What Financial Support is Available If a Relative Needs Care?

Caring for a loved one can be hugely rewarding, but it may also come with a degree of stress and financial pressure.

A recent YouGov survey revealed that 50% of the UK population has had experience in providing unpaid care, and one in seven carers juggle these commitments with work.

Sadly, 91% of unpaid family carers said they felt ignored by the government, with four in ten experiencing money difficulties as a result.

A further survey of unpaid carers carried out by the charity Carer’s Trust revealed that the financial strain of caring had resulted in 51% of respondents giving up hobbies, and 31% cutting back on food.

In light of these statistics, we have put together a list of available help that you could be eligible for. While finding the time to sit down and go through eligibility criteria and application forms can be daunting, it’s really important that you take advantage of every benefit available to you.

Carer’s Allowance

If you care for someone for at least 35 hours per week, and the person you care for is in receipt of certain benefits, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

As of September 2023, Carer’s Allowance is £76.75 per week. This can be paid either weekly in advance, or monthly.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible for Carer's Allowance if you:

  • Are over the age of 16;
  • Have spent at least two of the last three years living in England, Scotland or Wales;
  • Spend a minimum of 35 hours a week caring for someone. You do not need to be related to, in a relationship with, or living with the person you care for;
  • Are not in full-time education, or studying for 21 hours a week or more; and
  • Earn less than £139 per week, after tax, National Insurance, and expenses.

If you are one of multiple carers for the same person, only one of you will be able to claim the allowance.

In addition to this, the person you are caring for must also be claiming a benefit relating to their illness or disability. This can include Armed Forces Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, and Child Disability Payment, on the middle or highest care rate.

It’s possible that Carer’s Allowance may affect any existing benefits that you might already have. It might also impact the benefits of the person you are caring for.

You can find out how to make a claim here.

Carer’s Credit

Carer’s Credit is a type of UK National Insurance credit. It may help to fill the gaps in your National Insurance record if you are an unpaid carer, so that you don’t miss out on things like State Pension.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible for Carer’s Credit if you:

  • Are over the age of 16;
  • Spend at least 20 hours a week caring for someone;
  • Do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance; and
  • Are not in receipt of a state pension.

The person you’re caring for will also need to be claiming a benefit relating to their illness or disability. This can include Constant Attendance Allowance, Attendance Allowance, and Personal Independence Payment (daily living part).

If the person you’re caring for doesn’t claim a benefit, it may still be possible for you to apply for Carer’s Credit if you complete a Carer’s Certificate.

You can find out how to claim here.

Carer Premium/Carer Addition/Carer Element

Carer Premium is extra money that you may be eligible to claim on top of the benefits already paid for your caring responsibilities.

It may also be known as the following -

  • Carer Addition: if you are of State Pension age; or
  • Carer Element: if you receive Universal Credit.

If eligible, Carer Premium/Addition/Element will usually be automatically added to your existing benefits. If you think you may be entitled to Carer Premium/Addition/Element but have not been paid, you can raise this with either your local Job Centre or Benefit Office.

Receiving any of the following benefits may entitle you to Carer Premium/Addition:

  • Council tax support.
  • Pension Credit (Carer Addition).
  • Housing Benefit.
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income related).
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income related).
  • Income Support.
  • Universal Credit (Carer Element).

Carer Premium and Carer Addition is £42.75 per week, while the Carer Element is paid alongside Universal Credit at £185.86 per month (as of September 2023).

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is extra money paid to those over State Pension age on a low income. You could be entitled to help if you are a carer, look after a child, or are severely disabled.

If you qualify for Pension Credit, you may also be able to claim additional support, such as Housing Benefit, a council tax discount, and a free TV licence if you’re over the age of 75.

Am I eligible?

You may be eligible for Pension Credit if you:

  • Live in England, Scotland or Wales; and
  • Are of State Pension age.

If you have a partner, they must be included on your application, and you will both need to be of State Pension Age.

Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to £201.05 if you’re single, and £306.85 if you have a partner.

Further money – known as Guarantee Credit - may be paid if you have other responsibilities.

If you are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance, or have claimed Carer’s Allowance but are not being paid for it due to receiving another higher-paid benefit, you could get an extra £42.75 per week.

You can find out how to claim here.

Local Welfare Assistance

Local Welfare Assistance is financial support paid to low-income households. You may be able to claim this through your local authority, although not every authority offers this service.

Support may vary between councils but, typically, you can only apply if you’re receiving certain benefits, such as Universal Credit or Income Support.

It’s worth noting that you will not be paid cash, but may be offered vouchers to help towards the cost of essentials, such as food and clothing.

You can find your local authority by typing your postcode into the search engine on the Gov.uk website.

Respite for unpaid carers

The health and comfort of your loved one is important, but you must also remember to look after yourself.

Respite entitles you to a break from caring. This could range from a couple of hours to recharge your batteries to a two-week holiday.

Sourcing and paying for respite yourself can be timely and expensive, so it’s worth approaching your local authority first to see if you qualify for support.

You can ask your local council for a Carer’s Assessment. A support plan will be discussed, which may include opportunities for funded respite. The person you care for will also need to undergo a Need’s Assessment.

You should never feel guilty for taking some time to yourself.

Council Tax reduction

You may be eligible for a reduction to your Council Tax if you live with the person you care for, and they are not your husband, wife, civil partner or child under the age of 18.

A minimum of 35 hours care per week is required.

The person you care for must be in receipt of any of the following:

  • Attendance Allowance (at any rate);
  • Personal Independence Payment (at any rate);
  • Disability Living Allowance (at the middle or high rate);
  • Adult Disability Payment (highest rate);
  • Child Disability Payment (highest rate); or
  • Armed Forces Independent Payout.

Discounted Council Tax is also a possibility if you do not live with the person you care for, but spend a significant amount of time with them, leaving your own house empty.

For further information, or to check your eligibility, contact your local council.

Free flu jab

You will be entitled to a free flu jab through the NHS if you receive a Carer’s Allowance. You can have your jab at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.

Discounts for carers

Both paid and unpaid care workers can join the Discounts for Carers website for free to receive exclusive deals, including money-off on food, clothing, holidays, mobile phones, and even utilities.

You can also register with CarerSmart, which is a free club founded by the Carers Trust, offering holiday discounts, leisure activity discounts, cashback, and much more.

CEA Cinema Card

Are you both a fan of films?

The cinema can be a great opportunity for us to leave life behind and immerse ourselves in another world, if only for a few hours.

If the person you care for receives certain benefits, they may be able to apply for a CEA card, which – for just £6 a year – enables them to bring an accompanying adult to the big screen with them, at no extra cost. The card is valid for up to a year, and 90% of cinemas participate in this scheme.

For further information about financial help you might be entitled to, you might like to visit Turn2us.

Turn2Us is a charity with the mission for everyone in the UK to have financial security.

Their website contains a Benefits Calculator where you can check your eligibility for various benefits and grants.

If you’re struggling and need to talk to someone about money, you can access StepChange’s impartial and confidential support service here.

You’re doing great.

It’s imperative that carers feel supported, both financially and in terms of their workload.

Remaining strong for your loved one probably feels like the most vital thing, but you also need to consider yourself.

How are you feeling?

Are you getting enough time to do the things you enjoy?

What could be done to make your life easier?

Asking for help does not mean you are failing in any way. You are doing a hugely admirable and selfless job, but you don’t have to do this on your own.

We hope we have helped a little, but if you need to talk, you can reach out to carersuk.org.uk for support.

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