If you’re a carer there is financial support out there to help you. Find out what’s available and how to apply for your entitlements.
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In 2020/21, Carer’s Allowance is £67.25 a week
You might be able to claim it if you:
- spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone
- are aged 16 or over
- aren’t in full-time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more
- earn £128 (2020-21) a week or less (after tax, National Insurance and expenses). That’s £6,656 annually.
The person you’re caring for must also be getting a benefit because of their illness or disability. For example:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance (the middle or higher rate of the care component)
- Personal Independence Payment (either rate of the daily living component)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable. But you’ll only have to pay tax if you have other sources of taxable income. For example occupational or personal pensions or part-time earnings. And if this combined income takes you over the threshold for paying tax (£12,500 per year in 2020/21). Carer’s Allowance on its own is currently below this threshold.
Carer’s Allowance can also affect other benefits you might be already getting so you might be paid less in another benefit.
It will count as income if you’re getting Universal Credit but you may also qualify for extra Universal Credit because you’re a carer.
It can also affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for. For example, if they’re getting Severe Disability Premium, this might stop if you claim Carer’s Allowance.
Making sure your earnings stay under the threshold
If your weekly take home pay is more than £128 (2020-21) after deductions, you’re not entitled to Carer’s Allowance any more.
HMRC now give up-to-date information about earnings to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If you earn more than this in any given week, it’s important you tell the DWP. If you don’t, you’ll be asked to pay back the amount you were overpaid.
If your earnings vary from week to week, you should also let the DWP know as they can average out your earnings so you stay under the limit.
You can report changes online using the carer’s allowance service on GOV.UK. Or you can contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit.
For more information, go to the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) website.
Did you know?
Millions of pounds of carers’ benefits go unclaimed every year, according to Age UK.
You can’t usually get Carer’s Allowance if you’re already claiming State Pension or certain income-replacing benefits. For example new style Employment and Support Allowance.
However, it’s still worth making a claim, even though you won’t get the benefit. If you qualify in all other respects, then you might be entitled to top-up income on other benefits you receive. This is called having an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance.
Your local Jobcentre Plus (or Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland) will be able to tell you which benefits to apply for. Or you can contact your local Citizens Advice.
It’s worth also taking a look at the Turn2Us benefits calculator tool.
If you live in Scotland and receive Carer’s Allowance, you’ll also get a supplementary payment of £460 a year (2020-21). This will be made in two payments of £230.10.
You won’t get Carer’s Allowance Supplement if you have an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance. Carer’s Allowance Supplement won’t affect your other benefits or tax credits.
For more information, visit the Scottish Government website.
Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit that fills up gaps in your National Insurance record. It helps towards your State Pension while you’re not making any contributions because of your caring role.
You might be able to get Carer’s Credit if:
- you are aged 16 or over
- you’re not yet getting State Pension
- you don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance
- you spend at least 20 hours a week caring for someone
- the person you’re looking after receives a benefit because of their illness or disability. For example, Attendance Allowance (the middle or highest rate of the care component), Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (either rate of the daily living component) or Armed Forces Independence Payment. If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits, you might still be able to claim by completing a ‘Care Certificate’.
In England, Scotland and Wales, find out more about Carer’s Credit on GOV.UK.
In Northern Ireland, find out more about caring and your pension on the nidirect website.
You might be entitled to an additional Carer Premium if you already get:
- Income Support
- Universal Credit (known as the ‘carer element’)
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland)
- Income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit (known as the ‘carer addition’).
Ask about the Carer Premium at your local Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office.
This is a benefit you can get if you’ve reached your State Pension age. It’s designed to top up your income in retirement. It’s made up of two parts:
- Guarantee Credit
- Savings Credit
One in three of the people who are entitled to Pension Credit don’t claim it. If you’re one of them, you’re missing out on hundreds of pounds a year.
Find out if you’re eligible in our Pension Credit guide.
Local welfare assistance
If you have an unexpected and urgent financial need, you might be able to get local help. This is called local welfare assistance.
Other benefits you might be able to claim
As a carer, there are other benefits and support you might be eligible for.
Getting Carer’s Allowance might affect how much you get in these benefits.
Universal Credit is replacing these benefits:
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
If you’re making a new claim for means-tested benefits, you’ll probably have to claim Universal Credit.
If you’re already getting any of these benefits, they will stop when you make your claim for Universal Credit. If you want to know more about how this will affect your income, contact the Citizens Advice Help to Claim service before you make a claim for Universal Credit.
Find out more in our Universal Credit explained guide.
If you’re caring for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week, you might qualify for the carer element of Universal Credit.
Find out more about the carer element and how much you might get in our How much is Universal Credit? guide.
If you’re not yet on Universal Credit
If you’re currently getting any of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit, you will continue to get them until:
- you have to make a new claim because of a change in circumstances
- the DWP asks you to start claiming Universal Credit.
A change in circumstances can include events like starting a new job, having a child and starting or stopping being a carer.
If you don’t have a change in circumstances, the DWP doesn’t intend to start moving people onto Universal Credit until November 2020 at the earliest.
Find out more in our How will moving to Universal Credit affect me? guide.
Help with housing costs
If you’re renting, you might get help with your housing costs through the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
If you’re a homeowner, you can get help with your mortgage interest payments through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). This is offered as a repayable loan.
Find out more in our Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) guide.
Other help if you’re on a low income
You might also be entitled to financial help with your:
- health costs
- Council Tax
- home repair services.
Use the Turn2Us benefit calculator to find out what you could be entitled to.
Other schemes and entitlements
If you’re caring for someone with limited mobility, they might be able to get support from the Motability scheme. This can help provide a:
- powered scooter.
Find out more on the Motability website.
Blue badge parking
Blue badge parking permits allow drivers who have passengers with mobility issues to park in more convenient locations, such as disabled parking bays.
You can also park on single or double lines for up to three hours.
Find out how to apply for a blue badge on the GOV.UK website.
Disabled Persons Railcard
The Disabled Persons Railcard entitles the cardholder and a carer or companion one third off most adult rail fares on the National Rail network.
It costs £20 a year or £54 for a three-year card. You can buy one at any staffed ticket office or apply online.
Find out more on the Disabled Persons Railcard website.
Cinema Exhibitors’ Association Card
This card entitles you to one free ticket when you take the person you’re caring for to the cinema. All national cinema chains accept it. You can apply for the card online.
Find out more on the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association Card website.
There are lots more free or discounted entry offers available to carers at museums, leisure centres and National Trust sites across the country.
They’re not always advertised – so just ask when you’re buying tickets.
Several local authorities also offer carers’ shopping, leisure and other discounts. Ask your local authority what extra support they offer.
Where to get help and advice about benefits
Claiming carer’s benefits can be complicated. So make sure you’re getting the right entitlements.
Find out more in our Where can I get help and advice about benefitsopens in new window guide.