Carer's allowance
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"Boarders" Carers allowance...long delays (always)

forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
edited May 2020 in Carer's allowance
I have claimed CA since my son got DLA at aged 2 or 3 (can't remember as he's now 22!)  Once he started Uni, living away from home, in September 2017 I did the honest thing and told them.  So I was then put on the "boarders" system, which is basically an intermittent claim for when he is at home and I meet the criteria.  They send a form to fill in telling them when care started and stopped and then you submit it, and wait, and wait and wait.  Currently (12th April) I am still waiting for 3 weeks money form the Xmas vacation (basically December and first 3 days of Jan). 
Luckily we can manage ....but what about people who absolutely rely on that money?  I can't work even when he is away from home as I co-ordinate all his support and manage his DPs, appointments etc for him as well as racing over to his city of study on occasion when needed.
Now that we are in the current Covid situation he has been sent home, almost certainly til at least late September and currently we have no support at all (we have some funding but cannot employ at the moment for a range of reasons) 
So I have used the DWP CA online form to tell them that I want to come off the boarders and get CA on an ongoing basis until Uni restarts, whenever that is!  But i am not holding my breath that this will get actioned any time soon.....
The system is so stacked against claimants that it is no wonder sometimes people are less than truthful...cos they know that if they dip in and out they may well be left penniless for months.
Surely there is a better way to do this?


  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 3,802 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi, all areas of the DWP have big problems atm, under staffed anyway, staff off sick and record numbers of applications for all sorts of benefits.
    my advice is given freely and is correct to the best of my knowledge.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Yes I can appreciate that, however the issues with long long waits for CA are nothing to do with the current situation; they are systemic and longstanding.  I have been told on more than one occasion by DWP staff (very apologetically) that there are very few indeed people assessing CA claims and so they stack up at the best of times, so goodness knows how long they are taking atm!  Family/non-employed carers save this country millions but we are bottom of the heap when it comes to it.  At the moment more than ever before...

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    There are indeed few staff on CA but that’s largely because much of it has become automated. The reality though is that CA for people who move in and out of care has to be a manual calculation and would always take that bit longer. I’m not sure there is any different answer there. What better way would you suggest for that element?

    A move to regular weekly payments of CA would ordinarily be pretty smooth. Any delays at this point would be down to Covid-19 staffing levels and nothing to do with systemic issues.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Maybe a bit longer.. But 3 months? It has always been at least that long. I'd like to share your optimism about how easy a change to weekly from intermittent would normally be, but unfortunately nothing in my past experience gives me confidence. We'll see.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    Less optimism and more 34 years if dealing with them.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Still waiting!  Rang them 3 weeks ago to chase and was told it was with the "decision maker"  This happens every time but I think December to at least May is a record...
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    Any delays at this point would be down to Covid-19 staffing levels and nothing to do with systemic issues.
    Nothing to add. Clearly things are not perfect at present. Most staff have by now been moved to UC as mass unemployment and nil incomes has to be the priority at present.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Things are not perfect at present?  My point is that there has ALWAYS been huge issue with this...and TBH Carers allowance has always been a really poor relation and carers are particularly off the radar at the moment!!  I agree that people with nil income need help and quickly but many many parent carers that I know (and I don't mean just of children under 18...I mean of signficantly disabled adult children) are at the end of their tethers in all respects having had 8 weeks or more with absolutely no outside help at all and with no end in sight;  getting, if they are lucky, CA which amounts to £1.90 per hour if you do only the qualifying 35 hours but actually more like 39p per hour if you are on duty 24/7, which many of us are.  And to add insult to injury CA is virtually the only means tested benefit that brings NO other exemptions (such as free prescriptions or dental treatment) which seems to be something many people do not realise.  This shouldn't be a "them or us" situation in terms of who's lucky enough to get what they need and are entitled to from the DWP, and the fact that it clearly is at the moment just demonstrates how bad the system had already got.

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    edited May 2020
    These are points you have made previously. I generally don’t disagree and there is great merit in taking up arms on behalf of others but as you said yourself “luckily we can manage”. 

    As I also queried earlier, what would you suggest? You’ve identified the issue but no solution. In order to credibly challenge the status quo you need to devise a solution others will buy into else it’s largely shouting into the void. As you’ll discover when you try to devise that solution it’s a complex area and there is no easy, obvious solution. 

    I’m afraid I do take issue with your last statement as regards the impact of Carers Allowance.

    Firstly, it’s not a means-tested benefit and thus it would never offer the same passported benefits as other means-tested benefits. There is no capital limit. You could have £1m in the bank and still claim CA. There is also  no means-test which looks at your income from all sources. There is simply a brick wall earnings limit. You can have as much unearned income as you like from things like pensions etc. and still claim CA. Win the lottery and you can still claim CA. That won’t work with actual means-tested benefits. 

    Secondly. regardless of the above it does nevertheless passport to several things e.g. it can trigger extra amounts in means-tested benefits; it can result in Council Tax discounts; there is increasingly comprehensive provision for free or reduced carer access at numerous public places and events; it exempts people from the Benefit Cap; it can trigger entitlement to means-tested benefits which then get you all the benefits of help with health costs, prescriptions and dental costs and so on.

    Thirdly, outside of the above, being a vulnerable person can trigger help via the priority services register of utility companies. There is the right to a carers assessment; a carers personal budget and of course the Carers Credit; Blue Badges, CEA cards and many more. 

    The main flaw with CA IMO is simply that, as you say, it’s a pitifully small amount of money but it’s wrong to describe it as means-tested or to suggest that it lacks parity on exemptions with other means-tested benefits when it isn’t one.

  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    edited May 2020
    You seem to interpret "we can manage" as "we are rolling in cash"!  Not the case at all and I am quite happy to, as you put it, take up arms on behalf of others but it is also on behalf of us. 
    I think it is pretty obvious what the most immediate and straightforward, at least partial, solution is and that is to resource the CA department of DWP properly so that people don't have to wait months for every decision!  Obviously in the current covid situation things are rather different so I am talking about "normal" times.
    I do take your point about it not technically being a means tested benefit; it is a taxable, income based benefit.  (But i would  argue that if you've got £1m in the bank you would lose all the CA and a lot more in tax!!) so I accept that you may well be correct about it being a possible trigger, depending on other circumstances, for other benefits.
    However you say
    "Thirdly, outside of the above, being a vulnerable person can trigger help via the priority services register of utility companies. There is the right to a carers assessment; a carers personal budget and of course the Carers Credit; Blue Badges, CEA cards and many more."
    A carer is not "technically" classed as a vulnerable person in many circumstances and getting CA has no bearing on getting a Carers Assessment or personal budget.  Similarly a carer is not entitled to a blue badge or a CAE card in their own right.  They are for the PIP or DLA claimant that the carer gets CA for.  Apologies if that is what you meant.  But this conversation is about CA and being a carer; not being the disabled person.

  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    I haven’t “interpreted” anything. I was making an observation about the essential priorities of DWP right now. It would be stupid to assume anything about benefit recipients when most stats point towards disability related benefits largely being used for subsistence more than disability for example. Any assumptions are yours alone I’m afraid. 

    Your obvious solution is sadly not so obvious. DWP resource the CA unit for most decisions to be made in line with targets i.e. the average time to make a decision is 2.3 weeks and payment has usually been made in full by week 4. Expenditure is increasing ahead of inflation and complaints have fallen to 0.01% of claims. The issue is nothing to do with resources and much more to do with the complexity of this specific area of decision making.

    It is wrong to say that £1m in the bank would lose you CA. Absolutely not. Earnings from work lose you CA. Capital does not and never has. 

    In each of the circumstances I listed a carer is listed as a potentially vulnerable person subject to their exact circumstances. Feel free to investigate. 

    You are correct that the carer does not get a CEA card but that’s being pedantic for no obvious reason beyond points scoring. The disabled person gets to go to the cinema. The carer gets to go to the cinema for nothing. In what way is that not a benefit for a carer!

    Ditto the Blue Badge scheme. The stats show that in most cases it’s the carer who uses the Blue Badge but there are also circumstances in which carers qualify e.g. carers of a child under 3. 

  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    edited May 2020
    No point in continuing this as I am finding your responses to be rather rude actually.  I am sure you are correct on some points but not all.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,003 Disability Gamechanger
    edited May 2020
    You asked a question and I answered. You didn’t like my answers re: it being a manual calculation; the complexity of the specific decision nor the difficulty in finding a workable solution. That’s your call but it doesn’t change the factual nature of those things. It is manual. It is complex and it is hard to find a workable solution when, for example, most people don’t appreciate that the biggest delay often isn’t DWP but third parties failing to respond to DWP e.g. your sons university. 

    Yours is a specialist area. Thus the lack of answers from others. What other answers were you expecting? 

    I speak from professional experience. You’re entitled to have a moan about the situation. However, some of what you posted is factually incorrect and could mislead others. I simply corrected it. 

    There is of course the ignore button but then you’d have no answer at all.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Well you accused me of point scoring for the sake of it, among other things, but I actually think you were in danger of misleading people about the CAE cards and Carers assessments etc.  However possibly just the way it was worded and I have already agreed about CA not being a means tested benefit in the accepted sense. 
    However my point about millions in the bank clearly said that CA would be lost in tax, supposing that there was taxable interest on the millions.  I did not say that the capital alone would lose you the CA.
    Also I do not know what you mean about my son's university possibly holding up the process?  They are not involved at all and I can't see how they ever would be in my claim for CA, which does not require me to tell the DWP exactly where he is, only that he is not at home.
    The only unacceptable delays are caused by the very long wait to get the cases/applications looked at because there are only one or two staff doing it: I have been told that more than once by DWP personnel on the the phone.
    And I was not necessarily expecting "answers" (I would look elsewhere, or at least try to since as you say yourself, it is a specialist area) I was more exploring whether other people have had this problem too.  And I assume that anyone getting CA on an intermittent basis (ie if their child is at residential school, or at college etc) might be in the same boat.  However thank you for your responses.
  • Si_ObhanSi_Obhan Member Posts: 34 Courageous
    edited May 2020
  • Lou67Lou67 Member Posts: 868 Pioneering
    [email protected], Sorry to hear youv had such a long wait and I understand COVID is holding things up but in reality it always seems to take forever when claiming any type of benefit,  anyway hope you get word soon take care.
  • forgoodnesssakeforgoodnesssake Member Posts: 358 Pioneering
    Eventually came through on 1st June...
  • Lou67Lou67 Member Posts: 868 Pioneering
    @forgoodnesssake.  Oh so glad youv eventually got it sorted, I hope your well take care. 
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