UNPAID carers across Wales can now apply for a special one-off payment of £500 in recognition of their "pivotal role throughout the pandemic".

The Welsh Government said unpaid carers who were receiving Carer’s Allowance on March 31 this year will be eligible for the payment.

The scheme was launched to recognise the increased financial pressures many unpaid carers have experienced during the pandemic, and to help with some of the additional costs they have incurred. 

The payment is targeted towards people who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and have low incomes.

To check your eligibility and apply for the special payment, unpaid carers can visit their local council website.

Announcing the scheme earlier this year, Julie Morgan, the Welsh Government's deputy minister for social services, said: "Unpaid carers have played a pivotal role throughout the pandemic and we recognise the financial and emotional hardships they have experienced.

"I hope this £500 payment will go some way to supporting them during these difficult times."

A survey of more than 1,500 unpaid carers found nearly half had to use their personal savings and give up work or study to care during the pandemic, while more than half had to give up on hobbies or personal interests because of their caring role.

Combined with the cost of living crisis - and the fact many of those in an unpaid carer role will be caring for individuals with complex needs who require warm homes, specialist medical equipment and certain foods - the Welsh Government said unpaid carers would end up being exposed to greater financial pressures than other people.

The scheme has been welcomed by carers' organisations, including Kate Young, who chairs the Wales Carers Alliance and is director of the All Wales Forum of Parents and Carers.

She called the payment "a positive step towards recognising the unwavering care and support unpaid carers have always given, and will continue to give, especially considering the extra challenges so many families have faced during the pandemic".

Simon Hatch, director of Carers Trust Wales, called the scheme "a first step towards addressing some of the concerns we’ve heard from unpaid carers... about their daily struggles to make ends meet".

And Clare Morgan, the director of Carers Wales, said unpaid carers were "the vital third pillar of our health and social care system in Wales and took on unknowing amounts of stress and responsibility during the pandemic".