Frequently Asked Questions
Please be aware that the following FAQs are for general information only. For relevant information to your particular situation, contact us.
If you don't live in the same area as the person you care for, it is the duty of the local authority (Ccuncil) of the person you look after to support them and you as their carer. This includes offering you a Carer’s Assessment and providing any services or help that they assess you as needing. So, if you live in Croydon but the person you care for lives in Sutton, the London Borough of Sutton is responsible for your Carer’s Assessment.
The Carers’ Information Service provides information and advice on all aspects of being a carer in Croydon. If you care for someone in a different borough, find your local carers group.
The main financial support available to carers is Carer’s Allowance (CA). If you are a carer and receive Income Support, Employment Support Allowance or Pension Credit you may be entitled to a carer premium, which will be automatically added to your benefit payments. See our section on money and benefits for more information on benefits.
Carers can often get free or reduced entry to tourist attractions and leisure facilities. Proof of the disability of the person you care for may be required. Some organisations have their own systems for identifying carers and disabled people.
Carers also ask us about grants. Our factsheet on Grant-Giving Organisations (opens as PDF) can help you find out what you may be eligible for. To find local grants, Turn2Us offers an online grant finder service and if you are caring for a disabled child or young person aged 17 or under,you could benefit from the extra savings for families offered via the Family Fund.
For information on money and benefits, download our Money Matters factsheet (opens as PDF).
Some, but not all, carers are entitled to a council tax discount. Council tax bills are based on two adults living in a property, if only one person lives there then the council tax bill is reduced by 25%, if no one lives there then the bill is reduced by 50%. For the purposes of council tax people can be ‘not counted’ for various reasons.
Carers are ‘not counted’ if they care for someone living in the same property for 35 hours or more a week, and that person is not their spouse/partner, or child (if the child is under 18). If more than one person in a household meets this caring criteria they can be ‘not counted’ as well. The cared for person needs to be receiving Attendance Allowance, the daily living element of Personal Independence Payment, or the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
Thomas and Caroline care for their daughter, Katie, who has cerebral palsy. Katie is 25, lives with her parents and receives the highest rate care component of DLA. Both Thomas and Caroline spend at least 35 hours a week caring for Katie. For council tax purposes both Thomas and Caroline are ‘not counted’. This just leaves Katie so the council tax bill should be reduced by 25% as it is deemed to be a single occupancy.
Another way of having a member of your household ‘not counted’ is if they have a severe mental impairment (a doctor needs to provide a certificate confirming this). Again the cared for person needs to be receiving certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, AA or the middle or highest rate care component of DLA.
James cares for his uncle, Simon, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. James and Simon live together and James spends over 35 hours a week caring for Simon, who receives high rate AA. Simon’s GP has provided a certificate stating that Simon has a severe mental impairment which is permanent. This means that James is ‘not counted’ for council tax purposes as he meets the criteria for a carer, and Simon is ‘not counted’ due to his mental impairment. This means that the property is seen as empty and is eligible for a 50% council tax discount.
Disability Reduction Scheme – council tax
The Disability Reduction Scheme is available to those living with someone who is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’ regardless of their age or if they are related to you, who also meets one of the following criteria:
- There is an additional kitchen or bathroom in the property needed by the disabled person
- There is another room in the property (not a kitchen, bathroom or toilet) needed by and predominantly used by the disabled person
- There is enough space in the property for the disabled person to use a wheelchair indoors
- If your household meets this criteria then your existing council tax band will be lowered to the band below, which will reduce your bill
If you have been eligible for either of these schemes in the past, but did not apply, your claim should be backdated to when you were first eligible. Properties solely occupied by people who are severely mentally impaired, and properties left empty because the occupant has moved elsewhere to care for someone, or be cared for, are all exempt from council tax. Contact the Croydon Council Tax and Benefits Customer Contact Centre on 020 8726 7000 for more information or to apply for a discount.
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. It is currently £62.70 a week (2017/2018 rate). To qualify for Carer's Allowance, you must care at least 35 hours a week for someone who is receiving a qualifying benefit. Qualifying benefits are:
- Lower or higher rate Attendance Allowance (AA).
- Middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
- Either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
- Armed Forces Independence Payment.
- Armed Forces Independence Payment Constant Attendance Allowance (of £67.20 or more paid with an industrial injuries disablement, war or service pension).
You do not have to be a relative or live with the person you are caring for, but you must not be in full-time education (over 21 hours a week) or earning over £110 a week (after some allowable deductions such as tax and national insurance). You can only receive Carer’s Allowance once, even if you care for more than one person. If you share caring responsibilities with someone else, only one of you will be able to claim Carer's Allowance even though you are both carers.
Some presence and residence conditions which apply. You must be habitually resident in the UK, not subject to immigration control and you must have been in Great Britain for 104 weeks out of the 156 weeks prior to your claim. These rules may not apply to members of the armed forces and some people who live in or have lived in European Economic Area (EEA) states or Switzerland.
You can get Carer's Allowance backdated to the date that the award of the qualifying benefit started (even if this was over three months ago). But you must claim Carer's Allowance within 3 months of the award of the qualifying benefit being notified to the disabled person, otherwise you could lose out.
In some situations, the person you care for could lose money if you start to receive Carer's Allowance or the Universal Credit carer’s element. This could happen if the person you care for receives a severe disability premium or addition as part of their Pension Credit, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Job Seeker's Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support. This is worth an extra £61.85 a week. Their severe disability premium or addition will not be affected if you are awarded an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance only i.e. Carer's Allowance is not being paid
Carer’s Allowance overlaps with certain benefits, including the state pension. If your state pension is £62.10 a week or more then you will not be paid Carer’s Allowance, even if you meet all the other criteria. If your state pension is less than £62.10 a week then it will be topped up to Carer’s Allowance levels. However, it can still be worth applying for Carer’s Allowance even if your pension is over £62.10 a week. This is because you will be recognised as having an underlying entitlement, which can increase your chances of being eligible for Pension Credit and other benefits such as the Carer Premium.
To claim Carer’s Allowance call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 or claim online.
Breaks are important for carers and can give you the opportunity to recharge your batteries and return to caring feeling refreshed. A break can also benefit the person you care for as it may give them a change of scene and company. Examples of breaks for carers might be:
• A family holiday with or without the person you support.
• The person you support attending a day centre.
• Regular help from a care worker coming into the home or taking the person you support out.
• The opportunity for the carer to take part in activities of their choosing in the knowledge that the person they support is being well looked after.
One of the first things to do if you are in need of a break is to ask for a Carer's Assessment. Help for Carers Croydon have been commissioned by Croydon Council to carry out Carer's Assessments for carers aged 18 and over who are caring for an adult who lives in Croydon. Contact Help for Carers on 020 8663 5664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Parents or carers of a disabled child or young person can receive a Carer's Assessment as part of an assessment of the child or young person from the Croydon Children with Disabilities Team on 020 8726 6400.
If you are looking for the chance to de-stress for a short while, our Carers Café is available Monday to Friday, 10.30am-12.30pm. The Carers Café is a place for carers to sit down and chat to our friendly volunteers if you want to, or just spend time sitting quietly with a free hot drink. We also offer free books, newspapers and Wi-Fi. Please be aware the Café is only open for carers but you are very welcome to bring the person you care for with you. Come and find us at the Carers Support Centre, 24 George Street, Croydon CR0 1PB – we’ll be very happy to see you.
Being a carer can be tough at times. Having someone to talk to who is not part of the situation can help. At the Carers Support Centre, we offer a friendly face and a listening ear for carers. Visit our drop-in Advice Desk Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm or visit the Carers Café for a tea/coffee and a chat Monday to Friday, 10.30am - 12.30pm.
Caring can be really demanding on your mental as well as your physical health. Mind in Croydon’s Carers Counselling Service offers up to six free counselling sessions to carers who are aged 18 plus and living, working or studying in the London Borough of Croydon. Contact them on 020 8763 2064 or email email@example.com.
Other sources of general emotional support, but not counselling are:
- Help for Carers Croydon (020 8663 5664) has a carers support service that offers home visits and emotional support to carers.
- Off the Record Young Carers Support Project (020 8649 9339, option 2) offers emotional support to young carers via one to one sessions and social activities.
- Parents in Partnership (020 8684 9082) supports parents of children and young people between 0-25 years old with a special need or disability living in Croydon.
There are a range of other support groups for those living with specific conditions and their carers - download our Information and Advice factsheet for details.
Carers UK has a downloadable guide on your rights as a carer. This includes information on benefits, getting support, making decisions and rights in the workplace. See the question below on 'What is the Care Act and what does it mean for carers?' for more details about your rights as a carer under the Care Act.
The Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, aims to put disabled people and carers in control of their care and support. See the following summary of the main changes introduced by the Care Act:
- Local authorities have a new general responsibility to promote a person’s wellbeing when providing support. This includes when doing an assessment, creating a Care Plan and providing practical support.
- Local authorities must ensure people in their area have the right information and advice to make an informed decision about care and support
- A new national eligibility criteria for providing support has been introduced for all local authorities in England. Previously, every area could set their own threshold. Carers and people who need support have separate eligibility criteria. For more information on eligibility criteria visit Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
- Carers have the same right to an assessment as disabled people. This means they no longer have to provide a ‘regular’ or ‘substantial’ amount’ of care or request an assessment to get a Carer’s Assessment.
- If you pay for your own care (self -funder) you can ask your local authority to arrange (though not to fund) care for you, unless it is residential care e.g. a care home.
Carers UK has a page of FAQs about the Care Act.
Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has a range of useful resources on the Care Act.
Lasting Power of Attorney enables an Attorney to make decisions on behalf of another person with regards to their personal welfare and financial matters. There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Property and Welfare (which covers financial and property decisions) and Personal Health and Welfare (which covers decisions about health and social care).
If the person you care for is losing or may lose the ability to make decisions for themselves in the future, it is strongly recommended that they appoint an Attorney. The Lasting Power of Attorney will only come into effect if the person loses mental capacity, so it is better to have one than not have one when needed, even if it is never used.
Once a person loses mental capacity to grant Lasting Power of Attorney, only the Court of Protection can appoint a decision maker to make decisions on their behalf. The decision maker is called a Deputy. Deputy application must be made to the Court of Protection. It can be quite expensive, including an application fee and an annual fee thereafter, and there can be a lot of paperwork to fill in. It’s therefore seriously important to consider appointing an Attorney at an early stage.
You can start the process online but you will need to print out and send the forms with a written signature. The forms can be quite complicated, but you do not necessarily need to involve a solicitor
You will need a certificate provider to register your Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a person who confirms that the person making the Lasting Power of Attorney knows what they are doing and isn’t being pressured into it. A certificate provider can be a professional such as a social worker or solicitor, or someone who has known the person for 2 years or more and isn’t a relative or partner
There is a £110 fee to register a Lasting Power of Attorney, but there are some circumstances where fees may be reduced/exempt. Check the Office of the Public Guardian website for more information
The Carers’ Information Service offers information and advice to carers on a range of issues. If you need legal advice on mental capacity and lasting Power of Attorney/deputyship, we hold regular legal advice surgeries at the Carers Support Centre.
Visit: Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm, 24 George Street, Croydon CR0 1PB
Call: 020 8649 9339, option 1