The Carer’s Allowance is £66.15 a week paid to low income earners who are caring for the needy. You qualify for Carers Allowance if (both):
- You are spending at least 35 hours a week helping to care for someone who needs it.
- The person being cared for is receiving one of the qualifying benefits.
As a carer, you do not need to be related to the person you are helping to take care of (or live with them). But, even though you can be a carer for more than one person, you would not get paid extra if you do.
Carer’s Allowance is one of the means-tested benefits, meaning it has some effect on other welfare payments. Hence, it can change the amount that you get (and the benefits payments the person you care for will get).
The section on Income Tax rates and Personal Allowances explains whether you would need to pay tax on your income (or not).
Note: The official guide to Carer’s Allowance is also available in Welsh language (Cymraeg) on the GOV.UK website.
Carers Allowance Payments 2019
On the day Carer’s Allowance is paid, the money goes straight into a secure account (usually a bank or building society account). Even so, you can choose to have the payment date made weekly in advance or monthly (once every four weeks).
Keep in mind you would also qualify ‘automatically’ for National Insurance credits for each week you are getting Carer’s Allowance.
Depending on your household circumstances you might also be able to apply for:
- A Council Tax Reduction
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you are unable to work because of a medical condition or disability
- Income Support (e.g. if you are getting a low income)
- Pension Credit (for carers above working age)
- Support from your local council
- Universal Credit (for carers on a low income or not in work)
Carer’s Allowance Eligibility
The person you are caring for must already be getting at least one of these benefits:
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
- Disability Living Allowance (the middle or highest care rate of DLA)
- The daily living component of PIP (Personal Independence Payment)
To meet your eligibility criteria (as the caregiver) you must be at least sixteen (16) years of age and you (all):
- Are spending at least 35 hours a week (on a regular basis) caring for someone.
- Have lived in England, Scotland, or Wales for two (2) of the last three (3) years (does not apply to refugees or people with humanitarian protection status).
- Usually live in England, Scotland, or Wales, or you are living overseas of the United Kingdom as a member of the armed forces. You may still qualify if you will move to, or you already live in, another EEA country or Switzerland.
- Are not in full-time education. If you are studying it must be for no more than 21 hours a week.
- Are not subject to immigration control.
- Have less than £123 a week as income after tax, national insurance and expenses.
How to Calculate Your Income
When you are calculating your income, your expenses can include things like:
- Up to 50% of your pension contributions.
- Equipment needed to carry out your work as a carer (e.g. specialist clothing).
- The cost of traveling between different workplaces such as train fares (unless your employer pays for them).
- Business costs if you are working as a self-employed person (e.g. a computer used solely for work purposes).
Also, you would be able to treat your care costs – less than or equal to half of your earnings – as an expense. So, it would apply if you are paying a carer to look after your children while you work or the disabled person.
Keep in mind the carer you pay cannot be your spouse (husband or wife), your partner, your parent, sibling (sister or brother), or your child.
An example calculation:
Suppose you are earning £100 a week (after deducting tax, national insurance, and any other expenses). Then, let’s say you spend £60 a week on care during the time you are working.
In this particular example, you would be able to treat £50 of your earnings (50%) as an expense.
There is no need to include all the payments in your income. Hence, do not include an advance payment (or loan) from your employer, or:
- Contributions made towards living or accommodation costs from someone you live with (the person cannot be a tenant or a boarder).
- The first £20 a week and 50% of the remainder of income made from someone else boarding at your home.
Note: If you find you are not eligible for Carer’s Allowance you should check to see if you will qualify for Carer’s Credit instead.
Effect of Carer’s Allowance on other Benefits
Many of the welfare allowances have some effect on other social security benefits. In this case, it can affect the caregiver [you] and the person being cared for.
A claim for Carer’s Allowance means the person receiving the care would stop getting:
- Any severe disability premium paid out with their benefits.
- Reduced Council Tax (the local council would confirm if it will affect them).
- The extra amount for ‘severe disability’ paid out as part of Pension Credit (if they are getting it).
The effect on your benefits, after claiming Carer’s Allowance, could mean a reduction in your other benefits. Despite that, the total amount of welfare payments you get would usually go up (or stay unchanged).
You must contact HM Revenue and Customs if you are getting tax credits (e.g. Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit). HMRC would need to know about your claim for Carer’s Allowance.
Note: If you receive Carer’s Allowance it will not count towards the benefit cap. Using an independent and free benefits calculator can help you work out how a claim might affect your other benefits.
How to Claim Carers Allowance
Be sure to have this information handy before you apply for Carer’s Allowance on the GOV.UK website:
- Bank or building society details (unless you are getting the State Pension)
- Course details (if studying)
- Details of your expenses (e.g. cost of caring for your children or the disabled person while at work, pension contributions)
- Employment details (including your latest payslip if in work)
- National Insurance number (including your partner’s if you have one)
- P45 if you recently stopped working
You should also prepare to supply these details about the person being cared for:
- Date of birth and address
- Disability Living Allowance reference (if below the age of 16)
- National Insurance number (if 16 or older)
Use Carer’s Allowance claim form DS700 to make an application by post if you are unable to claim online.
Challenging a Benefits Decision
If you disagree with a decision about your claim you will be able to challenge it (e.g. a process that asks for mandatory reconsideration). You can also complain about any organisation that provides a service for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Note: You can backdate a Carer’s Allowance claim for a period of up to three (3) months.
Reporting a Change in Circumstances
You must report a change in circumstances once you make an application, or start getting, Carer’s Allowance such as if you:
- Change, start, or leave your job
- Start earning over £123 a week
- Stop being a carer or you stop providing at least 35 hours of care a week
- Take a holiday or go into hospital (even if you arrange for someone else to provide the care on your behalf)
- The person being cared for goes into hospital or takes a holiday
Several things can happen if you delay reporting changes or you give wrong or incomplete information. Beside being paid the wrong amount, you may also:
- Need to pay back any overpayment
- Have your Carer’s Allowance stopped
- Receive a fine or end up in court
Note: You must notify the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if the person you are taking care of dies. The ‘Tell Us Once‘ service allows you to report a death to most government organisations in one go.
If You Stop Providing Care ‘Temporarily’
What if you temporarily stop providing care for someone? It would apply any time you spend less than 35 hours a week giving care for the other person.
As a rule, you would still get the allowance payment for carers for a set period of up to:
- Four (4) weeks if either you or the person being cared for go on holiday.
- Twelve (12) weeks if either of you goes into hospital or respite care.
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