More and more people are giving up either work or taking time to care for an elderly relative, something that isn’t always easy emotionally or financially. Many people face the dilemma of not wanting a stranger to look after their relative, yet for financial reasons are unable to care for that relative themselves. As such, many people want to know whether they can be paid for caring for a relative.
Whilst someone is mentally capable it is of course up to them what they do with their money and whether they want to pay a relative to provide their care. However, that cost must be affordable, sustainable and reasonable in relation to the amount of care they receive. Additionally, it is important that both carer and the person being cared for enters into an arrangement with something in writing that protects them both. Setting out what the carer will do and when, will ensure what is expected is clear, avoiding any confusion.
The rate of pay should be set out too and the carer needs to ensure that they are not being overpaid for the care they provide. Some people mistakenly believe that if they have given up work to provide care they should be paid the same as their previous salary. This is not true. The rates paid to carers are much lower than other professions and any proposed carer should investigate what the local rates are. You should also be aware that professional carers will be qualified and usually work for an agency that is fully compliant and adheres to all relevant regulation and training. As a family carer will not have that, that person would only be entitled to be paid at the lower of the local rates. It should also be remembered that a family carers is paid 20% less than a professional one under an HM Revenue and Customs exemption because there is no need to declare the wages a family carer receives to HMRC.
If you have a relative that does not have mental capacity, then the position is more complicated. Many attorneys and deputies have assumed that they are able to pay either themselves or another family member for care. This is possible, but only after a Court of Protection order has been obtained to make sure that the conflict of interest between relative and the carer is managed. For such an application, a care needs assessment must be undertaken, showing what care is needed and the remuneration the carer would be entitled to. The application and subsequent order normally take into account the need to consider an annual pay rise as well as what should happen if the relative’s care needs increase.
All deputies are in any event supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). However, anyone can report an attorney or deputy to the OPG if they exceed their powers. It is therefore best to ensure that as attorney or deputy you follow the OPG guidance.
If someone is in need of care, they are entitled to Attendance Allowance. There are several misconceptions regarding this benefit, outlined below.
- It is not, as often believed, means tested. This allowance is based on need, and not how much money you have
- You don’t have to be receiving care already to be eligible, you just need to have the need for care
- Attendance Allowance does not belong to the person giving the care but to the person in need of care. However, if eligible, carers can claim for Carers Allowance, which would belong to them.
If you are a deputy or attorney and would like advice on your obligations and responsibilities or make an application to the Court, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We have extensive experience helping families through the complexities of supporting a loved one that requires care. For further information please contact Fiona Heald on 01590 625866 or Peter Stagg on 01590 625863.