Battling is something that all carers have to get used to: whether it is filling out endless forms, convincing professionals to take you seriously, or arguing over help for you and the person you care for.
But it’s not all bad news. Carers have a small but growing set of legal rights, hard won by organisations like Carers UK. We know that many carers do not know about these rights or how to get help and every year millions of pounds of carers’ benefits are unclaimed. Carers UK is here to make sure carers find out about their rights and get help.
Your right to financial help
The welfare benefits system is complicated and finding out what you are entitled to can be difficult. You rights to claim depends on many different factors such as your own age, what you earn and also the level of disability of the person you care for.
Frankly the system can be baffling and off putting even to the most trained experts. However, we would urge everyone who is caring for someone not to be put off and claim what they are entitled to.
It pays to get good advice. Our help with money section contains information on the main benefits affecting carers, but we would always suggest that you seek contact with a qualified advisor to do a thorough benefits check and look at your individual circumstances.
Our Advice Line can do a free benefit check for you. Call freephone 0808 808 7777 (Weds & Thurs 10am-12noon and 2-4pm). Or your local Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help.
Your right to an assessment
According to the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, anyone who provides or intends to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis can have a carer’s assessment. No definition of ‘substantial’ is given, but generally speaking most people contemplating seeking support are likely to be eligible for an assessment.
The assessment is provided by the social services department of your local Council/Trust*. You can find out more about who can get an assessment, what it will cover, and how to get one in our section on carer’s assessments.
Your right to receive direct payments
If the outcome of your carer’s assessment is that services should be provided, you have the right to ask for a direct payment instead of having the service arranged by social services. In other words they give you the cash directly. This is intended to give you greater choice and flexibility to organise support and services yourself. However it does bring responsibilities. It's also worth noting that your rights in this area vary slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Read our page on direct payments for more information.
Your rights in the workplace
If the person you care for is a relative, or lives at the same address as you, you have the right to request a flexible working pattern from your employer to help you balance your work and caring responsibilities.
You also have the right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.
Find out more about in our section on your work and career.
*What do we mean by Council/Trust? In England and Wales we mean your Local council, Local Authority or Social Services. In Scotland we mean your Local council, Local Authority or Social Work department. In Northern Ireland we mean Health and Social Services Trust, Trust, Social Services.