Who is a carer & their rights

Who is a Carer: 

A carer is someone who, without payment, provides help and support to a partner, child, relative, friend or neighbour, who could not manage without their help. This could be due to age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability (as defined by The Princess Royal Trust). The term carer should not be confused with a care worker, or care assistant, who receives payment for looking after someone.

  • A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 carrying out significant caring tasks and assuming a level of responsibility for another person, which would normally be taken by an adult.
  • Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age.
  • Many carers do not consider themselves to be a carer, they are just looking after their mother, son, or best friend, just getting on with it and doing what anyone else would in the same situation.
  • Carers don’t choose to become carers: it just happens and they have to get on with it – if they did not do it, who would and what would happen to the person they care for.
  • Taking on a caring role can mean facing a life of poverty, isolation, frustration, ill health and depression.
  • Many carers give up an income, future employment prospects and pension rights to become a carer.
  • Carers also work outside the home and are trying to juggle jobs with their responsibilities.
  • The majority of carers struggle alone and do not know that help is available to them Carers say that access to information; financial support and breaks in caring are vital in helping them manage the impact of caring on their lives

Carers and Their Rights

There are some specific rights that relate to carers, the right to an assessment, employment rights, and receiving direct payments.

Carers’ rights to an assessment:

  • Under the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000, Carers aged 16 or over who provide a regular and substantial amount of care for someone aged 18 or over have the right to an assessment of their needs as a Carer.
  • If there is more than one Carer providing regular care in your household, you are both entitled to an assessment.

The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act:

  • The act came into force in April 2005. It places a duty on local authorities to ensure that all carers’ know that they are entitled to an assessment of their needs, and to consider a Carers outside interests – work, study, or leisure – when carrying out an assessment.

Carers and direct payments:

  • Direct payments are cash payments made instead of providing services directly, to someone who has been assessed as needing services.Direct payments can be made to Carers aged 17 or over.
  • There are some circumstances where direct payments are not given and your council can tell you about these.

Carers and employment rights:

  • The Employment Act 2002 gives working parents of disabled children under 18 the right to request flexible working arrangements. Since April 2007, you also have a statutory right to ask your employer for flexible working if you are caring for an adult who is a relative or lives at the same address as you.
  • Carers also have the right to take (unpaid) time off work for dependants in cases of emergency.
  • Returning to work after being a Carer may have an impact on any entitlements and benefits you receive as a Carer. The amount of hours you do, how much you earn and your savings will be taken into consideration.