A carer is someone who, without being paid, looks after a relative or friend who needs help because of an illness or disability. What does this mean for their finances?
Many carers have to give up work in order to carry out their caring role. At the same time, the extra costs of living with an illness or disability can be a drain on their household finances. This can all combine to make them less financially resilient. Older carers – for example, someone caring for their partner – may have been caring for decades, and this can take a real toll on their finances. Carers UK’s 2018 State of Caring report found that 37% of carers would describe their financial situation as ‘struggling to make ends meet’ and 20% had been in debt as a result of caring.
Carers Allowance and other benefits
It’s hugely important that carers are made aware of the financial support they might qualify for. Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers.
An estimated 400,000 carers who could be getting this benefit aren’t currently claiming it, according to the charity Turn2us.
If someone is caring for a friend or family member for over 35 hours a week and earns no more than £120 a week, they might be able to get £66.15 a week in Carer’s Allowance. If they get certain other benefits they can’t be paid Carer’s Allowance but might still have an ‘underlying entitlement’ that could be worth something – read Independent Age’s information on Carer’s Allowance for more on who qualifies. Carers might also qualify for additional amounts to be added to other benefits they’re receiving.
It’s also crucial that carers ensure the person they’re caring for is getting the benefits they’re entitled to. If they have a long-term health condition or are disabled, they might qualify for a disability benefit, such as Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. These aren’t means-tested; eligibility is just based on how much help they need. To qualify for Carer’s Allowance, the person you’re caring for will need to be claiming a qualifying disability benefit, so it’s doubly important to make sure they’re getting one if they’re entitled to it. It’s a good idea to check whether claiming Carer’s Allowance will affect the benefits of the person you’re caring for – call our Helpline on 0800 319 6789.
Change of circumstances
People who have been told once that they don’t qualify for a benefit don’t always consider that they might qualify later if their situation changes. For example, if their income and savings fall they may become eligible for Pension Credit when they weren’t before, or if the person they’re caring for starts claiming a disability benefit they might become eligible for Carer’s Allowance. After a change in circumstances, such as becoming a carer or stopping work, it’s always a good idea for people to check their entitlement to all benefits. Independent Age can help with this – try our online benefits checker or call our Helpline on 0800 319 6789 to arrange a benefits check with one of our advisers.
For more information on financial, practical and emotional support for carers, read our guide Caring for someone.