Financial support for carers
With the rise in the costs of living, it’s important to know what benefits there are for carers. Understanding what financial support there is, to help us care for a family member or friend. Browse our guide to see what benefits can help those of us on a low income, working, or retired. Including help with debt, health costs and legal fees.
What benefits can I claim as a carer?
There are several benefits we can claim as a carer. Caring for someone can mean that our households have additional costs or we have lost some of our previous income. What we can claim will depend on our personal situation:
1. Carer’s Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for unpaid carers, provided by the Government. It is for those of us caring for over 35 hours per week (not studying full-time). And earning below £132 per week (from 11th April 2022).
Carer’s Allowance counts as income for tax credits and unearned income for universal credit. Claiming it may affect other benefits that we are on (such as Universal Credit).
2. Carer’s Credit
Carer’s Credit is not ‘money’ but rather a National insurance credit. This counts towards our entitlement to other benefits (i.e. State Pension). It’s for those of us caring for at least 20 hours per week and under State Pension age (65 years).
3. The Carer Element of Universal Credit
The ‘carer element’ of Universal Credit is an additional element of Universal Credit. This means we can receive this on top of our Universal Credit. It’s for those of us caring for at least 35 hours a week. The person we care for must be receiving one of these qualifying benefits.
The Turn2us Benefits Calculator can also give us a comprehensive benefits check in less than five minutes. If we’d like to speak to someone for more in-depth advice about our circumstances, we can reach out to our local Citizens' Advice Bureau.
4. Additional grants from local councils
We’ve listed the main benefits for carers that are worth looking into. However, many local carers centres and councils are able to offer grants for carers. These might include ‘healthy living’ or ‘respite' grants. As well as a ‘Carer’s Assessment’ to help us identify and fill in the gaps in our caring needs. Which can include financial support.
Use this nifty tool to find your local carers’ centre and get in touch with them to see what benefits or grants they have access to.
5. The Household Support Fund
The Government announced a Household Support fund last year to help cover the costs of basic essentials during winter. It supports vulnerable and low-income households in the form of small grants distributed from our local council.
How much we receive will also depend on our council.
Recently, this fund has been extended to Spring. To find out if we're eligible, get in touch with your local council directly.
6. Social Prescribing
Some GPs have started offering "Social Prescribing" which involves helping patients to improve their health and wellbeing by connecting them to community services, which might be run by the council or local charity. This might be called something else where you live but it was worth checking.
The potential benefits here, are that sometimes the social prescription might be something free or subsidised to support our health. Carers have told us they have benefited from things such as free gym passes or a weight watchers membership, for example.
One carer said she was even able to get extra care hours and some money to pay for travel to hospital appointments.
It will vary depending on what has been set up in our own areas, but worth enquiring about.
Benefits for carers who don’t work
1. Carer’s Allowance
If we are not working, we may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance to help with the cost of caring. From 11th April 2022, this is £69.70 a week and the person we care for does not have to be related to us. It can include a friend or neighbour. So long as we are caring for 35 hours or more a week.
2. Blue Badge
If we, or the person we care for is disabled, including a hidden disability we may be eligible for a Blue Badge. A Blue Badge can give us access to larger parking bays, and often allows us to park closer to our destination so we don’t have to walk (or push!) too far. In some areas we may be able to avoid paying parking fees or congestion charge with a Blue Badge.
Benefits for working carers
Working carers are also entitled to some caring benefits. Understanding what we’re eligible for and being aware of the its overall impact on our finances is important. Our guide to unpaid caring and work explains the implications of our working hours on Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit.
Can we care and work?
1. Carer’s Allowance
If we’re working and earn less than £132 per week (after eligible deductions), we may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. Use our simple checker to find out today.
If we’re earning more than this, take a look at our guide, ‘Can we care and work?’, which takes us through helpful things like eligible deductions, which might bring our earnings within the threshold.
2. Universal Credit
If we’re working and on a low income, we may be entitled to Universal Credit. This is a monthly payment paid by the Government.
Money Helper has a useful guide, explaining everything we need to know about Universal Credit. With this, we may also be entitled to the ‘carer element of Universal Credit’.
3. Carer’s Credit
If we’ve had to reduce our working hours to provide at least 20 hours a week of care, we may not be earning enough to contribute to National Insurance. To fill this gap and ensure we’ll still be entitled to our State Pension, we may be eligible for Carer’s Credit. This helps to protect our State Pension.
Benefits for those over state pension age and caring
1. Pension Credit
If we are 65 years (or over) and on a low income, Pension Credit can support us with housing costs. If we have a severe disability ourselves and are in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit, we may also receive an additional £69.40 a week.
How much we receive will also depend on whether we are single or not.
Our Pension Credit may also increase if we are eligible for Carer’s Allowance
2. Carer’s Allowance
We can only receive Carer’s Allowance if our State Pension is less than Carer’s Allowance (i.e. less £69.70 a week). If it’s less than this amount, Carer’s Allowance will top up the difference to total £69.70 weekly.
Unfortunately, if our State Pension is over this weekly threshold, we’ll not be entitled to Carer’s Allowance.
Benefits for the person we care for
1. Attendance Allowance
If the person we care for is over State Pension age (65 or over), they may be eligible for Attendance Allowance to help with day-to-day living costs. Our comprehensive carers’ guide to Attendance Allowance, details how carers can help them fill out an application.
2. Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a monthly payment for disabled children and adults 16+.
3. Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a monthly payment for children with a disability under the age of 16.
Council tax discounts for carers
As carers we may be able to get a council tax reduction.
The council tax discount is dependent on whether we live in the same house as the person we care for, or separately.
Check out our ‘discounts for carers’ guide to find out if you’re eligible and how you can apply.
Money off gas and electricity for carers
There are also different types of payments and grants that help carers cover the cost of our gas and electricity.
Heating benefits in the UK
In the UK, there are three different heating benefits to support us and the person we care for through winter. Each with their own eligibility criteria. Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply.
Free annual gas checks
If the person we care for is in receipt of a disability benefit, they may also be entitled to a free annual gas safety check.
Grants to help with energy debts
If we’re in debt to our energy supplier, our energy supplier may be able to offer grants so it’s worth checking with them. For example, British Gas Energy Trust offers grants schemes that are open to everyone even if we’re not a customer.
Help with paying the water bill
The Big Difference Scheme can offer those of us with incomes below £16,480 a reduction on our water bills.
Watersure is another scheme which helps those who use a lot of water due to medical conditions, with the water bills. To apply, we must be receiving an eligible benefit.
Financial help with debt
If we find ourselves in a difficult situation regarding our finances, here are some useful resources that may help;
Citizens Advice has lots of advice, including information on rent arrears and eviction for rent arrears.
StepChange is a debt charity that provides free debt advice online, supporting you throughout the entire process.
National Debt Advisory offers debt management advice, which covers advice on many situations such as utility arrears, council arrears or overdrafts.
Help with healthcare costs
1. Funding for NHS Continuing Healthcare
If the person we are caring for has a long-term complex health need, the NHS may be able to fund for the continuing healthcare. How much funding we get will vary for everyone and depends on the needs of the person we care for.
The UK Care Guide has a great introduction to NHS Continuing Healthcare.
2. Funding from your councils for a paid carer
Including, funding through Direct Payments and Personal Budgets.
3. The NHS Low Income Scheme
The NHS Low Income Scheme covers prescription costs, dental costs, eye care costs or healthcare travel costs. We can apply to the scheme online or by post.
4. Funding for leaving the hospital homecare support
Our carer’s guide to leaving the hospital includes five different funds for free care after we bring the person we care for home from hospital.
5. Free NHS Flu vaccinations for carers
When we register as a carer at our GP, (simply by filling in a carer’s registration form) we will be able to receive free flu vaccinations from pharmacies.
In fact our local pharmacy can help in lots of ways. Make sure you're making the most of the support your pharmacy can offer.
6. Free prescriptions
If the person we are caring for meets any of these criteria, they may be able to get free prescriptions from the NHS.
7. Disability-related expenses
If the person we care for has a mobility-related disability or ‘hidden disability', a Blue Badge can help in many ways.
From being exempt from paying vehicle tax to 100% discount off congestion charge, take a look at our guide ‘Blue Badges, made simple’ to find out how a Blue Badge can benefit you and the person you care for.
Help with with legal costs for carers
As carers, we may face some legal challenges. If you are struggling to understand any concepts or are feeling stuck, don’t try to tackle it on your own.
It’s always worth getting third-party advice, particularly from an organisation or charity that specialises in a particular topic.
1. Lasting power of attorney fees
There is a registration fee of £82 per Lasting Power of Attorney in England and Wales.
This £82 fee can be waved if the person we care for (i.e. the ‘donor’) is receiving a means-tested benefit. We can view the full list of these benefits on page 2.
2. Charities can offer free legal advice
Our Condition Specific guide, may be a helpful starting point.
Funding for respite
There are different ways carers can get funding for respite (also known as breaks). Respite can look different, depending on our needs. It might be paid carers coming into our home to look after the person we care for, or funding for us to take a break away from our home, or a short break for the person we care for at a respite home.
Our local authority and council have a statutory duty to ensure that as carers, our wellbeing needs are met to ensure we can continue to provide care without burning out.
A Carer’s Assessment with our local carers centre or council is carried out to identify and meet these needs. And from this, they can provide respite grants for example to ensure we have the break we need.
It can also include providing us with Direct Payments which can be used to pay for carers (therefore giving us a break).
We’ve come up with 10 lists of questions to help you prepare for your Carer’s Assessment so you don’t miss anything!
In our comprehensive carers’ guide to respite, we also list the different types of funding available for respite services and some suggestions where respite is free for carers.
Help with the cost of education
If we are a young carer, either in part-time or full-time education, there is financial support for available
1. Young carer grant (Scotland only)
In Scotland, carers aged 16, 17, or 18 caring for at least 16 hours a week may be entitled to an additional £325.65 a year. This is known as the Young Carer Grant. Find out how to apply here.
2. Extra funding for student carers
If we are caring and in full-time education, there is extra funding for student carers.
Our '10 top tips for young adult carers off to university' provides more in-depth information on these types of financial support including Young Adult Carer Bursaries.
3. Disabled Student’s Allowance
The Disabled Students’ Allowance is for those of us with a mental health diagnosis, or any other disability. It helps to pay for any study-related costs because of this and we do not need to pay it back.
Don't forget to take some time to step back
With the rising costs of living, it can be difficult to feel at ease with the unknown. It's so important that we take care of ourselves. This may include talking through how we're feeling with a friend, family member or another supportive person. Carers’ centres often have someone we can talk to.
Sometimes taking a step back to recharge is what we need at the moment.
Talking about finances can also get super complicated. Feel free to join our Facebook group for unpaid carers where we ask all sorts of questions, share advice and top tips.