Household finances of Carer's Allowance recipients
In-depth interviews with 44 people who claimed Carer's Allowance (CA) or had an underlying entitlement to it, were carried out in three areas of the UK in summer 2013.
SPRU research team
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is an income replacement benefit paid to people who have foregone the opportunity to engage in full-time work because they provide support for a severely disabled person. As part of the 2012 welfare reforms, the Government has announced that CA will remain as an independent benefit but that this will be reviewed in the context of how Universal Credit operates. This study was commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions to provide information to support this process of evaluation
The overall aims of the project were to explore:
- the key budgeting issues for carers, how important CA is in the overall household budget and how it is used
- carers’ aspirations about and closeness to the labour market and how they might be better supported to return to work
- the key coping strategies used by carers and the wider (financial) support networks they depend on
- the potential impacts of possible CA reforms.
In-depth interviews with 44 people who claimed CA or had an underlying entitlement to it, were carried out in three areas of the UK in summer 2013. Fifteen carers were recipients of CA and income support (the CA/IS group); 19 claimed CA without income support (CA only group); and 10 were entitled to the Additional Amount for Carers within Pension Credit (the PC group).
The interviews focussed on CA's relationship to household finances and budgeting, employment, labour market engagement and, where relevant, full-time education. The questions covered were:
- How is CA viewed in terms of the household budget, and does this vary by type of households?
- How do recipients use CA? What would they have to stop doing if they did not receive it or it was reduced in value? What impact would non-receipt or a reduced level of benefit have on the level of care provided?
- How does use of CA vary depending on other variables: sources and level of income, who is being cared for or supported and where, gender, caring intensity and duration
- What led to the decision to claim CA and how long was this after caring began?
- Has receipt of CA had different types of impact at different times in the caring career?
- What impact has caring had on labour market participation and/or full time education? What role has CA played in that impact?
- How do carers currently see their relationship to the labour market and/or full-time education and what would help them re-establish, maintain or grow their participation?
Policy aims of the research
The study was commissioned to provide information to DWP about the role of Carer’s Allowance in the light of the operation of Universal Credit.