Money Matters

Benefits and Grants

Caring for someone can affect personal or family income.  Southend Carers offers advice and information on carer’s benefits and entitlements. Benefit calculators can identify financial support available and provide the platform to understand the financial implications of different scenarios before making any permanent decisions;

https://www.carersuk.org/upfront/

https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

Organisations which provide information and support to claim benefits and entitlements include;

  • Citizens Advice Southend; specialist advice and support regarding benefits, including the appeal process.
  • South Essex Advocacy Service; advice and help to complete forms for adult applications.
  • Southend Community Hubs; advisers help with benefit applications.
  • Peabody – Southend Floating Support; provide housing, benefit and debt advice with an emphasis on preventing homelessness.
  • Southend Carers can help with applications for carers benefits, referrals for the carers personal budget and make referrals to the Department of Work and Pensions home visiting service.

Grants

There are many charities offering grants to people on a low income.  Guidance and information can be found on the Turn2Us website https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk/

The charity Friends of the Elderly offer help with garden clearances, decorating and the cost of transport to medical appointments. They also provide white goods and furniture.  Friends of the elderly  run a project to help older people get digitally connected providing tablets, laptop, mobile phones and the internet connection.  This charity has a scheme to provide support for some home adaptations too.  https://www.fote.org.uk/

SSAFA the armed forces charity provide lifelong support to those who are serving or have served in the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines or the Royal Air Force, and to their families. https://www.ssafa.org.uk/essex

Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) – Equipment and Home Adaptations

Equipment and home adaptations under the value of £1000 recommended as a result of an occupational therapy assessment may be provided free of charge from Southend Borough Council.  When the cost exceeds £1000 you may be entitled to a Disabled Facilities Grant from your council. A Disabled Facilities Grant does not affect any other benefits you get.

A disabled person can apply for a grant up to £30,000, the application process does involve a financial assessment, however children’s applications and applicants on certain benefits known as ‘passporting’ benefits will not be required to make a financial contribution.

Any form of adaptation can be considered to help facilitate access to and from the property, improve access internally or improve the use of the property generally for the benefit and safety of the disabled person example are; installing ramps, stair lifts, widening doorways, bathroom adaptations or improving a heating system suitable for the disabled person’s needs.

More information can be found on the government website

https://www.gov.uk/disabled-facilities-grants.

Carers Allowance, Carers Credit and Carers Personal Budget

Carers Allowance

Carers Allowance is the main state benefit to carers.  It is an earnings replacement benefit and can help protect your eligibility to a state pension.

Carer’s Allowance can affect the other benefits that both you and the person you care for receive.

If you claim Carers Allowance the person you care for may no longer be eligible for a reduction in council tax and it will affect the additional amount (called a severe disability premium) added to their housing benefit, income support or pension credit.

When you claim Carer’s Allowance it is possible that your other benefits may be reduced, but your total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same.

For more information follow the link;

https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance/effect-on-other-benefits

Carers Allowance is included in your tax calculation if your income is over the Personal Allowance.

The main eligibility criteria in 2019/20;

  • You are over 16 and earn no more than £123 a week after tax and expenses (see below).
  • You spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who receives a disability benefit.
  • You are not in full-time education or studying for 21 hours a week or more.

When calculating your income, expenses can include:

  • 50% of your pension contributions
  • equipment you need to do your job, for example specialist clothing
  • travel costs between different workplaces that are not paid for by your employer,
  • business costs if you’re self-employed, for example a computer you only use for work
  • Care costs; If you pay a carer to look after the disabled person or your children while you work, you can treat care costs that are less than or equal to 50% of your earnings as an expense. The carer must not be your spouse, partner, parent, child or sibling.

Full details on Carer’s Allowance can be found on the government website;

Government information on Carers Allowance

Overlapping benefits rule

You cannot receive Carers Allowance and a State Pension

Carers Allowance and State Pension are both considered to be earnings replacement benefits and you cannot be paid more than one of these benefits at the same time. If you receive a state pension you can still make a claim for Carers Allowance and if you’re eligible you could be awarded extra Pension Credit or Housing Benefit instead. If you receive Universal Credit, you may be able to get an extra amount called the carer element.

How to apply

Online applications and application forms to download and print can be found at the links below or contact the Carers Allowance Unit telephone number 0800 731 0297

Carers Allowance Online Application

Carers Allowance form to download and print

Printed forms should be sent to;

Carer’s Allowance Unit,
Mail opening site A
Wolverhampton WV98 2AB

Backdating, Challenging a decision and Changes of Circumstances

Carers Allowance can be backdated by up to 3 months. You can challenge a decision within one month of receiving notification.

It is important to keep the Department of Work and Pensions informed of any changes in circumstances.  Any overpayments will have to be paid back and you may commit a benefit fraud if you fail to report a change of circumstances which could affect your Carer’s Allowance.

Carer’s Credit

Carers Credit is not a financial payment but helps with gaps in your National Insurance record and therefore helps protect your eligibility for state pension in the future.

Summary of Eligibility criteria and further details

You must be over 16, under state pension age and caring for one or more people for at least 20 hours a week.  The person you care for should usually be in receipt of a disability benefit. Your income, savings or investments will not affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit.

Note:  if the person you care for doesn’t get a disability benefit, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit. When you apply, fill in the ‘Care Certificate’ part of the application form and get a health or social care professional to sign it.

You can still get Carer’s Credit even if you have breaks from caring (up to 12 weeks in a row).

If you are not awarded a benefit you may challenge the decision within one month of receiving notification.  Southend Carers or an advocacy service can give support.

You must keep the Carers Allowance Unit informed of changes in your eligibility.

You don’t need to apply for Carer’s Credit if you:

  • get Carer’s Allowance – you’ll automatically get credits
  • get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12 – you’ll automatically get credits
  • are a foster carer – you can apply for National Insurance credits instead

How to apply

An application form to download and print can be found at the link below or contact the Carers Allowance Unit telephone number 0800 731 0297

Carers Credit application form

Printed forms should be sent to;

Carer’s Allowance Unit
Mail opening site A
Wolverhampton WV98 2AB

Carers Personal Budget /Carer’s Direct Payment

A Carer’s Personal budget also known as a Carer’s Direct Payment is a ‘one-off’ payment which could be awarded to the carer to provide for the carer’s support needs identified by a Carer’s Assessment.

A Carer’s Assessment is for carers over 18 years old who are looking after another adult over 18 years old who is disabled, ill or elderly.

The carer would be required to provide receipts to demonstrate the money had been used to purchase the service or item agreed.

Usually the support needs are met by one or more of the following;

  • Providing services to the person you care for (a financial assessment would be required)
  • A community group which provides a suitable service free of charge to the carer.
  • A grant or benefit available from a charity or government/council scheme.

A Carer’s Personal Budget or Carer’s Direct Payment is designed to support you in your caring role examples of payments would be to pay for;

  • Transport e.g. taxi fares
  • Driving lessons
  • Practical items such as mobile phone, computer, washing machine/dryer etc.
  • Short holiday
  • Complimentary therapy

The carer would need a further assessment or assessment review before any further payments were made.

Disability Benefits

Below is a summary of the following disability benefits/entitlements;

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment(PIP)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment(AFIP)
  • Attendance Allowance(AA)

Disability Living Allowance

A tax-free benefit for a child under 16 who has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability.

Full details on DLA for children

Contact is a charity for families with disabled children and can help with DLA applications

Telephone: 0808 808 3555 Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5pm. Calls are free.

Citizens Advice can help with completing the form and also have advice on their website;

Citizens Advice guidance on DLA for children

Personal Independence Payment

A benefit for people aged from 16 to below your state pension age and have a long term illness or disability – physical and/or mental.

PIP is a tax free benefit and can be paid regardless of your income, savings or National Insurance contribution record.

The main eligibility criteria are;

You must be aged 16 or over and below state pension age and have a health condition or disability where you:

  • have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for 3 months
  • expect these difficulties to continue for at least 9 months (unless you’re terminally ill with less than 6 months to live)

Full details on PIP

Citizens Advice can help with completing the form and also have advice on their website;

Citizens Advice guidance on completing the PIP form

Armed Forces Independence Payment

This is a benefit similar to Personal Independence Payment designed to provide financial support to service personnel and veterans seriously injured as a result of service, to cover the extra costs they may have as a result of their injury.

You’re eligible if both of the following apply:

you were injured on or after 6 April 2005

you’re given a Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) of 50% or more

Details on AFIP

Attendance Allowance

This is a benefit for people over state pension age to help with the extra costs of long-term illness or disability, either physical and/or mental.

It is a tax free benefit and can be paid regardless of your income, savings or National Insurance contribution record.

The main eligibility criteria are;

  • you have a physical disability (including sensory disability, for example blindness), a mental disability (including learning difficulties), or both
  • your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own or someone else’s safety
  • you have needed that help for at least 6 months (if you’re terminally ill – special rules apply)

You need to tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as soon as possible if your condition changes. If you are unsure whether a change affects your Attendance Allowance, it’s best to tell the DWP anyway, any overpayments will have to be paid back. Changes which can affect your Attendance Allowance include; admission into hospital or into residential care, temporary visits abroad and change in the level of care you need.

You can still claim Attendance Allowance if you are in residential care and you pay for all your care home costs yourself. You cannot usually get Attendance Allowance if you live in a care home and your care is paid for by your local authority.

Full details on Attendance Allowance

Citizens Advice can help with completing the form and also have advice on their website;

Citizens Advice guidance on completing the attendance allowance form

Help with NHS costs

Some people are eligible for free prescriptions and help with the cost of other NHS charges such as dental treatment, eye tests and glasses.

The Healthcare Travel Cost Scheme allows you to claim back travel costs to some medical appointments.

The link below can help you check whether you are eligible for help with NHS costs. https://services.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/check-for-help-paying-nhs-costs/start

If you need frequent prescriptions but do not qualify to get them free of charge, you can buy a prepayment certificate which will save you money. Prescription Pre- Payment Certificate Information

Council Tax and Utility Bills

Low income

If you have a low income, you may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction, Housing Benefit and Universal Credit and if you’re over working age Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts – Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. To check whether you are eligible to receive Pension Credit you can use the online Pension Credit Calculator

If you receive the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit you may not have to contribute to your council tax bill.  If you are on a low income and have less than £6000 in savings you may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction.

People who live on their own are eligible for a sole occupancy discount.

More information is on the Southend Borough Council website Help with rent and council tax costs

Severe Mental Impairment (SMI)

Adults in your household can be disregarded (not counted) for Council Tax purposes if they have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning which appears to be permanent.  This can include a person living with dementia for example.

If eligible under this rule;

  • a single person living alone will not pay council tax
  • If two people live together and one person is eligible for this exemption the remaining person would be eligible for the sole occupancy discount of 25%.

Disabled Relief

You may qualify for reduction in your Council Tax bill if your home has been adapted for a person with disabilities (disabled relief).

Utilities

The following benefits and schemes exist to support people who are vulnerable or on a low income;

Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 5 August 1953.

Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.  It is paid each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time.  You are eligible if you already get any of the following benefits: Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit

Warm Home Discount Scheme is a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March. You may be eligible for this scheme is you are getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit or are on a low income. Not all energy suppliers are part of this scheme.  For more details see; Warm home discount scheme

Priority Services Register If you are a pensioner, disabled or sick, or if your energy network considers you ‘vulnerable’ you might be able to get extra help and support from your energy supplier by signing up to the Priority Services Register. They would be able to help you with things like:

  • reading your energy meter
  • moving your energy meter free of charge
  • getting your bills sent or copied to someone else, e.g. a carer

Citizens Advice offer the following support;

  • Help you understand your energy bills
  • Help you find the most competitive rate
  • Guide you on grants available to make your home more energy efficient.
  • Their website has further details;

Citizens Advice guidance on help with utility bills

Parking, Transport, Sport and Recreation

Blue Badge for Parking

The blue badge is a benefit for a person who has a disability or health condition which affects their mobility.  The Blue Badge helps you or someone who drives you around park closer to your destination than other drivers, because you are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances.

Some people are automatically eligible due to their disability, or the points scored at a disability benefit assessment.  Those not automatically eligible have an additional part of the form to complete.  This form is available online and advocacy organisations can help complete a paper form. Blue Badge online application

A carer can apply if they care for a child with a health condition that affects their mobility.

New criteria being introduced on 30 August 2019 will extend eligibility for the blue badge to people with hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions.

Eligibility for a blue badge

Rail travel

Disabled Persons Railcard reduced fare for the carer/companion

  • The disabled persons railcard is for anyone who has a disability which makes it difficult to get around. You don’t need to have a physical health problem – people with learning disabilities can apply too.
  • A person travelling with someone holding a disabled persons railcard is also entitled to the reduced fare.
  • There are no time restrictionson the Disabled Persons Railcard, so you can use it to get a discount on tickets at any time of the day.
  • Further details can be found Disabled Persons Railcard

Travel by Bus

Southend Borough Council Companion Bus Pass

  • If the person you care for is unable to use the local bus service on their own you may be eligible to accompany them on their journey free of charge.
  • The person with the disability must have a disabled person’s concessionary bus pass.
  • More details and application form can be found on the Southend Borough Council website Companion bus pass

Community Transport

Local private businesses giving access to all

Kinect

Access Anyone

Hippo Cabs

Hospital outpatient transport

The East of England Ambulance Service provides non-emergency patient transport services for patients attending hospitals and treatment centres for NHS-funded treatment.  The intial request for the non emergency patient transport service can be made by your GP and follow up visits to the outpatient department can be made by the patient themselves. The booking number is 0300 0134 997 (lines are open Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm).

There are plans to procure a single new patient transport service for all patients living in Mid Essex, Basildon and Brentwood, Castle Point and Rochford, Southend and Thurrock CCG areas. The formal procurement process for the new service is due to begin summer 2019, with the new service starting in summer 2020.

Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)

It may be possible to claim back transport costs to some medical appointments through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS) follow the link for more details;

Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme

Holidays, Entertainment, Sport

Southend Advantage Card

If you are an unpaid carer, living in Southend then you are entitled to a free Advantage  card.

This offers:

  • Reduced prices for a range of activities such as swimming, golf, outdoor bowls and concerts
  • Access to special promotions and additional discounts for certain special events
  • Discounted rates for donated seats
  • Free equipment hire at our leisure centres for concessionary groups
  • You can use your Advantage Card as a deposit for equipment (including racquet hire)
  • Free entry as a spectator at our leisure centres
  • Discounts at a variety of shops and organisations
  • Discounted rates for ‘The Biz’ school holiday activities

For full eligibility criteria please contact Southend Borough Council 01702 215011 or email council@southend.gov.uk

Advantage card details and application

Sport

Sport for Confidence run multi sport sessions for carers in Southend for more details see the link Sport for Confidence

Active Life is a Southend based community interest company  which runs a wide range of fitness activities Active Life Programmes

Holidays

Carefree is a charity which aims to enable every full-time, unpaid carer the chance of a short break at least once a year.

Carers select suitable holiday accommodation from the list, it is provided free of charge to carers.

The carer will still need to find travel and food expenses and make respite arrangements for the person they care for.

The carer can take a companion but not the person they care for.

Southend Carers is a referral partner.  For more information see the website Carefreespace

Cinema

The CEA Card is a national card scheme developed for UK cinemas by the UK Cinema Association (UKCA).

The Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a free ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema.

For more information and application form follow the link https://www.ceacard.co.uk/

Theatre

Southend Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre have a disability access scheme which allows ONE FREE TICKET per performance for a carer, provided that ONE TICKET is purchased by the disabled person for the same performance.

For more information and application form follow the link below;

Southend Cliffs Pavilion Disability Access Scheme Application Form

Heritage Sites

Both the National Trust and English Heritage give free entry to companions or carers of disabled visitors.

The disabled visitor pays the normal admission fee or membership.

To save having to ask for free entry at a National Trust property, you can apply for an ‘Access for All Admit One Card’ in advance.

Go to the National Trust website to find out how to apply for the ‘Admit One’ card.

Go to the English Heritage website to find out about the accessibility of their properties.

Case study

Joyce and Brian help care for their granddaughter Gemma, when their daughter is out at work. They take her and pick her up from school and give her tea. Their granddaughter was diagnosed with cerebal palsy at 2 years of age and receives Disability Living Allowance. Joyce and Brian both receive a state pension and do not get any financial payment from Carers Allowance. They were thrilled however to receive a laptop and internet access from the charity Friends of the Elderly. Apprehensive at first Joyce knew it would be helpful to have an email address and to be able to see the school website for information about trips and holiday dates.  Now they are getting used to using a computer they are able to help their granddaughter far more. Gemma finds it easier to communicate and play games using programmes especially designed for people with learning difficulties.