Half of ‘full-time’ carers had not had assessment

Half of ‘full-time’ carers in the UK had not had an assessment of their support needs on the eve of the Care Act’s implementation, a Carers UK survey has found.

This is despite legislation being in place across the UK at the time of the research providing an entitlement to an assessment, on request, to carers providing or intending to provide “a substantial amount of care on a regular basis” to an adult for whom a council may provide care.

The findings, from a survey conducted from February to April 2015, were released to coincide with Carers Rights Day today.

Lack of assessments

Of over 3,500 people providing unpaid care for a loved-one for at least 35 hours a week, just 44% of carers had had an assessment; half had not and the rest did not know.

While providing “a substantial amount of care on a regular basis” is not defined by a number of hours, 35 hours is a relevant threshold as that is a qualifying criterion for receiving carer’s allowance.

Though carers would need to have requested an assessment, under the legislation that applied at the time local authorities in all four countries of the UK were under a duty to notify carers of their assessment rights.

Care Act impact

Legislation across the UK has lowered, or will lower, the threshold for carers to receive an assessment. Under section 10 of the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, councils in England must carry out an assessment of a carer of an adult where it appears that they may have need for support.

A similar threshold will be introduced in Wales, from April 2016, under section 24 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. Both pieces of legislation also provide carers with an entitlement to support from their local authority if they meet an eligibility threshold.

The Carers Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament is designed to have a similar effect.

Information on rights

Carers UK said the findings showed how important it was for carers to know what they are entitled to in law. It has today launched a new online service, Upfront, to provide new carers with tailored information on their entitlements. The charity has also published the latest edition of its Carers Rights Guide. 

“Important developments in the rights of carers mean it’s never been more important to make sure carers get the right information and advice about what they’re entitled to, when they need it,” said Carers UK chief executive Helena Herklots.