Many people spend time looking after other people who might be unable to look after themselves without some help. If you provide unpaid care and/or support to another person who has an illness, disability, or a long-term condition, you may be recognised in law as being an unpaid carer who is providing necessary care.
The person you are helping might be a family member or a friend, and you may be supporting them with either their physical or mental health needs, or both.
As an unpaid carer there may be some financial support that you are able to get for yourself.
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit paid by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
It can be paid to people aged 16 and over who are caring for another person for at least 35 hours per week. The person being looked after must be getting Attendance Allowance; Disability Living Allowance care component (middle or higher rate) or Personal Independence Payment daily living component.
If you are looking after more than one person, you can only make a claim for caring for one of them. If a person has more than one person caring for them, only one is able to claim Carer’s allowance.
If you are working you must be earning less than an average of £128 per week after tax, national insurance, and some expenses (2021/22 rates).
If you are getting other benefits that are not means-tested, such as Retirement Pension, Incapacity Benefit or contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance, you may not be able to get paid Carer’s Allowance, but in certain circumstances it may still be worthwhile you making a claim, as it may increase the amount of means-tested benefits that you are able to get.
If the person you are looking after is living alone (or DWP rules treat them as living alone) and they get means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit or income related Employment and Support Allowance, if you make a claim for Carer’s Allowance this could reduce the amount of money that they get in their benefits. It is important that the person you are looking after agrees that you can claim Carer’s Allowance. It is recommended that you both take advice from an organisation like CAB before you make the claim.
You can find out if you're eligible for Carer's Allowance and make a claim on GOV.UK.
Carer’s Credit is not a payment of money, but instead it provides a credit to your national insurance record if you have had to work reduced hours because of your caring responsibilities. This may make a difference to the amount of Retirement Pension that you are able to get when you reach state pension age.
You could get Carer’s Credit if you are aged 16 or older and are caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week. The person that you are looking after must be getting Attendance Allowance; Disability Living Allowance care component (middle or higher rate) or Personal Independence Payment daily living component.
You may be able to get Carer’s Credit if you are not able to get Carer’s allowance.
You can find out if you’re eligible for Carer’s Credit and make a claim on GOV.UK
Council Tax Reduction for carers
You may be able to get a Council Tax Reduction if you are on a low income. To apply for this, you would need to contact your local district or borough council’s benefits department.
As a carer you are entitled to a carer's assessment from social care services. An assessment is a conversation with a skilled practitioner to find out more about how your caring responsibilities affect you. Supporting someone may cause feelings which may affect your health and wellbeing such as feeling tired, frustrated, exhausted, sad or being ill. You may have other feelings too. The conversation should explore what help you may need to support you in your role as a carer. It is a chance for you to discuss how your caring responsibilities affect you to help to work out if there are also other options available to you from social care and / or our partners in health, community and voluntary organisations.
This information will be stored securely, and you have the right to see the information we hold about you at any time.
As part of the assessment conversation, we may need to contact other people who are involved with you (such as your GP or other organisations that you are already involved with) as this could help us to understand your circumstances better. There also may be some people who we need to share your information with, within our organisation and our partner organisations to allow us to support you in the future.
The Care Act 2014 says that Suffolk County Council must check your Nationality or Immigration status as part of the Carer’s (eligibility) assessment. This means we will need to take copies of certain documents from you (such as a birth certificate or passport). These will be safely stored in our computer system. The person doing your assessment will be able to tell you more about this.
The assessment will work out if you are able to get support from us to help you with your caring duties.
You can find more information on our carers assessment page.
Carer’s personal budgets and direct payments
Your Carer’s assessment will help identify if you have any eligible needs which will be put in writing in a support plan. The support plan sets out what you require to meet your own needs as a carer. This might include financial support such as a direct payment.
A direct payment is a sum of money that can be used to help you pay for things which have been agreed in your support plan.
A direct payment is not means-tested, or taxed, and does not affect any benefits that you might be getting from the DWP. Examples of the types of things a direct payment may be used for includes:
- Paying for support to help with practical needs e.g. gardening, cleaning
- Education and training
- Activities to improve or promote your own health and wellbeing.
The payment is usually made as a one-off annual payment into your bank or building society account.
More financial support for carers
To find out what other financial support may be available, you can visit:
- GOV.UK to find out what benefits and allowances exist for carers, including carer's credit
- Carers UK for financial advice, including a simple tool on benefits and entitlements
- Suffolk Family Carers web pages
- Suffolk InfoLink to find local services that offer financial support for carers
Help for unpaid carers who are employed
As an unpaid carer, you have additional rights at work.
Many websites offer advice on combining work or study with your caring role. These cover information on your rights at work, flexible working, support at work, and returning to work or study.
You can visit the following websites for more information:
- Suffolk County Council subscribe to Carers UK resources. You can find information for unpaid carers including who are in employment
- Carers Trust: Support for working carers
- Carers UK: Work and career
- GOV.UK: Time off for family and dependants
- Macmillan Cancer Support: Your rights at work
- As a carer you may be eligible to apply for a Carers Scholarship Fund to help you study for an Open University qualification for free.