Frequently Asked Questions
Please be aware that the following FAQs are for general information only. For relevant information to your particular situation, contact us.
You are a carer if you look after, or help to look after, a family member, friend or neighbour who needs support due to illness, disability or old age. The help carers give is unpaid, though you may still receive Carer’s Allowance or other benefits. You do not have to be receiving Carer’s Allowance, live with the person you support or provide full-time care to be a carer.
As a carer, you are doing a vital job, but you don't have to do it alone. Find out what advice and support is available for carers at the Carers Support Centre.
If you don't live in the same area as the person you care for, it is the duty of the local authority (council) 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 main financial support available to carers is Carer’s Allowance. If you receive Carer’s Allowance, or have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, you may be able to receive the carer premium. This is additional money included in in calculating your means-tested benefits, such as Income Support. The carer addition is an equivalent amount added to your Pension Credit, and the carer element is the equivalent added to your Universal Credit. 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. Some organisations have their own systems for identifying carers and disabled people, and proof of the disability of the person you care for or your caring role may be required. You may be able to use a disability benefit award letter, Carer's Allowance award letter or Blue Badge letter as proof of your caring role. If not available, a letter from the GP or social services could be used. See our Leisure and Holidays (opens as PDF) factsheet for more information on leisure and holiday discounts.
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 criteria, they can be ‘not counted’ as well. In addition, 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 Disability Living Allowance. 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, Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
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 Attendance Allowance. 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 £116 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 three 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 £62.70 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 £62.70 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 £62.70 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.
A Carer's Assessment is an assessment of your needs for support as a carer of an adult aged 18 or older under the Care Act 2014. It is the responsibility of the council where the person you care for lives to provide your Carer's Assessment. The assessment will look at how your caring role impacts your wellbeing, including your health, housing, ability to take part in work or training, your relationships with others and opportunities to socialise and take part in leisure activities. The council will then decide if you meet the eligibility criteria for support. Please be aware that if assessed as needing a break from caring (respite), this counts as a service for the person you care for.
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 under the Children and Families Act from the 0-25 SEND Team on 020 8726 6400. The needs of parent carers should also be taken into account in any assessment of their child.
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. The Carers Café is also open on Monday and Thursday afternoons, 1pm - 3pm on a self-service basis.
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 (opens as PDF) 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 certain decisions on behalf of another person. 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).
The Lasting Power of Attorney for financial decisions can be used when the person still has mental capacity (ability to make particular decisions), or the person can state that they only want the Lasting Power of Attorney to be used when they lose mental capacity. The Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can only be used when the person has lost mental capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. Lasting Power of Attorney can be applied for 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 a 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 pressurised or coerced. A certificate provider can be a professional, such as a social worker or solicitor, or someone who has known the person for two years or more and isn’t a relative or partner.
There is a £82 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.
A person must have the mental capacity to be able to decide to set up Lasting Power of Attorney. Once a person loses the 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. There are fees to pay to be a Deputy, including an application fee and an annual supervision fee, and a number of forms to fill in. It may therefore be helpful to plan ahead and consider appointing an Attorney at an earlier stage.
Age UK has more information on Lasting Power of Attorney. 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. Check our what's on calendar for availability.
The Carers Support Centre provides a wide range of information, advice and support for carers in Croydon. Drop in to the Centre Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm or get in touch to see how we can help.