Carers and financial support
Caring for a loved one can have financial implications for carers. It's good to get as much information as you can early on so you know what is available, according to the carers’ support charity Carers Trust. Ask for a carers’ assessment from social services and ask them to describe what their services can offer. It’s a good idea to keep in touch with a reliable carers’ advice and information service as well as a local carers group, to keep informed about changes to rights and services.
The cost of caring
As a carer it's important to consider the long-term financial impact of caring for another person. You will need to formulate a care plan detailing what assets are available (long-term), what funds you are entitled to (ongoing) and what benefits can assist you in your care role (short-term). You may also consider alternative ways to reduce care costs, such as adapting an existing property rather than seeking residence in a care home.
There is a whole range of benefits, tax credits and financial support available to some carers and the person they care for, but understanding how you assess this financial support can be challenging.
The Citizen's Advice Bureau
The Citizen's Advice Bureau is a nationwide charity that offers free, confidential and independent advice. The CAB can help guide you though the financial assessment process and potentially help you assess and access resources you might have been previously unaware you were entitled to. They can also help you with a range of other issues you might face as a carer, such as legal concerns.
Types of funding
Some benefits are means tested, based on the income and savings of the person you care for, or yourself. There are other benefits for carers, and those being cared for, which based on certain criteria, are paid for on need irrespective of a financial assessment.
Social services cover some care costs but there are strict rules regarding any financial contributions you may have to make. These rules vary depending on whether care is needed in a care home or in your own home. The rules set out how your income (including any benefits) and capital would be taken into account when calculating whether you have to pay anything towards the care you receive.
This is the main state benefit for carers. To qualify you need to meet certain criteria. You must be 16 years old or over, look after someone for a minimum of 35 hours a week. Carer’s Allowance is taxable and can affect other benefits.
Once your care needs have been assessed by your local council, including your financial needs, they can determine how much help you may require from their care services team. If your local authority is contributing towards your loved one's care, they will give you a budget, reflecting the amount of care received. This will then allow you to buy equivalent services from another care agency, should you choose to.