Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for carers in Croydon
Our carers FAQs are for general information only. For advice on your particular caring situation, contact us.
Am I a carer?
A carer looks after a family member, friend, partner or neighbour who needs support due to illness, disability or old age. The help carers give is unpaid, though you may still receive Carer’s Allowance or other benefits. You do not have to care full time, receive Carer’s Allowance or live with the person you care for to be a carer.
As a carer, you are doing a vital job, but you don't have to do it alone. Find advice and support for carers in Croydon at the Carers Support Centre.
I don’t live in the same borough/county as the person I care for – where do I go for help?
It is the duty of the local authority (council) where the person you care for lives to support their needs and your needs as a carer. This includes offering you a Carer’s Assessment and providing any services or help that the local authority assesses you as needing. For example, if the person you care for lives in Sutton, the London Borough of Sutton would be responsible for assessing their support needs and offering you a Carer’s Assessment.
Am I entitled to any financial support or discounts for being a carer?
The main financial support for carers is Carer’s Allowance. See our FAQ on Carer’s Allowance for more information.
If you receive Carer’s Allowance, or have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, you may be able to receive additional money in your means-tested benefits calculation. Carers UK has more information.
Carers can often get free or reduced entry to tourist attractions and leisure facilities. Some organisations have their own systems for identifying carers and disabled people. If evidence is required, you may be able to use a disability benefit award letter, Carer's Allowance award letter or Blue Badge letter as proof of your caring role. If not available, a letter from the GP or social services could be used. See our Leisure and Holidays (opens as PDF) factsheet for more information on leisure and holiday discounts.
Our factsheet on Grant-Giving Organisations (opens as PDF) has a list of grants you may be eligible for. Turn2Us also offers an online grant finder service. If you are care for a disabled child or young person aged 17 or under, you could also benefit from a Family Fund grant.
For information on money and benefits, download our Money Matters factsheet (opens as PDF).
Am I entitled to reductions or exemptions on Council Tax?
Some, but not all, carers are entitled to a council tax discount. Council tax bills are based on two adults living in a property, if only one person lives there then the council tax bill is reduced by 25%. If no one lives there, then the bill is reduced by 50%. For the purposes of council tax people can be ‘not counted’ for various reasons.
Carers are ‘not counted’ if they care for someone living in the same property for 35 hours or more a week, and that person is not their spouse/partner, or child (if the child is under 18). If more than one person in a household meets this criteria, they can be ‘not counted’ as well. In addition, the cared for person needs to be receiving Attendance Allowance, the daily living element of Personal Independence Payment or the middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
Thomas and Caroline care for their daughter, Katie, who has cerebral palsy. Katie is 25, lives with her parents and receives the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance. Both Thomas and Caroline spend at least 35 hours a week caring for Katie. For council tax purposes both Thomas and Caroline are ‘not counted’. This just leaves Katie so the council tax bill should be reduced by 25% as it is deemed to be a single occupancy.
Another way of having a member of your household ‘not counted’ is if they have a severe mental impairment (a doctor needs to provide a certificate confirming this). Again the cared for person needs to be receiving certain benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance, Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance.
James cares for his uncle, Simon, who has Alzheimer’s. James and Simon live together and James spends over 35 hours a week caring for Simon, who receives high rate Attendance Allowance. Simon’s GP has provided a certificate stating that Simon has a severe mental impairment which is permanent. This means that James is ‘not counted’ for council tax purposes as he meets the criteria for a carer, and Simon is ‘not counted’ due to his mental impairment. This means that the property is seen as empty and is eligible for a 50% council tax discount.
Disability Reduction Scheme – council tax
The Disability Reduction Scheme is available to those living with someone who is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’ regardless of their age or if they are related to you, who also meets one of the following criteria:
- There is an additional kitchen or bathroom in the property needed by the disabled person
- There is another room in the property (not a kitchen, bathroom or toilet) needed by and predominantly used by the disabled person
- There is enough space in the property for the disabled person to use a wheelchair indoors
- If your household meets this criteria then your existing council tax band will be lowered to the band below, which will reduce your bill
If you have been eligible for either of these schemes in the past, but did not apply, your claim should be backdated to when you were first eligible. Properties solely occupied by people who are severely mentally impaired, and properties left empty because the occupant has moved elsewhere to care for someone, or be cared for, are all exempt from council tax. Contact the Croydon Council Tax and Benefits Customer Contact Centre on 020 8726 7000 for more information or to apply for a discount.
What is Carer's Allowance and how can I claim it?
Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. It is currently £62.70 a week (2017/2018 rate). To qualify for Carer's Allowance, you must:
- Be aged 16 or older
- Care at least 35 hours a week for someone who is receiving a qualifying disability benefit
- Not be in full-time education (over 21 hours a week)
- Not earn over £120 a week (after some allowable deductions such as tax and National Insurance contributions)
- Satisfy UK presence and residence conditions - see Citizens UK for details
Qualifying benefits are:
- Attendance Allowance (AA) or Constant Attendance Allowance
- Middle or higher rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Armed Forces Independence Payment Constant Attendance Allowance (of £67.20 or more paid with an industrial injuries disablement, war or service pension)
You can only receive Carer’s Allowance once, even if you care for more than one person. If you share caring responsibilities with someone else, only one of you will be able to claim Carer's Allowance.
If you receive means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Carer’s Allowance will count as income. However, you can get additional money added when calculating your means-tested benefits. This is called the carer element in Universal Credit.
Carer’s Allowance is subject to overlapping benefits rules. This means that if you receive one or more of the overlapping benefits, you will not be entitled to Carer’s Allowance, even if you meet the other eligibility criteria. Overlapping benefits include:
- State Pension
- Contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (JSA)
- Bereavement benefits e.g. Bereavement Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Maternity Allowance
- Severe Disablement Allowance
It can still be worth applying for Carer’s Allowance even if overlapping benefits rules apply. This is because you will be recognised as having an underlying entitlement, which can increase your means-tested benefits.
Claiming Carer's Allowance or the Universal Credit carer’s element can affect the means-tested benefits of the person you care for. If the person you care for currently receives the severe disability premium on means-tested benefits, they will lose this when you start to receive Carer’s Allowance. The severe disability premium is added when a person receives a qualifying disability benefit and they live alone. The severe disability premium is £62.45 a week. This does not apply if you are awarded an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance.
You can get Carer's Allowance backdated up to three months before the date you make your claim. You can get Carer’s Allowance backdated for more than three months when you claim Carer’s Allowance within three months of the person you care for receiving a decision to award them one of the qualifying disability benefits.
To claim Carer’s Allowance call the Carer's Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 or claim online.
What is a Carer's Assessment and how can I get one?
A Carer's Assessment is an assessment of your needs for support as a carer under the Care Act 2014. This applies to carers aged 18 or older.
It is the responsibility of the council where the person you care for lives to provide your Carer's Assessment. The assessment will look at how your caring role impacts your life and wellbeing. The council will then decide if you meet the eligibility criteria for support. Please be aware that if assessed as needing a break from caring (respite), this counts as a service for the person you care for.
Help for Carers Croydon have been commissioned by Croydon Council to carry out Carer's Assessments for carers aged 18 and over who care for an adult living in Croydon. Contact Help for Carers Croydon on 020 8663 5664 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents or carers of a disabled child or young person can receive a Carer's Assessment under the Children and Families Act from the 0-25 SEND Team on 020 8726 6400. The needs of parent carers should also be taken into account in any assessment of their child.
Where can I go to for emotional support?
Being a carer can be difficult at times. At the Carers Support Centre, we offer emotional support and a listening ear for carers. Visit our drop-in Advice Desk Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm or visit the Carers Café for a tea/coffee and a chat Monday to Friday, 10.30am - 12.30pm.
If you would like to join a support group, our Carers Support Group runs monthly on Wednesday afternoons, 2pm - 4pm at the Carers Support Centre. Run by a trained facilitator, the group provides emotional support in a safe, confidential space. For more information, call Ann Lee-Warren on 020 8649 6283 or email email@example.com.
If you need one-to-one support, Mind in Croydon’s Carers Counselling Service offers up to six free counselling sessions to carers who are aged 18 plus and living, working or studying in the London Borough of Croydon. Contact them on 020 8763 2064 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a range of support groups and organisations for those living with specific conditions and their carers - download our Information and Advice factsheet (opens as PDF) for details.
What are my rights as a carer?
Carers UK has a downloadable guide on your rights as a carer. This includes information on benefits, getting support, making decisions and rights in the workplace. See the question below on 'What is the Care Act and what does it mean for carers?' for more details about your rights as a carer under the Care Act.
What is the Care Act and what does it mean for carers?
The Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, aims to put disabled people and carers in control of their care and support. See the following summary of the main changes introduced by the Care Act:
- Local authorities have a new general responsibility to promote a person’s wellbeing when providing support. This includes whilst doing an assessment, creating a Care Plan and providing practical support.
- Local authorities must ensure people in their area have accurate information and advice to make an informed decision about care and support
- New national eligibility criteria for providing support have been introduced for all local authorities in England. Carers and people who need support have separate eligibility criteria. For more information on eligibility criteria, visit Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).
- Carers have the same right to an assessment as disabled people. This means they no longer have to provide a ‘regular’ or ‘substantial’ amount’ of care or request an assessment to get a Carer’s Assessment.
- Carers UK has a page of FAQs about the Care Act.
- Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has a range of useful resources on the Care Act.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney and how do I make one?
Lasting Power of Attorney enables a person to make decisions on behalf of a person who lacks mental capacity. Mental capacity is the ability to make and communicate decisions.
When making a Lasting Power of Attorney, the person who gives permission for someone to make decisions on their behalf is called a donor. The person who makes decisions on a person’s behalf is called an attorney.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Property and Financial Affairs (which covers financial and property decisions) and Health and Welfare (which covers decisions about health and care).
When setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs, a person can choose to allow their attorney to make decisions about finances on their behalf before they lose mental capacity. A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can only be used once a person loses mental capacity.
The attorney has certain responsibilities when making decisions on a person’s behalf. See GOV.UK for more information.
A Lasting Power of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to be valid. Lasting Power of Attorney can be applied for online, but you will need to print out and send the forms with a written signature. The forms can be quite complicated, but you do not necessarily need to involve a solicitor.
You will need a certificate provider to register a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a person who confirms that the person making the Lasting Power of Attorney knows what they are doing and isn’t being pressurised or coerced. A certificate provider can be a professional, such as a social worker or solicitor, or someone who has known the person for two years or more and isn’t a relative or partner.
There is a £82 fee to register a Lasting Power of Attorney, but there are some circumstances where fees may be reduced/exempt. Check the Office of the Public Guardian website for more information.
A person must have the mental capacity to be able to decide to set up Lasting Power of Attorney. Once a person loses the mental capacity to grant Lasting Power of Attorney, only the Court of Protection can appoint a decision maker to make decisions on their behalf. The decision maker is called a Deputy.
Deputy application must be made to the Court of Protection. There are fees to pay to be a Deputy, including an application fee and an annual supervision fee, and a number of forms to fill in. It may therefore be helpful to plan ahead and consider appointing an Attorney at an earlier stage.
Age UK has more information on Lasting Power of Attorney. If you need legal advice on mental capacity and Lasting Power of Attorney/Deputyship, we hold monthly legal advice surgeries at the Carers Support Centre. Check our What's On calendar for dates and booking details.
Where can I find a good care home/home care provider?
Choosing the right care home or nursing home is an important decision and will depend on individual needs and circumstances.
The first step is to ask for a Needs Assessment from the adult social care department in the area where the person you care for lives. The person you care for can make this request or you can do so on their behalf with their consent. This assessment will provide professional advice on their needs and the support they require, and determine if their needs may be best met in a residential setting.
If the person you care for is assessed as needing a care home and the council is organising their care, the council should provide a list of homes that can meet their needs.
It’s important to try to visit care homes before making a decision. You may like to write down a list of questions to ask staff when you visit. Age UK has a care homes checklist to help you know what to look for.
If you are looking for care and support in the home, there are a wide range of care agencies in Croydon who can provide this service. Croydon Care Directory provides a list of local private, voluntary and council care homes and care providers. Free copies are available at the Carers Support Centre.
You can also use online search tools to find a suitable care home or home care provider:
- Care Home Advisor allows you to search for care homes and compare ratings. Ratings are provided by various agencies, including the Care Quality Commission, NHS Choices, Your Care Rating, Food Standards Agency and the Health & Safety Executive.
- The Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulates all registered care homes and home care agencies in England. You can search for CQC registered care homes and care providers, and find inspection reports on their website.
- Elderly Accommodation Counsel has an online database of care homes and other residential options for older people. They also have a list of home care providers.
- The UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) has a database of home care agencies which have signed up to its code of practice. They also produce a leaflet called Choosing Care at Home.
How can I get more advice and support?
The Carers Support Centre provides a wide range of information, advice and support for carers in Croydon. Drop in to the Centre Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm or call us on 020 8649 9339 (option 1) to see how we can help.