Carers - Benefits & Financial Support
There is a range of financial support available for carers. Find out about what is available and how to apply for your entitlements.
Carer's Allowance is the main benefit for carers, and if you are looking after someone for 35 hours a week or more, you may be eligible to claim. You do not have to live with or be related to the person for whom you are caring. Carer's Allowance is a taxable benefit that is not means-tested, and your eligibility does not depend on your National Insurance contributions.
From 30 March, eligibility for Carer's Allowance has been relaxed in two ways:
- Unpaid carers can continue to receive Carer's Allowance if they take up to four weeks off from caring within a six-month period because they, or the person they care for, contracts COVID-19. This also applies if they have to self-isolate.
- Providing emotional support on the phone or online to the person you care for now counts towards the 35 hours of weekly care that is needed to qualify for Carer's Allowance
How do I qualify?
To qualify, the person you care for must receive the care component of the Disability Living Allowance for children at the middle or higher rate, the daily living component of the Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. You must also:
- be aged 16 or above
- not be in full-time education
- earn no more than £128 per week, (after tax, National Insurance and pension deductions)
Claiming Carer's Allowance if you're affected by coronavirus (COVID-19)
You can claim Carer's Allowance if you provide care remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes giving emotional support over the phone or online.
How much could I receive?
The rate of Carer's Allowance is currently £62.25 per week.
Working out if you are over the £128 a week limit (after deductions)
If you are in paid work (including self-employment) you cannot get Carer's Allowance if you earn more than £128 a week (after deductions).
Only your earnings count towards this test, not those of your partner. It is only your earnings from paid work that are relevant; other income such as pension payments or interest from savings will not be counted.
Half of any contributions that you make towards an occupational pension scheme can also be disregarded.
If you pay someone other than a close relative to look after the person you care for, or to look after a child under 16, the amount that you pay can be offset against your net-earned income, up to a maximum of half of your net earnings.
Breaks from caring
It is possible to take breaks in care of up to four weeks (or in some cases 12 weeks) in any 26-week period, and still be paid Carer's Allowance. Up to four of those weeks can be for temporary breaks in care, for example respite care.
How to claim
Claims for Carer's Allowance are made using form DS700.
In England, Wales and Scotland you can apply online. You can download a claim form or request one by calling the Carers Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321.
In Northern Ireland, you can download a paper claim form or call the Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356.
The form includes a statement to be signed by the cared-for person, asking them if the carer provides them with 35 hours care per week. If the person you care for is under 16 or is unable to sign, someone acting on their behalf can do so.
The claim can be backdated for up to three months, provided that you meet all the qualifying criteria during that period. If you claim Carer's Allowance within three months of the person being awarded Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP), your allowance can be backdated to the day that DLA or PIP was first made payable.
The effect on Carers Allowance of other benefits being claimed
Claiming Carer's Allowance may affect other benefits that you may be receiving. You cannot claim Carer's Allowance if you already receive the same amount or more from any of the following benefits: State Pension, Maternity Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Unemployability Supplement, Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Bereavement Allowance or Widow's Pension, Widowed Parent's Allowance or Widowed Mother's Allowance, or any state training allowance. This is because of the overlapping benefits rule.
People who are paid Carer's Allowance also get a Carer's Premium of £37.50 per week included in their applicable amount for Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Pension Credit, and Housing Benefit. You still get this premium if you claimed Carer's Allowance and would have been paid it, had it not been for the fact that you also have other overlapping benefits.
If you qualify for Carers Allowance, or would qualify but for the fact that your earnings are too high, you can be classified as a carer for the purposes of claiming Universal Credit. Universal Credit is the new benefit that will gradually replace all working-age means-tested benefits from October 2013 to 2017.
Your entitlement to Carer's Allowance may mean that you are then entitled to Income Support as well, if your income and savings are sufficiently low. If you claim Income Support at the same time as Carer's Allowance, this benefit can be backdated.
Working Tax Credit
If you are a couple and you are responsible for a child or young person who is in education, you may be eligible for Working Tax Credit, provided that one of you works at least 16 hours a week, and the other is entitled to Carer's Allowance. This applies even if you are not actually paid Carer's Allowance because you have been awarded other benefits instead (couples who are not eligible for Carer's Allowance have to work a minimum of 24 hours a week between them).
The person who is working must inform the Tax Credit Office that their partner is receiving Carer's Allowance, or is entitled to receive it. This is because the Tax Credit Office does not know who is receiving Carer's Allowance, and, unless you tell them, they will expect you to work up to 24 hours a week between you before considering you for Working Tax Credit.
Carer's Credit was introduced from 6 April 2010. It is a National Insurance credit which helps carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension. It replaces Home Responsibilities Protection. It is not a benefit payment, but a way of helping you to build up your National Insurance qualifications that will affect your own entitlement to benefits and a State Pension in the future.
If you receive Carer's Allowance, your National Insurance contributions will automatically be credited to you. If you are receiving Child Benefit for a child under 12 years old, or you are getting Income Support and are a full-time carer, the Carer's Credit will automatically be credited to you. If you are already getting Home Responsibilities protection, your years of protection will be converted to credits.
Carer's Credit can be awarded to you even if you do not qualify for Carer's Allowance.
To qualify for Carer's Credit, you must care for one or more people with disabilities for a total of at least 20 hours per week. Each person you care for must:
- receive either the Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate, or the daily living component of the Personal Independence Payment, or Attendance Allowance at any rate, or Constant Attendance Allowance at any rate
- have a care certificate signed by a health or social care professional to confirm that they need the level of care that is being provided.
In England, Wales and Scotland you can download a claim pack or ask for one by calling the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321. In Northern Ireland you can download a pack or contact the Disability and Carers Service on 0300 123 3356. The pack includes a blank care certificate along with detailed notes about who is eligible and what you need to do.
The effect on the benefits of the person you care for
Your claim for Carer's Allowance may have an effect upon the amount of benefit the person you are caring for receives. If they get Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, Income-related Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit with the 'severe disability premium' element, they will lose the 'severe disability premium' if you are given Carer's Allowance. Often you can claim Carer's Allowance without having any effect on their benefits, but you need to check first. Take advice in this situation so that the person you care for does not end up being worse off.
How will coronavirus affect disability or sickness benefits?
The UK government is automatically extending all awards and reassessments for health and disability benefits. That means:
- there will be no new reviews or reassessments across all benefits for three months – this includes Universal Credit (UC), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance and the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- face-to-face assessments for all sickness and disability benefits have been suspended for the next three months, including in relation to any new claims
- if you have claimed PIP and an assessment has already taken place, then this will continue to be processed. If you had an assessment scheduled, the assessment provider will contact you to discuss the next steps
- if your ESA and UC claim has been referred to the provider, they will contact you to take this forward
- if your condition has changed and you need more support (and are not already getting the highest award), you can still contact the Department for Work and Pensions and ask for a review
We expect that this measure will last for three months. We will update this page as soon as there are any changes.
If you are making a new claim for Universal Credit, once your online claim is finished, the DWP will call you to confirm the details. You do not need to call them for an appointment. If you cannot complete a claim for Universal Credit online, you can still call the DWP and make your claim by phone.
Is there any extra financial help available for me?
The UK government has announced greater access to statutory sick pay and employment support for people who suffer financially because of coronavirus. This includes:
- people who cannot work because they have been advised to self-isolate
- people who cannot work because they care for someone at home and the household has been told to self-isolate
- a job retention scheme to help people keep their jobs
If you care for someone you live with, you might be able to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) for the total time you have to self-isolate. SSP is arranged through your employer. Talk to them first about occupational sick pay, as this is more generous, but if you are not eligible for this then you can apply for SSP.
Other financial help from the UK government includes:
- a £20 per week increase on the standard rate of Universal Credit and Tax Credits for one year
- an increase in the Local Housing Allowance for private renters claiming Housing Benefits
- if you are claiming council tax support, [l1] your council might be able to reduce your bills, and give you hardship support
- if your child is eligible for free school meals, the school may be able to continue providing meals, or weekly vouchers to use at supermarkets
England, Scotland and Wales
Find out more information about employment support in the UK: government guide to employers and businesses
You can also find support where you live on the Carers UK website