Practical help for carers

What help is available to carers?

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  • There are sources of help and support for carers, and some entitlements.
  • For some of these, you may need to meet certain criteria, or be able to show how much care and support you provide for someone (for example, what you do to help the person and for how many hours a week you provide this care).

The Care Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 sets out the services that local authorities must provide to adults in their area who
have care needs. This includes considering the health and social care needs of individuals, as well
as identifying what services they should provide to support people to promote their wellbeing. The Act says that local authorities must provide information and advice on an individual’s rights and entitlements, and how to access services locally.

The Act also specifically gives carers access to certain entitlements. For example, it gives eligible carers the right to have a carers assessment when necessary (when there is seen to be a need for this). It also sets out when the local authority has to provide support to carers, and what this support should be. 
For more about the act visit the GOV website (opens new window) or Carers UK (opens new window).

The Equality Act 2010

The Equality Act 2010 is a law that protects people with certain ‘protected characteristics’ from being
discriminated against or treated unfairly due to these characteristics. There are nine protected characteristics, including disability.

The Act gives protection in various areas, such as employment, education, public services and in
shops, restaurants and various other settings. 

Discrimination means treating someone in a way that is unfair or puts them at a disadvantage, because of a protected characteristic. There are different types of discrimination, including:

  • Direct discrimination - treating someone with a protected characteristics less well than someone
    without a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect discrimination - applying a condition or rule to everyone which puts someone with a
    protected characteristic at a disadvantage.
  • Perceived discrimination - discriminated against someone on the assumption that they have a
    protected characteristic.
  • Harassment (treating someone with a protected characteristic in a humiliating or offensive way) and Victimisation (treating someone unfairly because they make a complaint of discrimination).

There is a further type of discrimination called ‘Associative discrimination’. This is when someone is
treated unfairly because they are associated with (or connected to) someone with a protected characteristic. For example:

  • an employer cannot refuse to employ you, or treat you less well than other employees, because you have caring responsibilities; or
  • a shop or restaurant cannot refuse to serve you, or give you poor service, because you are with someone with a disability.

In this way, the Equality Act gives protection to family members and carers of people with disabilities.

Is cardiomyopathy a disability? 

Someone is considered to have a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment that has a
substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.
This means that they have a significant impairment, which has lasted (or is likely to last) for 12 months
and which affects their daily activities. 

The Act does not list medical or long-term conditions that are considered disabilities. This is because it looks at the effect of the impairment, and not at the cause of it. To be covered by the Act, the effect of the impairment needs to meet the definition of disability above. So some people with cardiomyopathy will be considered disabled, if their cardiomyopathy has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. 

For more about disability and the Equality Act: Equality and Human Rights Commission (opens new window) and the GOV website (opens new window).

Carer's Allowance

This is the main benefit available to carers. You may be entitled to Carer's Allowance if you are over 16 and under retirement age, and you give at least 35 hours of care a week to someone who gets certain benefits (such as Personal Independence Payment). 

Although it is not means tested (not dependent on your income or savings), you must not be earning
more than £116 a week, and it could affect other benefits (such as working tax credit). However, if you
receive Carer's Allowance you will also get National Insurance credits. For people who are not paying
National Insurance contributions through work, these credits are required in order to claim a state
pension when they reach retirement age.

For more about eligibility criteria and how to apply, see Carers UK’s factsheet ‘Carer’s Allowance’ (opens new window), or call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321.

Carer’s Credit

If you are under retirement age and care for someone for at least 20 hours a week, but you do not receive Carer’s Allowance, you may be entitled to Carer’s Credit. This is a National Insurance contribution which counts towards your eligibility to claim a state pension when you reach retirement age. 

Usually the person you are caring for must receive certain benefits (such as Personal Independence Payments). If they are not receiving benefits, you will need evidence that they require the support from a carer (from a medical or social care professional involved in their care).

For more about eligibility criteria and how to apply, see the GOV website (opens new window) or call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0845 608 4321.

Carer's assessments

If you are a carer, you can ask your local authority for a ‘carer's assessment’. You can ask for this even if the person you care for hasn’t had an assessment, or doesn’t receive any support.

A carer's assessment looks at the impact caring has on you. This includes physically (such as your own
health) and emotionally (such as causing stress or worry). It also looks at how caring affects your life
and activities, and what your hopes and aspirations are. It aims to identify what help or support would be helpful for you. The assessment might be online, in person, or on the phone, and will be either with someone from the council or another agency that the council arranges.

If the assessment finds that you have ‘eligible needs’, the local authority has to meet these needs. For
example, this could be money for things that would help you (such as a computer to keep in touch with other people), help with practical things such as housework, or giving you respite care (where someone comes to look after the person you care for so that you have a break). If you don’t have ‘eligible’ needs, you should be given information about local help. 

For more information see Carers UK’s factsheet ‘Assessments - Your guide to getting care and support’. (opens new window).

For more information and support

There are a number of carers charities, and other sources of information and support available. All the links below open in a new window.

Carers Trust
Support and services for carers including grants and local sources of practical and emotional help. Also
offers information and support to young carers.

Carers UK
Help and advice on all aspects of caring, including practical help, entitlements and forum.
Adviceline 0808 808 7777

GOV website
Information from the government including carer's rights and entitlements.
Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053.

NHS choices
Information about carer's rights and the Care Act, as well as other entitlements.

Self management UK
Provide ‘The Self Management for Life Carers’ course for carers, to look after their own health and wellbeing. 

The Children’s Society
Has information about and for young carers, including support through their ‘Include’ service.

Benefits calculators
The following websites have calculators to help you see what benefits you might be entitled to:

© Cardiomyopathy UK. April 2017.