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Only one in 20 eligible carers claim benefits credit

Almost all carers who are entitled to Carer’s Credit to fill gaps in their National Insurance (NI) record are not claiming it, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed today (10 August).

Just one in 20 carers eligible to receive the credit have signed up for it, meaning 95% of nationwide carers – or 190,000 people – are missing out on the pension boost.

The credit would help them build their NI contributions if they have taken time away from work to care for a disabled, seriously ill or older loved one for 20 hours or more per week.

Nearly 200,000 carers are not entitled to Carer’s Allowance, the main benefit for carers, but could receive a credit boost of over £200 per year in state pension when they retire.

Middle-aged women are particularly likely to miss out on the credit, even though two-thirds of eligible females – who already make up 65% of the overall carers pool – are estimated to be over 50.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said carers often tell the charity that it takes years for them to fully understand the support they are entitled to – so it is “of little surprise” that most of them are not claiming the credit.

She added: “When people take on a caring role for a loved one, they can face serious financial hardship. Many carers see a steep drop in income if they have to leave work or reduce their hours to care, and this impact can intensify if the person being cared for also has to give up work because of their illness or disability. With less money coming in, households simultaneously have to cope with a sharp rise in the additional costs that come with caring and disability.

"Any opportunity to ease the pressures of financial hardship on carers should be seized. It is vital that carers are able to access good quality, timely advice on what support is available to them.”

Writing for the Express, pensions minister Baroness Altmann urged people to ask carers if they have applied for the credits and help spread the word.

"I don’t want to see anyone who has sacrificed their career and put their life on hold to care for a loved one suffer later in life,” she wrote.

To fill in an application form visit the government website.

The figures come as the Local Government Association called for a government-funded council tax discount scheme for the “unsung heroes of the care system”.

Councils ask that those who provide at least an hour of unpaid care a week should be entitled to a reduction of £100 a year, supporting at least 250,000 hours of unpaid care per week.

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