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Money / Benefits issues - do we need a new section - Carers UK Forum

Money / Benefits issues - do we need a new section

Share information, support and advice on all aspects of caring.
92 posts
Following my response to a recent listing, enquiring about benefits, I seem to have upset a few people, who misinterpreted my questions as prying. My initial reaction was to leave the Forum completely, but then it started me thinking. It seems to me that there is a dilemma here. People often need support before having the confidence to make that first call, using the Forum as a sounding board. It helps many people to hear that others in a similar position have already claimed and been awarded a particular benefit, although everyone's situation is different. I know a number of instances where DWP have consistently given wrong information on the Carers Allowance, for example. The Forum has headings for various illnesses etc. but doesn't have one for Money / Benefits. Does the Forum need one? Would a few worked examples help answer questions, especially for newbies, so that they would get the answers they need without giving out personal information? Is there a better way to deal with this, AT FORUM LEVEL? Someone may say that it's already on the site somewhere, if it is, I haven't found it yet!
Information on benefits is already available on the main website.
It may be on the main website, but I was talking about the forum. Take my own listing about going from IS to ESA. I think it might be helpful to have a separate section for things like this, where we can find out from each other.
It depends on what the purpose of the forum is, and how it can meet the needs of people. General advice is one thing, specific advice another.

The main site pages start here: http://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/help-with-money

The helpline is well-advertised across the forum and the main website. I believe we should be signposting people to those areas rather than giving out too much advice that may not fit the circumstances: with the growing complexity of the benefits rules and the way practices are changing in DWP to make life harder, it requires professional support.

Wrong advice - however well meant - can be costly.
I was thinking that issues like my own recent posting, IS to ESA, would be common to many people and that the experience of others going through the same process would be useful to share. I also think that it would be a good idea if someone here asks about the benefits relating to caring could be shared here too. Then anyone new to caring who had missed the main pages and come to the Forum for advice could see a few pointers to the benefits they might be entitled to. Last night I looked at the main board, and to some it might appear quite daunting. I was thinking of perhaps a more user friendly worked example? eg "Fred looks after his dad who is in a wheel chair who is 80. Fred isn't claiming anything, dad just gets basic pension. What could they be entitled to?" Then it could go on to explain, in a friendly, rather than formal fashion, what needs to happen, using the most straightforward scenario. i.e. first dad needs to claim AA, or it might be DLA depending on the carees age. Then explain that CA is available to anyone not in work or in receipt of other benefits, and detail the amounts. Then end up with ring the helpline etc. This would enable anyone looking for information on benefits entitlement to get a brief idea, and hopefully encourage them to ring up someone for more information WITHOUT giving out any personal information themselves on the forum. Ringing a helpline or the benefits office for the very first time can be daunting, much better if you feel well prepared beforehand.
Have to say, I would agree with Charles on this one. Of course we can all share information from our own experience relating to allowances/financial matters but it really can be a minefield and in my opinion far better for someone to either read the most up to date info available via the front pages or to contact the help line direct.

I feel the important thing is to ensure that, for example, new members are fully aware of where they can access information. Also even though the forum is a friendly, supportive place it is also "open" and therefore it is important that personal data is very carefully used.

Does that make sense?

Bell x
My suggestion of a simple example with an intro to basic CA entitlement was made specifically to
1. Give a brief explanation of CA entitlement i.e. it I must be someone with a caree on DLA/AA
2. A simple example would avoid the need for anyone to give any personal details at all.
3. Signpost the main board for more details.
4. Give contact details for helpline, with encouragement to email if the line is busy.

I also think it would be helpful to have a separate money section so that the implication of current benefits changes can be outlined, eg the changeover from IS to ESA. Again, not with personal details, but with general points.

I have been wondering if the changeover date between DLA and AA will increase as pension age increases. Another subject perhaps?
This shows me,yet again,the virtue of getting good face to face advice,such as my local carers out reach offers,or the helpline,or C.A.B. if you can see them.

In my view,the forum is fine for broard points.BUT individual cases are so diverse,needs so different,one size never could fit all.

Besides which,I take most things i read with a large pinch of salt anyway.I find you cannot beat face to face advice.
The information you mention and far more is all on the main website. Just click logo on top left of the screen. Simple.
There are also numerous other charity websites which contain this information as well as the DWP site which is constantly up-dated with the latest accurate information and I wonder who is going to take responsibility for making sure a new benefits forum contains only current and accurate information.

We are carers and former carers, not Welfare Rights Advisers, welfare law is complex and, as a consequence of policy changes and case law, constantly changing, none of us is qualified to ensure that we do not give incorrect information or advice and in the current climate I for one do not want to be, through ignorance, responsible for a carer or the person for whom they care having to pay back money incorrectly claimed or, worse still, the subject of a benefit fraud investigation, I think that applies to all of us.

A way forward may be to have a closed sticky thread with links to sources of information which can be updated by CUK staff members and/or moderators but I do not see a place for a forum dedicated to benefits information and advice on here, this simply is neither the place nor an appropriate role for the members of the forum and best left to those websites and organisations, including the CUK main website and advice line, which have expertise in the subject.
I'm disappointed at the comments so far, lead balloons come to mind! There are comments about benefits scattered all over the forum, I was asking whether it would be better for there to be a section dedicated to benefits/money issues? I have met carers who haven't known that they were entitled to benefits for over 20 YEARS, and this caused them huge problems, which could all have been avoided if only someone had talked to them about money. My suggestion of a worked example was made to encourage those unfamiliar with the benefits system, those who may be making their first ever claim, to feel confident about doing so. I wasn't suggesting that anyone gives full details of their situation, a worked example is quite the opposite of that, a hypothetical situation, laying out the simplest of scenarios. I agree that anyone with a benefits query needs to seek advice from a helpline or similar. My suggestion that details of putting the details of the Disability Rights Handbook on the newbies page was very quickly adopted. There is no link for newbies showing them where to find more information on the main site about money, or if there is, I haven't found it. I haven't found any worked examples there either! My motion at the CUK AGM concerning benefits led to the Real Change, not Short Change, campaign. I am genuinely concerned about carers finding out about what they are entitled to, at the beginning of their caring role, not years later.
92 posts