Publication - Advice and guidance

Carer's Allowance Supplement: advice for welfare advisers

Published: 3 Sep 2018
Questions and answers regarding the Carer's Allowance Supplement, intended to provide advice for welfare advisers.
Published:
3 Sep 2018
Carer's Allowance Supplement: advice for welfare advisers

1. How often will Carer's Allowance Supplement be paid?

The first payment will be made in mid-September, followed by a second payment in autumn 2018, followed by further payments around every six months until the new Scottish social security agency – Social Security Scotland – takes on full responsibility for delivering Carer's Allowance in Scotland. 

About who will get the payment

2. How will you know who to pay?

The Scottish Government will receive data from the DWP about who is receiving Carer's Allowance and living in Scotland on the 'qualifying dates'.

3. How many qualifying dates will there be?

There will be two qualifying dates per year. For 2018 the dates are 16 April and 15 October.  If you got Carer’s Allowance on these dates you will get a Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment.

4. What if a carer has just moved to Scotland from England?

Social Security Scotland will pay Carer's Allowance Supplement to people who are living in Scotland and receiving Carer's Allowance on the qualifying dates. If an individual’s postcode is in Scotland and this is registered with the DWP they should receive the supplement. 

5. What if someone is a carer but not currently receiving Carer's Allowance?

The Scottish Government wants everyone who is entitled to benefits to claim them. If a person is caring for someone who is in receipt of a qualifying disability benefit, for 35 hours or more a week, they should consider applying for Carer's Allowance. More information about the eligibility criteria for Carer's Allowance is available on the UK Government website. 

However, carers may want to get advice from a local Citizens Advice Bureau, Carers Centre or other organisation to make sure Carer's Allowance is the best form of support for their circumstances, and the person they care for. It may be that they could be better off claiming another form of support. 

Carer's Allowance can affect the other benefits that the individual and the person they care for get. In particular, if a carer claims Carer's Allowance, the person they care for may stop getting certain benefits. So, it is important to get advice before making a claim.

6. Will people who have an ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance receive the Carer’s Allowance Supplement? 

No. The Carer’s Allowance Supplement is for people in receipt of partial or full Carer’s Allowance.  It is designed to provide support as soon as possible to some of the lowest income carers.

Carers with underlying entitlement are entitled to Carer’s Allowance but do not receive a payment because they are in receipt of another benefit at the same or higher rate.

About the impact on other benefits, support and tax

7. Will Carer’s Allowance Supplement affect other benefits an individual receives – such as Housing Benefit or Income Support?

Generally the payment will not be taken into account when carers are assessed for other benefits. It should not affect the amount of benefit, including any Housing Benefit, a person receives. We are working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the implementation of Carer’s Allowance Supplement and they will ensure all the relevant staff are aware of this.

8. Will this affect income tax?

Carer's Allowance is taxable. Similarly, the UK Government has defined that Carer's Allowance Supplement is taxable, so recipients should let HM Revenue and Customs know about their Carer's Allowance Supplement as this may increase the amount of tax they need to pay. Carers will pay no tax if their taxable income is below the annual personal allowance (£11,850 for 2018/19). Carers can find out more on the HMRC website. 

9. Will this affect Tax Credits?

No. The Scottish Government has agreed with HM Revenue and Customs that Carer's Allowance Supplement will not be counted as income when calculating Tax Credit awards. However, Carer's Allowance itself is counted as income for Tax Credits.

10. Will this affect Council Tax Reduction?

No. The payment will not be taken into account when individuals are assessed for Council Tax Reduction.  

11. Will this affect college student support?

No. Carer's Allowance Supplement will not be taken into account in income assessments of students, their partners or parents, for college student support. 

12. Will this be taken into account as income in assessments for care charges?

COSLA (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) issues care charging guidance to local authorities each year. In this guidance, Carer's Allowance is one of a number of benefits that may be disregarded in financial assessments for care charges. It is for individual local authorities to decide how they treat Carer's Allowance and Carer's Allowance Supplement.

13. When will the Scottish Government takeover full control of Carer's Allowance?

The Scottish Government plans to deliver the Carer's Allowance Supplement by the end of summer 2018, and the Young Carer Grant by autumn 2019. The priority in taking on full responsibility for all the devolved benefits is the safe and secure transition so that people continue to receive support at the right time and right amount. Further implementation dates will be announced in due course.

14. Will there be any other changes to Carer's Allowance when it is devolved?

We have heard concerns from stakeholders and carers about aspects of the eligibility criteria for Carer’s Allowance, including restrictions on earnings, study, and the requirement to be caring for 35 hours a week for one person. The Scottish Government's immediate priority is to ensure a safe and secure transition so that carers continue to receive Carer's Allowance at the right time and the right amount. Changes to Carer's Allowance will only be made if they do not risk the smooth transfer of benefits. Ministers have committed to making an additional payment to people who receive Carer's Allowance and are caring for more than one disabled child.

15. What happens if a decision on a claim hasn’t been made but the carer applied before the qualifying date?

If a claim is being processed when Carer’s Allowance data is sent to us, the carer may not receive a payment straight away. However, once the claim is processed, if the carer should have been receiving Carer’s Allowance on the qualifying date (for example, if the claim is backdated) they will receive this payment in future. The qualifying dates are 16 April 2018, 15 October 2018, 15 April 2019 and 14 October 2019.

16. What if the Carer’s Allowance claim was stopped on the qualifying date?

The carer will not receive the Carer’s Allowance Supplement. However, if they are in receipt of Carer’s Allowance by the next qualifying date they will get the supplement for that period.

17. What if the carer’s circumstances change?

Carers should inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as normal when circumstances change. We will be using information from the DWP to work out who should get payments of Carer’s Allowance Supplement. 

18. What if Carer’s Allowance is stopped because of an appeal?

We will be paying Carer’s Allowance Supplement to people who are receiving Carer’s Allowance and living in Scotland on the chosen qualifying dates. 

If Carer’s Allowance is stopped on one of these dates, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement will not be paid for that date. However, if the Carer’s Allowance is restarted at a later date – and the carer should have been receiving it on the qualifying date, they will receive a backdated Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment for this date with their next Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment. If their Carer’s Allowance is not restarted they will not receive any further payments of CAS.  

19. Can Carer’s Allowance Supplement be appealed?

Carer’s Allowance Supplement will be paid automatically to people who are living in Scotland and receiving Carer’s Allowance on the chosen qualifying dates. If a carer think this applies to them and they don’t receive a payment, they should get in touch with us. Our contact number is 0800 182 2222.

If the carer wishes to challenge a decision about Carer’s Allowance or have a concern about their Carer’s Allowance application they should contact the Department for Work and Pensions. 

DWP Carer’s Allowance Unit

Telephone: 0800 731 0297

Textphone: 0800 731 0317

Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm, Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm 

20. What does the carer do if they don’t receive a payment?

If the carer is entitled to Carer’s Allowance Supplement they should receive a letter from the social security agency explaining the payment and when they will receive this. If they don’t receive a letter or a payment but think they should be getting Carer’s Allowance Supplement, please get in touch with Social Security Scotland. Our contact number is 0800 182 2222.

21. What if the carer gets a letter but doesn’t receive the payment?

If the carer doesn’t receive the payment after 10 working days from when they receive the letter they should get in touch with us.  Our contact number is 0800 182 2222.

22. Why is the Supplement not being paid together with Carer’s Allowance/weekly/monthly?

Until the new social security agency is fully up and running we are dependent on the DWP to let us know who is receiving Carer’s Allowance, so that we can pay Carer’s Allowance Supplement. Paying this as a separate lump sum reduces the risk of error and people missing out on payments they are entitled to.

23. What if the carer's bank account details change?

If the carers bank account or other details change they should inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as normal. They will give us the bank account information they have for the carer at the time we need to make payments. 

24. If the carer receives a payment for six months but caring role ends before the six months are over, do they need to give some of it back?

No. There will also be no partial payments of Carer’s Allowance Supplement. If the carer is receiving Carer’s Allowance on the qualifying date and living in Scotland they will get the full payment covering that six month period. 

25. If the carer has received Carer’s Allowance Supplement by mistake or been overpaid will the social security agency  be recovering this payment?

No. Where payments of Carer’s Allowance Supplement are made due to official error or overpaid we will not normally attempt to recover these, unless there are exceptional circumstances (such as an obvious, large overpayment, such as the carer receiving £22,100 instead of £221).  

26. What if the carer has transferred some of their personal tax allowance to a partner?

Carer’s Allowance Supplement will increase the carers income so that it is over the remaining personal tax allowance they have following the transfer. The carer will be taxed on this income. For 2018/19, the total amount of Carer’s Allowance Supplement they could receive will be £442. 

27. Will this affect the carers National Insurance contributions?

No. The carer will continue to get National Insurance credits as normal. 

28. Will this affect the Carer’s Allowance Christmas Bonus? 

The carer will receive this as normal from the DWP.  There will be no additional Christmas Bonus paid for Carer’s Allowance Supplement.

29. As it’s a lump sum payment will it be treated as capital?

Carer’s Allowance Supplement will be not be taken into account when the carer is assessed for other benefits. It should not affect the amount of benefit, including any Housing Benefit they receive. 

30. If someone is declared bankrupt can their Carer’s Allowance Supplement be used to pay off their debts?

No. Under the Social Security (Scotland) Act an individual’s social security assistance cannot be assigned or transferred to a third party in order to pay off debts, or pass directly into a sequestrated estate in the event of insolvency. If someone is declared bankrupt they will continue to receive the assistance they are entitled to. 

31. Will the DWP be writing to Scottish Carer’s Allowance recipients to seek consent to share their data with Scottish Government/the agency?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are able to share data with us as people already give consent for their information to be shared with other government departments as part of the standard DWP application process for benefits. This includes the Scottish Government. 

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) both the Scottish Government and DWP are required to inform people about how we use their data and their rights to access this data. As part of this, we will provide information on the notification letters we issue to recipients of Carer’s Allowance Supplement about our data policies. 

We don’t currently know if the DWP plan on writing to Carer’s Allowance recipients in Scotland about their data policies, and if this would be separate from any other DWP communications around GDPR or data in general. 

We are working closely with the DWP on the implementation of Carer’s Allowance Supplement and will work to ensure that any DWP communications with Carer’s Allowance recipients in Scotland are coordinated with our own and do not lead to unnecessary concern or confusion. 

32. Will people who stop caring between qualifying dates miss out on Carer’s Allowance Supplement for periods where they were caring?

No. The initial payment of Carer’s Allowance Supplement will be backdated to meet our commitment of increasing Carer’s Allowance from April 2018. However, future payments will be made in advance so, for example if the qualifying date was today, the payment of Carer’s Allowance Supplement would be for the six months from today. If someone was to stop receiving Carer’s Allowance between today and the next qualifying date in six months’ time, they would not get the next payment, but would already have received the Carer’s Allowance Supplement they were entitled to for today’s qualifying date. 

33. What if the carer starts receiving Carer’s Allowance part way through a six month period? Or the day after the qualifying date?

Carers need to be in receipt of Carer’s Allowance on the qualifying date to receive a Carer’s Allowance Supplement payment for that period (unless their CA claim is later backdated). If the qualifying date is today, and a carer begins receiving Carer’s Allowance tomorrow, they will not get the payment for today, but will get a future payment if they are still receiving Carer’s Allowance at the next qualifying date, in around six months’ time. We recognise that this will mean some carers will just miss out on a payment. Carer’s Allowance Supplement is a temporary measure and we have chosen this approach to minimise risk and to have a solution in place as soon as possible to increase income for Carer’s Allowance recipients. 

34. Payment in batches – will this be by surname? By postcode? How will carer recipient’s find out when they will get a payment?

Payments are likely to be batched by postcodes. In advance of payments going out, there will be more public communications to raise awareness of Carer’s Allowance Supplement. Carer’s Allowance Supplement recipients will receive a notification letter up to ten working days before their payment to let them know it is coming, how much it will be and who to contact with any questions.

35. Wouldn’t it have been better to just exempt Carer’s Allowance Supplement from tax, given this could push some people into having to pay tax for not a large sum of money?

Ideally we would want people to be able to keep all of the additional money we are providing through Carer’s Allowance Supplement. However, we weren’t able to do this as the definition of income for tax purposes remains reserved to the UK Government so we don’t have the powers to change this. We have looked into it and it’s unlikely that many people in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will pay tax because of the earnings threshold which applies to the benefit (currently £120 per week). People who may need to pay income tax are likely to be those with private incomes, such as a private pension or income from property etc. We do need to make sure that people in this situation are aware that Carer’s Allowance Supplement could have an impact and report this to HMRC. 

36. Where it says ‘carers will still pay no tax if their income is below £11,850 is that just the income of the individual carer or the household?

Just the carer – this is the personal tax allowance.  

37. If the plan is for the Scottish Government to pay all of Carer’s Allowance in future will that extra still be disregarded by DWP?

We have agreed with the UK Government that any new benefits or payments we introduce, which provide additional income for a recipient, will not reduce their entitlement elsewhere in the UK benefit system. The detail of how the new Carer’s Allowance will work in Scotland is still under development. 

Contact

Email: socialsecurity@gov.scot

Post:
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh
EH6 6QQ