Guidance to help you support adults with care needs

a young person with her head down

A person with care needs, including parents, may be able to get support, from the local authority or NHS primary care trust, under community care rules and legislation.

If an adult has care needs, they may qualify for support from the local authority under the Care Act 2014. Failed asylum seekers with children generally will remain eligible for asylum support. If a person qualifies for community care support from the local authority then this would take precedence over support from the Home Office, which is offered to those who have claimed asylum in the UK. This means that if a person has needs for care in the home - i.e. someone with a physical disability who needs support with tasks at home - they should be eligible for a care package from local authority support.

No recourse to public funds

Local authority support is not listed as a ‘public fund’ within the Immigration Rules. Under section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 if a person is ‘subject to immigration control’ and has leave to enter or remain in the UK, this may be subject to a condition that means they have ‘no recourse to public funds’ and, unless they are exempt, are not entitled to certain benefits or tax credits.

If an applicant receives one of these benefits, the payments are in breach of the act. In such cases, public funds are defined in the immigration rules and include:

  • Attendance allowance
  • Carers allowance
  • Child benefit
  • Child tax credit
  • Disability living allowance
  • Contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) in youth
  • Income related ESA
  • Housing benefit
  • Incapacity benefit in youth
  • Income support
  • Income based jobseekers allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Personal independence payment
  • Severe disablement allowance
  • Social funds payments
  • Universal credit
  • Working tax credit

Barriers to accessing support

Fear and a lack of knowledge about a person's entitlement can create barriers to accessing support services, resulting in children taking on care needs for their parents and/or parenting roles for other siblings.

The Care Act 2014 requires local authorities to adopt a whole system, whole council, whole family approach, coordinating services and support around the person and their family’s needs and considering the impact that their care needs will have on their family, including children.


A ’whole family’ approach is key when assessing an adult’s care needs where there are children in the family providing care to the adult, or undertaking wider caring responsibilities. Assessments should ascertain what circumstances have led to a child caring and what needs to change in order to prevent them from undertaking excessive or inappropriate caring responsibilities which could impact adversely on their well-being, education or social development. Assessments of adult’s eligibility for support should take into account their parenting responsibilities and the functioning of the family. 

Assessing support and provision 

Practitioners should be aware that when assessing the level of support and service provision needed by refugee and migrant families, they may not have the kind of support from extended family or community members that others may have. Nor will they necessarily be familiar with the range of services that are available to help. They may also be unaware of their rights to health care services.

Young carers should not be expected to carry out inappropriate levels of caring which have an adverse impact on their development and life chances. It should not be assumed that children should take on similar levels of caring responsibilities as adults. No care package should rely on inappropriate caring responsibilities being taken on by a child. 

Useful links

Find more information about supporting adults with care needs: