There are an estimated six millions carers in the UK. The carer’s allowance has been widely criticised due to the small financial payment in relation to the amount of work undertaken. However, if eligible, it is still worth claiming the carer’s allowance.
What Exactly Is A Carer’s Allowance?
A carer’s allowance is a benefit paid by the government to eligible people who care for another person for at least 35 hours per week. The person being cared for must be in receipt of specific benefits such as a Disability Living Allowance, an Attendance Allowance or a Constant Attendance Allowance. Carers must be over 16 years old and do not actually have to be related or living with the person they are caring for.
How Much Is The Carer’s Allowance?
The actual amount of carer’s allowance has been the subject of much criticism. At present the carer’s allowance amounts to £53.10. However, if the carer is in receipt of other benefits they may not be able to claim the full carer’s allowance. If benefits to the carer equal the £53.10 carer’s allowance then they will not be able to apply for the carer’s allowance.
Why The Controversy Over The Carer’s Allowance?
There have been recent calls for the government to address the low amount paid for such a vital service. The £53.10 is paid if the carer looks after another person for a minimum of 35 hours; this actually works out at £1.52 per hour. Some carers are actually on call 24 hours per day, which makes the per hour payment equal to £0.18 per hour. This amount is woefully inadequate for the amount of time that a carer actually works looking after another.
Will The Government Improve The Carer’s Allowance?
It looks doubtful that the government is intending to raise the carer’s allowance in the near future. Government officials have claimed the allowance is under review but have also set the year 2018 as a target for intended changes. Officials claim that any financial hardship that carers undergo should be eliminated by 2018. However many charities are far from happy with this intended date and claim the eligibility rules and payment amounts have long been outdated.
Can I Claim A Carer’s Allowance While Working?
Many carers have part-time or even full time jobs as well as looking after another person. Workers can receive a carer’s allowance but only if their wages do not reach over £95 per week after tax, National Insurance and occupational pensions have been deducted. Money from wages to pay child minders will also be taken into account when working out the carer’s allowance eligibility.
Can I Claim While Taking an Educational Course?
In some circumstances students can claim the carer’s allowance. Unfortunately people who are in full time education such as university or college courses will not be eligible for a carer’s allowance. Full time education means that the related course lasts for 21 hours of supervised study per week. Students cannot claim the carer’s allowance when on holiday from their courses.
Are There Any Other Benefits Available For Carers?
In certain cases people who are eligible for a carer’s allowance may be entitled to other benefits. Eligibility will usually be means tested but could mean the carer is eligible to the top band of certain benefits. Means tested benefits can include income support, jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefits and council tax benefit. It will always be worthwhile inquiring about extra benefits available to carer’s. Those in receipt of a carer’s allowance should also eligible for a Christmas bonus allowance and fuel benefits.
How Can I Apply For A Carer’s Allowance?
People who wish to apply for a carer’s allowance can either contact their local government benefits office or contact the Carer’s Allowance Unit. Applications forms should be downloadable from government websites and potential carer’s are able to apply online. Carers UK is another particularly helpful source of advice and information for those considering or actually caring for others.