Carers should claim every penny owed
Carers and their charges are owed thousands of pounds of benefits, says David Prosser
Saturday 01 April 2006
A national failure to provide decent standards of care for older people is part of a wider failure of the care system, say charities that advise carers and those in need of help. A report published on Monday, revealing how the NHS is failing elderly people, is only part of the picture.
Shan Nicholas, chief executive of the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, says while the Government is planning legislation intended to improve support for carers, the charity is concerned not enough is being done.
"Our support for 250,000 carers, including some as young as seven, has shown that many face a constant battle for their needs to be recognised," she says. "Full-time, unpaid and heavy-ended care can leave thousands of carers struggling to get out of poverty."
Part of the problem is that the patchwork of benefits on offer is so complicated. Some overlap, so people claiming one type may lose out on another. In other cases, money is available irrespective of what else you are claiming.
"These can often be quite difficult benefits to claim," adds Moira Haynes of Citizens Advice. "The forms are often lengthy and your answers need to be couched in the right sort of language."
As a result, too few people know what kind of help they are entitled to - let alone claim it. Charities such as Citizen's Advice do their best to help - and are worth contacting if you need information - but too many people fall through the holes in the system.
The main state benefit for carers, this allowance is currently worth £45.70 a week. To qualify, you must be at least 16 years old and looking after someone for at least 35 hours a week. The person you're looking after must receive a qualifying disability benefit, such as attendance allowance, and if you work, you must not receive a weekly income of more than £82.
In addition, full-time students are barred from claiming carer's allowance, you must be living in the UK when you make a claim, and the allowance is available only if you're not claiming one of a list of other benefits. However, if you fall foul of this rule, you may still be eligible for the carer's premium, paid as a top-up to your existing benefits.
INCOME SUPPORT AND PENSION CREDIT
These benefits are for people whose income falls below a weekly minimum - the exact amount depends your circumstances.
Income support is for people not in paid work, or working less than 16 hours a week (if you have a partner, he or she must work less than 24 hours a week). You must be entitled not to be looking for work.
Claimants include single parents, people who are ill or on disability benefits and many carers. Claimants must not have savings of more than £8,000 and those who have between £3,000 and £8,000 will receive less.
Pension credit works on a similar basis, but is available to those on low incomes over the age of 60.
DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE
This benefit is paid to people who find it difficult to care for themselves. It's available as long as you claim before you turn 65, irrespective of income, savings and benefits.
The benefit has two parts, depending on an assessment of your care needs and your mobility, and is paid at three rates depending on the severity of your problem. Children are eligible for the benefit too.
People over the age of 65 who find caring for themselves difficult claim this benefit, available at two rates. You need to have had the problems for six months before you claim and receiving this benefit entitles your carer to apply for carer's allowance.
Aimed at those who have paid sufficient National Insurance contributions, this benefit is for people who can't work due to illness or disability. While you are still getting statutory sick pay from your employer, you can't claim.
Cash is available under both the working tax credit and child tax credit schemes for people looking after children and those in work with disabilities. How much you can claim depends on a range of criteria, including your income, your children and your disabilities.
One problem for people not in work is that they're not making NI contributions, which are needed to build entitlement to many state benefits, including the basic state pension. However, people in receipt of carer's allowance can claim NI credits. If not, you may be able to get home responsibilities protection, which works in a similar way.
Anyone who is receiving benefits for carers or for disability may also be able to claim help with the cost of housing, through housing benefit, or a reduction in their council tax bill, through council tax benefit. Also it's worth checking whether you are entitled to health benefits such as free prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment.
In addition, charities such as the Princess Royal Trust and Citizens Advice can advise on other sources of help - grants for home improvements, for example, or even when carers can get support at home to give them a break.
Your rights and how to see them enforced
* Decisions on claims for attendance allowance and disability living allowance are so often wrong that six in 10 appeals against them succeed according to a report published this year by Citizens Advice. "What the Doctor Ordered" warned carers and others claiming state help to stand up for their rights.
* In particular, it is crucial that you appeal against any decision with which you disagree. You have the right to appeal against any rejection of a claim for benefits or tax credits and an independent tribunal will consider your case.
* The agencies responsible for administering benefits and tax credits are all able to help you fill in claims forms, though Citizens Advice warns: "These systems often do not work as well as they should at a local level".
* In any case, many people would prefer to take independent advice about their situation from Citizens Advice or a similar organisation. This is particularly important for people who need to arrange long-term care for the elderly, an area where the law is exceptionally complicated and varies according to where you live. The Nursing Home Fees Agency is an excellent source of free advice in this area.
* Useful contacts: Benefits Enquiry Line: 0800 882200; Citizens Advice: see your local office, or log on to www.citizensadvice.org.uk; Department for Work and Pensions Carers Line: 0800 882200; HM Customs & Revenue: 0845 300 3900; Nursing Home Fees Agency: 0800 998833; Princess Royal Trust for Carers: 020 7480 7788; The Pensions Service: 0800 99 1234; For housing benefit and council tax benefit, contact your local authority.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 North Korean prison officers 'cooked prisoner's baby and fed it to their dogs', more horrific accounts from UN report reveal
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 4 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
iJobs Money & Business
Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...
£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens