I care for family members, and I’ve been claiming Carers Allowance for a few years. 

In early 2023, out of the blue, I got a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) asking me to send certain salary slips from 2021 and 2022. I sent them in, but my Carers Allowance was stopped immediately. 

At the time I was in a low-paid job, and my hours changed from week to week. I explained the situation to the DWP, and asked them to average my hours out, but they refused.  

I tried to inform the DWP whenever I earned too much, but it wasn’t always straightforward. To make things worse, during Covid my employer gave us a cost of living increase, which was good, but that pushed my income over the limit some weeks.  

For most of 2023 I had to manage without the Allowance. My work hours were up and down, and I didn’t qualify for sick pay so when I wasn’t well I had no income at all. 

I kept ringing the DWP; most of the helpline staff were nice, but they couldn’t do anything. I made sure I was paid under the limit, but still didn’t receive the allowance. 

I understand the system and I’m not stupid, but it’s so complicated and the system doesn’t work.  There was a time when I’d been off sick and payroll made a mistake by paying me too much; the next month my employer clawed the money back, but the DWP tried to penalise me for the payroll error.  I’m also frustrated because the DWP had told me that holiday pay wouldn’t be included, but that turned out not to be true. 

Towards the end of the year the DWP sent me a lump sum to cover the months they’d missed – but then told me I had to pay back almost all of it.  

They didn’t take what I owed off the lump sum, I still had to ring debt management. The DWP departments don’t talk to each other.  The debt management team advised me to set up a payment of £1 a week, to stop the debt collectors coming in. 

Finally things got sorted. I know other people have had much worse and in a way I got off lightly, but I’m so angry about this, and the system needs to change. 

I was worried sick for most of last year.  I’ve got a new job now. I was so happy when I could tell the DWP I won’t be claiming Carers Allowance any more. Hopefully I’ll never have to deal with them ever again.