Many carers struggling with 'unmanageable debt', warns Christian charity

(Photo: Unsplash/Kamila Maciejewska)

A new report has warned that many carers are falling into debt as they struggle to cover their basic living costs. 

Christians Against Poverty said the debt experienced by many carers was "unmanageable", and that in some cases, delays to Universal Credit had contributed to the difficulties.

It surveyed 1,200 receiving help with their debt from the charity, around a quarter (26%) of whom said they were caring for sick or disabled family members. 

Half of those who identified as carers said they were unable to work because of their responsibilities at home, while more than a third were single parents.

They were also found to be twice as likely to have suffered a childhood trauma or be struggling with bereavement.  

One woman who is a full-time carer for her mother says she was left with only £195 a month from Universal Credit to cover the household's living expenses after the cost of the rent and her £64 Carer's Allowance was deducted. 

She said she fell into debt after the move onto Universal Credit left her without income for seven weeks, forcing her to use credit cards. 

She described the stress brought on due to food shortages and debt collectors chasing her for payment. 

"I was continuously worried about phone calls – I wouldn't answer the phone. Letters were coming through the door that I couldn't face. Going out the door – I couldn't do it," she said. 

Although she is now debt free after going through insolvency, she said the low income from Universal Credit was "ridiculous".

"There are so many people I've spoken to or heard about that have struggled, even using food banks," she said.

Matt Barlow, chief executive of CAP, which runs free debt services through churches, said: "Some people just have so much to deal with.

"The worst element of these combined difficulties is that they are so often suffered privately as people try to get through each day, carrying these incredible burdens.

"Society sometimes finds it easy to dismiss people in debt but our experience shows that unexpected changes in circumstances like ill-health can really change the family dynamic – and the level of income coming into the home."