The Government Knew That Demands for Repayment Made Nurses Poorer - Latest Global News

The Government Knew That Demands for Repayment Made Nurses Poorer

The Department for Work and Pensions has been aware since 2021 that overpayment of carer’s allowance has caused some people financial difficulties.

A report on the experiences of benefit recipients has just been published, which the government has so far refused to publish.

There is growing controversy over the recovery of overpaid grants of £81.90 for people who care for someone for more than 35 hours a week.

The government says there are safeguards in place for people managing repayments.

Anyone who earns more than £151 a week from other work will have to pay back all of their carer’s allowance.

More than 1,000 nursing staff were surveyed for the study, 60 of whom provided detailed feedback.

It shows that 3% had to make repayments after changing circumstances led to them receiving the benefit in error, but the researchers admit this may be an underestimate.

Official statistics show that 1,377,000 people in the UK are currently receiving care benefit.

An overpayment rate of 3% found in the survey suggests that approximately 41,000 nurses were unfairly overpaid at some point.

Elizabeth Tait, from Surrey, looks after her 20-year-old son Oliver, who has Down syndrome and has had to repay £1,623.

This week she told BBC Newsnight: “I had made a few mistakes, I wasn’t in the mood to clean them up and that just really upset me.”

“The care allowance is almost like a trap. It is so complicated”.

The overall report paints a picture of what it means to be a carer in the UK:

  • Most are caring for a close relative, two out of five are caring for a child

  • 52% spent 65 or more hours per week providing care

  • 54% had worked in nursing for between five and 20 years

  • People often do not apply for care allowance straight away

  • More than half of applicants are on lower incomes (earning £20,799 a year or less).

Conor and Rae Thackray

Conor and Raé Thackray, from Cheshire, said it was “very intimidating” to be forced to pay back carer’s allowance. [BBC]

Conor Thackray, from Cheshire, looks after his wife Raé, who suffers from borderline personality disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome.

He had to pay back around £400.

He told the show: “It was a real blow and I felt targeted. I felt like I had done something wrong.”

“The letter landed on my door and the worst thoughts go through your head.

“The letter contains threats of punishment. It’s very intimidating.”

The charity Carers UK has campaigned for a change to the allowance guidelines.

Chief executive Helen Walker said: “We are delighted that the Department for Work and Pensions’ research into carer’s allowance is finally available to the public so that we can begin constructive discussions with decision-makers and officials about the future of carer’s allowance.”

“However, it has taken three years for this research to be published and in that time the benefits have remained unchanged, despite numerous calls from Carers UK and other stakeholders calling for the need for a comprehensive review.”

The report said key criteria such as the number of hours of care they had to provide to remain eligible for the benefit and the earnings limit were not widely understood.

It comes on the day MPs sent a letter to the DWP calling for urgent action to address the problems caused by overpayments.

A DWP spokesman said: “Carers play an important role and we have increased carer’s allowance by almost £1,500 since 2010.”

“This research shows that only 3% of respondents have suffered an overpayment, and although the majority said there was no financial impact, we have safeguards in place to help people manage repayments while protecting the public purse.”

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