You can find the answers to your most frequently asked questions below:
How can I prove I’m a carer? Should I register somewhere?
It can be useful to have proof that you are a carer if you are trying to access services.
You could use your benefit entitlement letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to prove that you are receiving Carer’s Allowance (CA), or you are being paid a carer or disability premium* as part of your Income Support, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit.
If you have an underlying entitlement to Carers Allowance you could use the letter from the DWP confirming this to prove you are a carer. If the person you are caring for receives Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance then their benefit entitlement letter may also be accepted as proof that you care for them.
You are under no obligation to inform anyone that you are a carer, but you might find it helpful to let your GP know (some GPs hold their own registers of carers attending the surgery) and ask them to put this on your record as they may offer more flexible services to carers, or keep a closer eye on your health.
I don’t live in the same borough/county as the person I care for – who do I go to for help?
If you don’t live in the same area as the person you care for then it is the duty of the local authority of the person with the disability or health condition to support both them and you as their carer.
This includes offering you a carer’s assessment and then (from 1 April 2015) providing any services or help that they assess you as needing. So, if you live in Sandwell but the person you care for lives in Birmingham, it is Birmingham City Councils’ responsibility to undertake any carer’s assessment and support.
CARES, works with, helps and supports carers living or working in Sandwell or caring for someone living in Sandwell.
We will be happy to give you the contact details of an appropriate carers organisation in any other area, although not all services will support carers who do not live in their area.
Am I entitled to any financial support or discounts, such as a council tax discount, for being a carer?
The main financial support available to carers is Carer’s Allowance (CA).
If you are a carer and receive Income Support, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit you may be entitled to a carer premium, which will be automatically added to your benefit payments.
Carers can often get free or discounted entry to tourist attractions and leisure facilities; proof of the disability of the person you care for may be required. Some organisations have their own systems for identifying carers and people with disabilities, for example the Cinema Exhibitor’s Association Card (0845 123 1292) enables people receiving Attendance Allowance (AA), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) to get one free ticket for someone accompanying them to the cinema.
People who are blind can apply for a 50% reduction on the costs of their television licence. If your child is blind, you can register the licence in their name and also get the reduction. For more details, contact TV Licensing on 0300 790 6131, or go to www.tvlicensing.co.uk.
The Disabled Person’s Railcard (0845 605 0525) allows someone with a disability and one accompanying adult to buy discounted rail tickets.
If you are caring for a child with a disability you could benefit from the extra savings for families offered via the Family Fund.
Some, but not all, carers are entitled to a Council Tax discount. For the purposes of council tax some carers can be ‘not counted’ for various reasons.
Carers are ‘not counted’ if they care for someone living in the same property for 35 hours or more a week, and that person is not their spouse/partner, or child (if the child is under 18). If more than one person in a household meets this caring criteria they can be ‘not counted’ as well. The cared for person needs to be receiving Attendance Allowance, the daily living element of Personal Independence Payment, or the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
Another way of having a member of your household ‘not counted’ is if they have a severe mental impairment (a doctor needs to provide a certificate confirming this). Again the cared for person needs to be receiving certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, AA or the middle or highest rate care component of DLA.
Obtaining a Council Tax discount is a complicated area of advice and you can get further help from CARES Information Service on 0121 558 7003 or email@example.com.
The Disability Reduction Scheme is available to those living with someone who is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’ regardless of their age or if they are related to you, who also meets one of the following criteria:
- There is an additional kitchen or bathroom in the property needed by the disabled person.
- There is another room in the property (not a kitchen, bathroom or toilet) needed by and predominantly used by the disabled person.
- There is enough space in the property for the disabled person to use a wheelchair indoors.
If your household meets this criteria then your existing council tax band will be lowered to the band below, which will reduce your bill.
If you have been eligible for either of these schemes in the past, but did not apply, your claim should be backdated to when you were first eligible. Properties solely occupied by people who are severely mentally impaired, and properties left empty because the occupant has moved elsewhere to care for someone, or be cared for, are all exempt from council tax.
Obtaining a Disability Reduction is a complicated area of advice and you can get further help from CARES Information Service on 0121 558 7003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is available if you are aged 16 or over and care, for at least 35 hours a week, for someone who is receiving Attendance Allowance (AA), the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
For more information about these and other benefits contact CARES Information Service on 0121 558 7003 or at email@example.com
You do not have to be a relative or live with the person you are caring for, but you must not be in full-time education (over 21 hours a week) or earning over £102 a week (after some allowable deductions such as tax and national insurance).
You can only receive Carers Allowance once, even if you care for more than one person. If two people care for someone, only one of them is entitled to claim even though both are carers. Carers Allowance can only be backdated for three months, so you should claim within three months of the person you care for being awarded AA, DLA or PIP to avoid losing out on any income.
Be aware that if you are awarded Carers Allowance the person you care for will no longer be entitled to the Severe Disability Premium, and in some circumstances this can penalise the cared for person financially.
Can I get Carers Allowance if I am a pensioner?
Carers Allowance is an ‘overlapping benefit’ with certain other benefits, including the state pension. This means you cannot be paid both benefits at once.
Carers Allowance is currently worth £61.35 and if you are receiving the state pension at the same amount or more than Carers Allowance then you will not be paid any Carers Allowance even if you meet all the other criteria.
If your state pension is less than £61.35 a week then it will be topped up to Carers Allowance levels.
It can still be worth applying for Carers Allowance even if your pension exceeds the threshold, as you will be recognised as having an underlying entitlement, which can increase your chances of being eligible for pension credit and other benefits such as the carer premium.
To claim Carers Allowance call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321, or you can claim online at www.gov.uk/carers-allowance. If you need help claiming you can get further help from CARES Information Service on 0121 558 7003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are my rights as a Carer?
Being aware of your rights as a carer, and the rights of the person you care for, means that you will be in the best position to ensure that you are both receiving all the services and support you are entitled to. Various Acts of Parliament have enshrined carers’ rights in law:
- The Mental Health Act 1983 gives carers (if they are the nearest relative) of people with a mental health problem the right to ask for an assessment of the person they are caring for.
- The Care Act 2014 gives local authorities a responsibility to assess a carer’s needs for support, where the carer appears to have such needs. It also, for the first time, gives carers the right to receive services following the assessment.
- The Employment Act 2002 gives parents with children under six or disabled children under 18, who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks, the right to apply for flexible work arrangements. It also gives carers the right to take (unpaid) time off work for dependants in cases of emergency.
- The Equality Act 2010 replaced existing anti-discrimination laws and drew together the legislation into a single, simpler, stronger Act. The Equality Act 2010 clarifies the protection working carers are entitled to in the workplace.
Children and Families
- The Children Act 1989 gives young carers (under the age of 18) of a disabled parent, the right to be regarded as ‘children in need’.
- The Children & Families Act 2014 gives young carers and parent carers the same rights to an assessment and services as adult carers within the Care Act 2014
- The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 introduced the right to a carer’s assessment for all carers, including young carers.
- The Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 extended these rights to include a discretionary right to support services and for these services to be made available with direct payments and vouchers.
- The Work and Families Act 2006 extended the benefits of flexible working rights to carers of adults.
- The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 created a new duty on local authorities to provide short break services and to properly support disabled children and their families when children are placed away from home.
- The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 promotes more opportunities for carers in areas such as work, leisure and studying. It places a duty on local authorities to ensure that all carers know that they are entitled to an assessment of their needs. It also places a duty on councils to consider a carer’s outside interests when carrying out an assessment.
- The Civil Partnership Act 2004 enables same-sex couples to obtain legal recognition of their relationship. Couples who form a civil partnership will have a new legal status, that of ‘civil partner’. Civil partners who are carers will therefore have greater rights in areas such as welfare benefits.
- The Equality Act 2010 bans the direct discrimination and harassment of a carer when shopping for goods or services, using facilities such as public libraries and cafes and using services such as public transport.