The benefits system is ‘abjectly failing’ people who provide unpaid care for sick or disabled family members and friends in Northern Ireland, according to experts.

The warning comes as new research is published showing that nearly half (46%) of all people in Northern Ireland receiving Carer’s Allowance, the main welfare benefit for unpaid carers, are living in poverty. One in six are in ‘deep poverty’, meaning their household income is 50% below the poverty line. [1]

Carer’s Allowance is worth less than £80 per week, leaving many claimants in severe hardship, often struggling to afford daily essentials and forced to cut back on the likes food and heating to get by, with a severe impact on their mental health.

The new research from the Carer Poverty Commission, which is advised by unpaid carers and benefit experts from across the UK, suggests that increasing Carer’s Allowance payments to £120 per week would slash the deep poverty rate among claimants in NI by more than half and stop local carers going ‘cold and hungry’ this winter.