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If you want to start work or return to work

At some point in your caring role you may decide you want to combine work with caring, or you may want to work if your caring role changes or ends.

The thought of working for the first time, or getting back into work, may feel like a big step. A good start is to think about what job you might want by recognising your skills and interests, and finding out what support might be available to help you take this step.

If you are claiming benefits, then working or studying might impact these benefits, and so it would be a good idea to get a benefit check before you make any decisions – the Carers UK Adviceline can carry out a benefit check for you.

Recognising your skills and interests

If you are not sure what you would like to do and where to begin, start by recognising the skills and interests you have.

Think about the skills you have gained from:

  • any paid work that you have done
  • any volunteering work that you have done
  • your role as a carer

Some examples of the sort of skills you might have gained from your role as a carer:

  • prioritising and organising
  • time management
  • managing a budget
  • managing a schedule
  • negotiating with professionals
  • learning new skills quickly and efficiently (ie if you needed to learn how to move and handle someone, use certain equipment or administer medication)

Think about the interests you have:

  • what you enjoy doing
  • how you would like to use your skills
  • things you miss doing that you once did, eg from previous work or volunteering

You could have a look on some careers websites to try and identify the sort of job which might match your skills and interests.

The National Careers Service has a Skills Health Check which involves a set of quizzes and activities designed to help you explore your skills and interests. This might be useful to help you decide what job might be right for you.

Once you have identified the kind of jobs which might match your skills and interests, you could then have a look on the National Careers Service Job Profiles, which explain the skills and qualifications needed to get into jobs, what the work would be like, the pay you could expect and what the career prospects are.

Once you have identified possible jobs which might match your skills and interests, and know what is needed to try and apply for a job in that field, you could see if you could get any support with any training you might need (as well as learning new things, training could also help to build your confidence or refresh skills you used to have).

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Support in starting work or returning to work

If you are trying to work out whether any training courses would be suitable for the sort of jobs you want, you could speak to the National Careers Service, as they have advisers who can provide advice, information and guidance on skills and learning.

If you know what sort of course you want to do, you can search for specific courses on the National Careers Service website, and you could also speak to any local schools, colleges or Universities to see if they have any courses which would be suitable.

Sometimes local advice agencies, like carers organisations, might know of any local training courses which might be suitable for carers.

If you need some help with the cost of any courses, then you could try the following:

  • if you are still looking after someone, you could have a carer’s assessment – this would look at your caring role and whether you need any support – if a training course is an ‘eligible need’ then the local council might be able to help with the cost
  • there are sometimes grants you can apply for –you could see if there are any local grants by contacting a local advice agency, such as a carer’s organisation – you could also run a more general grants search with a charity called Turn 2 Us who have a database of lots of different grant giving organisations
  • there are sometimes specific education grants and bursaries that you can apply for – the website has some information on grants and bursaries for adult learners
  • local educational establishments sometimes offer discounts to people on certain benefits, so if you are claiming benefits or are on a low income, it is worth finding out what discounts or concessions your local educational establishments offer

You might also find that getting some additional support in place for the person you are looking after would help you to undertake training or start work. There are different ways of trying to access additional support, such as through assessments from the local council/trust, or by arranging support privately. For further information on getting some additional support you can see the section called 'Getting support for you and/or the person you are looking after whilst you are in work'.

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The impact on your benefits

If you are no longer looking after someone and/or if you undertake training or start working, your benefits might be affected.

As an example, one of the conditions for Carer’s Allowance is that you cannot be in full time education and another condition is that you cannot earn over £120 a week (after deductions).

Other benefits or tax credits you are getting might also be affected.

It is therefore a good idea to get a benefit check, if you are thinking of doing a training course or starting work, to check what your financial situation would be.

You can find out what benefits you are entitled to and how much you should be paid by getting an online benefit check (see note below) or see our talk to us page for details of how to get further help. 

Note: You can get a benefits check online by visiting either of the following websites:

It will take about 20 minutes to complete. These online tools are not suitable for everyone. Special rules apply to some groups of people, for example students, people under 18, people in permanent residential care, UK nationals who live abroad and people who are not British or Irish citizens.

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