For most people, caring hits your finances. Unlike medical care, social care is not usually free and you or the person you care for might have to pay for the support you need. Your income can take a dramatic drop through giving up work or reducing your working hours; you may face extra costs, such as heating, petrol and laundry, because you are looking after someone.
People can get quite a shock when they find out about the very meagre financial state support for carers. This is something that Carers UK campaigns on very strongly.
Whether you can claim help from the benefits system will depend on a number of factors including your income, savings, how old you are and whether you have worked and paid National Insurance contributions.
The main benefit for carers is called Carer’s Allowance. Not everyone can get it and there are other benefits paid for carers through Income Support and Pension Credit, these are called the carer premium and the carer addition. Other benefits you may be able to claim include Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Tax Credits.
It’s also important to make sure the person you care for is claiming everything they are entitled to. The two maindisability benefits are Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA)
Benefits are not the only way of getting financial help. You may be able to apply for:
- a reduction in your Council Tax or Rate Rebate bill
- help with health costs, eg to pay for dental treatment
- a grant to help adapt your home to meet the needs of the person you care for
- help to manage your heating costs, eg to install central heating, changing to a better tariff to reduce fuel bills
- charity grants
Warning!! The benefits system is incredibly complicated and finding out what you are entitled to can be difficult. The best way to start is to get advice.
Ring Carers UK’s Adviceline on freephone 0808 808 7777 (Weds & Thurs, 10-12 and 2-4) for a full benefit check for you and the person you care for.