Unpaid carers could lose £279 if they fail to report changes to DWP

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Bristol resident discusses carers allowance

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Some unpaid carers are entitled to Carer’s Allowance, a benefit payment which is administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It is reserved for those who look after someone for at least 35 hours per week, as long as the person being cared for is on qualifying benefit payments. Those who claim this support may see their Carer’s Allowance significantly reduced or taken away from them if they do not report life changes to the DWP.

Unpaid carers who meet the qualifying criteria for the benefit payment can get £69.70 per week.

This means that Carer’s Allowance claimants get nearly £279 from the Government department.

Due to someone’s eligibility for this support being dependent on their individual circumstances, the DWP needs to be informed of any changes to a claimant’s life.

This is because a major circumstance change could mean someone no longer qualifies for Carer’s Allowance.

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Examples of what could count as a life change which needs to be reported by the DWP, include:

  • Beginning a job
  • Beginning or ending full-time education
  • Changes to income
  • No longer being a carer
  • The person being cared for no longer getting their disability benefit
  • Someone else who cares for the same person claiming Carer’s Allowance instead of the claimant
  • Someone else who cares for the same person claims the carer’s element of Universal Credit
  • Changes to the claimant’s immigration status, if they are not a British citizen

It should be noted that if a Carer’s Allowance claimant is paid too much or stops providing care for someone, this needs to be reported.

Those who stop providing care can still receive the benefit payment if they or the person being looked after will be in hospital, a nursing home, or respite care for more than 12 weeks.

Furthermore, if a Carer’s Allowance claimant stops looking after someone for more than 28 days for any other, the DWP must be told.

When it comes to overpaid, unpaid carers may have to repay if they do not report the change immediately or if they gave wrong information.

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On the Citizens Advice website, advice is offered to unpaid carers on what may happen if a change needs to be reported to the DWP.

The charity stated: “Once you know about a change that might affect the amount of Carer’s Allowance you get, tell the DWP as soon as you can. The change might increase your payment and you might miss out on extra money if you tell the DWP late.

“You should still tell the DWP if you think a change might reduce your payment – you won’t save money by reporting it later.

“If you tell the DWP late you could get paid too much and have to pay your benefits back to the DWP. This is called an overpayment – check how the DWP deals with overpayments.”

According to Citizens Advice, the risk of overpayment is one that needs to be taken seriously by benefit claimants as it could result in severe penalties.

The organisation added: “In some cases, you may have to pay a civil penalty if you do something careless which causes an overpayment.

“This can happen if, for example, you give wrong information or you keep quiet about something, and as a result you get more Carer’s Allowance than you’re supposed to be getting.

“You can only be asked to pay this penalty if you haven’t committed fraud. If you have committed fraud, different rules apply. You can appeal against a decision to impose a civil penalty.”

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