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Carers’ Benefits

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in what circumstances an asset owned by a carer in receipt of the carer's allowance may be disregarded for the purposes of an application for income support. (318143)

Carers are treated in the same way as other income support customers when considering the effect an asset has on income support.

Income support has a lower capital limit of £6,000 (or £10,000 for people permanently living in a care home) above which benefit is reduced and an upper limit of £16,000 above which benefit cannot be paid.

The value of most forms of capital, which includes savings and assets, is counted when calculating entitlement to income support; however, some forms of capital asset are disregarded. Income support rules on treatment of capital are extensive but the most common scenarios are covered as follows.

All personal possessions belonging to an income support customer are disregarded with the exception of those acquired by the customer with the intention of reducing savings in order to secure entitlement to, or increase the amount of, income support.

Certain forms of cash asset are disregarded when calculating entitlement to income support, for example, money derived from a personal injury compensation payment that is held in a trust fund. In addition certain other compensation payments are ignored such as payments to the customer made as a result of a person's imprisonment by the Japanese during the second world war and payments made to compensate for slave or forced labour during the second world war. Other types of cash asset can also be ignored, for example, certain lump sum payments for arrears of benefit and payments made by specific trusts and funds that have been set up in order to help people who have been infected by blood products.

No account is taken of the value of a property that a person occupies as their home, while the value of any second property is normally treated as capital. However, the Government do recognise that there are certain circumstances where it would be impractical and unfair to take the value of a second property into account. An example of this is that, once a property is put up for sale, the value can be ignored for up to 26 weeks, or longer where reasonable steps are being taken to sell it.