You and the person you care for may be entitled to other benefits not necessarily connected to caring or disability

Council tax reduction – was called Council Tax benefit

A reduction which is means tested and can substantially reduce your total council tax bill. A maximum savings cap of £16k applies – if working age it’s £6k. If you get Guarantee Credit you get this benefit .

Rules changed in April 2013. Govt only funds 90% so every council had to decide whether to fund difference or change the scheme locally. Most changed the scheme.

Changes only apply to people of working age. Pensioners remain on older, better, scheme so unaffected. In AVDC the max benefit is for disabled at 90% and max for most claimants 80 – 85%. There are some other restrictions for working age people. Easy to apply for at District Council who can explain local rules.

Housing benefit

For people on a low income paying rent they can get up to 100% of it paid.

Savings cap £16k. Same rule on Guarantee Credit as above. New rules on bedroom occupancy only apply to working age people from April You can’t beat it by changing use of room. Housing Assoc decides. You are allowed one bedroom per couple or single adult. Children under 10 – 2 per bedroom. Up to 16 and same sex – 2 per room, different sex – room each. Over 16 room each. If you are deemed to have spare bedrooms your Housing Benefit is reduced by 14% of the full rent. If 2 rooms it’s 25%. You are expected to move to a house with less rooms or make up the difference yourself. Some possible exemptions for live in carers. There is a very small hardship fund with tough rules. Full details of scheme from your local council. If you haven’t been contacted you should be ok. Some special cases at Supreme Court to try and get rules softened.

Carers Credit

A class3 National Insurance credit is applied if you are under pensionable age and caring for a disabled person at least 20 hours per week. “Cared for” person must be in receipt of AA or middle or higher rate care of DLA/ PIP or have a certificate of need from a health care professional.

If you are claiming Carers Allowance you don’t need this benefit.

Special council tax allowances for people with dementia and their carers.

Ask your local council or specialists for guidance. Allowances must be applied for.

The dementia patient needs to be receiving AA/DLA/PIP and even then some local authorities will ask for a doctor’s certificate confirming severe mental impairment. In effect the reduction involves ignoring the dementia patient in the head count. If they live alone no council tax is payable. If they live with one other person a 25% discount applies. A live in carer who is on Carers Allowance and is unrelated to the patient can also claim exemption provided the patient doesn’t claim. If they both claim exemption then 50% is payable.

There are certain other payments relating to certain modifications of the home to allow disabled people to cope. E.g. putting in a downstairs toilet (not retrospective) or using a downstairs living room as a bedroom.

Pension Credit

Guarantees a minimum level of income in retirement by topping it up. Applicants must have reached the minimum state pension age for women – currently just over 62. Only one in of a couple needs to be that age currently but from OCT 2014 if one person is under the qualifying age they are deemed able to work and the total paid will be reduced.

Higher rates are paid if a client is disabled, has caring responsibilities, or certain housing costs such as mortgage interest.

It is means tested and takes account of all income plus savings (over£10k).

The Guarantee Credit element (top up) is for all applicants of the minimum age and is somewhat like Income Support for those of low income.

The Savings Credit element is only for those aged 65 or over who have provided for themselves to some extent with works/private pensions and savings over £10k. This will be phased out for new applicants after06/04/2016.

There is no upper savings limit – it’s taken into account in the calculations.

If you are eligible for the Guarantee Credit you get full help with rent and council tax (90%) and some health costs (e.g. free specs, free dentistry).

The calculations are complex and best left to professionals. If in doubt apply – at the worst they can only say no.

The minimum level of income per week – which includes a calculation for savings over £10k – is:-

£155.60 for a single person and £237.55 for a couple.

Anything below this gets a top up to that level. There are add-ons to those figures for carers & people on DLA/AA who live alone.

Maximum savings credit is £13.07 for singles and £14.75 for couples. The new state pension comes in 06/04/2016 for men(65), women(63).

Universal Credit

A new benefit for working age people who claim any of:

  • Jobseekers allowance (income based only)
  • Employment and support allowance (income based only)
  • Income support
  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit

Contact www.gov.uk for details

Universal Credit will combine all benefits into one monthly payment for each household. It will have similar passports to those of income support.

It will only be claimable on line and arrangements will be made for people without computers at Council and Jobcentre offices.