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Carers face real-terms benefits cuts as inflation soars

Images of carer holding hands with person being cared for
Pixabay / Pexels

News round-up / by Conor D'Andrade

Due to rapidly increasing inflation and the government’s refusal to introduce an emergency increase in benefits, unpaid carers are seeing a real-terms decrease of 4.5% in their state benefits.

Researchers have calculated that carers receiving a state allowance to help with the costs associated with care will be £170 worse off in real terms this year as benefits fail to rise with the rates of inflation.

Carer's Allowance will be increasing from £67.60 a week to £69.70, a 3.1% increase in line with other benefits, equating to 30p extra a day. But with inflation predicted to rise by 8% this year, carers are, in reality, facing a substantial decrease in their benefits.

This has led to many raising concerns about how carers and the ones they care for are supposed to survive the coming year in the face of a cost of living crisis, with the government’s budget criticised as failing the country's most vulnerable.

The Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey has called for the Carer's Allowance to be raised to £89.70 a week or an extra £1040 a year – an increase that could help carers significantly with costs like heating and travel expenses for attending appointments.

Charity report slams unsafe accommodation for asylum seekers

UK charity Doctors of the World has called out the UK for its poor treatment of asylum seekers, citing the inadequate healthcare provided in “unsafe” accommodation as the reason for the significant worsening of mental and physical health of asylum seekers.

Doctors of the World presents evidence demonstrating a clear failure to meet basic human rights at military barracks-turned-holding centres, such as the Napier barracks in Folkestone, as well as numerous hotels. This has resulted in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression worsening for asylum seekers as they wait to hear their future.

For asylum seekers escaping the horrors of war, or those that have suffered imprisonment and torture, the conditions at places like the Napier base, which have come to resemble detention centres with high fences and cold concrete yards, are a strong trigger of their past trauma.

Ara, who himself has fled war and torture, has this to say about his experience at Napier base:

“It’s always the same: I wake up, I’m screaming, remembering,” he said. “I have bad nightmares. I need pills for sleeping but the GP said to me ‘Go to YouTube, it will tell you how you can sleep.’ I don’t have [a] phone, so how can I see that? I asked for help, but nobody will help me.

“Others in my room [shared with 13 other men], they are waking up,” said Ara. “It’s impossible to sleep. We all need a doctor – we left the war – but there is no one to help us.”

Not only have the prison-like conditions caused severe mental distress, but neglect has also caused worsening physical problems. One asylum seeker said he had to wait more than a month for medical treatment for severe tooth pain which caused him to stop eating.

“We don’t have a good nurse in the camp,” he said. “I needed immediate help, I couldn’t eat properly, there was so much pain, but they refuse to do anything. They said there is no dentist, it will get better on its own.”

This report comes the same week the government has been heavily criticised for its costly plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

British boy with autism nearly deported

A young boy with autism was thankfully found by his mother before being deported by the Home Office.

The boy, who is black and has non-verbal autism, went missing from hospital and was found two days later on 9th April by police.

The boy was registered as a missing person, but transport police arrested him on suspicion of not paying his train fare. After his fingerprints were taken and officers were unable to get any answers from him due to his autism, it was determined that he should be sent to Home Office immigration enforcement.

The boy's nationality was wrongly recorded as Nigerian by police, despite being British, and as immigration officers felt he hadn’t provided “satisfactory or reliable answers,” it was decided that “imminent” deportation was an appropriate course of action.

Considering that people who communicate non-verbally have the right to an interpreter when being interviewed by police, and the fact officers assumed he was Nigerian based on the colour of his skin, the incident has been labelled as deeply racist.

Anti-racist charity Race on the Agenda’s chief executive described it as “yet another example of the racism embedded in our immigration system.”

This sentiment was echoed by barrister Michael Etienne who said “One day, the country might wake up to what a deeply, violently racist swamp we’re in."


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