Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 4: Disabled children in care homes
Back Forward Synchronise with contents list Bookmark this section Print this section Log out

Chapter 4: Disabled children in care homes

This chapter covers:

1. Benefits and tax credits for children in care homes (below)

2. More than one stay in a care home (Cross reference)

3. When your child comes home (Cross reference)

If your child is in a care home for a reason other than disability, see Chapter 6.


1. Benefits and tax credits for children in care homes
Child benefit and guardian’s allowance

If your child is in a care home, your child benefit – and guardian’s allowance if you get it – continues unaffected for 12 consecutive weeks.Footnote When counting the 12 weeks, two or more periods in a care home which are separated by 28 days or less count as the same period.Footnote See Cross reference for more details of how this rule works. After 12 weeks, your child benefit (and guardian’s allowance) continues, provided you spend money on your child’s behalf – eg, on clothing, pocket money, snacks, books, comics and toys or on fares to visit her/him.Footnote The amount of money you must spend is not stipulated. If you do not spend any money on your child's behalf, your child benefit stops after 20 weeks in a care home.Footnote


Means-tested benefits
Universal credit
If your child counts as looked after

If your child is in a care home and counts as 'looked after' by the local authority, s/he is no longer included in your universal credit (UC) claim, unless it is a 'planned short break' (respite).Footnote

This means that any child element you receive stops.Footnote If you are in rented accommodation, the housing costs element is calculated as if the child is still living with you for the first six months of absence from home.Footnote If your UC includes the carer element, this stops when you no longer have 'regular and substantial' caring responsibilities for your child (see Cross reference).Footnote If the child element has stopped and you have no other dependent children, your work allowance (see Cross reference) is calculated taking into account that you have no dependent children.Footnote If you receive help with childcare costs for the child in your UC, this will stop.Footnote The work-related requirments which apply to you may also change (see page Cross reference).


If your child does not count as looked after

If your child does not count as 'looked after' by the local authority, s/he should still be included in your UC claim if her/his absence from home is temporary. However, s/he is no longer included in the claim if the stay away from home is expected to last for more than six months, or has lasted for more than six months.Footnote While the child is still included in your UC claim, you continue to get the child element and any disabled child element, even if DLA care component or PIP daily living component has stopped (see Cross reference).Footnote Your work allowance (see Cross reference) is calculated taking into account that you have a dependent child.Footnote If your UC includes the carer element, this stops when you no longer have 'regular and substantial' caring responsibilities for your child (see Cross reference).Footnote If you receive help with childcare costs in your UC, this may change if you are no longer paying for childcare because your child is in a care home.


Income support and income-based jobseeker’s allowance

During the first 12 weeks' absence, your child is still treated as part of your household for income support (IS) and income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA).Footnote After 12 weeks' absence, s/he is still treated as part of your household provided you are still in 'regular contact' with her/him.Footnote  'Regular contact' is not defined. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance says that regular contact includes visits, letters and telephone calls that take place regularly or frequently, and that weekly or monthly visits are considered regular contact.Footnote The DWP usually continues to treat the child as part of your household for the first year of absence, provided child benefit remains in payment for her/him.Footnote After 52 weeks in a care home, a child is usually no longer treated as being part of your household, but there are exceptions (see below).

How your IS/income-based JSA is affected depends on whether or not you still get amounts in your benefit for your child (see below).


If you do not get amounts for your child

Most claimants do not get amounts in their IS/income-based JSA for their child(ren) and instead get child tax credit (CTC – see Cross reference). In this situation, the amount of benefit you get should be unaffected by your child being in a care home, unless you stop being entitled to carer's allowance (CA) for her/him or s/he no longer counts as part of your household (see below). If you stop being entitled to CA for the child, entitlement to the carer premium stops eight weeks after this date (see Cross reference).Footnote If claiming CA was the only basis of your IS claim, from eight weeks after your CA ends you are no longer able to claim IS on that basis.Footnote If the child no longer counts as part of your household, your benefit may be affected as follows.

If you no longer count as caring for a child aged under five, you cannot claim IS as a lone parent.

If you have a partner and either you or your partner are already claiming JSA, this claim may be affected if your child no longer counts as part of your household. This is because if you are not responsible for a child you must make a joint claim for JSA (see Chapter 1). This means you both must 'sign on' and look for work.


If you still get amounts for your child

Your IS/income-based JSA may still include amounts for your child (child allowances and premiums). This will only be the case if you have been claiming IS/income-based JSA including amounts for a child since before 6 April 2004 and have not claimed CTC. See Cross reference for more details.

In most cases, providing your child’s stay in a care home is temporary, s/he continues to be treated as part of your household for IS/income-based JSA, and you continue to get a child personal allowance and family premium in your applicable amount for up to 52 weeks (sometimes for longer - see below). If your child has stopped being treated as part of your household and you have lost the child personal allowance and, if you do not have another dependent child, the family premium, seek advice about claiming CTC instead (see Cross reference).

However, the amount of IS/income-based JSA may change during the 52-week period because of the impact on premiums (part of your 'applicable amount' – see Cross reference).

The carer premium stops eight weeks after your CA stops (see Cross reference).Footnote

The disabled child premium stops when your child’s disability living allowance (DLA) care component or personal independence payment (PIP) daily living component stops (see Cross reference), unless there is another basis for getting it – ie, your child is still getting DLA mobility component, PIP mobility component or is severely sight impaired or blind.Footnote

The enhanced disability premium stops when your child’s DLA care component or PIP daily living component stops (see Cross reference).


When a child stops being treated as part of your household

If the stay in a care home is expected to last for more than 52 weeks, or if it has lasted for more than 52 weeks, the child is no longer treated as part of your household for IS/income-based JSA purposes.Footnote This means that if you have still been getting amounts for your child in your IS/income-based JSA, these will stop. The exception to this rule is if:Footnote

there are exceptional circumstances; and the absence is unlikely to be substantially more than 52 weeks.

When a place in a care home has been arranged by the local authority and the child is away from home for more than 24 hours, technically the child is ’looked after’ by the local authority.Footnote Applied strictly, the rules mean that the child should not be treated as part of your household after s/he has been in a care home for 24 hours.Footnote In practice, however, it seems that the DWP applies the rules described above.


Income-related employment and support allowance and pension credit
top
Back to top
. . . more
View more content