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Tens of thousands of struggling unpaid carers face disaster if Household Support Fund ends

Tens of thousands of unpaid carers and their families, already at financial breaking point, could face disaster if a vital Government scheme to help vulnerable households ends, Carers Trust has warned. 

The Household Support Fund, allocated to local authorities to support vulnerable families in their area during the cost of living crisis, is due to end on 31 March. There has been no announcement yet on whether it will be extended or replaced. Carers Trust is among more than 120 organisations who signed a letter to the Treasury calling for the fund to be urgently extended.

Many councils have worked with Carers Trust’s network of local carer organisations to provide a financial lifeline to tens of thousands of unpaid carers via the Household Support Fund. Money from the fund helps unpaid carers pay for essential items they could not otherwise afford, ranging from replacing broken beds children had been sleeping on for months to providing food vouchers for struggling families. 

A recent Carers Trust survey showed almost two-thirds of unpaid carers have been forced to cut back on working hours or give up paid employment completely to look after their family and friends. For those forced to give up work, the cost of living crisis has had a devastating impact, pushing many of them into acute financial hardship  

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported in 2023 that working age carers have a 29% poverty rate, compared to 20% of those without a caring role. Meanwhile, the cost of living crisis continues, with food and energy prices soaring from their previous levels. This is simply unaffordable to many unpaid carers who faced poverty even before this crisis.  

Ramzi Suleiman, Carers Trust’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager, said:

“Unpaid carers are being pushed into poverty by a lack of support and a social care system that’s been starved of investment. Many are already at financial breaking point and the ending of the Household Support Fund could tip them over the edge. Despite this, it looks like the government is withdrawing this crucial scheme and offering nothing to replace it.  

“The Household Support Fund has been a lifeline for so many during the cost of living crisis. Ending it would have a disastrous effect for thousands of families.” 

Val's story

Val Pain, 74, from Littlehampton in West Sussex, is a carer for her husband Chris, 86, who is a retired Met Police officer. Chris has had serious mobility issues since suffering a fall last year which led to a three-month hospital stay. Since then, he has gone from being independent and driving every day to not being able to get around without a walking frame.

For Val, this is even more challenging because she had a stroke four years ago which left her with weakness down her right side, drastically reducing the amount of things she can do too.

She said: “We feel we’ve been left in the lurch. It’s very hard to be a carer where you really need a carer yourself. Carers are being treated terribly. We’re just left within our four walls to get on with it. The extra money we have to spend to get things done around the house that neither of us can physically do is going through the roof.

“It’s awful that they’re going to bring the Household Support Fund to an end. I can’t quite believe it. Where else can you get that kind of help?”

Val, a retired bank worker, estimates she and her husband’s extra annual costs have grown by thousands of pounds because of their disabilities as they now have to pay for things like cleaners and carers to come in the morning. This has been made worse by the rising cost of living.

She applied for money from the Household Support Fund with help from Carers Support West Sussex as energy costs soared. Val received £300 last December to help pay for heating.

She explained: “Our bills shot up so much. Because of my stroke I get cold and I can’t move very quickly, so heating is very important for us. The money from the Household Support Fund made a big difference for us – every penny does.

“These little things add up especially as the cost of everything has increased so much. I can’t cook because it’s not safe to do one hand so we have to rely on ready meals and they’re so expensive now too. We thought with Chris having a police pension that would be enough to see us through but it goes so quickly.”


For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Mark Chandler, Carers Trust Media & PR Officer, on mchandler@carers.org and 07712 427808 


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