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Carers allowance - break in care to work & travel expenses - Carers UK Forum

Carers allowance - break in care to work & travel expenses

All about money
Hello everyone,

I am new here and hope you may be able to offer me some advice.

I have cared for my wife for fifteen years without a break. I am now hoping to return to work full time, but I am unsure if it will work out due to continued caring responsibilities, travel, etc. I have been offered a job that I would like to try, and I have some queries regarding how accepting it would affect carers allowance.

Can I:

Use my four week per year entitlement to a 'break' to try out the job - as opposed to using it for going on holiday?

If so, do I need to officially inform the carers unit of the dates I will be taking the break, what the break is for, and get their permission for it?

Can I be paid for the work (over £110.00 per week) whilst retaining an entitlement to carers allowance, and receiving £62.10 carers allowance during those four weeks?

If everything goes okay and my wife and I are happy for me to continue working after the four weeks, I know that the £110.00 per week earning limit for retaining carers allowance occurs after deductions of tax, national insurance contributions, and 50% of pension contributions take place; and that I can remove up to 50% of my earnings for care costs whilst working - with appropriate receipts etc.

But ....

I will need to travel by bus and train to undertake this paid work. This will cost me about £4500 per year (abt £86.50 per week). My wages will not include 'expenses' for travel, but I read somewhere that it might be possible to deduct these as a 'work related expense'. Is this correct? If so are these expenses removed before 'gross' earnings are determined, or along with tax etc to determine net earnings, or at some other point?

I want to ensure that I don't break the law by trying this work. I would therefore be very grateful for any assistance you are able to provide with the above queries.

Thank you in advance,

Hello John and welcome to the forum :)

I would suggest that you contact the Carers UK Advice Line team as they are the experts !

Tel: 0808 808 7777
email : advice@carersuk.org
Open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm

It is usually better to email them as the phone lines are often over subscribed - perhaps copy your message here straight into an email. They will get back to you quite quickly.
Hi John and well done on getting your new job. My instinct is that you would not be able to use the break rule to try out your job. You would need to let DWP know when your work commenced and they would stop your entitlement. If things didn't work out and you returned to full time care you would need to reclaim. The expenses rule is just meant for bringing your earnings below the £110 weekly level and I suspect you will be earning more than this per week even allowing for travel? If you removed half of your money to a pension you could only offset half of that to reduce your earnings. Hope that makes sense. Definitely worth ringing and speaking to DWP but in my experience they don't all sing from the same hymn sheet and bend the rules either way in their favour so whatever you do needs to be watertight.
I'm not sure how travel to work is regarded either, and I'd like to know. I suspect it is not allowed. But if you need a vehicle FOR the job (as I do, working from home and visiting clients in the car) then a personal lease is advantageous - preferable to owning a car or buying one on credit - because the full monthly amount is deductible as a work-related expense. In effect , this can mean that the Carer's Allowance you keep through keeping earnings below the threshold pays for your car in full - so though you might not be much better off financially in cash terms, you have a free car.

Combining this rule with savings half my earnings into a pension pot works well for me, especially as when over 55 you can recycle back all or part of the pension savings into a cash sum at any point you choose - say at the end of each financial year, and pension payments do not count as earnings. Its a loophole, totally legal, and very handy.
Thank you all for the warm welcome :-)

Before posting the message I had a good look on the forum and couldn't see answers to my questions .... from that I deduced they were perhaps not common queries.

I have followed susieq's advice and emailed the advice line. Hopefully this will provide a definitive answer to my queries. When I receive a response I will post the information on here for future reference.

Thank you for you replies,