Carer’s Allowance – a double helping of good news
The Government announced in Autumn Statement 2014, that from April 2015, the Carer’s Allowance earnings limit will increase from £102 to £110 per week, meaning more carers will have the opportunity to work part-time and still be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. Additionally, if you have access to the internet it is now easier than ever to apply for Carer’s Allowance. LITRG welcome both of these gestures of support for carers.
Carer's Allowance (CA) is paid weekly to carers (currently £61.35) who help look after someone with substantial caring needs for at least 35 hours a week. You can find out more about CA here.
There are various eligibility criteria to claim CA, including that you must earn less than £102 a week, (after taxes, care costs while you are at work and 50% of what you pay into your pension). However, as the economy begins to recover, the government wants to ensure the support it offers carers keeps pace with the general rise in earnings, therefore from April 2015, this earnings limit will increase from £102 to £110 per week.
The CA claim can be made on paper by sending it through the post or by using an online application process. However the online service was difficult to complete and therefore resulted in low take-up of the allowance. In recognition of this, significant changes have been made and you can now apply for CA using a much simpler online service.
This new service has been tested with real users and has been designed with maximum convenience in mind. Indeed, not only has the form been approved as ‘easy to use’ – the designers have also been able to remove 170 questions from the application process – making it much less of a chore for carers to complete.
You will require some basic online skills in order to use the service and it takes an average of 30 minutes to complete. You will need your National Insurance number, date of birth and address of the person you are caring for, in addition to your bank or building society details, details of any course you are studying for, and employment details. You can use a tablet or mobile to use the service.
You can access the online service here.
Information about applying for Carer’s Allowance by post, if you cannot use the online service, can also be found by following the link above.
This is the ‘Low Incomes Tax Reform Group’, so we must not let you leave without a word about tax!
CA is taxable income. This means you need to include it when you work out your tax for the year. It is also counted as ‘social security income’ for tax credit purposes and ‘unearned income’ for universal credit. However if you receive CA, you may be entitled to an additional carer’s element of universal credit and have your capability for work assessment adjusted – you can find out more about CA and universal credit here.