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Carers in Wales 'miss out of £66m of allowances'

People caring for older, seriously ill or disabled loved ones in Wales are missing out on £66 million in allowances.

Carers Wales say a lack of advice and education has left thousands of carers without vital financial support.

The Department of Work and Pensions says the system is being simplified to increase the take-up of benefits.

Alexandra Lodge reports

Carers at risk of long-term debt

It's been revealed carers in Wales are missing out on £66million of unclaimed benefits.

Charity Carers UK said losing out on financial support puts carers at risk of long-term debt and financial hardship.

If you suddenly need to provide full-time care for an older, ill or disabled loved one your life can be turned upside-down. When their welfare is your top priority, looking after your own finances can easily fall by the wayside. If carers have been forced to give up work to care, just as the family face all the extra household and transport costs of caring - this can rapidly push carers into long-term debt and financial hardship.

It is vital that anyone caring for a loved one seeks advice to check they are getting all the financial help and practical support they are entitled to.

– Keith Bowen, Director, Carers Wales

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Carers miss out on financial support

Carers Wales say £66m of financial support is going unclaimed. Credit: PA

Over 21,000 carers in Wales are missing out on vital financial support.

According to the charity Carers Wales, £66m of the financial support available is going unclaimed.

They say this is due to the lack of advice and education available.

The Department of Work and Pensions says the system's been simplified to increase the take-up of benefits

Today is National Carers Rights Day.

Benefit claimants prepare for payment cap

Benefit caps will be rolled out across the country from next week Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Hundreds of benefit claimants across Wales will see their payments capped at £500 a week from today. New rules by the UK government mean families can no longer claim more - and single people will be limited to £350 a week.

Most will see a reduction in their housing allowance meaning they'll have to move or make-up the shortfall. The government says no-one should receive more in benefits than those working. The majority of those affected in Wales will be in Cardiff - where an estimated 300 people will see a cut.

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How the new disability benefit will affect you

Ministers have said the new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives, and includes a new face-to-face assessment and reviews.

Here is how the changes may affect you:

  • Personal Independence Payment will have a Daily Living component and a Mobility component
  • Each component will have two rates - standard and enhanced
  • There are three rates for the care component (low, middle and high) and two for the mobility component (low and high)
  • Claimants will be assessed on 12 activities such as preparing food, washing and dressing
  • They will receive a points score for each activity, depending on how well they can carry them out and the help they need to do so
  • The total score will determine whether a claimant is entitled to benefits
  • For example: The assessment will consider a claimant's physical ability to move around without severe breathlessness, pain or fatigue
  • Ministers have said the new benefit is designed to support disabled people to live independent lives, and includes a new face-to-face assessment and reviews

Disability benefit changes take effect in Wales

The UK Government says the new benefit is "designed to support disabled people to live independent lives." Credit: PA

A controversial new benefit replaces the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claimants in Wales today.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was introduced in pilot parts of England in April - and is now being rolled out for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.

The new assessment includes an individual's ability to carry out a broad range of activities such as washing, dressing, cooking and getting around.

Existing working-age DLA claimants will start to be re-assessed from October - and there are no current plans to replace DLA for children under 16 and people aged 65 and over who are already receiving it.

  1. Wales This Week

Welfare reforms, how will they affect you?

Thousands of people across Wales will be affected by sweeping changes to the benefits system Credit: ITV News Cymru Wales

A report for the Welsh Government estimates that over 48,500 people in Wales have already lost an average of £9 a week as a result of the housing benefit reforms which came into effect in April 2011.

Now, with further reforms being implemented by the UK Government, more questions are being raised about just how much these latest changes will affect us here in Wales.

The charity 'Cuts Watch Cymru', believes that 250,000 people in Wales will be affected by changes to the housing benefit alone.

Despite the figures however, it seems that many of us are unclear about how these changes might affect us, and the reform has met a great deal of criticism for the way that it has been implemented.

To find out more about these proposed changes, watch Wales This Week, 'Social Insecurity' tonight at 8 on ITV Cymru Wales.

You can also find out more about how these changes will affect you by visiting the following website by Community Housing Cymru and RCT Homes - click here.

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