Attendance Allowance

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Attendance Allowance is a non-contributory Social Security benefit paid to elderly disabled people in the United Kingdom. It was introduced in the National Insurance Act 1970.[1] The benefit is intended to support for those who live independently but might otherwise need to go into residential care. It is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions.

A claimant must show that they need help in connection with their bodily functions or need continual supervision. At night supervision would have to involve someone being awake to watch over the claimant. Bodily functions are things that most people would do for themselves, they do not include things like cooking, housework or shopping which many people have done for them. Such help must be needed frequently throughout the day, or during the night the attention required must be prolonged or repeated.

Needs are assessed separately for the benefit and for eligibility for social care, which is run by local authorities.

In 2015, the cost of the benefit was approximately £5 billion and 1.5 million people were receiving it.[2]


From April 2017:

  • Higher rate: £83.10 per week for day and night care, or terminal illness
  • Basic rate: £55.65 per week for day or night care


The benefit is for people who are over 65 when they first claim. They must have satisfied the conditions for at least six months before they are entitled unless they are terminally ill - which means not expected to live more than 6 months.

Excluded groups: People under 65. If already claiming Disability Living Allowance before the age of 66 it continues. It is not converted to Attendance Allowance. Claimants must be in Great Britain when they claim - there are some exceptions for members and family members of the Armed Forces. They must have been in the Great Britain for at least 2 of the last 3 years, be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands and not be subject to immigration control (unless a sponsored immigrant)

Payment stops if the claimant goes into hospital or a care home for more than 4 weeks, or goes abroad for more than 13 weeks (or more than 26 weeks to get medical treatment for a condition which began before they left)

Claims cannot be backdated.

Attendance Allowance is disregarded as income, except for people in residential care.


Moving Attendance Allowance from the welfare system into mainstream health and care has been proposed by a number of commentators, including the 2014 Barker commission on the future of the NHS and social care, set up by the King's Fund. The commission said that moving Attendance Allowance to local government would “help create the simpler, graduated pathway of support that we seek”. In 2015 the government proposed to give local councils responsibility for paying the benefit.[2]


  1. ^ Barendt, Ogus & (1988). The Law of Social Security. London: Butterworths. ISBN 0 406 63370 3. 
  2. ^ a b Brindle, David (December 2015). "Responsibility for managing £5bn benefit for older people to shift to local councils". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2015. 

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