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Statistics from Carers UK show that one in eight adults in the UK – around 6.5 million people – are carers, and every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility. It’s a vital role to play and important that you know what you’re entitled to when it comes to your money.
The good news is there’s a range of financial support – including benefits and grants – out there to support carers and the people they care for, but it can be difficult to know where to turn.
In this blog, we’ve broken down the various elements of support you could be entitled to.
Universal Credit Carer Element
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working age. It’s usually thought of as a benefit for people on a low income, but in fact many households with average or higher than average income levels can also qualify.
It’s always worth checking if you’re eligible by speaking to an adviser or using a benefits calculator, especially if you have dependent children, or live in rented housing.
Remember that the rates for Universal Credit changed in December 2021 and again in April 2022, so if you checked your eligibility a while ago, the results could easily be out of date now.
You may be able to qualify for a £168.81 a month Carer Element that gets added to your Universal Credit, even if your income is too high to get Carer’s Allowance. To qualify, you need to support someone who gets DLA, PIP, or Attendance Allowance, and provide that support for at least 35 hours per week.
You can’t get the Carer Element if someone else already claims Carer’s Allowance or Carer Element for supporting the same person.
If you’re not sure if you already get the Carer Element, check your most recent Universal Credit statement. Click the amount to see a full breakdown of all the elements and deductions that were used when your award was calculated. Write on your account journal if you don’t see the Carer Element there, but you think you qualify.
To make a new Universal Credit claim, apply online here.
If you earn less than £128 a week after tax, National Insurance and expenses, and you look after someone who gets DLA, PIP or Attendance Allowance, then Carer’s Allowance is another option.
You can get it at the same time as Universal Credit, but since it’s deducted from Universal Credit in full, the main advantage of Carer’s Allowance is for those people who don’t qualify for Universal Credit.
It’s also important to note that in rare cases receiving Carer’s Allowance can affect the other benefits that you and the person you care for get, and you have to pay tax if your income is over the Personal Allowance.
Speak to a benefits adviser if you want to check whether claiming Carer’s Allowance will reduce the benefits received by the person you care for.
You can receive Carer’s Allowance weekly in advance or every four weeks. For each week you receive Carer’s Allowance, you’ll automatically get National Insurance credits.
If you live in Scotland, you’ll automatically get a Carer’s Allowance Supplement.
Support from your local council
You can request a carer’s assessment for free, and anyone over 18 can ask for one. The assessment intends to see what help might make your life as a carer easier and it’s separate from the needs assessment that the person you care for might have.
To organise an assessment, contact adult social services at your local council or, if you’re a parent carer, contact the children with disabilities department. You can do this online or over the phone. To find your local social services team, click here. Make sure you have your NHS number, GP details and the name, address, date of birth and the NHS number of the person you care for (if you have it) to hand for your assessment.
Your council might also be able to help you with further costs, but you’ll need to arrange a financial assessment first which can be arranged following your carer’s assessment.
If you’re over State Pension age and on a low income, Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs. It’s separate from a State Pension and you can get this even if you receive other income.
You’ll receive higher levels of Pension Credit if you support a qualifying adult or child.
For more details visit the Pension Credit webpage.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children
If you’re the parent carer of a disabled child, aged under 16 who has difficulties walking, or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability, you could claim DLA.
Find out more about claiming DLA for children here.
This is a National Insurance (NI) contribution to help make sure you don’t lose out on some social security benefits, such as the State Pension, because of gaps in your National Insurance record.
You’ll be able to claim this if you look after someone for more than 20 hours a week and don’t get Carer’s Allowance.
Find out more about claiming Carer’s Credit here.
Blue Badges help people with disabilities or health conditions park closer to their destination. You can apply for a badge on behalf of somebody else.
A person will automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if they’re aged 3 or over and at least one of the following applies to them:
- They receive the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- They receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because they can’t walk more than 50 metres (a score of 8 points or more under the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component)
- They’re registered blind
- They receive a War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
- They’ve received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1 to 8 or the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking
- They receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points specifically for descriptor E under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity, on the grounds that they’re unable to undertake any journey because it would cause them overwhelming psychological distress
They also may be eligible for a badge if one or more of these items applies to them.
Their local council will decide if they’re eligible for a badge. They can’t start the assessment process until they have all the necessary evidence. It may take 12 weeks or longer to assess the application.
To find out more about applying for a Blue Badge, click here.
Help with NHS prescriptions and health costs
If the person you care for is on a low income, or in receipt of certain benefits or tax credits, they may be entitled to full or partial help towards NHS costs.
In England, if they’re in receipt of one of the following means-tested benefits, they can get full help with NHS health costs:
- Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (not contribution-based)
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
If they don’t currently receive one of these qualifying benefits, but have a low income, then they may be able to get ‘full’ or ‘partial’ help towards NHS health costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). Find out more here.
To find out more about help with health costs in other locations:
Disabled Facilities Grant and other support grants available
You can contact your local authority if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, to enquire about a Disabled Facilities Grant to help towards the cost of home adaptations.
How much someone receives depends on household income and savings. The maximum amount varies depending on where they live. You can find out more on the Entitled To website here.
In Scotland, they may be able to get other support for equipment and adaptations.
As a carer, if either yourself or the person you care for needs additional support paying for something, there are grants out there to help. Disability Grants has details of charities to apply to.
The Motability Scheme
This scheme is designed to help disabled people lease a car, a powered wheelchair or scooter. They’ll need to be in receipt of one of the following to access this:
- The higher rate of the mobility component of DLA
- The higher rate of the mobility component of Child Disability Payment
- War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- The enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP
It’s also worth looking into whether their local council operates a dial-a-ride or taxi scheme and whether they’re eligible for a bus pass, a Disabled Persons Railcard or both.
Check eligibility using our Benefits Calculator
It’s worth checking if the person you support has had advice on their benefit entitlements. Remember our Benefits Calculator is here to help.
For more support and advice
If you’re interested in learning more about making the most out of your budget and maximising your income, our Financial Wellbeing Hub is here to help.
If you’re struggling with debt repayments and want to get on top of your finances, remember you can get in touch with us here.
Read the rest of our ‘What you could be entitled to’ series:
- Ways to save money using your tax relief entitlements
- All about Universal Credit and whether you’re entitled to claim
- Available support if you’re struggling with debt and your mental health
- Financial support for help with home and utilities costs
- Where to find extra support with food, household, healthcare, funeral, prison and legal costs