An easy guide to benefits


benefits spelled out colourfully_little peopleYou might not think benefits are for you, particularly if you’re in work. But it could be that you qualify for some support. And if you’re struggling to make ends meet, any increase in your income is worth pursuing. Follow our guide to see if you could be receiving more money.

Here we’ve listed the main benefits that you could be eligible for, with some guidelines on who can receive them.

You will need to check for more details to see if you qualify because the rules are often complicated and a lot will depend on your personal circumstances.

Visit the government benefits adviser site if you think you should be getting any of these…

Housing Benefit

If you pay rent and your income and savings are below a certain level. The level will depend on your personal circumstances and where you live. You can’t be living in the home of a close relative or be in full-time education.

Income Support

There are many situations in which you can claim Income Support – including if you are on a low income, work less than 16 hours a week, or are a lone parent who can’t work because you are caring for your children. What constitutes a low income depends on your circumstances.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you’re of working age and are out of work or work less than 16 hours a week. You must be available for, capable of, and actively seeking work.

Child Benefit

If you’re responsible for a child under 16 or are paying towards their upkeep. Payments are made regardless of your income or savings, however the Government are planning to make changes from April 2013.

Child Tax Credit

If you have a new baby, or any child living with you who is under 16, or under 20 if they’re in full-time education, and your household income is under a certain amount. That amount varies according to how many children you have, but generally speaking if your household income is less than £45,000 you may qualify. Call the tax credit helpline on 0800 300 3900 for more information or look at this guide to Child Tax Credit to help.

Working Tax Credit

If you’re working and you’re on a low income, or if you need help with childcare costs, or both. The childcare element can help with up to 70% of registered childcare costs. What counts as a low income depends on your circumstances, including how many children you have.

If you have a household income of less than £60,000 and you pay childcare costs it is worth finding out if you qualify. Call the tax credit helpline on 0800 300 3900 or take a look at this guide to Working Tax Credit to help.

Care to Learn

If you are parent under 20 and need help with childcare costs to go to school or college.

Council Tax Benefit

If you pay council tax and your income and savings are below a certain level. That level will depend on your circumstances and your local authority. Visit DirectGov to find out more.

Second Adult Council Tax Rebate

If the person you share your home with is not your partner, aged 18 or over, not paying rent, not paying council tax themselves, or on a low income. This can include your grown-up child. What counts as low income depends on the circumstances, and your local authority.

Employment and Support Allowance

If you have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work, and if either your Statutory Sick Pay has ended or you cannot get it, then you may qualify for Employment and Support Allowance.

It can also apply if you are self-employed or unemployed, or if you have been getting Statutory Maternity Pay but cannot go back to work because of an illness or disability. There are other allowances for illness and injury available.

Carer’s Allowance

If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone who is incapacitated, and if you’re not in full-time education, or earning more than £100 a week after deductions.

Job Grant

A one-off, tax-free payment you may get when you start working for at least 16 hours a week and stop getting benefits.

Guardian’s Allowance

If you’re bringing up someone else’s child, if one or both of the child’s parents have died, and if you qualify for Child Benefit for the child.

Maternity Allowance

If you’re pregnant or have a new baby but don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.

Bereavement Payment

A one-off lump sum if your husband, wife or civil partner dies when you’re under state pension age.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

If you are a parent and have lost your wife, husband or civil partner and you have at least one child for whom you receive Child Benefit.