Gina Price cared for her dad while working part-time at a petrol station. She said she would sometimes agree to work an extra shift, but would do fewer other weeks. This way, she believed she would remain under the earnings threshold to qualify for the benefit.

She now owes the DWP around £7,000 in overpayments, and said the debt was a “huge blow”.

It is “a big debt by anyone’s standards”, let alone someone working part time, she added.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, a carer himself, has called for these debts to be cancelled.

“It’s just unbelievable” that carers are being forced to repay as a result of the “government’s own incompetence”, he told the BBC.

“People work hard, they pay their taxes, they look after their loved ones, the government should be incentivising work,” he said.

The Department for Work and Pensions said the total amount of Carer’s Allowance overpayments “includes historical debts which the department is seeking to recover”.

“In comparison, Carer’s Allowance expenditure is forecast to be £4.2 billion this year alone,” it said.

“Carers across the UK are unsung heroes who make a huge difference to someone else’s life, and we have increased Carer’s Allowance by almost £1,500 since 2010,” the department added.



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