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.
Did you know?
Millions of pounds of carers’ benefits go unclaimed every year, according to Age UK.
Carer’s Allowance is £66.15 a week in 2019/20.
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 £123 a week or less (after taxes, care costs while you’re at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension).
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
- Personal Independence Payment.
Carer’s Allowance is taxable and can also affect other benefits you might be already getting so you might be paid less in another benefit. It can also affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for.
It will be counted as income if you are getting Universal Credit but you may also qualify for a carer’s element as an additional payment.
It can also affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for. For example, if they are getting Severe Disability Premium, this might stop if you claim Carer’s Allowance.
If your take home pay is more than £123 you are not entitled to Carer’s Allowance. If you earn more than this in any given week, it’s very important you tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), if not you will 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 cannot usually get Carer’s Allowance if you are already claiming State Pension or certain income-replacing benefits such as contributory or new style Employment and Support Allowance ().
However, it’s still worth making a claim, although you will not get the benefit. If you qualify in all other respects then you might be entitled to top up income on other benefits you receive.
Your local Jobcentre Plus (or Jobs and Benefits Office in Northern Ireland) will be able to tell you which benefits to apply for.
If you live in Scotland, carers will also get a supplementary payment of £226.20 a year. This will be made in two payments.
Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit 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 aren’t 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 are looking after receives a benefit because of their illness or disability, for example, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits then you might still be able to claim by completing a ‘Care Certificate’.
You might be entitled to an additional Carer Premium if you already get:
- Income Support
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
Ask about the Carer Premium at your local Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office.
This is a benefit you can get if you have reached your State Pension age.
It’s made up of two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Savings Credit is only payable if you or your partner reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.
How much you’ll get depends on your income and savings and whether you’re single or have a husband, wife or civil partner.
If you get Pension Credit, you may be able to get the additional amount for carers added to it, if you claim Carer’s Allowance or have an underlying entitlement to it.
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 will probably have to claim Universal Credit.
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.
If you’re getting legacy benefits
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 do not have a change in circumstances, the Department for Work and Pensions does not intend to start moving people onto Universal Credit until November 2020 at the earliest.
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 home owner, you can get help with your mortgage interest payments through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI), which is offered as a repayable loan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cinema Exhibitors’ Association Card
This card entitles you to one free ticket when you take the person you’re caring for to the cinema. You can apply for the card online, and all national cinema chains accept it.
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There are lots more free or discounted entry offers available to carers at museums, leisure centres and National Trust sites across the country, although they aren’t always advertised.
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 is available.
Where to get help and advice about benefits
Claiming carers benefits can be complicated and you might need an expert benefits check to make sure you are getting the right entitlements.
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