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East Sussex Carers’ Forum Let’s Talk Benefits 5th February 2013


Let’s Talk Benefits


Sussex Exchange, St Leonards

Chair of Carers Forum

Roger Strange-Burlong

Speakers and Panel Members Jaki Hall - Benefits Liaison Officer, Wealden District Council Oliver Mawdsley - Outreach Manager at the Carer’s Allowance Unit, Department for Work & Pensions in Preston Barry Atkins - Head of Service, Strategic Commissioning (Older People and Carers), Adult Social Care, East Sussex County Council Tamsin Peart - Strategic Commissioning Manager (Carers), Adult Social Care, East Sussex County Council


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Local Benefits

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Update on Adult Social Care Funding

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Carer’s Allowance and Qualifying Benefits

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Question and Answer Session to the Panel

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Useful Contacts

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Next Steps

Thank you Thank you to everyone who helped at the Forum – our colleagues at Alzheimer’s Society, Association of Carers, Hastings 'Your Way', In-Touch Mosaic, Improving Carers Experience Project, STEPS, our staff who helped organise the day, and of course everyone who came along and took part.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Introduction to the report Because of the numerous benefit changes that are being implemented in the next few months the topic of the first forum of 2013 was ‘Let’s Talk Benefits’. Unfortunately decisions are still being made about the changes and therefore this report has been written with the most up to date information available. At the end of the report contact details have been listed of organisations and partners who may be able to give you up to date and individual information. Carers appreciated the clarity and understanding from the speakers - many would have preferred more time to chat and discuss but with such a wide topic it was difficult to discuss everything or individual circumstances. Carers had an opportunity on the day to discuss individual circumstances with the speakers - their contact details are also included at the end of this report. At the forum a number of major concerns were highlighted by carers and these are summarised below. Carers feel there is a lack of information available about forthcoming changes and also a lack of easily understandable information about benefits in general. Carers want “the right information from the right people” “clear, concise and correct information” Some carers were accompanied by the person they care for and they also expressed concern if care is cut. One young lady commented “If some of my care is taken away I would feel like my life wouldn’t be worth living – I love my Day Centre” Respite care is seen by most carers as being a life line – enabling them to continue to care. A number of comments echoed the feelings of all the carers present: “How can I rest assured knowing my ill mother is alone thanks to Government cuts?” “I need a break for a couple of times a year and don’t feel that is too much to ask” “I don’t know how I would cope without the respite I currently have”

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


“I feel like I’m hanging on a piece of elastic that’s about to snap!

One group of carers explained what respite means to them: “Affects carer and cared for” “Freedom” “We can’t cope without it” “Decent night’s sleep” “Break” “Ability to carry on” “Recharge my batteries” “Calm” “Sharing responsibility”

Many carers stated that they are willing to take care of their loved one but sometimes need help. If this help were not available or stopped, they felt they may no longer be able to cope and the situation would become critical. A common concern was that this could result in a larger care package being needed by they person they care for, or indeed them needing to go into full time care. Carers highlighted that this would cost more than the help being requested now.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Local Benefits (Jaki Hall, Benefits Liaison Officer, Wealden District Council)

Jaki gave an overview of current entitlements and took questions. She informed those present that the leaflets for Housing & Council Tax Benefits have not yet been written as changes are still being made, and local council benefits offices will be able to provide up to date and personal advice – contact details are on page 10 of this report.

Housing Benefit Housing benefit helps with rent and is means tested. It has a capital limit of £16,000 unless you are over 60 and receive Guaranteed Pension Credit. Jaki explained that housing benefit in East Sussex is calculated by looking at how much a household needs to live on compared to the income of that household. This means that working and non-working people can get housing benefit. “What’s the maximum housing benefit?” Local Housing Allowance (for those renting in the private sector) is based on postcode and household size. For example, 1 couple are only allowed a 1 bedroom property to be entitled to local housing benefits. Children aged under 10 are expected to share as are children under 16 of the same gender. From April 2013, this will be extended to those renting in the social sector. People will lose 14% of their housing benefit if they have an ‘extra’ bedroom.. “What will happen to those who have housing benefit cut?” Every Local Authority has access to Discretionary Housing Benefit – the budget for this will be made bigger to account for those who have Housing Benefit cut. “Will Discretionary Housing Benefit be phased out?” The need for this benefit is not yet known so it is hard to determine whether it is likely to be phased out. Local Authorities will be looking sympathetically at requests if there is a need but this will be subject to their budget.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


“What about people who are disabled and need an overnight carer?” Since last April, a disabled person who has an overnight carer can be considered for 2 bedroom housing allowance. “What about people who can’t share because of ill health?” They will have to apply for Discretionary Housing Payment. A recent appeal by a family with two disabled children was able to uphold that the family should have 3 bedrooms.

Universal credit and benefit cap Universal credit will be trialled in the north of the UK then will come in later this year – it has currently been postponed (it was originally due to be introduced this April). It is an amalgamation of 6 existing benefits: Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits, and Housing Benefit. There will be a period of time when the new and old systems exist together.

Council Tax Benefit From April, the Council Tax Reduction Scheme will take over from Council Tax Benefit across East Sussex. This scheme is no longer named nationally – Local Authorities will name it – the 5 Local Authorities in East Sussex have agreed to call it the same. If you earn more than the minimum amount you need to live on then you lose 20p per pound for every extra bit of money you have. “Is Council Tax Benefit only going to be a maximum payment of £20 per week?” The maximum amount payable will not be capped but there is going to be a minimum of £5 – so if the benefit is calculated to be less than £5, a person will receive nothing.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Update on Adult Social Care Funding (Barry Atkins, Head of Strategic Commissioning, Older People and Carers, East Sussex County Council)

Barry updated those present on funding in Adult Social Care (ASC), and answered carers’ questions. There will be reductions of £60 million across all budgets and East Sussex County Council departments over the next 3 years. Of this, £34 million will be in ASC – Barry stated that this will have a big impact, and gave an overview of the expected changes to services.

There will be significant changes made to community-based services, which ASC are hoping to mitigate. Savings will be used to help with these changes. Adult Social Care hope to save around £7 million in the first and third year and £15 million in the second year and are seeking to make planned cuts as quickly as possible and on schedule. “How will this affect carers?” The carer-specific budget and carers’ services will not be affected. Barry acknowledged however that carers will be affected by those they care for receiving reduced services. Carers expressed their concern that care packages would not remain as they are. “I have 3 hours respite a week and have been told that this will be cut immediately” Barry said this was unlikely to be related to any cuts as they have not yet begun. This will happen from April 2013. . A member of the forum highlighted the importance of carers and the huge amount of money that they save for the government. Carers expressed a lack of faith in the benefits system, which they felt was already failing. In addition, carers felt that these cuts would disadvantage carers. Barry concluded by explaining that East Sussex County Council is in a challenging position of trying to balance the budget.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Carer's Allowance & Qualifying Benefits (Oliver Mawdsley, Outreach Manager at the Carer’s Allowance Unit, Department for Work & Pensions)

Oliver explained that there are 6 million carers in the UK but only 1 million are claiming Carers Allowance. His job is to raise awareness about Carer’s Allowance. Carers are entitled to claim Carers Allowance from the age of 16, it is not means tested and pays £58.45 per week.

Those receiving a state pension receive a higher amount than this so this is called an overlapping benefit. ‘Overlapping Benefit Rule’: you can’t normally get Carer’s Allowance and the State Pension paid together (i.e. two income-replacement benefits) but you may be able to claim the extra amount in Pension Credit.

Pension Credit is a means tested benefit but the threshold is much higher than many people think. Guaranteed pension credit – feeds into Carer’s Allowance and can get £33 extra. Can make a telephone call to a freephone number 0800 88 22 00 and it is a simple process. If your state pension is less than £58.45 per week you are entitled to receive Carer’s Allowance. This provides a gateway to other possibilities – e.g. Pension Credit and Pension Credit Premium. To claim Carer’s Allowance: You must be looking after someone for at least 35 hours per week. The cared-for must be getting Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance. “What is the difference between Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance?” Carer’s Allowance is paid to the carer and Attendance Allowance is a qualifying benefit paid to the cared-for.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be changing - it will be Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for new claims. The change will affect 16-64 year-olds. Reassessments start from October for people who already receive DLA. “Will the lifetime award with DLA change to PIP?” “Yes” Face-to-face assessments will be carried out for people with disabilities – they can be accompanied by anyone (e.g. friends, family etc). The person will be asked what they can and cannot do over 12 actions. If a person scores 12 or more they will be entitled to the enhanced rate, which is equivalent to the high rate DLA. “Will people with mental health issues be assessed by an appropriate person?” Mental health issues and learning disabilities have been taken into account – people will be treated fairly. Mental health organisations have helped to come up with the criteria – it will be a fair assessment. Atos Healthcare have been employed to carry out the assessments. “What does Atos stand for?” Atos is the name of the organisation. “I’ve heard Atos have a bad reputation for being paid for results” The Department for Work and Pensions were asked this and said that Atos were not results driven. “What if people cannot get to the interview?” The assessors will make arrangements to come and see you.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Question & Answer Session to Panel During a brief table discussion carers identified key questions to put to the panel. Questions are recorded in bold and the answer in italics

Question about cuts to respite services - what is available and is there flexibility in this? Answer from Barry Atkins: Rolling respite – this is when you can book in advance over the course of a year. ASC are increasingly encouraging carers to do this and they are also happy to look flexibility when respite is being considered.

It is important that the local authority target cuts rather than hit the most needy. Respite for carers is vital. Answer from Barry Atkins: Unfortunately carers cannot be completely protected from the impact of the budget reductions but ASC is doing as much as possible to ensure carers are supported and will continue to do so.

Is it going to get any better? Answer from Roger Strange-Burlong: Roger reminded the Forum that he is a carer, and as well as Chair of the Forum, he is a carer representative on several Boards. He has therefore been aware of these changes early. He stated that the original cuts were going to be worse than they are now, but feedback from service users and carers had helped lessen them. He envisages the next few years as being tough but eventually it will get better. Realistically, he felt that it would not going to get better in the short-term.

Will people be able to use PIPs for the motability scheme? Answer from Oliver Mawdsley: Those entitled to enhanced rate of PIP will have access to the motability scheme. Those who move from the enhanced to the lower rate will lose out on access to a motor vehicle. Disability Motoring UK website ( and the government website ( have lots of information.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


If carers’ services will be protected, does this mean that the amount available for Carers’ Personal Budget will remain in place? Answer from Tamsin Peart: Yes – we really want to protect Carers Personal Budget. This budget is not means tested so carers have lots of flexibility with how to spend it. This is a ring-fenced budget but not a fixed amount – the budget could be negotiated based on the needs of the carer. With service users’ packages of care being cut, how is this shortfall expected to be made up? Will it come out of service users’ or carers’ benefits? Answer from Barry Atkins: If service users’ care packages are cut they will have a smaller budget. Spending money to help people to become as independent as possible will help to drive down the cost of the package. The overall impact is that everyone will be reviewed and services will be kept available to those in critical and substantial need. Financial assessment – the team’s role is to maximise the income of the household. Impact on the voluntary sector – what sort of funding will there be for voluntary sector to support people through changes? Answer from Barry Atkins: Lower level services will be developed to mitigate the impact of making cuts– these will be commissioned largely through the voluntary sector.

We have heard and understand that some benefits vary on a local level. But is there a national help point specifically for carers, who understand who and what carers are, that can offer help to support carers to make a claim for benefits that are available as a national standard. A ‘one stop shop’ would save carers frustration and valuable time. Answer from Oliver Mawdsley: Benefit enquiry line 0800 882 200– is a freephone national helpline for Carer’s Allowance, Attendance Allowance and Disability Living Allowance.

It was agreed by members of the forum that the Citizens Advice Bureau are also very helpful.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Why does East Sussex carry out a financial assessment as the first stage of any case when help is requested - even before a person is assessed as needing help? Answer from Barry Atkins: This should not be done – if that is your experience then I would like to hear feedback on this.

Useful Contacts Local Council Benefit Departments Eastbourne Borough Council Housing Benefits Team Eastbourne Borough Council 1 Grove Road Eastbourne BN21 4TW Telephone: 0845 300 6715


Hastings Borough Council Hastings Town Hall Queens Road Hastings East Sussex TN34 1QR Telephone: 01424 451066


Lewes District Council 4 Fisher Street Lewes East Sussex BN7 2DQ Telephone: 01273 471600


Rother District Council Benefits Department Rother District Council PO Box 60 Bexhill-on-Sea TN39 3ZF Telephone: 01424 787740






East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Wealden District Council The Benefits Service Council Offices Vicarage Lane Hailsham BN27 2AX Telephone: 01323 443500



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Supporting People Team at East Sussex County Council has a comprehensive resource on their website: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Social Care Direct (Adult Services) St. Mary's House 52 St. Leonard's Road Eastbourne East Sussex BN21 3UU Website: Telephone 0345 60 80 191 (Lines are open Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm, and Fridays 8.30am to 4.30pm) Out of hours 01323 636399 emergency duty team 7 days a week, including bank holidays, through the night from 5pm to 8.30am. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As there are many Citizens Advice Bureau Offices across East Sussex details of Citizens Advice East Sussex is given here. Established in 2005, Citizens Advice East Sussex (CAES) is a consortium of five Citizens Advice Bureaux, and an independent charity, providing free, confidential, independent and impartial advice services across the areas of Hastings, Eastbourne, Wealden, Lewes/Seaford and Rother. Contact details: Website: Telephone: 01825 891094


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Disabled Motoring UK National Headquarters Ashwellthorpe NORWICH NR16 1EX Telephone: 01508 489449



East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


Carers’ Allowance Unit Website: Palatine House Lancaster Road Preston Lancashire PR1 1HB Telephone: 0845 608 4321 (Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 5pm, Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm) Email:

Next Steps This report of the forum will be circulated to all those who attended the forum, all decision making bodies and available to all organisations supporting carers. Following the forum the current edition of Careline has been dedicated to articles on Benefits and the Care for the Carers Website will be updated with the latest information as it becomes available.

East Sussex Carers’ Forum Report | February 2013


February 2013  

Over 120 people attended the East Sussex Carers Forum on 5th February in St Leonards; in view of changes to the welfare system from April 20...