If you care for someone else and it prevents you from working or studying full time, you might be able to get financial support. There are a number of benefit schemes for carers, some of which supplement your income and some providing tax relief.
About carers’ benefits
The main financial benefit available for carers is the Carer’s Allowance. This welfare allowance helps to top up your income if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone, and is currently £64.60 a week (usually paid every four weeks). It’s worth bearing in mind that claiming Carer’s Allowance might affect how much the person you’re caring for receives in their benefit package.
Who can claim Carer’s Allowance?
You must be over 16, not in full-time education or studying over 21 hours a week, and earning less than £116 a week after deductions. The person receiving care must also be eligible for financial support from the government because of their disability or illness. You can’t usually claim Carer’s Allowance if you’re currently taking your state pension. Any other benefits you are claiming might also be affected by it.
Even if you don’t think you are eligible for the allowance, it’s often a good idea to apply because the authority may be able to offer income top-ups or other support.
What is Carer’s Credit?
If caring for someone causes gaps in your employment, this will lead to gaps in your National Insurance (NI) contributions. Having gaps in your NI contributions can reduce the amount of state pension you’re entitled to. Fortunately, there is a benefit called Carer’s Credit that can fill in these gaps.
To be eligible for Carer’s Credit, you need to be aged 16 or over, caring for someone at least 20 hours a week, and under state pension age. The person receiving care must also be in receipt of disability benefits. Your income and savings won’t affect your eligibility.
Even if you’re not eligible for the Carer’s Allowance, you may still be eligible for Carer’s Credit, so it’s worth finding out.
Can I get support if I’m drawing my state pension?
Pension Credit can help you financially if you’ve already reached retirement age. It is separated into two parts: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
Guarantee Credit tops up the amount you get each week to make sure it reaches £163 a week if you’re single and £248.80 if you’re a couple. Savings Credit gives people who saved money towards their retirement an extra amount each week, up to £13.40 if you’re single and £14.99 if you’re in a couple. If you reached state pension age after 2016, you might not be able to get the Savings Credit because the rules have changed.
Pension Credit comes with other benefits, too, such as a Cold Weather payment when the temperature drops below 0°C for seven days in a row, free NHS dental treatment and help with paying your rent or mortgage and council tax.
Both the Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit support are means tested, so the amount you get depends on your income, savings and personal circumstances.
I already receive benefits. Can I get any extra support?
People can receive more than one benefit, but the amount you get may be affected.
Carer Premium is an extra £36 a week specifically to provide additional support for people who are entitled to the Carer’s Allowance. This too is means-tested, based on your income and savings, and should be automatically added to the payments you receive.
Income Support and Tax Credits can help top up the amount you earn if you’re on a low income and below the retirement age. Both of these payments are non-taxable. You might also be able to get Housing Benefits to help pay your rent or a loan from the government to help pay your mortgage.
The Employment and Support Allowance helps supplement your income if you have your own health problems, even if you are caring for someone else. You or the person you are caring for could also apply for the Motability Scheme to get money towards a car, wheelchair or powered scooter if it is physically difficult for you to get around.
Universal Credit is gradually replacing a number of these schemes, which means you’ll get one single payment that covers a number of the welfares that you’re entitled to. Your income, savings and circumstances will all be assessed to decide how much you receive.
I need financial help quickly. What should I do?
Your local authority may be able to support if you have urgent financial needs and need to care for someone. Your local authority can decide your eligibility and how much you can get.
How do I know what to apply for?
Contact your local authority to find out your eligibility for benefits. Remember that the rules on benefits and pensions change over time, so check again every April (when the government announces new plans) to see if you’re missing out on anything.
If you need time off from caring, a care agency can provide a temporary care worker to allow you to take a break. Find out more about respite care.