12 ways to boost your income by up to £3,000 before Christmas

By Linda Howard

October has been a challenging month for many people with the ending of several UK Government financial support measures which were put in place to help people through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Universal Credit £20-a-week uplift ended on Wednesday, while furlough and applications for the fifth and final Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS) closed on September 30, although employers still have until October 14 to submit their claims for any furloughed employees and must make any amendments by 11:59pm on October 28, 2021.

This month also saw the energy price cap come into force with more than 15 million households across the country now facing fuel bills increase by an average of £139.

While all of these elements are a crushing blow for millions of people, there are several ways to boost your finances, but you will need to invest a bit of time for some of them.

However, doing these now could make the coming months a bit easier, and there is of course Christmas to consider - although, given a choice between getting yourself on the right financial footing for the New Year or spending loads of money on gifts for family and friends is entirely up to you.

Benefits

Most people will instantly assume they are not eligible for benefits, but this is usually because they do not understand what’s out there, how to go about claiming, or think it will be too much hassle.

But, many people are probably missing out on a crucial source of extra income. Below are a few to consider.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Who can claim: People over 16 and under State Pension age

How much it’s worth: Between £94.80 and £608.60 every four weeks

What is it: A benefit delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to people with a long-term illness, disability or physical or mental health condition - including an ever-growing range of hidden conditions and long-term Covid.

PIP is non-means tested, tax-free and available to those in and out of work, it can also be claimed on top of other benefits as it is not affected by the benefits cap.

Find out more here.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) / Child Disability Payment (Scotland only)

Who can claim: Children under 16

How much it’s worth: Between £94.80 and £608.60 every four weeks

What is it: From November, DLA claimants in Scotland will start to be transferred from DWP to the new devolved benefit, Child Disability Payment being delivered by Social Security Scotland.

Both benefits pay the same rates and have the same eligibility criteria for PIP.

Find out more about DLA here and Child Disability Payment here.

Young people in Scotland receiving PIP (between 16 and 18), DLA or the Child Disability Payment will also receive the Child Winter Heating Assistance annual payment of £202 to help towards energy bills - find out more about it here.

Best Start Foods

Who can claim: If you or your partner are getting certain benefits or Tax Credits, or you or your partner are pregnant, or are the main person looking after a baby or child who's the right age for a payment.

How much it’s worth: The payment is worth £18 during pregnancy and for any children between one and three-years-old. It is £36 for children under the age of one.

What is it: A benefit paid by Social Security Scotland every four weeks on a pre-paid card to buy healthy food including eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables.

Find out more here.

Best Start Grants

Who can claim: Parents and carers on low incomes.

What is it and how much is it worth: It is made up of three separate payments - the Pregnancy and Baby Payment is - a one-off payment of £606 for a first child or £303 for a second or later child. The Early Learning Payment is a one-off payment of £252.50 if your child is between 2 and 3 1/2 years old. The School Age Payment is a one-off payment of £252.50.

You cannot get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods if you only get Child Benefit - you must still be getting one of the benefits or payments from this list to be able to get Best Start Grant or Best Start Foods.

Find out more here.

Attendance Allowance

Who can claim: People over State Pension age.

How much it's worth: You will be paid either £240 or £358.40 every four weeks.

What is it: A benefit delivered by the DWP that helps with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you. It can also help you stay independent in your own home longer.

Find out more about claiming Attendance Allowance here.

Carer’s Allowance

Who can claim: People who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone.

How much it's worth: £270 every four weeks. In Scotland there are also two additional payments of £231.40 each year as part of the Carer’s Allowance Supplement.

What is it: A benefit for people who help someone with washing and cooking, taking them to appointments or helping with household tasks such as managing bills and shopping.

Find out more about Carer’s Allowance and the supplement here.

Pension Credit

Who can claim: People claiming State Pension.

How much it's worth: The figure is determined by a number of factors, including savings, but is potentially worth up to £3,000 per year.

What is it: A benefit delivered by the DWP for older people to help with the costs of retirement. Kt includes additional discounts including a free TV Licence for those over 75 (worth £159), Council Tax Reduction (worth £1,000 to £2,000 per year), Want Homes Discount (worth £140) and more.

Find out more about Pension Credit here.

Benefits Calculators

These are a quick and easy way to identify any benefits you may be entitled to claim.

They are independent and completely confidential, all you have to do is enter personal and financial details about your current circumstances.

Find out more about benefits calculators here.

Other ways to boost your income

Council Tax Reductions, Discounts and Exemptions

Council Tax is paid in 10 or 12 equal monthly instalments to your local council, however, there are a number of ways to reduce the cost of this annual bill.

These include:

  • If you live alone
  • If you are disabled
  • If you live with someone under 18 or a student
  • If you are a carer
  • If there are major changes to the value of your home

In most cases, reductions in your Council Tax bill could be backdated, so don’t delay making an enquiry.

Find out more details here.

TV Licence discount or refund

TV Licence rules changed this year which means everyone pays for it, including those on State Pension. The only way to avoid the £159 fee is to be aged over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit.

People who are registered blind are entitled to a half price TV Licence and may be eligible for a refund. When someone with a severe sight impairment applies for a TV Licence they are required to submit evidence of their disability - a blind registration letter is the most common form - and from that TV Licensing may identify an overpayment, especially if you’ve been paying by direct debit, and issue a refund.

Pound coins and bank notes. (Science Photo Library RF/Getty Images)

Claim £252 tax break just for being married or in a civil partnership

HMRC recently announced that nearly 1.8 million married couples and those in civil partnerships are using Marriage Allowance to save up to £252 a year in Income Tax,

Marriage Allowance allows married couples or those in civil partnerships to share their personal tax allowances if one partner earns an income under their Personal Allowance threshold of £12,570 and the other is a starter, basic or intermediate rate taxpayer.

They can transfer 10 per cent of their tax-free allowance to their partner, which is £1,260 in 2021/22.

It means couples can reduce the tax they pay by up to £252 a year and they can backdate their claims for any of the four previous tax years, which could be worth up to a total of £1,220.

Find out more here.

Switch bank accounts

At the moment, seven banks are offering cash rewards for switching from your current account to one of theirs. Most are offering a speedy cash incentive. Switching is easy to do and completely safe - all your incoming payments and outgoings are protected and it usually takes around seven working days.

Current switching offers:

  • Santander - £130 paid by the end of the year
  • First Direct - £100 paid by mid-November
  • Virgin Money M Plus - Free £150 experience day gift card by end of October
  • Nationwide FlexDirect - Free £100 by end of October
  • HSBC Advance - Free £110 by mid-November
  • Club LLoyds - Free £100 by end of October
  • RBS Reward - Free £100 by end of January

To find out more details about the switching offers, just visit the website for each bank or building society.

Look around the house

One of the quickest ways to make some cash and clear out clutter is to get rid of stuff you no longer use, play with or wear.

While eBay is always an easy winner, Gumtree and Facebook are other options, especially on the run-up to Christmas for unwanted video games, consoles or smart tech.

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