‘Informal’ carers could be missing out on benefit of £3,624 a year

Martin Lewis on carer's allowance and the effect on pensions

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Recent research by the charity Carer’s UK revealed more than six million people in the UK are carers, this equates to around one in every eight adults. According to the House of Commons Library Family Resources Survey about six percent of the UK population, which is around 4.2 million people, provide unpaid, “informal’ care”. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has described an informal/unpaid carer as “someone who provides unpaid help to a friend or family member needing support, perhaps due to illness, older age, disability, a mental health condition or an addiction”, as long as they are not employed to do so.

Under the Carer’s Allowance rules from the DWP, caring for someone includes tasks such as helping with washing and cooking, taking the person being cared for to a doctor’s appointment or helping with household tasks, like managing bills and shopping.

This could make someone eligible to claim Carer’s Allowance dependent if they meet the other benefit criteria.

Claiming Carer’s Allowance will provide someone with weekly instalments of £69.70 paid every four weeks.

This equates to 3,624.40 a year and a claim can also be backdated for up to three months, this extra income could provide valuable support with rising living costs.

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To be eligible to claim, people must first be 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone.

Claimants must not be in full-time education and cannot be studying for 21 hours a week or more.

They must also live in England, Scotland or Wales and earn £132 or less a week after tax, National Insurance, and expenses.

Britons can only claim the benefit if the person they care for claims one of the “qualifying benefits”.

These include Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or Armed Forces Independence Payment.

The DWP has reiterated that claimants do not have to be related to the person that they care caring for.

Carer’s Allowance cannot be shared so if a person shares the care of an individual with someone else, both people cannot claim and a carer cannot get more if they care for more than one person.

Under the “overlapping benefits” rules, people are also not entitled to receive Carer’s Allowance if they claim certain other benefits.

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If people claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit as well as Carer’s Allowance, their payments will be reduced by the amount of Carer’s Allowance they receive.

With the state pension, there is actually no upper age limit for claiming Carer’s Allowance, however, people cannot receive the full amount of both Carer’s Allowance and a state pension at the same time.

If a person’s state pension is less than £69.70 per week, they can get the difference paid in Carer’s Allowance.

Over the last year, the DWP has urged Britons to check what they are entitled to claim in order to help them financially during the cost of living crisis.

According to a study commissioned by Smart Energy GB, one in three unpaid carers is now spending “significantly” more than last year looking after loved ones, due to the rising cost of living.

A poll of 1,000 people, who care for others non-professionally, found more than three-quarters have spent more time this year ensuring the home of the person they provide care for is energy efficient.

On average, an unpaid carer has spent £400 on things such as LED lightbulbs, boiler servicing, and better-quality curtains.

Phillippa Brown, from, which commissioned the study, said: “Unpaid carers take on a huge amount of responsibility looking after friends or family, and the cost-of-living crisis is only making their role more challenging.”

The survey also found that more than eight in ten unpaid carers agree their stress levels are rising due to the unavoidable cost increases related to the care they provide.

Only eight percent of the 1,000 surveyed believed there has been enough support offered to them during the cost-of-living crisis.

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