers in Hinckley and Bosworth during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hinckley Liberal Democrat Councillor Michael Mullaney who is supporting the call locally said "I have spoken to many unpaid carers here in Hinckley and Bosworth who are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances. A responsibility made even harder than usual by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our wonderful carers deserve our support, but they are too often forgotten or ignored. I recently met with Lib Dem leader Ed Davey on Zoom to discuss the carers campaign and set out how it would benefit the many hard-working carers, caring for people here in Hinckley and Bosworth.
"Liberal Democrats will stand up for carers and lead the way to a more caring society."
The party's leader, Ed Davey, who has promised to "be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country", has written to the Prime Minister urging him to recognise the "challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus."
The Liberal Democrat proposals centre around increasing Carer's Allowance from its current rate of £67.25 a week to £87.25, in line with the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit announced at the start of the pandemic.
The latest government figures show that 1,167 unpaid carers in Hinckley and Bosworth currently receive Carer's Allowance.
However, the Liberal Democrats are also calling for the 675 local people who are entitled to Carer's Allowance but do not receive it due to overlapping benefits - mostly older carers on low incomes - to be given the extra £20 a week as well.
Launching the campaign, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
"Unpaid carers face big challenges every single day; challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus.
"Many carers are facing extreme financial hardship. They have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for.
"So Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to support carers by raising Carer's Allowance by £1,000 a year, now."
Local statistics on the number of claimants eligible for and receiving Carer's Allowance in May 2020 are available from stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk.
Full text of Ed Davey's letter to the Prime Minister:
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to follow up my question to you about Carer's Allowance in the House of Commons on Monday 2nd November, as you indicated you would get back to me.
Thank you for your commitment to look at my proposal to raise Carer's Allowance by £20 a week, in line with the uplift in Universal Credit. I would like to set out the case in more detail here.
Unpaid carers are doing a remarkable and important job in very difficult circumstances. They deserve our support.
Carers face big challenges every single day - challenges that have been made even harder by coronavirus. A recent survey of more than 5,000 carers by Carers UK found that most are having to spend more time looking after loved ones during this pandemic. Most haven't been able to take a single break since it started. Most are simply exhausted.
On top of all this, many carers are facing extreme financial hardship. More than 900,000 full-time unpaid carers rely on Carer's Allowance - but at just £67.25 a week, it's just not nearly enough.
Indeed, the survey found that more than a third of those on Carer's Allowance are struggling just to make ends meet. Many have been struggling for months, often relying on foodbanks to feed themselves and the people they care for. Carers UK found that "43% of carers felt that a rise in Carer's Allowance would help them, given the financial pressures they are facing."
So, on behalf of these carers, I urge you to support unpaid carers by immediately raising Carer's Allowance by £20 a week, the same as the uplift in Universal Credit.
I understand that 75 carers organisations have also written to the Work and Pensions Secretary and the Chancellor calling for an increase in Carer's Allowance through an additional supplement. They also call for accompanying rises in Carer Premium and Carer Addition, and an equivalent payment to be made to carers with an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance, so older carers on low incomes also receive it.
I urge you to implement these policies, as well as their proposal that payments should be backdated to recognise the incredible contributions of unpaid carers - and the extra challenges they have faced - during this pandemic.
In addition, the organisations call for the earnings limit for eligibility for Carer's Allowance to be raised from £128 a week to at least £139.52, so that more carers can benefit from it. Liberal Democrats have long been calling for the earnings limit to be raised, so I urge you to do that as well.
I am sure you will agree that we must do far more to support our wonderful carers, and build a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.
I look forward to your response.
Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats