Carer’s Allowance: Not reporting changes may land you in court in 2022 – rules explained

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Carer’s Allowance provides £67.60 per week to those who care for someone for at least 35 hours a week, who also get certain benefits such as PIP. However, the payments are dependent on the claimant’s specific circumstances and any changes could affect what’s paid out.

Change in circumstances

Recipients of Carer’s Allowance must report any changes in their circumstances to the Government. The changes can be wide ranging and include starting a job, seeing changes to one’s income levels or changing address.

This is important to note as if these changes are not reported, or if claimants give wrong information, they may be taken to court or have to pay a penalty.

These changes can be reported online through the Government’s website. When reporting, claimants will need to have certain information at the ready which includes their National Insurance number and details of the person they’re caring for.

The online process should take around 10 minutes to complete. It is also possible to report a change of circumstances to the Carer’s Allowance Unit by phone or by post.

Carer’s Allowance claims

Claims for Carer’s Allowance can be made online or through the post. Before applying, claimants will need to have personal details at the ready.

This includes their financial details and expenses. They’ll also need details of the person they care for, which includes their date of birth, address and National Insurance number.

On top of needing to be over the age of 16 and spending at least 35 hours a week caring for someone, claimants must also have been living in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two of the previous three years. They also must not be in full-time education, be studying for 21 hours a week or more or be subject to immigration control.

Claimants also cannot be earning more than £128 per week after tax, National Insurance and expenses.

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Effect on other benefits

Carer’s Allowance can have a unique impact on other benefits that both the claimant and the person being cared for get. When a person claims Carer’s Allowance, their other benefit payments may change, but their total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same.

Additionally, Carer’s Allowance will not count towards the benefit cap.

Those in receipt of Pension Credit will see their payments increase if they’re eligible for Carer’s Allowance. It should be noted that retirees cannot build up their state pensions through deferment while they’re getting Carer’s Allowance.

To see how a person’s other benefits may be affected by Carer’s Allowance, free-to-use benefit calculators are available online.

Carer’s credits

The impact on pensions can somewhat be eased through the use of carer’s credits, which count towards a person’s state pension entitlement.To be eligible for these credits, a person must be between 16 and state pension age and look after one or more people for at least 20 hours a week.

However, recent research from Quilter showed thousands of carers are at risk of losing these credits as the numbers of people claiming are lower than pre-pandemic. A Freedom of Information request by Quilter, showed that in 2021 just 4,759 people have claimed carer’s credits.

Based on these figures, which are the most available to November 8, 2021, Quilter estimated the number of carer’s credits claimed by the end of the year to be just 5,568, marginally ahead of last year’s figure of 5,221, but remaining 13 percent lower than pre-pandemic figures.

This is despite Government estimates that 4.5 million additional people become unpaid carers because of the pandemic. This is on top of the 9.1 million unpaid carers already caring before coronavirus hit, with many juggling their own health and wellbeing issues as well as employment.

Olivia Kennedy, a financial planner at Quilter, commented: “Carers play an essential role in propping up this country and it is only right that they at the very least receive a pension credit in return. But, despite the pandemic increasing the amount of people requiring care, the number of people applying for the credit continues to lag pre-pandemic levels.

“Unfortunately, many people fail to see themselves as carers and fail to apply for carers credit.

“Failing to do so can have a disastrous impact on someone’s financial wellbeing as many people begin being a carer later on in life and might need the credits to get the full state pension.

“The Government recently finally set out its long-awaited social care plan, which applies a £86,000 cap on care costs. However, the detail revealed that some lower income households will now need to meet almost all of that £86,000. Many people will try to prevent the need to dip into family savings by caring for loved ones themselves and it’s imperative that these people still look after their own financial wellbeing and claim these important credits.”

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