Benefits can help you live more independently and it is important to make sure you are getting the support you are entitled to.

Reading Community Welfare Rights Unit specialises in welfare benefits, debt and housing advice for people in the Reading area. You can call the helpline on 0118 955 1070.

Alternatively, you can ask for an appointment to see a Family Adviser at Reading Mencap Centre at 21 Alexandra Road by telephoning 0118 966 2518 during office hours 9.30am to 1.30pm Monday to Friday.  

You may just want to chat to a Family Adviser to see if your child or dependant might qualify for a benefit, it is always worth checking.

The government website also has useful information on benefits. Please click here.

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Carer's Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is the main benefit for carers.

It is a benefit paid to help people who look after someone who is disabled. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. It is paid at a basic rate of £62.70 a week (from April 2017).

You can claim Carer’s Allowance if:

• you are aged 16 or over

• you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a person. The care must relate to one person only. These hours include time for supervision, preparation, and clearing up, as well as assistance.

You don’t have to be related to or live with the person you are caring for.

The person you care for must be getting one of the following:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate for personal care
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension
  • You satisfy UK residence and immigration rules

You can’t claim Carer’s Allowance if:

  • you are in full-time education for more than 21 hours a week of supervised study or
  • you earn more than £116 a week (from April 2017) after certain deductions have been made (such as Income Tax).

If you are getting State Retirement Pension, Incapacity Benefit, Bereavement Benefit or any other ‘earnings replacement’ benefit of more than the rate of Carer’s Allowance, you cannot be paid Carer’s Allowance as well.

However, if this is the case, you could have ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, which can help you get more money from other benefits, such as an extra amount of Income Support or Pension Credit, so it is still worth claiming.

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Personal Independence Payments (PIP)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by a disability if you're aged 16 to 64.

You could get between £21.80 and £139.75 a week.

The rate you get depends on how the condition affects you, not the condition itself.

You'll need an assessment to work out the level of help you get. Your rate will be regularly reassessed to make sure you're getting the right support.

You can get PIP whether you're in work or not.

You must have a disability or long-term health condition and face difficulties with 'daily living' or getting around.

You must have had these difficulties for 3 months and expect them to last for at least 9 months.

Daily living difficulties

You may get the daily living component of PIP if you need help with things like:

  • preparing or eating food
  • washing, bathing and using the toilet
  • dressing and undressing
  • reading and communicating
  • managing your medicines or treatments
  • making decisions about money
  • engaging with other people. 

Mobility difficulties

You may get the mobility component of PIP if you need help going out or moving around.

To apply, call the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to make a new claim for PIP.

Telephone: 0800 917 2222

Textphone: 0800 917 7777

You'll be asked for information like:

  • contact details and date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • bank or building society details
  • doctor's or health worker's name
  • details of any time you have spent abroad, or in a care home or hospital 
For further information, please visit
If you get Disability Living Allowance
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ending for people aged 16 to 64.
You can keep getting DLA if you're under 16 or you were born on or before 8 April 1948 and have an existing claim.
You'll continue getting DLA until the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) invites you to apply for PIP. You don't need to do anything until DWP writes to you about your DLA unless your circumstances change.
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Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a benefit for people who find it harder to get a job because:

  • they have a disability
  • they have a problem with their health and will have this problem for a long time, or the rest of their lives

ESA is the replacement for incapacity benefit and receiving income support because you have a disability.

You can apply for ESA if you are over 16. You can be employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

You must have a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA claim is being assessed. This is to see to what extent your illness or disability affects your ability to work.

You'll then be placed in one of 2 groups if you're entitled to ESA:

  • work-related activity group, where you'll have regular interviews with an adviser who can help you with things like job goals and improving your skills
  • support group, where you don't have interviews but you can talk to a personal adviser.

How much ESA you get depends on:

  • your circumstances, such as income
  • the type of ESA you qualify for
  • where you are in the assessment process

You can make a claim for Employment and Support Allowance by telephoning Jobcentre Plus.

Telephone: 0800 055 6688

Textphone: 0800 023 3419.

For further information, please visit and

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Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child under 16.The child’s disability or health condition must mean one or both of the following apply:

  1. they need more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn’t have a disability
  2. they have difficulty getting about.

This can include anyone with a learning disability who can actually walk but is a danger to themselves or others when they are out in the community. This might be because they have very limited understanding of road safety or stranger danger or of the need to walk.

The DLA rate is between £21.80 and £139.75 a week (from April 2017) and depends on the level of help your child needs. Your child may need an assessment to work out what help they need.

DLA for children is a tax-free benefit made up of 2 components (parts). Your child might qualify for one or both components.

To apply, you can order a printed form by telephoning the Disability Living Allowance helpline.

Disability Living Allowance Telephone: 0345 712 3456

Textphone: 0345 722 4433 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

DLA can only be claimed for children under 16 - anyone over 16 must apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

When your child turns 16 you will need to apply for PIP. Their DLA will end if they decide not to apply for PIP.

You can also apply for DLA online, please visit