Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
1. Introduction
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1. Introduction

This chapter gives an outline of the basic conditions of entitlement for the main benefits and tax credits which may be relevant to the situations covered in this Handbook. Other chapters look at how benefits and tax credits are affected when a child comes to live with you, goes to live elsewhere or leaves local authority care.

To check your entitlement, first use the chapter covering the circumstances that apply to you. This explains the specific rules that apply to benefits and tax credits in your circumstances. Then use this chapter for an outline of the general conditions of entitlement that apply to everyone. If you need more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits HandbookChapter 2 explains how to claim benefits and tax credits, how to challenge a decision if you disagree with it and how to make a complaint.

Future changes

In the future, under the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018, the rules on some benefits (eg, disability benefits and carer's allowance) will be different as responsibility for them is devolved to the Scottish parliament.


Benefit cap

There is a 'cap' on the total amount of benefits and tax credits you can receive, although some claimants are exempt. If the total amount of your benefit is capped, the cap is applied by either reducing the amount of your universal credit (UC) or by reducing the amount of your housing benefit (HB). The cap does not apply to people who have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit (see Cross reference) and there are a number of other situations in which it does not apply – eg, if you or someone in your household gets a disability benefit, or if you or your partner get carer's allowance or guardian's allowance.

If you are getting UC, the cap is set at £1,116.67 (£1,284.17 if in Greater London) a month for single people with no children and £1,666.67 (£1,916.67 if in Greater London) a month for couples and lone parents.Footnote

If you are getting HB, the cap is set at £257.69 (£296.35 if in Greater London) a week for single people with no dependent children and £384.62 (£442.31 if in Greater London) a week for couples and lone parents.


2. Attendance allowance

Attendance allowance (AA) is a benefit for people who have reached pension age and who have care needs because of a disability. AA is not means tested and you do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get it.

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of AA.


Who can claim attendance allowance

You qualify for AA if you:Footnote

have reached pension age when you first claim. At the time of writing, this means you must be aged 65 or over. Your pension age will be after you turn 65 if you were born on or after 6 December 1953 (ie, if you reach 65 on or after 6 December 2018) and it is due to rise to 66 by September 2020. People aged between 16 and pension age may be able to claim personal independence payment (see Cross reference) and children aged under 16 may be able to claim disability living allowance (DLA – see Cross reference); and

satisfy certain UK residence and presence conditions and are not a 'person subject to immigration control'. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details; and

satisfy the disability test (see Cross reference); and

have satisfied the disability test for the last six months (unless you are terminally ill).


Disability test

You get either a lower or a higher rate of AA. The disability conditions for the lower rate are the same as for the middle rate care component of DLA (see Cross reference). The conditions for the higher rate are the same as for the highest rate care component of DLA (see Cross reference).


Amount of benefit

Weekly rate

£
Lower rate 57.30
Higher rate 85.60

3. Carer’s allowance

-Carer’s allowance (CA) is a benefit for people who spend at least 35 hours a week looking after a disabled adult or disabled child. You do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get CA.

The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of CA.

CA will transfer to the Scottish Government. Before then, you get a carer's allowance supplement if you get CA and you live in Scotland (see Cross reference).


Who can claim carer’s allowance

You qualify for CA if you:Footnote

are aged at least 16; and

are caring for a person receiving either the highest or the middle rate care component of disability living allowance (DLA), either rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP), either rate of attendance allowance (AA), armed forces independence payment or constant attendance allowance with an industrial injury benefit or war pension; and

are providing care that is regular and substantial (at least 35 hours a week); and

are not gainfully employed. This means your earnings must be no more than £120 a week; and

are not a full-time student; and

are not a 'person subject to immigration control' and you satisfy the residence conditions. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.


The disabled person’s benefit

Your entitlement to CA depends on the person for whom you care continuing to get her/his disability benefit. If her/his benefit stops, your benefit should also stop. To avoid being overpaid, make sure you tell the Carer’s Allowance Unit (see Appendix 1) if the disabled person’s AA, PIP or DLA stops being paid, or if you are no longer providing care for 35 hours or more a week.

If you are caring for a disabled adult, it is not always financially prudent to claim CA. Although it may mean more money for you, it could result in the person for whom you care losing some income support (IS), income-based JSA, income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), pension credit (PC), housing benefit (HB) or council tax reduction (CTR). S/he may be getting a severe disability premium/addition included in these benefits. S/he cannot continue to get this premium if you get CA for her/him. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.


Breaks from caring
You can have a short, temporary break from caring and still remain entitled to CA. You can have a break of up to four weeks in any period of 26 weeks, or a break of 12 weeks if either you or the person for whom you care is receiving treatment in hospital for at least eight of the 12 weeks, providing the person you care for is still getting her/his disability benefit.
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