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New rights for carers in England

  • 01/04/2015
  • Author:bridgetmccall

This article is over a year old

Major changes to the care system for older people and younger adults with disabilities in England are being introduced today through the Care Act 2014. This includes rights for people being cared for as well as carers.

Four major changes are being introduced:

  • The creation of national eligibility criteria establishing for the first time when someone should be entitled to help. To date, it has been up to councils to set their own criteria
  • A duty on councils to offer schemes by which those who need to pay for residential care can get a loan from their local council, which is then paid back from their estate after death
  • Giving carers for the first time the same right to assessment and support as the people they care for. Previously, they had to provide "substantial care on a regular basis" to get an assessment
  • Those who pay for care themselves will be entitled to go to councils to get advice and information about the care system.

Cap on care costs

To help protect people's assets, a cap on care costs they have to pay for - set at £72,000 for the over-65s - will kick in from April next year. How the cap works for younger people has still to be finalised.

Comments from Carers UK

The national carers' charity, Carers UK, has welcomed new rights for carers but is calling for enough funding to be put in place to make the new rights a reality for families.

Heléna Herklots, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said:

“These are the strongest rights ever for carers. We’ve campaigned for many years for these rights and we’re delighted to see them becoming law. They are an essential first step in improving support for carers; now we need to see the resources put behind them.

"We are providing expert advice on the new rights for carers and for professionals who will be implementing them. We’d urge all families caring for a disabled, frail or ill family member or friend to find out about their new rights to an assessment from their local authority.  Many carers say that they find the assessment process helpful in understanding what support might be out there and helping them to make decisions. 

"As soon as we see a new Government formed post-election, we’ll be urging them to put in place a sustainable and robust funding settlement in the next Comprehensive Spending Review to ensure the opportunity of these historic changes makes a difference to the lives of carers.”

Further information

Carers UK

Carers UK has produced Care Act Frequently Asked Questions.

BBC Care Calculator and website

The BBC has launched an online guide to the care system for people aged over 65 and a Cost of Care website. This covers residential care and support provided in people's own homes (for example, to help them with personal tasks like washing and dressing).

BBC Cost of Care website

BBC Care System England guide for people aged 65+

Sources: BBC News: Care system gets biggest shake-up in 60 years and Carers UK press release: Carers UK welcomes new rights for carers but remains concerned over funding

Turn2us resources

If you are a carer struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

The Turn2us Your Situation online section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

Source: Carers UK press release

Date of publication: 1 April 2015

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