Carers are under “intolerable pressure” and facing a growing crisis while the coronavirus outbreak continues after “languishing in poverty” for years, more than 100 organisations have warned.

Anti-poverty campaigners, unions and women’s rights organisations have written an open letter to MPs warning that more help is needed to support underpaid carers hit by the outbreak.

Signatories, including Oxfam GB, Carers UK and the Institute for Public Policy Research, say an inadequate social security system and low wages have left both paid and unpaid carers stuck in poverty for years.

This has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, they say, adding that “while governments have tried to cushion the immediate impact of this crisis, more needs to be done to alleviate the intolerable pressure carers face”.

The letter reads: “Right now, the focus is rightly on saving lives but we urge you to use your influence to ensure governments across the UK use every tool they have to protect people from poverty.”

“By ensuring no carer faces poverty, we will honour those doing so much to care for so many,” it adds.

They are calling for Carer’s Allowance and Child Benefit to be increased, the five-week wait for payments to be removed for Universal Credit claimants, and for funds to help social care employers pay their staff a minimum of the Real Living Wage.

It comes as a poll commissioned by Oxfam found that more than three-quarters (78%) of respondents believe care work is not valued highly enough by the Government.

And nearly two-thirds (63%) of the 1,814 people questioned, said those on low incomes who look after sick or disabled people should receive more financial support through increased social security payments.

Separate research by Carers UK suggests that 81% of unpaid carers are spending more money during the outbreak.