Carer’s allowance

A benefit for people who provide care to others

This section of the site gives some basic information about carer’s allowance. You might be able to claim this benefit if you care for someone who has substantial care needs and you meet the other conditions of the benefit.

What is it?

How do I claim?

Things to note

Where can I find out more?

 

What is it?

Carer’s allowance is a benefit paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). You don’t need to have paid national insurance contributions to get it, and it is not affected by any savings you or your partner have. It is, however, taxable and counts as income for tax credits. It may also count as income for other benefits. It can also be affected by any earnings you have from work (but not your partner’s earnings).

For 2016/17, Carer’s allowance is £62.10 a week. Carer's allowance is a taxable benefit.

You can normally claim carer’s allowance if:

  • you are aged 16 or over;
  • You have been in England, Scotland or Wales for at least 2 of the last 3 years and you normally live in England, Scotland or Wales or you live abroad as a member of the armed forces. (The rules for Northern Ireland are different, see the NI Direct website for more information). There are some exceptions to these conditions if you’re living in another European Economic Area country.
  • You are not subject to immigration control (although there may be some exceptions to this)
  • you spend at least 35 hours a week looking after someone (this could be a child) who gets the middle or highest rate care component of disability living allowance, a personal independence payment daily living component, either rate of attendance allowance, armed forces independence payment or constant attendance allowance (at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit or basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension)
  • you are not attending a full-time course of study (21 hours or more a week); and
  • (if you are working) you usually earn no more than £110 a week. This £110 a week is after deducting tax, national insurance, half of any contribution to an occupational or personal pension and certain other expenses. This may include childcare costs and payments you make to other people (not close relatives) to provide care while you work. Any occupational pension you get is ignored, as are certain payments from the council for someone temporarily in your care (e.g. fostering allowances).

How do I claim?

Ring the carer’s allowance unit on 0345 608 4321 (textphone 0345 604 5312). You can also claim online. To get a form you can download one from the GOV.UK website or contact the carer’s allowance unit:

Carer’s Allowance Unit
Palatine House
Lancaster Road
Preston
Lancashire
PR1 1HB

Email:

cau.customer-services@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Things to note

  • You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you look after. Paid personal assistants (care workers) can also claim.
  • Two people cannot get carer’s allowance for looking after the same person.
  • You cannot normally get carer’s allowance if you have restrictions on your stay in this country. There are some exceptions to this rule. Get advice, before you claim, if this applies to you.
  • You get a national insurance credit for each week you get carer’s allowance.
  • If your earnings vary, you may still be able to claim carer’s allowance for the weeks when they are below the £110 limit. The DWP also has the discretion to average your earnings over a five-week period, or a ‘recognisable cycle of work’ if you have one. 
  • Your claim can be backdated for up to three months, if you met the qualifying rules during that period.  It can be backdated more than this if the person you look after has been waiting to hear about their attendance allowance, personal independence payment, or disability living allowance claim. You must claim within three months of the date of the decision on their disability benefit claim. If you do this, your carer’s allowance claim should be backdated to the date their benefit is paid from.
  • If the person you look after is getting a means-tested social security benefit (e.g. income-related employment and support allowance or pension credit) you should get advice before claiming carer’s allowance, especially if they are living alone. They may lose some of their benefit income if you make a claim. 
  • You may be entitled to other benefits (or an increase on what you are already getting) once you claim carer’s allowance. You should get advice to check if this applies to you. See our ‘help with benefits’ page for a list of where to get more advice about benefits.
  • If you are already getting a social security benefit based on your national insurance record (e.g. state retirement pension or contributory employment and support allowance), you may not be paid carer’s allowance as well. However, it might still be worth making a claim in order to get ‘underlying entitlement’, which may increase your other benefit income by giving you access to a carer’s premium. You should get advice to check if this applies to you. See our ‘help with benefits’ page for a list of where to get more advice about benefits.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more in the carers allowance section on the GOV.UK website.

Carers UK also produce a detailed guide about claiming.

If you need advice about benefits you can find a list of organisations that might help on our ‘help with benefits' page.