What you need to know about Carer’s Allowance
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 19 November 2019
Discussion about the UK benefits system can leave you confused about what you are entitled to, or overwhelmed by the prospect of applying. However, there are some situations in which it’s vital to get all the help that’s available to you. If you look after someone who has substantial health and welfare needs – including long-term medical conditions and disabilities – you could be entitled to claim Carer’s Allowance.
What is the Carer’s Allowance?
The Government is aware that there are seven million people in the UK who dedicate their time to looking after a partner, parent, child or other loved one. This figure looks set to grow to well over 10 million carers by 2030.
In terms of contribution to the UK economy, this dedicated and hardworking group of people is worth an incredible £132 billion every year. (Figure sourced from Carers.org)
It could be that these carers put their career on hold to carry out this role, or they suffer other financial hardships. To compensate and support carers, a system was created to provide them with specific benefits.
This is currently limited to a weekly payment of £66.15 (in the financial year April 2019-20). It’s important to note, this is only paid if you care for someone for more than 35 hours per week. One of the lesser-known facts about carer’s allowance is that you don’t have to be related to the person you care for, nor do you have to live with them!
The benefits are paid into your bank account weekly. You can choose to receive them as one sum every four weeks though.
Do I qualify for Carer’s Allowance?
As well as the 35-hour minimum, there are other eligibility rules for receiving a Carer’s Allowance.
You must be looking after someone who has already been approved to receive a specific type of benefit. This includes the middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance or the daily living component of a Personal Independence Payment.
From your point of view, Carer’s Allowance will only be paid if you earn less than £123 per week (after tax and expenses like your pension, childcare or care cover while you are at work). You must be aged 16 or over to qualify for Carer’s Allowance and you must have lived in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two years within the previous three-year period
You are ineligible for this benefit if you are a full-time student or studying more than 21 hours a week.
Keep in mind that your Carer’s Allowance will impact on any other benefits you receive. It is also linked to benefits paid to the person you care for. Also, you will pay income tax on your benefits if you have a job and this money takes you over your personal tax allowance.
The Carer’s Allowance provides you with National Insurance credits too, which is another reason it is worth claiming. It’s important to note that if you care for more than one person, you can’t double up Carer’s Allowance. You would still receive the maximum amount mentioned earlier in this guide.
How can I apply for Carer’s Allowance?
To make a claim for this benefit you need to gather together various pieces of information. This includes your National Insurance Number. If you have a partner, you will also need their National Insurance number.
Other information needed includes paperwork about any current and recent employment – such as your P45 form or wage slips. Details of any courses you are studying would be required, as well as information about regular expenses such as childcare and pensions.
You also need to have certain information about the person you look after, not just their full name and address. You will also be asked for their date of birth and National Insurance number. If you look after someone aged under 16, instead of a National Insurance number you would provide their Disability Living Allowance reference. Using all this, you could then apply for Carer’s Allowance online or by post.
You can download the form you need to apply for Carer’s Allowance from the Gov UK website.
Ring the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297 if you need any assistance with your claim. Remember, it is always worth applying, as even if you can’t have the weekly amount, it could unlock other support such as National Insurance credits.
What other help is available for Carers?
Being a carer for someone with a substantial medical condition or a disability can be rewarding but demanding.
It’s important to make the most of all forms of help available to you, not just the Carer’s Allowance. This could include, for example, information, advice and social opportunities offered by local support groups and charities.