Changes to regulations around carers' support
There are quite a few questions pinging around on social media about changes that are being made to the rules around carers' support. We've taken a look at some of the detail, and here's what we found:
The Coronavirus Act
The government have introduced emergency legislation which gives a range of new powers to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. The most significant change in this for carers is about the duty for councils to carry out needs assessments for both carers and their cared for - you might well have had one of these in the past, either from a social worker or a carer's centre.
The idea behind the change is to give some flexibility for councils to respond to any urgent cases - for example if a carer contracts the virus and needs somebody to look after their cared-for. The government have emphasised that the change does not necessarily mean that assessments will automatically be stopped by councils. It could mean that assessments are carried out in a more flexible and responsive way. Here's the formal advice from the government.
For many of us, our caring situation has changed quite a lot in the last couple of weeks. If you feel you need to review the support available to you, it's worth getting in touch with your council or your carer's centre for advice (Find your local carer's centre here).
We will keep talking to our contacts in Social Care and carers support organisations to know more about any actual changes that happen in relation to the provisions of this act. Please do also share your experiences with us.
Carers who are are currently receiving Carers Allowance have asked about what would happen if their situation changes as a result of Coronavirus. For example:
You or your cared for go into hospital or respite care
You are not caring for as many hours because you are protecting the person you care for by not visiting them as often and are providing remote support instead
You or the person you care for gets Coronavirus and you are not able to care for them during this time
Here's what the government have said previously:
"You can still get Carer’s Allowance if you temporarily stop providing care for someone. This means any period when you spend less than 35 hours a week caring for the other person. For example, you could get Carer’s Allowance for up to: 12 weeks if either of you go into respite care or hospital OR 4 weeks if either of you go on holiday"
New guidance from the government will allow you to continue to claim carers allowance if either of you has Coronavirus. This new guidance will also allow you to count emotional support that you provide as part of your caring hours.
Do let the Carers Allowance Unit know of any changes and they will be able to advise you.
Many carers who haven't previously been able to claim carer's allowance may now be eligible because of the change in their circumstances. Our quick checker tool below can give you a sense of whether it's worth applying.