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Benefits guidance - FAQs

On this page, we summarise some of the common questions carers are often asking us about benefits during this time. For more detailed information about specific changes to benefits, assessments and other support, see our A-Z of changes

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I'm having to pay back Carer’s Allowance because of an overpayment but I can no longer afford to. What happens now?

The government has decided to stop recovering overpayments for three months during this period. This includes benefit overpayments, tax credit debts or social fund loans. Although most deductions will be stopped automatically, if you have a standing order set up with your bank, you will need to contact them to stop the payments. Read more in this press release.

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At this time, does providing emotional support count towards the 35 hours threshold needed for receiving Carer's Allowance?

The government has confirmed that providing emotional support counts towards the Carer’s Allowance threshold of 35 hours of care. This:

  • applies to carers who live in a different household from the disabled person and whose only contact with them is now going to be in the form of emotional support via the telephone and social media
  • applies to new claims as well as for those already receiving Carer's Allowance.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, new measures (from 30 March) also allow unpaid carers to continue to claim Carer’s Allowance if they have a temporary break in caring, because they or the person they care for gets coronavirus or if they have to self-isolate because of it. 

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I’m due for an assessment for my welfare benefits. Will my benefits be affected?

You will no longer be required to attend an assessment for a disability benefit face to face. This also applies to health checks for Universal Credit. You can read the latest guidance on the website.

In the light of COVID-19, the standard rate in Universal Credit and Tax Credits will be increased by £20 a week for one year from 6 April, meaning you will be up to £1,040 better off if you are claiming. If you're claiming Universal Credit, the rules around minimum income, will also be relaxed for the duration of the outbreak. For further details, see the latest news on the website and our Universal Credit page

If you are receiving benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions has given assurance that ‘ensuring that people continue to receive payments as normal will always be a key priority'. 

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I was due to have my disability benefit reviewed – what happens now?

The government has confirmed that reviews and reassessments for disability benefits are being suspended for three months (from 24 March). This measure is temporary and has been taken to reassure you that any disability benefits you're receiving during this period will continue, while resources will be pooled to support people who need to make a new claim. 

If you need to make a new benefit claim, where possible, try to use online services before turning to the telephone for help.

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What does the government’s new Coronavirus Act mean for me as a carer?

The Coronavirus Act has been introduced to help the NHS and local authorities (or trusts) better tackle the coronavirus. Through this, the government has temporarily reduced the need for local authorities to carry out full assessments of the needs of carers and assessments of the needs of the people carers look after. 

If you’re asking for a Needs Assessment for the person you care for or a Carer's Assessment for yourself, we would suggest asking if there are any delays or additional information you need to be aware of, and discussing any concerns you have. This is on a temporary basis and all assessments and reviews must be followed up and completed in full once the easements end.

Charges can be back-dated, but if requesting care support during this period, you will not need to undergo any financial assessments.

The new legislation also means that there could be fewer carer support plans, and care and support plans for those in need of care, being carried out during this period. The government has said, to date, that these measures are only to be used when strictly necessary and will be in place temporarily for as long as required to respond to the situation. See our press release for more details.

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