carers trustTENS 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 per cent poverty rate, compared to 20 per cent 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.”

* Source: Carers Trust