I'll use myself as an example. I care for my quadriplegic partner, who needs constant attendance, so I am completely unable to work outside the home. While I've been at home, alongside learning physiotherapy and advanced form-filling, I have tried to develop useful skills for my circumstances; through volunteering online I have learnt web and software development, video editing and postproduction, graphic design, and documentation skills: all things I can do from home while still doing a good job as a carer. (I want to be clear: I don't think carers are all able or should be forced to work from home, but I would personally like to as I have a cognitive surplus going on here.)

But it's impossible to start a small home business because I cannot immediately replace the support my partner needs, and the bureaucracy is so inflexible. I care for my partner unsupported 22 hours a day, but if I start a business I would immediately have to pay care and equipment costs for the small amount of help I do get. This, combined with the loss of Carer's Allowance, Council Tax and Housing Benefit means I can never realistically earn escape velocity.

While I, as a fit and healthy 27 year old, could easily eat ramen and wear an extra jumper for 18 months to startup, my partner is too ill to undergo further privation. Similarly, we cannot lose this adapted accommodation as there is no accessible alternative. So I can't take the risk because it's not my risk to take.

If Carer's Allowance was made a real payment made on the basis of how much caring work you do, rather than how much other work you don't do, or if the earning restriction was raised to the average national wage instead of £5,200 per year, it could be a really enabling benefit.

If severely disabled people could claim housing costs independently from their partners it would reduce the risk of working. (Even better if severely disabled people could get access to adapted social housing or were permitted to save money for a deposit on an adapted/adaptable property, but obviously that's a pipe dream.)

If people stuck at home due to caring responsibilities were given 18 months to get a home business going before the disabled partner lost entitlements and exemptions (like Council Tax,  Adult Social Care costs and the disabled person's Income Support, though obviously not my own) I could take the risk. This allowance would cost the state NO money.

To summarise:

Pay Carer's Allowance on basis of work done instead of work not done and/or means test it at national average wage.

Encourage home businesses by continuing exemptions for the first 18 months.

Guarantee housing support for people with special housing needs without condemning their entire household to welfare limbo.

Why is this idea important?

Reforming rules for carers could contribute to untangling the benefit trap.

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