‘Well it’s not fair’ – Ed Balls supports overworked carer: Could Carer’s Allowance help?

Ed Balls has continued on his carer career as tonight’s latest Inside the Care Crisis episode aired. Mr Balls explored the work of carers who visit people’s homes to provide their services as opposed to working in a specialist care home.

The amount of work that goes into caring soon became apparent as Mr Balls was informed he’d be working from 7am until 10 o’clock, making 16 home visits in total.

Mr Balls helped a carer named John on his shift, who had been working as a carer for over 13 years, having previously been employed as bouncer.

John’s expertise quickly presented itself as even though each person being cared for could only be seen for 45 minutes or so, John was able to prepare breakfast, clean and medically treat the people who were unable to care for themselves.

During a brief lunch break, Mr Balls asked John how the work compared to being a bouncer and John admitted it was a much more difficult role. Bouncing also paid much better but despite this, John was adamant that he was much more fulfilled in the work he is doing now.

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Despite following along for just a day, Mr Balls said he found the work “utterly draining”. As the day came to a close, Mr Balls declared “something is bothering me”, and he preceded to question John on his remuneration and benefits.

Mr Balls asked John if he gets paid for all of the driving he has to do between visits and in response, John said: “Don’t be silly.”

Mr Balls was shocked by this and reiterated that when a Post Office worker drives a van they get paid for that time. There was no way in which John could do this work without driving and as such, Mr Balls said he should get paid fully for when he is driving between visits.

John declared “it’s life” but Mr Balls protested “that’s not fair”.

Despite the problems, John concluded by explaining why he was willing to work so hard: “You get attached to the people you look after, and you look forward to going.

“You have a little banter with them, you feed them, you wash them. You either love it or hate it and I’m a sucker, I love it and if you want a job and you enjoy your job, you bite the bullet.”

Mr Balls explained the Government wants to shift care work from care homes into people’s homes like this as it ends up saving the state a lot of money. However, for carers in this personal line of work, support may be available through Government benefits such as Carer’s Allowance.

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Carer’s allowance can award eligible claimants with £67.60 a week to help with their caring costs. To be eligible, claimants will need to care for someone for at least 35 hours a week. The person being cared for must also be in receipt of certain benefits such as PIP.

The claimant does not have to be related to, or live with, the person they care for. It should also be noted they will not get paid extra if they care for more than one person.

The type of care needed to qualify can also vary. The 35 hours per week of caring can include helping with washing and cooking, taking the person they care for to a doctor’s appointment or helping with household tasks, like managing bills and shopping.

Claimants will also need to be aged 16 or over and have been living in England, Scotland or Wales for at least two of the last three years. An applicant must also not be in full-time education, be studying for 21 hours or more a week and have earnings of £128 or less after tax, National Insurance and expenses.

It is not possible to get the full amount of both Carer’s Allowance and a state pension at the same time for retired claimants. If their pension is £67.60 a week or more, they will not get a Carer’s Allowance payment.

However if their pension is less than £67.60 a week, they’ll get a Carer’s Allowance payment to make up the difference. Carer’s Allowance can also affect the other benefits that both the claimant and the person they care for get.

When a person claims Carer’s Allowance, the person they care for will stop getting a severe disability premium paid with their benefits and an extra amount for severe disability paid with Pension Credit, if they get one. Additionally, they may also stop getting reduced Council Tax.

For claimants, when they get Carer’s Allowance their other benefit payments may change, but their total benefit payments will usually either go up or stay the same. Carer’s Allowance does not count towards the benefit cap.

Claims for Carer’s Allowance can be made online through the Government’s website. Additionally, claims can also be made through the post.

Before making a claim, applicants will need to have certain information at the ready, which includes:

  • National Insurance number
  • Bank or building society details
  • Employment details and latest payslip if they’re working
  • P45 if they’ve recently finished work
  • Course details if they’re studying
  • Details of any expenses, for example pension contributions or the cost of caring for children or the disabled person while they’re at work

The details of the person being cared for will also be needed. This includes their date of birth and address, National Insurance number if they’re 16 or over or a Disability Living Allowance reference if they’re under 16.

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