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Financial help when you are caring for someone

Carer’s Allowance

You may be able to get Carer’s Allowance if you are:

  • spending at least 35 hours a week looking after someone getting either Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at either rate of the daily living component or DLA for personal care at the higher or middle rate or Attendance Allowance at either rate
  • over the age of 16
  • not working or if working you earn less than a prescribed amount and
  • not a full time student.

It does not matter if you live with the person you care for, but if the person you care for lives alone check before you claim Carer’s Allowance because they may lose entitlement to some of their benefit. You can get Carer’s Allowance if you have a partner who is working.

If you are already getting State Retirement Pension, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Bereavement Benefit you will not get Carer’s Allowance. However, it may still be worth claiming though because you may qualify for extra Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit because you have an underlying entitlement to Carer’s Allowance.

Income Support

If you are under pension age and single with savings under £16,000 you may qualify for Income Support to top up your income. You may also get Income Support if you have a partner but usually only if they are unable to work through sickness or disability or if they are also a carer. Each couple’s circumstances are different and you should always check to see if you are entitled.

Getting Income Support will also entitle you to other types of help, such as free prescriptions, free dental treatment, optician’s services, and help with mortgage interest.

Ring the Jobcentre Plus New Claims call centre on 0800 055 6688 to make a claim.

Pension Credit

Male and female carers over women’s pension age, or with a partner who is, may be entitled to Pension Credit. The amount you get depends on your income including other benefits and the amount of savings you have but people who get Carer’s Allowance or have an underlying entitlement will get their income topped up to a higher amount . Saving may reduce the amount you get.

Getting Pension Credit may also entitle you to other types of help, such as free dental treatment, optician’s services, help with mortgage interest and home improvement grants.

Contact the Pension Credit application line to make a claim.

Child Tax Credit

If you have a dependent child or children you may be able to get Child Tax Credit. Many families are claiming this already but if the family income has dropped as a result of your extra caring commitments you may be entitled to more Child Tax Credit. If you get more than the basic amount you will become entitled to free school meals and some health benefits.

Contact the Tax Credit Helpline to make a claim or to inform them of a change in circumstances.

Housing Benefit

If you are finding it hard to pay your rent, apply for Housing Benefit. Your housing officer or local Council offices will be able to send you the relevant application form. Anyone on a low income can apply for Housing Benefits as long as your capital/savings are less than £16,000 or you are getting pension credit (guarantee credit).

Council Tax

If you are on a low income you can apply for Council Tax reduction to help with your Council Tax payments. In certain circumstances there are also discounts on Council Tax available to carers and disabled people – check these out with the hospice welfare officers.

Health care benefits

If you get Pension Credit, Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or high levels of Child Tax Credit you will become entitled to free prescriptions, free dental treatment, free optician services and fares to hospital.

You may also be entitled to some help with the above if you do not get these benefits but you have a low income. You need to make a separate claim on a form HC1.

Taking a break from caring

You can have a break of up to four weeks every six months and still get the Carer’s Allowance. This can be extended twelve weeks if you are in hospital for at least eight weeks of that time.

If the person you care for is in hospital for more than four weeks, their Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Allowance or Disability Living Allowance is suspended for the rest of their time in hospital. Your benefit may be affected too. You should seek advice about what to do. This does not apply if they are an in-patient at St Christopher’s.

Your benefit will be reduced if the person you care for is in hospital for more than twelve weeks.

You will be able to claim the Carers Allowance and/or the extra it allows on the other benefits for eight weeks after the death of the person you care for. Claim Carers Allowance on form DS700.

Please note: These benefits usually only apply if you have no restrictions on your right to remain in the UK. If you have an uncertain immigration status, please get further advice.