Benefits warning: Unpaid carers in danger of missing out on full state pension

Care: Research shows a quarter of UK adults are carers

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New data published by Quilter has shown just 4,759 people claimed carer’s credit as of early December 2021 which counts toward state pension entitlement. Based on these figures, which were acquired via a Freedom of Information Request, it is believed the final tally of carer’s credit claimants by the end of the full year was 5,568. This represents a slight rise from the 5,221 reported in 2020, however it is still 13 percent lower than figures posted before the pandemic crisis.

Claimants are able to receive carer’s credit if they look after someone in need of support for at least 20 hours a week.

As a National Insurance credit, this particular benefit assists people in filling in noticeable gaps in their National Insurance record.

In order for people to receive the full state pension amount, they need to have at least 35 years of National Insurance contributions.

When taking into account someone’s application, the DWP does not consider their income, savings or prior investments when it comes to carer’s credit.

If applicants meet the criteria when it comes to their duties as an unpaid carer, they are eligible.

Some 4.5million additional people have become unpaid carers because of the pandemic, according to Government estimates.

As a result of this, millions of people should be able to access the support provided by carer’s credit to boost their state pension entitlement.

Furthermore, around 9.1million unpaid carers have been looking after people prior to the pandemic.

Olivia Kennedy, a financial planner at Quilter, outlined the situation facing many unpaid carers across the country.

Ms Kennedy explained: “Carers play an essential role in propping up this country and it is only right that they at the very least receive a pension credit in return.

“But, despite the pandemic increasing the amount of people requiring care, the number of people applying for the credit continues to lag pre-pandemic levels.

“Unfortunately, many people fail to see themselves as carers and fail to apply for carers credit.

“Failing to do so can have a disastrous impact on someone’s financial wellbeing as many people begin being a carer later on in life and might need the credits to get the full state pension.”

Those who apply for the carers credit of Universal Credit do not need to be claiming Carer’s Allowance as well.

As well as warning about the risks posed by carers missing out on the full state pension, Ms Kennedy emphasised why the UK Government’s social care cap proposals are a further danger to those on low incomes.

She added: “The Government recently finally set out its long-awaited social care plan, which applies a £86,000 cap on care costs.

“However, the detail revealed that some lower income households will now need to meet almost all of that £86,000.

“Many people will try to prevent the need to dip into family savings by caring for loved ones themselves and it’s imperative that these people still look after their own financial wellbeing and claim these important credits.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We recognise the valuable role of unpaid carers – especially during the pandemic – and remain committed to helping them financially, along with their health, wellbeing and employment chances.

“Universal Credit includes a carer’s element worth more than £160 a month and since 2010 we have increased Carer’s Allowance, putting an additional £700 a year in carers’ pockets. Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance may be entitled to other support, including benefits.”

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