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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

An overview of carers' rights

There are some specific rights that relate to carers, including employment rights, the right to an assessment 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.

Very occasionally, a 16- or 17-year-old who cares for someone for a while may be entitled to an assessment. The local authority still has a responsibility to make sure a young carer's own well-being is looked after and that they receive the necessary support.

If you have parental responsibility for a disabled child, your needs as a carer will be assessed as part of a family needs assessment. You have the right to a family needs assessment under The Children Act 1989. You do not need to be the mother or father of the child.

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 carer's outside interests - work, study or leisure - when carrying out an assessment.

It also promotes better joint working between councils and the health service to ensure support for carers is delivered in a coherent manner.

Carers and direct payments

Most people who get social services support have a right to direct payments.

Direct payments are cash payments made in lieu of social service provisions, to individuals who have been assessed as needing services.

Direct payments can be made to carers aged 17 or over.

There are some limited circumstances where direct payments are not given and your council will be able to tell you about these.

Carers and employment

The Employment Act 2002 gives working parents of disabled children under 18 the right to request flexible working arrangements. Since 6 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.

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