Information for carers

If you care for a family member or friend apply for a Reading Family Carers' Card


Reading Carers' Card for family carers

The new Reading Carers’ Card is available FREE to family carers in the borough to help make their lives a little easier during the pandemic.

It has been produced by Reading Mencap in partnership with Reading Borough Council and is a visible sign that the holder is caring for a family member, friend or neighbour who depends upon them.

Carers will be able to use the card to identify themselves as an unpaid carer when shopping, visiting a pharmacy or attending a health appointment.

Reading Borough Council will be ensuring local supermarkets and health services are aware of the card.

To get your free card, please email with your name and address.

If you are able to do so, please also include a head and shoulders ‘selfie’ photograph of yourself. This can be taken on a phone.


Priority for unpaid family carers for Coronavirus vaccine 

Unpaid family carers are now a priority for getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Those under the age of 65 and young carers aged 16 and 17 are now included in group 6 on the priority list.

The Government’s vaccine committee has recommended that unpaid carers who receive Carer’s Allowance or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled child or adult whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill should be prioritised alongside people with underlying health conditions.

Unpaid carers over the age of 65 will be able to access the vaccine earlier as they are included in earlier priority groups.

1. Apply for your free Reading Carers' Card. This card identifies you as an unpaid family carer. It's easy to apply, we just need a head and shoulders selfie of yourself. Email 

2. Make sure your GP knows you are a family carer. Visit your surgery website to see if you can inform them online.

3. Check if you are eligible for Carer's Allowance.

Hundreds of thousands of people caring for friends or relatives are missing out on their Carer’s Allowance entitlements.

The benefit is worth £67.25 a week, meaning some carers are losing out on as much as £3,497 a year. In 2018, almost £1.3 billion was unclaimed.


Reading Mencap Survey for Carers

'Stressful, challenging and exhausting.' 

Carers of children and adults with a learning disability shared their experiences during the pandemic in a survey we conducted.

Read more about the experiences of carers of children and adults with a learning disability.

The results have been shared with Reading Borough Council.


Ask for a Carer’s Assessment

The Care Act gives all unpaid carers the legal right to an assessment of their needs, called a Filling in a formCarer’s Assessment. This gives you the opportunity to talk about your needs as a carer and what would help you with your caring responsibilities.

Carers are entitled to an assessment in their own right regardless of whether or not the person they care for has had one or wants one. However, many of the assessments carried out by Reading Borough Council are now 'whole family assessments'.

There is no charge for an assessment. Many councils use guidelines to determine if people are able to receive services, which means the needs identified in the assessment will be compared against the council’s eligibility criteria.

Carers who are not assessed as being able to receive services should be given information about local voluntary organisations and services that can be accessed independently.

About the Assessment

A Carer’s Assessment is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers. It gives you the opportunity to reflect upon how caring affects your life and how your needs may be met by social services or other support agencies.

It will include:

  • Tasks undertaken and time involved 
  • Difficulties encountered in caring
  • How you feel about your caring role
  • How you are coping with the level of care you are providing
  • What impact caring is having on your health and well-being, employment, study and leisure interests
  • What help and support would improve the situation
  • What would you do in an emergency

How to get the most out of an assessment

You should think of an assessment as your chance to tell social services about the sorts of things that would make caring easier for you.

It may be helpful to think about the sorts of tasks undertaken for the person you care for, such as:

  • Help with dressing, washing, shopping, banking, medication
  • How it’s affecting your relationships with other people
  • If the person being cared for is getting enough help
  • If you are getting enough or any time to yourself to take a break or enjoy a hobby or leisure activity
  • If caring is having an impact on your own health.

What sort of help could I get?

The sort of help you may get include:

  • Practical support to help look after the person you care for
  • Respite care, breaks and a personal budget to help relieve the stress of caring
  • Adaptations, alarms and equipment
  • Advice and support on managing stress and looking after your health
  • Emergency back-up planning.

To request an assessment in Reading, please call:

  • 0118 937 3747 (older people/adults with disabilities)
  • 0118 937 6131 (adults with visual/ hearing impairment)
  • 0300 365 0300 (adults with mental health needs)
  • 0118 937 3641 - disabled children (0-18 years)
  • 0118 937 3747 - disabled young adults (18-25)

If you prefer, you can complete a Carer's Self-Assessment form. Reading Borough Council has published useful guidance notes on how to complete the form. For further information, please visit


Carer's Personal Budget

When Reading Borough Council look at your Carer's Assessment, they may offer you:

  • advice and support to help you manage caring and look after your own health
  • information about local organisations and groups supporting carers
  • a Carer's Personal Budget

If you meet the eligiblity criteria set out in the Care Act and if you have identified things you would like to buy to help you in your caring role, Reading Borough Council may offer you a Carer's Personal Budget.

The sorts of things that carers have used a Personal Budget for in the past include:

  • kitchen equipment
  • IT equipment
  • massage sessions


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 £67.25 a week (from April 2020).

You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you are 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week or more for someone who is ill or disabled.  You can get Carer’s Allowance if you are caring for someone who is in receipt of DLA or PIPs at the middle or highest rate for personal care. Your earnings must be £128 or less a week after tax, National Insurance and expenses.

You can claim Carer’s Allowance if you provide care remotely during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes giving emotional support over the phone or online.

Carer's Allowance - GOV.UK (

Carers UK have good guides about Carers, Benefits and Carers' Rights under the new Care Act 2014: Looking After Someone, Assessments and the Care Act.

Contact a Family also have a downloadable Carer’s Allowance factsheet.


Carer's Credit

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit that helps with gaps in your National Insurance record. Your State Pension is based on your National Insurance record.

Your income, savings or investments won’t affect eligibility for Carer’s Credit.

Carer’s Credit it a way of protecting your State Pension rights if you are looking after someone but are not paying National Insurance contributions through paid work and are unable to claim Carer’s Allowance.

You could get Carer’s Credit if you’re caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week.

The person you’re looking after must get one of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance care component at the middle or highest rate
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment - daily living component, at the standard or enhanced rate
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

If the person you’re caring for doesn’t get one of these benefits, you may still be able to get Carer’s Credit. When you apply, fill in the ‘Care Certificate’ part of the application form and get a health or social care professional to sign it.

You don’t need to apply for Carer’s Credit if you:

  • get Carer’s Allowance - you’ll automatically get credits
  • get Child Benefit for a child under the age of 12 - you’ll automatically get credits
  • are a foster carer - you can apply for National Insurance credits instead.

To apply, you can call the Carer’s Allowance Unit on 0345 608 4321 or textphone 0345 604 5312.

To find out more, please visit


Looking After Someone. Information and Support for Carers. 

Carers UK has updated its Looking After Someone guide for 2019, which outlines your rights as a carer and gives an overview of the support available.


Breaks for carers

Crossroads Care Reading offers sitting services, replacement care and breaks for carers.

Planned breaks for carers that happen at an agreed time and frequency, could be weekly, fortnightly or monthly for instance.

  • Flexible breaks for carers that happen as and when the carers needs a break.
  • As well as day care, we are able to provide evening breaks, weekend breaks and overnight breaks.

You can contact them for further information on 0118 945 4209.


Accessible holidays

Carlton Meres Country Park

If you are registered as a carer with the Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub you can access breaks in one of their self-catering lodges at Carlton Meres in Suffolk. Two lodges are available for one-week bookings (Saturday to Saturday) including one with wheelchair access and a wet room. Guests are asked to cover cleaning costs by way of a minimum £45 donation to the Carers Hub. For more information please call 0118 324 7333.


Carer's emergency plan

Do you ever worry what might happen to the person you care for if the unexpected happened?

A carer's emergency plan sets out who should be contacted and what needs to be done to make sure the person you care for is safe and supported in your absence. It provides peace of mind that support is available if if you are delayed, taken ill, stuck in traffic or involved in an accident. 

Contact your social worker or Berkshire Carers Hub to create your emergency plan.


In case of emergency (ICE) numbers

Don’t forgot to put ICE numbers ‘In Case of Emergency’ on your mobile phone. In the unlikely event of your being involved in an emergency it’s helpful if you save the telephone number of people you would like contacted in this easily recognisable format. This will allow the emergency services or anyone else to use your phone to call people who need to be informed. You can save the numbers under ICE1, ICE2 and so on.

Other useful numbers:

  • Out-of-hours emergency social work duty team: 01344 786543
  • GP out-of-hours service: 111


Tell Us Once – what to do after someone dies

When someone has died, there are lots of things that need to be done, at a time when you probably least feel like doing them.

Tell Us Once is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.

It will notify organisations including:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • DWP
  • HM Passport Office
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)

Reading Borough Council has produced a useful leaflet about the service. 


Carers Smart

Smart way to shop for carers 

Did you know there are offers, benefits and discounts available exclusively for carers and people with care needs. Once you are a member you can benefit from a wide range of offers, including:

  • Cash back on shopping from major retailers – like Boots, Argos, Sainsbury, M&S, B&Q and Apple
  • Best rates from energy providers 
  • Reductions on insurance renewals
  • Discounts on holidays and travel arrangements
  • Reduced price lifestyle activities – Legoland, Costa Coffee, Fitness First
  • Free legal advice services Register free at

CarerSmart is provided by Carers Trust.