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Welfare benefits

Support for carers in England

Since April 2015, all carers have the right to have their support needs assessed by their local council. Local authorities have a legal duty to assess you, as a carer, if you ask for it, or you appear to need support.

It doesn’t matter what sort of care you give, how often or how long you do it, or what your financial status or level of need is. It doesn’t matter if the person you care for has had their needs assessed, or if your local council has decided they will not get support. You’re still entitled to a carer’s assessment.

What is a carer’s assessment?

A carer’s assessment is an evaluation by your local council social services department to establish if you need support to carry out your caring duties, so you can lead a healthy, balanced life.

It looks at how caring affects your health, relationships, employment, education and lifestyle. For example, caring might mean you can’t spend as much time with family and friends. It will also consider if you’re able and willing to carry on being a carer.

If you and the person you care for agree, you can have a combined assessment to consider both your needs and theirs.

Depending on the local council, the assessment can be done face-to-face, over the phone or online.

The assessment will help your local council to decide if you are eligible for any support. If you are, it will work with you to agree a support plan. As a carer you might get support in these areas:

  • help getting around – taxi fares, driving lessons, help towards running a car
  • technology – a computer if you can’t access one at a local library
  • practical support – help with housework or gardening
  • promoting wellbeing – help with relieving stress or improving your health, such as gym membership

You may also be entitled to longer-term financial assistance, or suitable alternative care for the person you care for, so you can take a break.

What about the needs of the person I care for?

It’s also important that the person you care for has their support needs assessed. Councils have a duty to assess all people who appear to need care and support, regardless of their financial circumstances.

An assessment will focus on what the person wants to achieve, and the best way to support them in living as independent and fulfilling a life as possible. As a carer, you may be involved in the assessment process. If the person agrees and is capable, they can carry out a self-assessment with support from the local council.

After assessment, the council will decide if the person is eligible for care and support. The council must consider 3 questions:

  • Does the person you care for have care needs as a result of a physical or mental conditions?
  • Due to care needs is the person you care for unable to meet 2 or more desired goals or outcomes? These include preparing and eating food and drink, being able to wash yourself and moving around your home safely.
  • Is there, or is there likely to be, a significant impact on their wellbeing?

If the answer to all the questions is yes, the person you look after has eligible needs. The next step is to agree a care plan.

You and the person you care for might get support in many ways, such as:

  • adjustments to your home, or special equipment fitted
  • home help, through a health care professional or a charity
  • care away from your home, through respite or day centres 

I have been told I am eligible for support as a carer. Who will pay for it?

Your local council will decide if it will pay for part or all of the support you are entitled to, and if you will need to pay towards it yourself. The council will carry out a financial assessment to check if you are required to contribute.

If your support needs include extra care for the person you care for, and your council decides to charge for that care, then it must do a financial assessment of the person you care for. You cannot be charged for this extra care, even if it is provided as a result of your own carer’s assessment.

Personal budgets

As part of your support plan, you will get a statement of the costs of meeting your needs. This is called a personal budget. It will set out how much (if anything) you have to pay and how much the council will pay. You can ask for the council’s contribution to be paid directly to you, so you can arrange and pay for the help that best suits you.

The person you care for might also get direct payments to fund their care in the way that suits them. As a carer you might help them to choose and access the right support.

Other useful contacts in England

For up-to-date information about budgeting loans and benefits, and details of your local council, visit the gov.uk website

Carers UK Adviceline: 0808 808 7777
Carers Trust (UK): 0300 772 9600

Next: Financial support >

Download our carer's benefits information (PDF, 298KB)

Last medically reviewed: September 2018. Due for review: December 2018

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.