Your responsibilities as a carer may result in you incurring certain costs or they may affect your working life and result in a loss of earnings. This section explores some of these issues and the support available to you.
Carers Allowance is a benefit paid to people who cannot work full time because they look after someone who needs a great deal of care. To qualify you must be spending at least 35 hours per week caring for someone receiving the higher or middle rate of Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance.
If you receive a full state pension you cannot receive Carers Allowance.
Also, by claiming Carers Allowance the person you care for may lose their entitlement to some benefits, so seek advice before claiming.
The Carer Premium is a payment included in the calculation of other benefits such as Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. You need to apply for Carers Allowance to receive the Carer Premium.
For an initial assessment please contact our advice team.
We are also able to access grants for carers in exceptional circumstances from charitable organisations. Many of these grants cannot be accessed without coming to us.
For further information on benefits contact your local benefits agency or an advice centre.
Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit which helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension.
To qualify for Carer’s Credit you must care for one or more disabled people for a total of 20 hours or more per week. Each person you care for must receive:
Where a person being cared for does not receive an appropriate qualifying benefit, Carer’s Credit can still be awarded if you supply a Care Certificate. This will need to be signed by a health or social care professional (HSCP).
Universal credit is a new means-tested benefit that will eventually replace the following current means-tested benefits:
Other benefits (eg disability living allowance and personal independence payment) will remain largely unchanged by the new system.
Universal credit is being phased in over time and the current benefits will not disappear for some years.
Universal credit may entitle you to budgeting advances, free prescriptions and dental treatment, housing grants, free school meals and help with hospital fares.
To be eligible for universal credit, you must meet certain basic qualifying conditions. You must:
In addition, you (and your partner if you are making a ‘joint claim’ – see below) must not have capital of more than £16,000 and any earnings or income you have must not be too high for any universal credit to be paid. See section 4 below for the calculation.
You can claim Universal Credit online. Alternatively you can claim by phone:
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
If you have a partner (including a same-sex partner), you must normally make a ‘joint claim’ for universal credit. In a joint claim, you and your partner must usually meet all the basic qualifying conditions above. However, you and your partner may still be entitled to universal credit as joint claimants if one of you is over pension credit qualifying age or in full-time education (as long as you both satisfy all the other basic qualifying conditions – see above).
To claim universal credit, you must:
‘Present’ means physically present in the GB. There are specific rules that may allow you to be treated as present during a temporary absence.
The term ‘right to reside’ is not defined but is dependent on your immigration status and nationality. You might have a right to reside under United Kingdom rules, European Union law or because you are a British citizen.
The ‘habitual residence’ test is a test to see which country you normally live in. The test will be applied if you have been living abroad.
You will not normally be able to claim universal credit if you are undertaking a course of full-time advanced education. However, you may be able to claim universal credit even if you are receiving such education if you are entitled to attendance allowance, disability living allowance or personal independence payment and you have been assessed as having a limited capability for work.
For further information and the support that is available for disabled students, contact the Disabled Students Helpline
To qualify for universal credit, you may need to meet certain work-related conditions, known as ‘requirements’. These are recorded in a ‘claimant commitment’. You are likely to incur sanctions (where your universal credit is reduced) if you fail to meet a work-related requirement. Limited hardship payments may be available if you are sanctioned. In certain circumstances none of the work-related requirements will apply to you (see below).
There are four different types of requirement:
Your circumstances will determine which of these applies to you.
This is a requirement that you take part in one or more work-focused interviews. These are designed to assess your prospects and assist or encourage you to move into or stay in work.
This is a requirement that you take action to improve your chances of getting work. This can include taking part in training or an employment programme or undertaking work experience.
Here you are required to take all reasonable action to obtain paid work (or more work if you are already working part time). This can include:
You will be expected to search for work for a minimum amount of time each week. This is usually set at a minimum of 35 hours, although the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may agree to a reduced time if you have caring responsibilities or a physical or mental impairment. Similarly, you will be expected to look for work of a least 35 hours a week; again the DWP can agree to restrictions taking into account any caring responsibilities or impairment you may have.
You are normally required to be able and willing to take up paid work (or more work if you are already working part time) immediately; you must also be able and willing to attend a job interview immediately.
However, the DWP can allow you up to one month to take up paid work, and up to 48 hours to attend a job interview, if you are caring for a child or someone with a ‘physical or mental impairment’, so that you can make alternative care arrangements.
The DWP can allow you up to one week to take up paid work, and up to 48 hours to attend a job interview, if you are carrying out voluntary work.
Where your ‘physical or mental impairment has a substantial adverse effect’ on your ability to carry out work of a particular nature or in a particular place, you cannot be expected to be available for such work or in such a place.
In certain circumstances, none of the work-related requirements will apply to you. This will be the case if you:
The amount of universal credit you are paid depends on your circumstances. It is worked out on a monthly basis by comparing your financial needs with your financial resources. Set amounts for different financial needs are added together to arrive at a figure called your ‘maximum amount’. This is the basic amount the law says you need to live on each month. From this figure amounts are deducted for any earnings and other income you receive (see below). The resulting amount will be your universal credit for that month. This may be restricted by the ‘benefit cap’.
The maximum amount is made up of a ‘standard allowance’ and ‘elements’, paid to cover different needs. The elements are:
These are described in sections 5 and 6 below.
This is the basic allowance, which is always included in your maximum amount. The amount you are entitled to depends on your age and whether you are claiming as a single person or jointly:
The calculation of your earnings is based on a net figure after tax, national insurance contributions and any contribution you make to an occupational or personal pension scheme have been deducted. Employer-paid benefits (such as statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay) are treated as earnings.
In some circumstance, you may be allowed to keep some of your earnings up to a certain limit before your universal credit is affected; this is known as the ‘work allowance’. Earnings in excess of the work allowance that applies in your case will reduce your universal credit by 65 pence in the pound.
If you have income other than earnings, such as other benefits, these will usually be taken into account in full, so that your universal credit is reduced pound for pound. Some benefits are disregarded in full, for example disability living allowance, attendance allowance and personal independence payment.
Universal credit has a ‘lower capital limit’ and an ‘upper capital limit’. If you have savings or capital over the upper limit of £16,000, you cannot get universal credit. This figure applies if you are claiming as a single claimant or as a couple. If you have savings or capital at or below the lower limit of £6,000, your universal credit is unaffected.
If your capital is between these limits, it is treated as generating a monthly income of £4.35 for each £250 (or part of £250) above the lower limit of £6,000. For instance, if you have capital of £6,300, it is treated as generating a monthly income of £8.70.
This is included in your maximum amount if you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person who normally lives with you:
A ‘qualifying young person’ is someone aged 16 to 18 (or 19 in some cases) who has enrolled on (or been accepted for) a course of full-time non-advanced education or approved training, who is not getting an existing means-tested benefit (such as income-related employment and support allowance) or universal credit themselves.
An additional amount is included for each child or qualifying young person who is disabled. It is set at two different levels:
This is paid a two different levels. It is included in your maximum amount if you have:
The tests for these are the same as those for the work capability assessment for employment and support allowance (the ‘limited capability for work’ and ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ assessments).
A carer element of £150.39 is included in your maximum amount if you have ‘regular and substantial caring responsibilities’ for a severely disabled person. You are considered to have such responsibilities if you are eligible for carer’s allowance, although you do not have to actually claim that allowance.
You are not normally entitled to this element as well as the work capability element (see above) if you would otherwise be eligible for both; only the highest paid element will be included in your maximum amount. However, if you have a limited capability for work and your partner is a carer, both elements could be payable.
This will be included in your maximum amount if you pay for registered child care in order to stay in work. There is no set number of hours you need to work to get this element. You will get 85% of your relevant childcare costs met, up to a maximum amount of:
If you are claiming jointly, your partner must also be in paid work, unless they are unable to look after the child because they:
Generally the childcare must be provided by someone who is registered for child care or an equivalent. Relevant childcare is not care provided by a close relative of the child wholly or mainly in the child’s home or care provided by a foster parent.
A housing costs element may be included in your maximum amount if you pay rent or have a mortgage. The element can also cover certain service charges related to these payments.
If you own your home, the housing costs element may cover mortgage interest on loans secured on your property. There is normally a ceiling of £200,000 on the amount of loan that can be covered; this does not apply in the case of any loan taken out for the purpose of adapting your property to the needs of a disabled person.
There will normally be a ‘qualifying period’ of nine months before the element can be included in your universal credit award. You will not be entitled to the element if you are in paid work.
If you are a private tenant, your housing costs element will depend on where your home is situated and the number of rooms you are deemed to need in the same way as the current housing benefit scheme.
Deductions will be made from the element if you have non-dependants living with you. A non-dependant is someone who lives with you who is not your partner, a child or young person for whom you are responsible, a joint tenant, boarder, lodger or sub-tenant. Typically, an adult son or daughter will be considered to be a non-dependant. The rules are similar to those in the current housing benefit scheme.
If you are renting social housing (from your local authority or from a housing association), your housing costs element may be reduced if the property you rent is considered to be under occupied. Deductions will be made from the element if you have non-dependants living with you.
If you are in ‘specified accommodation’ (eg a refuge if you are fleeing domestic violence or accommodation where care, support or supervision is provided to you), your housing support will continue to be met through housing benefit rather than universal credit.
You may be able to get ‘discretionary housing payments’ (DHPs) if your universal credit does not cover all your housing costs and your local authority accepts that you require some further financial assistance.
You must claim a DHP from your local authority; most local authorities will have a form on which to claim. You can view the Discretionary Housing Payments Guidance Manual
Some of your earnings may be disregarded by applying a ‘work allowance’. This will only apply if you or your partner:
There are two different rates:
The lower work allowance will apply if a housing costs element is included in your maximum amount. If a housing costs element is not included in your maximum amount, the higher work allowance will apply instead. In each case, the same rate will apply whether you are a single claimant or claiming jointly with your partner.
There is a cap on the total amount of benefits, including universal credit, that you can claim. It is £2167 a month if you are a lone-parent or a joint claimant, or £1517 a month if you are single and have no chidren. Benefits that are taken into account when calculating the cap include:
The benefit cap will not apply if you, your partner or a dependent child are getting certain benefits, including attendance allowance, disability living allowance or personal independence payment. It will also not apply if the higher level of the work capability element has been included in your universal credit award.
The benefit cap will not apply if your monthly earnings before tax (or combined earnings before tax if you are in a couple) are at least £430.
There is a ‘grace period’ of nine consecutive months when you will not be capped, if you were working for a year and your earnings (or combined earnings) for each month were at least £430. This grace period normally starts from the day after you finished working, regardless of when your universal credit award starts. For example, if you finish work on June 21st 2016 and claim universal credit in September 2016, your nine months starts from June 22nd 2016.
Normally, your universal credit is paid in arrears as a single payment each month. If you have a partner; you can choose who receives the payment. Alternative payment arrangements (eg bi-monthly payments) would only be made if the DWP considered that you could not manage with a single monthly payment; such arrangements would usually only be made for a temporary period.
If all the work-related requirements apply to you (see section 3 above), you will usually have to wait for seven days (the ‘waiting period’) before you are eligible to be paid universal credit.
To check whether you are eligible to claim universal credit, based on your circumstances, go to www.gov.uk/guidance/jobcentres-where-you-can-claim-universal-credit
There is an online web tool you can use to find out whether you can claim universal credit in your area at http://universalcreditinfo.net/
If you are currently receiving a benefit which will be replaced by universal credit you will be moved onto universal credit between July 2019 and March 2022.
You will not lose out immediately when you are moved onto universal credit if your circumstances remain the same. You will get ‘transitional protection’ if your universal credit is less than what you would have got under the old system. This will be an extra amount to make up the difference between the old and the new. You will continue to get this until you are entitled to receive more under universal credit than under the old benefits (which could mean your universal credit is effectively frozen for several years). The transitional protection may be terminated if your circumstances change (eg if you separate from your partner or become a partner). The amount you receive will still be affected by the benefit cap rules.
The DWP has created a universal credit toolkit resource, for partner organisations, available at www.gov.uk/guidance/universal-credit-toolkit-for-partner-organisations
The DWP has published Advice for Decision Making which provides guidance on universal credit decision making. You can view this at www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-decision-making-staff-guide
Personal Independence Payment (PiP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.
You could get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week.
The rate depends on how your condition affects you, not the condition itself.
You’ll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get. Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you’re getting the right support.
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people aged 65 and over who have needed help with personal care for at least six months.
Incapacity Benefit is a payment based on National Insurance Contributions for people who are unable to work due to disability or illness.
Many carers give up work in order to care. As well as financial difficulties they may also face problems with isolation and social exclusion. If at some point they want to work again, they may struggle to get back into the job market.
Giving up work in order to care is a big decision. Before doing so you should ask yourself:
You may feel that you have no choice about whether or not you work, when in fact you do have options. Start by thinking about what you want to do and then try to find ways of achieving this.
Almost 3 million carers combine employment with their caring role.
The National Carers Strategy aims to help tackle the problems this can
cause. Its stated objectives in this area are:
The Work & Families Act 2006 gives carers new rights to request flexible working. The law gives you the right to make one application per year for flexible working.
Carers UK have produced a carers rights guide. It gives you all the information you need to help minimise the stresses of balancing paid work with caring. It also helps with preparing to return to work.
See leaflet GL24: If you think our decision is wrong, available from your local Benefits Agency and the DWP website, or seek legal advice (the Cambridge House Law Centre can advise). You must ask for decisions to be reviewed within one month of receiving a decision.
You may be entitled to reduced or free prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and glasses, hospital transport etc. See leaflet HC11: Are you entitled to help with health costs? Available from benefits agency offices and main post offices
Community care grants and budgeting loans can be made to those on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. In an emergency you may be able to get support through the Southwark Emergency Support Scheme this is available whether you are receiving benefits or not.
One of your responsibilities as a carer may be to help someone manage their money. For help with claiming benefits for someone else, see the Department for Work and Pensions website.
If the person you care for wants you to manage their bank or building society account on their behalf they can do so by requesting a third party mandate from their bank / building society. The person you care for may agree for you to manage some or all of their money and assets, giving you power of attorney. You will need to seek legal advice in order to do this.
Many carers find that voluntary work has many benefits, such as:
which can be helpful when returning to work
Organisations seeking voluntary workers will usually be flexible so that you can work when it suits you, and as little or as much as you like.
General advice on employment and training issues – 0808 808 7777
Working families also produce a free monthly newsletter full of useful advice – 0300 012 0312
Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.
Community Southwark – Get Involved information on local volunteering opportunities – 0207 358 7258
Nearest tube – Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station – Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle – ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45