Financial support for carers

Carers may face financial costs when they are caring for someone with cancer, but there is help available.

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You can get Carer’s Allowance if:

  • you look after someone for at least 35 hours each week, and
  • the person you look after gets Attendance Allowance or the middle or higher
  • rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, and
  • you are aged 16 or over, and
  • you are not studying for more than 21 hours a week, and
  • you don’t earn more than £100 a week from work (after some deductions)
  • you satisfy UK residence and immigration rules

Carer premium/addition

The Carer Premium is not a benefit but an extra amount of money included in the calculation of Income Support, income-based Job seekers’ Allowance, Housing Benefit and Rate Rebate in Northern Ireland. An equivalent amount is used in the calculation of Pension Credit. You will need to apply for the Carer’s Allowance to receive the Carer Premium.

Carers Credit

Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) has been replaced by weekly credits for parents and carers. Carers caring for a total of 20 hours per week or more will be able to apply for Carer’s Credit to protect their State Pension – both the basic and State Second Pension. This will help in situations where carers currently struggle to get their State Pensions protected. You could benefit if you are in one of these situations:

You care for 20 hours or more a week but:

  • miss out on Carer’s Allowance because you don’t care for 35 hours or more
  • You care for someone who can’t or refuses to claim disability benefits
  • Where there is more than one of you caring for a disabled or ill person and someone else is getting the Carer’s Allowance for that person
  • You look after several people but cannot claim Carer’s Allowance because you do not care for any one of them for 35 hours.
  •  You are still providing a lot of care for someone who has gone into hospital or a care home, but cannot get Carer’s Allowance because they don’t get disability benefits because they have been in hospital or a care home.

The Government has introduced a new Carer’s Credit to help carers in these situations. To claim it you need to be caring for one or more disabled person for a total of 20 hours or more a week where they get Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance care component; or you will need a medical or care professional to confirm that you are providing appropriate care for them.

Contact the Disability and Carer’s Service for more information on 028 9090 6186.

For more information about Carer’s Allowance and other benefits please see theCarersUK leaflet.

Additional organisations who can give financial advice for carers include:

  • Carers Northern Ireland Advice Line – 028 9043 9843
    10am-12pm and 2pm-3pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
  • Benefit Enquiry Line – for information about DLA Attendance and Carer’s Allowance Forms – 0800 220 674
  • Disability and Carers Service – 028 9090 6186
  • Pension Service – 0845 601 8821
  • Advice NI – 028 90 645919
  • Macmillan Benefits Advisors – 0300 123 3233
  • Carers Northern Ireland Advice Line – 028 9043 9843 lines open 10am-12pm and 2pm-3pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
  • Improving Benefit Uptake scheme – 0800 23201271 lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Help as a working carer

Caring for someone with cancer may impact on your working life.  It may be hard to know what your rights are as a working carer or find the balance between working and caring, but there is help available.

Working while caring

You may be feeling unsure about whether to stay at work, leave or return to work. You may be self-employed and wondering if you can run a business and be a carer. Remember, you can take your time when making these decisions.

Speak to organisations that can give you independent advice.  Having as much information as possible about your rights, who can support you and the options that are available to you is invaluable.

You will also find that speaking openly with the person you are caring for can help. They may surprise you with their thoughts on the situation.  Many patients see that work is something that provides carers with a release from their caring role. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is the right thing for you as well as the patient.

For more information on working and caring please see the looking after someone leaflet or see the Macmillan carers guide.

Your employment rights

Most working carers now have the legal right to request a flexible working pattern from their employer to help them to balance their work and caring responsibilities.  There is a set procedure that employers must use to consider such requests.  As a carer, you have this right if:

  • you are an employee, and
  • you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks, and
  • you are a parent with a child(ren) under 17 or a disabled child(ren) under 18,

or

  • you are caring for an adult (aged 18 or over) who lives at the same address as you. If the person doesn’t live with you then they must be a relative (the definition of relative is precisely defined in law as follows: parents, adult child (aged 18 or over), adopted adult child, siblings, uncles, aunts or grandparents. This includes all step-relatives, parents-in law and siblings-in-law).

For more information on your employment rights as a carer please see the looking after someone leaflet.