Carers Support Fund grants for unpaid carers in Wales struggling with the cost of living

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Mike Griffiths

Carers who look after an adult or disabled child can apply for grants of up to £300 to help pay for food and household items.

£4.5 million will be invested in the Carers Support Fund by the Welsh Government over the next three years, with £1.5 million each financial year.

It is hoped the grants will help unpaid carers struggling with the rising cost of living. The money can be spent on basic essentials including food, household items and electronic items.

Support services will also be made available, including counselling, financial advice and peer support.

  • What is the Carers Support Fund?

The fund was established in October 2020 when it became clear that unpaid carers were struggling with finances as a result of the pandemic.

The Welsh Government invested £1 million for 2020-2021 and £1.4 million for 2021-2022.

Ten thousand unpaid carers have accessed the fund since it was launched - primarily through vouchers which can be spent on everyday essential items and funded services.

There are at least 370,000 unpaid carers in Wales, with three in five estimated to become a carer at some point in our lives.

The Director of Carers Trust Wales, Simon Hatch, says the £1.5 million yearly investment from 2022-2025 will help them support thousands more carers.

"We are delighted the Welsh Government has recognised the importance of this crucial fund and has extended its delivery over the next three years.

"With the increasing cost of living hitting carers hard, the extended fund will allow us to support thousands more carers with the practical and financial support they need.”  

Eligibility for the grants is not linked to Carers Allowance, pensions or other benefits. How to apply for the grants will be advertised on the Carers Trust Wales website.

Helena left her part-time job at a bank to become Mark's full-time carer. Credit: ITV Wales

For Helena and Mark in Swansea, the Carers Support Fund has been a lifeline, providing emotional and financial support.

Eight years ago, Mark was working as a full-time chef when he had a stroke at home after a ten hour shift.

He lost all movement in the left side of his body and could no longer work. Helena left her job at a bank to care for Mark.

"There wasn't really a choice. Lots of people say all of the time 'I don't know how you do it', and you just think, well I wasn't really asked. There is no choice, you just do it. There was nobody else.

"Mark, he looked after us a family, working and everything else. So once he had a stroke there was no other choice. We just went into that role [unpaid carer] and that's where we are now."

Helena says the money that they have already received has been a lifeline.

"The £500 carers grant - that was huge, that was massive. Knowing that I've been able to put that on to my electric and gas, that's a massive help."

The fund has provided a lifeline for Mark and Helena, who have used the money to help with energy bills. Credit: ITV Wales

Julie Morgan, the Deputy Minister for Social Services, said she hopes the fund will make a real difference to those experiencing financial difficulty.

“The role played daily by unpaid carers across Wales immeasurably improves the health, well-being, safety and quality of life of those they care for, whilst very significantly reducing the burden on health and social care services. 

“I hope this funding will support those experiencing financial hardship during the cost-of-living crisis."

The Welsh Conservatives have criticised the grants scheme and called for more to be done to support unpaid carers.

"Sadly, we are seeing a great degree of short-sightedness from the Labour Government in Cardiff Bay when it comes to giving carers the support they need," said Welsh Conservative and Shadow Social Services Minister Gareth Davies MS.

"One-off so-called bonuses don’t provide the sustainable income needed to retain workers, nor maintain household finances.

 “That’s why the Welsh Conservatives are calling for unpaid carers to be given a right to respite and free access to training, support and carer assessments – far more valuable than a small one-off payment – and for young carers to get the free transport they need to build a career.”