When am I caring?

My wife an I have been live-in carers for my elderly mother for the last seven years. We are talking to the Council about Single Person Discount for my mum and Carer’s Exemption on our home.

The Council are asking “How many hours do you provide care for?” What is the honest answer?

We are on site 24/7
We are on call 24/7
We might actually “do something” at any time, or not at all for a day or two.

Can we legitimately claim 24/7, 36-hours, 48-hours per week or only the time was are “active” and “hands-on”?

It certainly feels like 24/7, but I don’t want to be accused of exaggeration / fraud!

How is “Providing Care” defined?

A case of semantics ?

Most of the 8.8 million strong carer army would be on call 24 / 7 … actually " Caring " for less.

Definition of a family carer ?


Welsh but … very apt :


Definition of a Carer

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill defines ‘carer’ as

“Carer” means a person who provides or intends to provide care for an adult or disabled child;

A person is not a carer for the purposes of this Act if the person provides or intends to provide care

(a) under or by virtue of a contract, or
(b) as voluntary work.

But a local authority may treat a person as a carer for the purposes of any of its functions

under this Act if the authority considers that the relationship between the person providing or intending to provide care and the person for whom that care is, or is to be, provided is such that it would be appropriate for the former to be treated as a carer for the purposes of that function or those functions.

A carer is someone of any age who provides unpaid support to family or friends who could not manage without this help. This could be caring for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

Anyone can become a carer; carers come from all walks of life, all cultures and can be of any age. Many feel they are doing what anyone else would in the same situation; looking after their relative or friend to ensure they lead healthy and valued lives. Parent and family carers of someone with a learning disability are a unique group of carers however, as their caring role is often a ‘cradle to grave’ situation.

Some individuals are born with the cognitive impairment that leaves them learning disabled, and many family carers find themselves supporting their children into adulthood and even, for some of our carers, into older age. Equally, many sibling carers find themselves supporting their brother or sister throughout their lives, assisting their parents and taking over carer duties when parents are no longer around. The longevity of caring duties on these families can produce sigificant pressures on families, not least financial, and many of our alliance members have experienced sleep deprivation, endless streams of social care intervention & forms and a sense of isolation in bringing up their disabled child.

Council Tax discounts and disregards ?

Which? web site :

How to get a council tax reduction or discount - Which?

Hi Chris

Thanks for your reply and the info.

No, not semantics - a straight-forward question.

We’ve applied for Disabled Council Tax Band reduction on my mother’s home and Carer’s Exemption on our empty home, however, the Council have been surcharging us [currently 200%] on our empty home for the last 7 years, as they consider it "Long Term Empty. They have even Compulsorily Purchased it in October this year, as we have declined to “move back” to live in it - because we are absent as Carers. We are headed for a Valuation Tribunal in October, so I want to get this right.

The council have asked us the question: “How many hours do you provide care each week?”. They say we have to “Care” for more than 36 hours per week to qualify, so what counts as “Caring”?:

  • Is it only the time you are actively doing something directly related to the individual, i.e. taking to the doctor or hospital / shopping / washing / cleaning etc…?

  • Is it the time we are on “Standby”, i.e. waiting for the phone call to do something / pick something up / put something away / make a cup of tea

  • Is it the time I am asleep, but available at 02:00 to take the phone call to assist? Can you ‘Care’ whilst asleep?

  • Is it the time when I am working (On Contract) to earn the money we need to survive, but available to respond to a phone call for immediate help? Ok I’m male, but I am capable of multi-tasking…

Knowing how these bureaucrats think, we have long, bitter experience - they are trying to disregard our Carer’s status by saying we left our home for “other” reasons and not to better provide care - I want to get this right.

If a ‘black & white’ definition or Caselaw exist, I would like to find and use them, since it may help to reduce the room for argument at Tribunal, or, even High Court. I accept that a clear definition may not exist - this may not be a bad thing, since it would allow a wider frame of argument and [possibly] more chance of successfully arguing the toss… [Whilst making the lawyer richer…]

Any thoughts gratefully received…

Hi Neil.

There is NO case law which defines a " Family carer " , nor spells out what exactly a family carer should be doing beyond what has been posted earlier.

( One might contrast their own caring experiences with that imagined by our own supporting organisations ! )

As for the housing issue , SHELTER highly recommended … assuming you haven’t taken their advice beforehand ?

Housing advice from Shelter - Shelter England

Future security of tenure where you reside now ?

Worth bouncing that off SHELTER as well … what would happen if a care / nursing home was the only option at some point ???

I have also assumed that the only " Payment " for caring would be Carers Allowance ?

If not , that could also open up a whole can of worms.
( Property left empty for seven years … let at a nominal £ 500 per month … that £ 42,000 gross income not generated ??? )

I would think having a total of at least 35 hours would be a good idea as evidence- the amount needed to claim CA. I think caring time definitely includes some “waiting for action” time and being close enough to deal with any overnight calls. Presumeably it is these sort of times that make it unreasonable for you to return home and so thy should definitely come into the equation. Try and think of a few examples of when you have been needed “oncall” to take care of teh unexpected emergenices. Explain what would happen if you weren’t there full time.
The only bits that you have mentioned I would leave out is being on the end of a phone whilst working. Although multitasking is a critical part of any carers job description officialdom might see it differently.

Hi Henrietta

Thanks for your reply. You are absolutely correct. We got our VT hearing in February 2020 (Phew!) and were granted Class J and a refund of £30,000 of punitive Council Tax that we had had to pay - despite Uttlesford putting up a Barrister at taxpayer’s expense. We were self-represented…

Unfortunately, even with this independent confirmation of our Carer status, UDC are belligerently continuing to Compulsory Purchase our family home of 23-years, and make us homeless, simply because we care!

I hope they think it was worth 8-years of harassment and £400,000 of taxpayers money to dispossess us and cost us £150,000 from our retirement fund.

Unfortunately, the Chairman of the VT could not believe that I was a carer, because I tried to earn some money AND took the night shift, (Night Watchman argument - on call but not necessarily ‘actively’ doing care. I get up if the emergency button is pushed, sometimes every 2-hours, to give my wife some relief after providing care all day.

I don’t think this was correct, but we didn’t push it, since we had won the major Class J battle. Has this been an important factor, I may have applied more effort to proving this point…

I have also assumed that the only " Payment " for caring would be Carers Allowance ?

Can you just clarify what “VT” is?
And a simple explanation of what this relates to?

Valuation Tribunal re council tax I think.

Caring for others without discrimination based on color, creed, language, religion etc is the best way to show others that you are a caring person. If character is the tree, reputation is its shadow.

Are you a carer?
The simplest definition is that you are classed as a carer if caring has a significant effect on your own life.
Of course you are BOTH carers if you are double handing 24/7. Hours “on call” count.
There was a judgement to establish this some years ago. CUK sent it to me some years ago when I was struggling to get CA.

Is your house empty?
Why not arrange two weeks respite for mum, or live in carers, and move back into your own place?