Carer’s Allowance is an income replacement benefit for people unable to work because they have full-time caring responsibilities. Carer’s Allowance cannot be paid in addition to another income replacement benefit – such as the State Pension – because of the overlapping benefits rule.
If a person eligible for Carer’s Allowance is also in receipt of their State Pension, they will not be paid any Carer’s Allowance if the State Pension is paid at an equivalent or higher rate. If a carer’s State Pension is less than Carer’s Allowance, the State Pension is paid and topped up to the basic rate of Carer’s Allowance, which is currently £64.60 per week. In addition, where Carer’s Allowance cannot be paid, the person will keep underlying entitlement to the benefit, which can make them eligible for additional means-tested benefits such as Pension Credit.
The overlapping benefits rule for Carer’s Allowance is a matter of concern for many people in our area and across the UK. There has been an increase in recent years in the number of people aged over 65 who provide unpaid care to a disabled, seriously ill or older relative or friend. Many older carers are managing their own health problems, support needs and disabilities.
The inclusion of Carer’s Allowance in Overlapping Benefits Regulations is a long-standing policy and has been consistently applied since 1976. The government has not outlined any plans to change this, but I believe we must ensure security and dignity for older people in retirement, which is why I support retaining the triple lock on the basic State Pension. I also believe the government should increase Carer’s Allowance to the level of Jobseeker’s Allowance. Furthermore, improving the quality of social care is a vital part of providing dignity in older age.