New fund launched to support unpaid carers in Wales during the cost of living crisis
Unpaid carers in Wales will benefit from a support scheme helping them to buy basic essential items during the cost-of-living crisis.
Carers, who provide care for an adult or disabled child, will be able to apply for grants of up to £300 to pay for food, household items and electronic items.
Support services, such as counselling, financial advice, well-being and peer support will also be available
It comes as part of a £4.5m Welsh Government investment in the Carers Support Fund over the next three financial years, made up of £1.5m each year.
The funding will support unpaid carers who are experiencing financial hardship due to the cost-of-living crisis and ongoing impact of the pandemic.
Carers can struggle to meet the costs of unpaid caring due to high energy bills to keep their homes warm, the cost of travel to hospital appointments, specialist equipment or dietary requirements.
The Carers Support Fund was established in October 2020 with £1m in response to growing evidence that unpaid carers were struggling to cope with the financial impact of the pandemic.
Additional funding of £1.4m was allocated the following year, with more than 10,000 unpaid carers on low incomes in Wales accessing the fund since it was launched.
70% of grants were provided via a food or non-food voucher scheme.
One recipient said the grant ‘took a huge amount of pressure off me that month regarding how I was going to be able to keep my children warm’ and ‘the money I saved from having to shop I put straight into my gas meter’.
Across both years, the fund has been administered by Carers Trust Wales and their local partners.
A three-year fund will aid the Welsh Government’s plans for the reform of social care by protecting and developing services for a vulnerable group.
Eligibility for the grants is not linked to Carers Allowance, pensions or other benefits. How to apply for the grants will be advertised on the Carers Trust Wales website.
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: “The role played daily by unpaid carers across Wales immeasurably improves the health, well-being, safety and quality of life of those they care for, whilst very significantly reducing the burden on health and social care services.
“I hope this funding will support those experiencing financial hardship during the cost-of-living crisis.
“I’ve spoken to many carers who have told me the difference the fund has made to their lives, such as being able to pay for Christmas dinner and replace vital white goods, and am delighted we can continue it for the next three years.”
Simon Hatch, Director of Carers Trust Wales, said: “We are delighted the Welsh Government have recognised the importance of this crucial fund and have extended its delivery over the next three years.
“The Carers Support Fund has already reached more than 10,000 unpaid carers in Wales with grants and services to help them get by every day.
“With the increasing cost of living hitting carers hard, the extended fund will allow us to support thousands more carers with the practical and financial support they need.”
Notes to editors
All adult carers (over 18) and young carers (under 18) caring for a parent or sibling are eligible for the grant scheme.
The Carers Support Fund is delivered consecutively over the next three years 2022-2025 at a cost of £4.5million. (£1.5million per financial year).
Items that can be purchased through grants include a food box, a laptop, a washing machine or internet connection to support access to online services and support groups.
Unpaid carers are defined by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 as ‘a person who provides or intends to provide care for an adult or disabled child;’ Using this description the grants payable from this fund were eligible to all adult carers (over 18) and to young carers (under 18) caring for a parent or sibling. The grant is not intended to provide cash or any regular income to anyone’s account and therefore there are no implications for tax or benefit payments.
The estimated annual value to the Welsh economy from the care and support provided by unpaid carers, is £8.1 billion though recent estimates by Carers Wales suggests this may now be worth considerably more and around £33m per day due to the pandemic.