A mother who cares full-time for her severely disabled daughter is crowdfunding an investigation into the potential for a legal challenge over the government’s decision not to increase the Carer’s Allowance in line with other benefits in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On her Crowd Justice page, Rachel Adam-Smith said she was paid an allowance of £67.25 for 35 hours plus a week of caring.
“There has been no change to Carer's Allowance despite the huge extra burden placed on carers by the current public health crisis. I believe the weekly amount paid to carers should be increased in line with other benefit increases. We deserve better and I have been advised the failure to increase Carer's Allowance may be unlawful,” she said.
Adam-Smith added: “The Carer's Allowance will remain just £67.25 per week for 35 hours or more of caring each week. This is incredibly low for the amount of work that we undertake and how much our work saves the Government.”
The Crowd Justice page notes that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had recently chosen to increase other benefits like Working Tax Credit, by £1045 to £3040 per year, and Universal Credit by £1000 per year, due to the coronavirus but he had not increased Carer's Allowance.
Adam-Smith, who has instructed law firm Bindmans and a barrister, said: “This case matters because carers' needs are often forgotten. They are caring endlessly for their relatives, often with no support. The stress and strain on carers is now even greater because of the severe restrictions on the availability of paid care during the current public health crisis.
“Carers have always been paid a very small amount but the COVID-19 crisis means that we are cut off more than ever from any additional help or support.”
She added that due to her caring responsibilities and health she could not work so she had never been able to top up her allowance with the £128 per week of paid work that is permitted.
So far she has raised £5,302 towards a stretch target of £7,000 after receiving 159 pledges.
If there is merit in a claim the funds will also pay for the necessary pre-action correspondence, a detailed legal letter setting out why the failure to increase Carer's Allowance is unlawful and asking the Government to respond within 14 days.
Adam-Smith said that if her lawyers advise that there is a good claim and the Government do not back down, she will seek further funds to allow the case to go to court.