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Care Act FAQ

Find out about the Care Act 2014 and what it means for you.

This information applies to people living in England. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, please click the relevant link below to find out about assessments.


What is the Care Act?

In April 2015 The Care Act 2014 replaced most previous law regarding carers and people being cared for. It outlines the way in which local authorities should carry out carer’s assessments and needs assessments; how local authorities should determine who is eligible for support; how local authorities should charge for both residential care and community care; and places new obligations on local authorities.

The Care Act is mainly for adults in need of care and support, and their adult carers. There are some provisions for the transition of children in need of care and support, parent carers of children in need of care and support, and young carers. However the main provisions for these groups (before transition) are in the Children and Families Act 2014

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What are my rights as a carer?

From April 2015 you are entitled to a carer’s assessment where you appear to have needs, this matches the rights to an assessment of the person being cared for. You will be entitled to support if you meet the national eligibility criteria.

The person you care for is entitled to a ‘needs assessment' if they appear to have needs for care and support.

From April 2015 local authorities are allowed to arrange for other organisations such as charities or private companies to carry out assessments.

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What are the eligibility criteria for community care services?

From April 2015 there are national eligibility criteria for both carers and the person being cared for. There is a national minimum threshold and if a carer or the person being cared for meets this threshold, they will have eligible needs.

Local authorities also have the option of meeting needs that fall below the national minimum threshold.

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What are the 'wellbeing' principles?

The Care Act introduced a general duty on local authorities to promote an individual’s ‘wellbeing’. This means that they should always have a person’s wellbeing in mind and when making decisions about them or planning services.

Wellbeing can relate to:

  • personal dignity (including treatment of the individual with respect)
  • physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing
  • protection from abuse and neglect
  • control by the individual over day-to-day life (including over care and support)
  • participation in work, education, training or recreation
  • social and economic wellbeing
  • domestic, family and personal relationships
  • suitability of living accommodation
  • the individual's contribution to society

The wellbeing principles are also part of the eligibility criteria. Local authorities have to consider the impact of your role as a carer on your wellbeing. Similarly, they have to consider the impact of a disabled person's needs on their wellbeing. If the impact is significant then the eligibility criteria are likely to be met.  

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What are the capital limits for receiving services?

From April 2016 the lower capital limit for both residential care and community care is £14,250. The upper capital limit for both residential care and for community care is £23,250.

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Does the local authority have to provide any help to self-funders?

Since April 2015 self-funders have been able to ask the local authority to arrange services, but not residential care, on their behalf. One advantage of this is that the local authority may be able to get cheaper rates than self-funders arranging care themselves. One disadvantage is that the local authority can charge an arrangement fee for this.  

Local authorities have responsibility for providing information and advice to self-funders.

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I have heard there is going to be a cap on care costs, when is this expected to happen?

The Government had planned to introduce a cap on care costs. It was suggested that there would be a cap on the maximum amount of care costs someone has to pay during their lifetime, which would be £72,000 for those of retirement age. However this has been postponed until 2020 at the earliest, and there is no certainty that it will ever come into effect. 

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Do I have to pay for services provided to me as a carer?

Most local authorities don’t charge carers for services, including services which give them a break from caring. They recognise that charging carers for services is not in the interest of carers, the disabled person or the local authority.

However, local authorities will still have a power to charge for any services provided to carers. What this means is that local authorities are allowed to charge carers for any services provided, however they can choose not to. If the local authority does charge carers for any services provided then they have to follow the same guidance they have to follow when charging the person being cared for.

However, if a service is provided to the cared for person, in order to benefit the carer, the carer cannot be charged for this. Instead the cared for person may be charged, as it will be a service provided to them. For example, if the cared for person spends some time in residential care, in order to give the carer a break, the residential care would be a service provided to the cared for person, and therefore the cared for person may be charged.

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I provide care for my disabled child. Can I have an assessment separately to my child?

Yes. The Children and Families Act 2014 gives you a standalone right to an assessment as the parent of a disabled child.

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I’m a carer for my child and they are turning 18 soon, what will happen to their care?

The Care Act 2014 introduced a new duty on local authorities to carry out Child’s Needs Assessments (CNA) for young people where there is ‘likely to be a need for care and support’ after they reach 18 (even if this will not amount to them having eligible needs). The CNA should look at what adult community care services a young person might qualify for when they turn 18 and should include a predicted personal budget, so that young people can plan and make informed decisions about their future.

Young people or their carers can request a CNA at any time before a young person turns 18 and it should occur at a time when it is of ‘significant benefit’ to a young person’s preparation for adulthood.

The Care Act also ensures that if the local authority has not carried out a CNA, then they must continue to provide community care services to the young adult until a either a decision has been made that they do not qualify for services under the Care Act or the care they have been assessed as needing is actually in place.

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I provide care for a child under 18, but I am not their parent, can I ask for an assessment?

Neither the Care Act or the Children and Families Act provide a new right to a standalone carer's assessment for non-parent carers of disabled children under 18. 

However, non-parent carers can request a carer's assessment under the law that existed before the Care Act and the Children and Families Act. This means that non parent carers will need to be “providing or intend to provide substantial and regular care” in order to have a legal right to request a carer's assessment.

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One of our children has caring responsibilities, what rights do they have under the Care Act?

Children and young people aged under 18 who are providing care do have rights to be assessed for care and support. The Children and Families Act 2014 gives carers under the age of 18 the right to an assessment on the appearance of need, they do not have to request one.

The Care Act gives them the right to an assessment as they approach 18 years of age, called a Young Carer's Assessment.

The Care Act also provides that where a disabled adult is being cared for, a local authority must consider whether there are any children involved in providing that care, and if so, what the impact is on that child. 

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If I disagree with a decision social services have made, what are my options to challenge it?

If you are not happy with the way you have been treated, or with the outcome of any of the assessments, you can complain to social services. All social services departments should have a complaints procedure that you can follow – ask the social services department for a copy.

If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint, you may be able to take a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. Your social services department should be able to give you more information about this.

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How you can help

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With your help we can reach more carers with timely support and advice.

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