Qualifying care definition for shared lives carers

Updated on 7 February 2019

Disabled people and carers

In this section we explain what qualifying care is for the purposes of qualifying care relief. On this page we deal with shared lives carers. You can read about qualifying care for foster carers on the previous page.

What is shared lives care?

It is where an adult either lives with or regularly visits a shared lives carer in the home of that carer and shares in the family and community life of that carer. Shared lives carers have people matched with them by shared lives ‘schemes’. These social care schemes are regulated and they approve and train the shared lives carers. Shared lives care can include respite care in certain circumstances. Respite carers should ask their scheme for guidance on this matter.

Back to the top

What is qualifying care?

This section discusses qualifying care for shared lives carers. You can read about qualifying care for foster carers on the previous page.

The situation is complicated for shared lives carers and the adult they support because payments to the carer may come from a variety of sources. Historically payments came from one source only, but due to changes in funding for social welfare and so on, payments may now be made to the shared lives carer from more than one place.

The scheme determines the overall payment to be made to the carer that will include elements for accommodation, food and care, for example. How that overall payment reaches the carer will depend on the scheme and the supported adult. For example, the supported adult may receive housing benefit that is then paid directly from the supported adult to the carer as part of the accommodation costs. The overall payment to the carer remains as determined by the scheme, but the carer, in this example, would receive two payments.

The source of the payments is important because that can determine whether the payments to the carer are qualifying care for these purposes and so whether the payments that the carer receives are able to be covered by qualifying care relief. If the payments are not for qualifying care (using the definition described on this page) then the carer would need to keep records of all expenditure and complete a full tax return.

The rules have recently changed.

Qualifying care from 6 April 2017

The rules were changed to allow carers supporting self-funding adults to claim qualifying care relief for payments sourced from those adults.

In order to fall within the remit of qualifying care, from 6 April 2017 payments to carers can be funded by the NHS, local authorities or by the supported adult, but crucially any payments for care must not be paid directly from the supported adult to their carer. Payments for accommodation or food could still be made direct to the carer from the adult, though. If any payments for care are made direct to the carer by the supported adult, then none of the payments received by the carer for that adult would be within the meaning of qualifying care.

While this is complex, your scheme should be able to tell you whether or not the payments you have received will fall within the definition of qualifying care.

Before 6 April 2017

Shared lives carers looking after someone who is a self-funder, would not be entitled to qualifying care relief. Further, the legislation was difficult to interpret. The starting point was that the shared lives care had to be provided under a specified social care scheme. But the carer was required to receive the payment from the local authority.

The situation where someone was caring for someone in receipt of a direct payment was not so clear cut before 6 April 2017. A strict interpretation of ‘receives payment from’ could see qualifying care relief not being available as the carer was not being paid directly from the Local Authority. Another interpretation would be that even though payment was routed via the person cared for, it did come ultimately from the Local Authority, and as such the carer of a direct payment recipient was entitled to qualifying care relief.  We can find no case law on this subject – ultimately this is a question that may need to be tested.

We should however bear in mind that often in the case of direct payment awards, the recipient would receive an amount of money, but then due to their means, would have been required to make a financial contribution back to the Local Authority. This complicated the question of the source of the money yet further.  

Back to the top

I get paid some amounts direct from the adult I support. Is this a problem?

It depends on what the payments are for. Depending on which time period the payments are for, you should read the section above. If the payments you receive are not related to the social care scheme, for example they are for hairdressing, then those payments would not be eligible for qualifying care relief in any case.

Back to the top

Where can I get more help?

You can obtain more help and guidance from Shared Lives Plus.

Back to the top