Carer’s Allowance

8 mins read

This advice applies across the UK.

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You might get it if you provide a certain amount of care to a child receiving particular disability benefits.

In this article

What is Carer’s Allowance?

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers. You might get it if you provide a certain amount of care to a child receiving particular disability benefits. See below.

Carer’s Allowance is not means-tested. It does not matter what savings you have. Most forms of income are ignored (for example, any occupational or personal pension you receive). However, if you work, you can only get Carer’s Allowance if your earnings, after deductions, are no more than £151 per week.

In Scotland, a new benefit called the carers support payment will replace Carer’s Allowance. This new benefit will be piloted in specific parts of Scotland in late 2023 before being rolled out across Scotland from Spring 2024.

Who qualifies for Carer’s Allowance?

You qualify if you provide at least 35 hours of care per week to someone who gets one of:

You must also meet certain tests linked to your immigration status and the length of time you have spent in the UK.

If you share the care of a disabled child with someone else and you each provide at least 35 hours a week care, only one of you can get Carer’s Allowance for that child. 

There are additional tests if you work or study. 

Can I work and still get Carer’s Allowance?

If you work, you must not earn more than the ‘earnings limit’ of £151 per week. 

In calculating your earnings for Carer’s Allowance purposes, you can make certain deductions from your gross wages. This not only includes any tax and national insurance you pay, but also: 

If your earnings after these deductions are £151 per week or less, you can keep all of your Carer’s Allowance. If your earnings after these deductions are even 1p more, you will lose all of your Carer’s Allowance.

Making reductions to retain Carer’s Allowance

This means that if your earnings are slightly above the earnings limit, you can look at making the deductions above. For example, increasing the amount you pay into a pension scheme, this may help you to retain Carer’s Allowance.

Depending on your circumstances, this may be preferable to reducing your weekly hours (and earnings). For example, a single parent needs to work at least 16 hours a week to retain Working Tax Credit. But working 16 hours on National Living Wage (£11.44 per hour) means your earnings will be £183.04 a week. This is above the Carer’s Allowance earnings threshold. You’ll be able to get both Carer’s Allowance and Working Tax Credit if you can make deductions. This might be a significant pension contribution or alternative care costs.

If your earnings vary over time, they should be averaged out. The period used is at the discretion of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). If there is no recognisable cycle of earnings that repeats itself, guidance suggests that they should average your earnings over five weeks or any other period they think gives a more accurate figure. If you are self-employed, your average earnings are normally based on your last year’s accounts. This is unless there has been a significant change in your business.

Only your earnings count. If you have a partner who works, their earnings are ignored.

If you get Universal Credit, and your earnings are too high to get Carer’s Allowance, you should still qualify for an extra Universal Credit payment called the carer addition. 

Can I study and still get Carer’s Allowance? 

If you study, you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if you are in full time education. Generally, you are treated as in full-time education if your course is described as full time by the course provider. There can be exceptions to this – for example, if you have been granted exemptions from parts of the course. 

Even if a course is described as part-time, you cannot get Carer’s Allowance if it involves 21 hours or more ‘supervised study’ each week. This is not just the hours of contact you have with teachers or tutors at your school, college or university. Work you do elsewhere is ‘supervised’ if it is study required to meet the reasonable expectations of the course. 

How much Carer’s Allowance will I get?

Carer’s Allowance is £81.90 a week.

You can only get one award of Carer’s Allowance even if you are looking after more than one person. 

Claiming Carer’s Allowance can also help protect your right to a state retirement pension. This is because you will receive class 1 National Insurance credits for every week you get Carer’s Allowance. 

Carer’s allowance claimants in Scotland receive supplementary payments from the Scottish Government. This takes the form of a lump sum payment twice a year. 

How to claim Carer’s Allowance

You can apply on-line using the government’s Carer’s Allowance webpage. In Northern Ireland you claim online at the NI Direct website.

If you’d prefer to use a paper claim form, you can call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0800 731 0297. To make a claim in Northern Ireland, call the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 587 0912.

Carer’s Allowance should be backdated to the start of the DLA/PIP award. This is so long as you claim within three months of receiving the decision awarding your child DLA or PIP.

How does Carer’s Allowance affect other benefits?

Means-tested benefits

Carer’s Allowance counts as income when calculating means-tested benefits such as Income Support or Universal Credit. But you’ll get a ‘carer premium’ of £45.60 per week (or the carer element of £198.31 per month in Universal Credit) as part of that means-tested benefit. This is to ensure you are better off.

Non-means-tested benefits

You cannot get Carer’s Allowance at the same time as certain other non-means-tested benefits. This includes contributory Employment and Support Allowance and State Pension.

It is still worthwhile making a claim for Carer’s Allowance in these circumstances. By making a claim, you’ll establish an “underlying entitlement” to Carer’s Allowance. This means you’ll count as a carer for means-tested benefits, and you’ll get the carer premium (see above).

Tax credits

Carer’s Allowance is treated as income for tax credits purposes. Despite this you are usually left better off after making a claim. This is because the amount of Carer’s Allowance paid is greater than any drop in tax credits.

In order to avoid an overpayment, it’s important to let the Tax Credit Office know you are getting Carer’s Allowance.

Will a claim for Carer’s Allowance affect the benefits of the person I’m looking after?

So long as you claim as the carer of a dependent child, a claim for Carer’s Allowance will not have any impact on the benefits that they receive. 

Claiming Carer’s Allowance for a disabled adult is also not normally a problem. However if they are a disabled adult who receives a payment known as the ‘severe disability premium’ as part of a means-tested benefit claim, they will be left worse off if you get Carer’s Allowance for them. 

Benefits you might be entitled to

Disability Living Allowance

Universal Credit

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Carer’s Allowance

Tax credits

Help with Council Tax and rates

“Bedroom tax”

Other benefits

Welfare benefits in Scotland

< Benefits & tax credits