Failing to claim ‘carer’s credit’
There’s a widespread failure to claim carer’s credit, according to some new research.
A scheme which was designed to help the carers of disabled people build better state pension entitlement is apparently failing to reach 97% of its target group.
This was the finding of a new Freedom of Information reply from DWP, obtained by mutual insurer Royal London.
The FOI reply indicated that only 3,524 people claimed the national insurance credit in 2016/17.
This compares with an earlier estimate from DWP when the scheme was introduced, indicating that 160,000 carers could benefit.
As a result of the finding, Royal London and Carers UK are calling for a more proactive approach from government, to make sure carers are not missing out on these valuable credits.
According to Royal London, each year of credits would add £237 a year to a carer’s state pension. This is over £4,700 during the course of a typical twenty year retirement.
If we assume that around 155,000 carers are missing out on the national insurance credits each year, it creates a total loss exceeding £700m.
In 2010 the government introduced a new system of National Insurance credits to help bridge gaps in National Insurance records. It was targeted on carers who were spending at least 20 hours caring, affecting their ability to earn enough to pay National Insurance, but who were not entitled to the Carers Allowance for those doing 35 hours per week of caring, and which brings automatic credits for National Insurance.
To qualify for the credit, a person aged under state pension age must be providing 20 hours per week or more of care for a disabled person who is receiving:
-Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
-Constant Attendance Allowance
-Personal Independence Payment – daily living component, at the standard or enhanced rate
-Armed Forces Independence Payment
If the person being cared for doesn’t get one of the above benefits, the application has to be signed by a ‘health or social care professional’ such as a GP who can confirm the details on the application.
Steve Webb, Director of Policy, Royal London said:
These schemes are introduced with the best of intentions, but they become no more than window-dressing if virtually nobody actually takes them up. Governments cannot simply hope that people find the information on official websites or rely on the occasional ministerial press release. It is time for proactive communications with those who are meant to benefit so that far more people get the help to which they are entitled.
Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Carers UK said:
Caring for more than twenty hours per week has a big impact on someone’s ability to hold down a job and pay National Insurance Contributions. The carer’s credit is a good scheme but it needs much more effective publicity. Caring often impacts negatively on health, wellbeing and ability to work and yet carers’ contribution to the economy is worth billions a year. They should not lose out financially in retirement as well.
Information on how to claim the carer’s credit can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/carers-credit
Information for carers can be found at: https://www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/financial-support/help-with-your-pension