If you provide assistance for a friend or relative, you know that being a carer involves plenty of time, love and patience. Taking care of someone is a fulfilling role on a variety of levels, too, but it’s also a role that could have you rethinking your schedule often. Depending on their level of involvement in providing assistance for a loved one, many carers end up changing jobs or stop working to devote more time to care, and you might find yourself in this position.
That’s why the UK offers a Carer’s Allowance. This benefit helps compensate carers for some of their time spent helping a loved one with daily needs. Although there’s a wide variety of family and friend carers in the UK, this allowance only applies to certain people. Read on to learn more about the program and whether you might be eligible.
A Carer’s Allowance is a weekly allowance from the government of £69.70 per week. This allowance is for individuals who spend at least 35 hours each week acting as the primary carer for an individual living with an illness or disability.
The purpose of the Carer’s Allowance is to help offset the cost of caring for a relative on your own. You’re eligible for a Carer’s Allowance if the person you care for receives a specific set of government benefits. For tax purposes, your Carer’s Allowance is considered income. As long as you make more than the personal allowance each year, you’ll need to pay taxes on the money you earn from your Carer’s Allowance.
Each carer can only receive a Carer’s Allowance for one person, and each person needing care can only be listed on a Carer’s Allowance claim for one carer. For example, if you’re the primary carer for both of your parents, you can only claim the Carer’s Allowance for one of them.
Who Can Get the UK Carer’s Allowance?
Carer’s Allowance eligibility depends on both yourself and the person you care for. Regardless of how often you care for them, the person has to receive at least one of the qualifying benefits for you to be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance. There are both payments and allowances that can make you eligible. The person you care for could receive:
- Personal Independence Payments
- Armed Forces Independence Payments
- Child Disability Payments
- Adult Disability Payments
For allowances, the person needs to get one of the following:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance with a War Disability Pension
Even if the person you care for receives one of the payments or allowances mentioned above, there are further eligibility requirements for each type of government benefit. In general, the person needs to receive the daily living component or the middle or highest pay rate of the benefit in order for you to be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance.
To be eligible for a Carer’s Allowance, you must also provide care for one individual receiving eligible benefits for at least 35 hours each week, and you have to be at least 16 years old. You need to have resided in England, Scotland or Wales for two years, which don’t have to be consecutive, during the past three years. In some cases, this eligibility requirement is waived for people serving in the armed forces or those who live in Switzerland or a country in the EEA.
Even if you meet the other requirements, you’re not eligible for a Carer’s Allowance if you’re currently subject to an immigration control order. You also can’t be a full-time student and receive a Carer’s Allowance. Even if you’re not a full-time student, you can’t attend school for more than 20 hours per week and receive a Carer’s Allowance.
The final eligibility requirement for receiving a Carer’s Allowance is income. After having taxes withdrawn, paying National Insurance, and covering your expenses, you cannot earn more than £132 per week. If you earn more than this, with expenses considered, you’re not eligible for a Carer’s Allowance.
How Is the Carer’s Allowance Calculated?
Although the £132 in weekly earnings may seem like a low amount for anyone who earns income, there are several expenses you can deduct from what you earn in order to become eligible for a Carer’s Allowance. Business expenses (such as technology), clothes and travel costs can reduce your income. Half of the contributions you make towards any pension scheme do not count as earnings.
If you hire an additional carer to help take care of the person you care for or to care for your children while you provide care, you can subtract up to half of your income to account for that expense. In order to deduct this cost, the hired carer can’t be one of your close relatives. Under certain circumstances, you can also deduct a portion of the money you receive from boarders in your home, and you can deduct money that non-tenants who live with you pay towards household expenses.
If you receive State Pension, your weekly pension amount will be deducted from the Carer’s Allowance that you’d otherwise be eligible for. If your State Pension is less than £69.70 per week, you’ll receive the difference as your Carer’s Allowance. If your State Pension is more than £69.70 per week, you won’t receive a Carer’s Allowance. Aside from deductions for State Pension, people who qualify for the Carer’s Allowance always get £69.70 per week.
How to Get the UK Carer’s Allowance
You can apply for the UK Carer’s Allowance online using the form at UK.gov. To start the application, you need to select the type of benefit the person you care for receives. Next, you answer questions about your age, location and the amount of weekly care you provide. Finally, you enter personal details, such as your income and National Insurance Number. You can also apply via mail.
The Carer’s Allowance is an important provision for those who care for family and friends. If you’re providing this type of assistance, get started exploring your eligibility using the tips above.