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Carer's Allowance

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 154461, tabled on 14 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the potential merits of amending the eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance for people who are claiming other social security benefits, including state retirement pension.

Answered on

20 April 2022

There are already circumstances in which people can receive Carer’s Allowance and other benefits. For example, around 239,000 carer households on Universal Credit receive both the Carer Element (worth around an additional £2,000 a year) and Carer’s Allowance.

Specifically on pensioner carers, although there is no upper age limit to claiming Carer’s Allowance, it cannot normally be paid with the State Pension. It has been a long held feature of the UK’s benefit system, under successive Governments, that where someone is entitled to two benefits for the same contingency, then whilst there may be entitlement to both benefits, only one will be paid to avoid duplication for the same need. Although entitlement to State Pension and Carer’s Allowance arise in different circumstances they are nevertheless designed for the same contingency – as an income replacement. Carer’s Allowance replaces income where the carer has given up the opportunity of full-time employment in order to care for a severely disabled person, while State Pension replaces income in retirement. For this reason, social security rules operate to prevent them being paid together, to avoid duplicate provision for the same need.

However, if a carer’s State Pension is less than Carer's Allowance, State Pension is paid and topped up with Carer's Allowance to the basic weekly rate of Carer's Allowance which is currently £69.70.

Where Carer’s Allowance cannot be paid, the person will keep underlying entitlement to the benefit. This gives access to the additional amount for carers in Pension Credit of £38.85 a week and potentially other means-tested support. Around 118,000 people are receiving the Carer Premium with their Pension Credit. And even if a pensioner’s income is above the limit for Pension Credit, they may still be able to receive Housing Benefit.