If you provide unpaid care for a friend or family member who, due to illness, disability, or another problem, cannot cope without support, you may be entitled to help.
The Care Act 2014
The Care Act gives adult carers of adults the right to support and protection from their local authority.
The ethos of the Care Act is prevention. It recognises that by supporting carers better, the impact of the caring role on other areas of their life might be less, and therefore carers are less likely to become unwell or disabled themselves.
Carers have the following rights as defined by the law:
The right to choose whether or not to be a carer
The right to self-determine willingness and ability to care
The right to be supported to identify which of the cared-for’s needs you might be willing and able to support
The right for the carer’s views to be considered by Social Services when organising provision for the cared-for person
The right to a Carer’s Assessment – which should help you identify what you want to do with your own life, as well as measuring the impact of the caring role on your wellbeing
The right to request flexible working
The right to engage in employment, education, training and leisure
Rights as defined by Civil Rights and Human Rights Legislation
Additional rights associated with the Equalities Bill
If you’re over 18 years old and providing unpaid care for another adult, then you’re entitled to request a Carers’ Assessment from your local authority.
Carers Assessments are a conversation or series of conversations which focus on us and our caring role. It explores our individual caring situation, how caring impacts us and whether there is any support we need to help us continue to care going forward.
For more information on carer's assessments, and to apply for one yourself, the Wigan & Leigh Carers Centre has lots of helpful information on the subject.
Carers' Rights at Work
Carers have several protected rights within the workplace. It's useful to know about them and to make sure your employer does too.
The right not to be discriminated against
The most prominent right carers have is the right to not to be discriminated against. Under the Equality Act 2010, carers cannot be discriminated against based on their association with somebody who has a disability, which is a protected characteristic.
This means caring roles cannot be the reason that carers are treated less favourably than colleagues.
This also applies outside the workplace.
The right to flexible working
All employees have the right to request flexible working if they have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks. This includes parents and carers.
Many employers are able to offer flexible working to their employees if they negotiate. See which basic steps to take when applying for flexible working.
In your request you can include asking for flexible working conditions such as allowing a phone on the desk or answering calls from the work phone. Or adjustments to work times and flexibility to allow you to take the person you care for to appointments. You must be really clear about what it is you want - such as if this is a permanent or temporary change.
Carers can also speak to their employer about what they are able to offer beforehand. It’s worth noting you can only make one application for flexible working a year.
The right to time off to care for dependents
One of your employee rights is time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent - which is covered by the Employment Rights Act 1996.
A dependent could be a child, partner, spouse, parent or someone else who depends on you to provide care. There is no set amount of time which you can take off, as it depends on the situation, but the law states that you're allowed ‘a reasonable amount of time’.
This can be paid or unpaid leave and will depend on the employer.
Carers' rights to property
If the person you care for lived in a council or housing association property and they were named on the tenancy agreement when they passed away, then as a carer you may have the right to continue living there. However, this right depends on the type of tenancy and your connection to the person you cared for. It's called succession. If you can stay, you will take over their tenancy and any rent payments.
Your ability to stay in the property under 'succession' depends on several factors:
if you were living with them before they died and it was your main home
if you were living together as a couple
if you were related to the person who died
how long you had lived with the person who died
the type of tenancy they had and how long they had it for
what the tenancy agreement says - it might give you more rights to take over the tenancy
If you had a joint tenancy, then you can simply stay on living there. However if there has already been one 'succession' you're unlikely to be permitted another.
Council tax reduction for carers
As carers, you and the person you care for may be entitled to a council tax reduction.
For example, if the person you care for is severely mentally impaired, then they are excluded from paying council tax. This is classed as being disregarded. As carers you may also qualify to be 'disregarded' for council tax, if you meet certain criteria, including:
you must be providing care for at least 35 hours a week
you must live in the same property as the person you care for
you can't be the spouse or partner of the person you care for - or their parent if you care for a child under 18
the person you care for must receive either the highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance or the higher rate of Attendance Allowance or Constant Attendance Allowance.
Carers rights in hospital
Carers are not considered as 'visitors' in hospitals, which means a carer can bring along an extra visitor when they accompany the person they care for in hospital. You also have the right as a carer to be involved in the decision-making, or the ‘hospital discharge assessment’ whilst the person you care for is in hospital.
Carers benefits and entitlements
Caring for someone means you may have additional costs to cover, such as:
This is the main benefit for carers. It applies to those caring for at least 35 hours a week, and earning less than £128 a week.
This is not a payment, but a credit which counts towards your National Insurance record. When you care more, you often have to reduce your working hours or quit work entirely. Meaning it becomes less likely that you are able to pay into National Insurance. Carer’s Credit fills in this gap. By accruing the credit, it opens doors to future benefits such as State Pension.
This is a benefit for the person you care for, not for yourselves as carers. However, if the person you care for is eligible for Attendance Allowance, then they may be able to 'buy in' some support, such as a cleaner, a paid carer or a gardener. This could reduce the amount time you spend in your caring role.
If you are on a low income, then you may be entitled to Universal Credit even if you are receiving Carer’s Allowance.