With the cost of living crisis continuing more and more people are in need of support.
Some people may be surprised to learn they could actually be applicable for benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) - even if they work. You should always be aware of what you are entitled to.
Especially, when times are tough, it's more important than ever to make sure you are receiving the money that you are entitled to. There are currently 25 types of benefits that you could be eligible for to help boost your households earnings.
READ MORE: DWP could stop your benefits if you fail to report these 18 changes
It can also be worth finding out what changes there might be to your benefits in the event of any changes to your employment status or arrangements - like if you get a new job or change your working hours. Many families are entitled to cash from the Government but are unaware of their eligibility.
Here, we look at what benefits are available - and how you can check what benefits you are entitled to.
You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is:
- under 16
- under 20 if they stay in approved education or training
Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child. It’s paid every four weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for. You can get £21.80 for the eldest or only child and £14.45 per additional child.
You could get Guardian’s Allowance if you’re bringing up a child whose parents have died. You may also be eligible if there’s one surviving parent.
The Guardian’s Allowance rate is £18.55 a week. You get it on top of Child Benefit and it’s tax-free. You must tell the Guardian’s Allowance Unit about certain changes to your circumstances.
Maternity Allowance is usually paid to you if you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. The amount you can get depends on your eligibility.
You can claim Maternity Allowance as soon as you've been pregnant for 26 weeks. Payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.
Marriage Allowance lets you transfer £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner. This reduces their tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).
To benefit as a couple, you (as the lower earner) must normally have an income below your Personal Allowance - this is usually £12,570.
You can calculate how much tax you could save as a couple. You should call the Income Tax helpline instead if you receive other income such as dividends, savings or benefits from your job. You can also call if you do not know what your taxable income is.
When you transfer some of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner you might have to pay more tax yourself, but you could still pay less as a couple. You can benefit from Marriage Allowance if all the following apply:
- you’re married or in a civil partnership
- you do not pay Income Tax or your income is below your Personal Allowance (usually £12,570)
- your partner pays Income Tax at the basic rate, which usually means their income is between £12,571 and £50,270 before they receive Marriage Allowance
You cannot claim Marriage Allowance if you’re living together but you’re not married or in a civil partnership.
Widowed Parent's Allowance:
Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) is being replaced by Bereavement Support Payment.
You can only make a new claim for WPA if your husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017 and the cause of death has just been confirmed.
All the following must also apply:
- you’re under State Pension age
- you’re entitled to Child Benefit for at least one child and your late husband, wife or civil partner was their parent
- your late husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease
You may also claim WPA if you were pregnant when your husband died, or you were pregnant after fertility treatment when your civil partner or wife died.
You cannot claim WPA if you:
- were divorced from your husband, wife or civil partner when they died
- remarry or are living with another person as if you’re married to them or as if you’ve formed a civil partnership
- were over State Pension age when you were widowed or became a surviving civil partner – you may be able to get extra State Pension
- are in prison
You’ll need to answer a few questions before you can order a tax credits claim form. You can do this by:
- using the online tool;
- calling the Tax Credit Office.
If it looks like you qualify, you’ll be able to order a claim form. It will take up to two weeks for the form to arrive.
Job Seekers Allowance:
You can apply for ‘new style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) to help you when you’re looking for work. You cannot apply for contribution-based or income-based JSA anymore. If you’re currently getting contribution-based or income-based JSA, you’ll keep getting payments while you’re eligible until your claim ends.
There’s a maximum amount you can get - but how much you’re entitled to depends on your age.
People who are up to 24 years old can get up to £61.05 a week and anyone over 25 can get up to £77.
To be eligible for ‘new style’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) you’ll need to have both:
- worked as an employee
- paid Class 1 National Insurance contributions, usually in the last 2 to 3 years (National Insurance credits can also count)
You’ll also need to:
- be 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 or 17 - contact Jobcentre Plus for advice)
- be under the State Pension age
- not be in full-time education
- be available for work
- not be working at the moment, or be working less than 16 hours per week on average
- not have an illness or disability which stops you from working
- live in England, Scotland or Wales
While you receive JSA, you’ll need to take reasonable steps to look for work as agreed with your work coach.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly.
You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work. Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you currently get any of these benefits, you do not need to do anything unless:
- you have a change of circumstances you need to report
- the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contacts you about moving to Universal Credit
If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit. To claim you must:
- live in the UK
- be aged 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- be under State Pension age
- have £16,000 or less in savings
Employment support allowance (ESA):
You can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.
ESA gives you:
- money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work
- support to get back into work if you’re able to
You can apply if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.
You might get extra help if you’re a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person. Pension Credit is separate from your State Pension.
You can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home. If you get Pension Credit you can also get other help, such as:
- Housing Benefit if you rent the property you live in
- Support for Mortgage Interest if you own the property you live in
- Council Tax Reduction
- a free TV licence if you’re aged 75 or over
- help with NHS dental treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments
- help with your heating costs
Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. It’s being replaced by Universal Credit. You can only make a new claim for Housing Benefit if either of the following apply:
- you have reached State Pension age
- you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary housing
Council tax support:
You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.
You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working. What you get depends on:
- where you live - each council runs its own scheme
- your circumstances (eg income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
- your household income - this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
- if your children live with you
- if other adults live with you
Free school meals:
Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals. Your child may also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:
- younger than the compulsory age for starting school
- in full-time education
If you’re a homeowner, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on:
- your mortgage
- loans you’ve taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home
This help is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). It’s paid as a loan, which you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home (unless you’re moving the loan to another property).
You usually need to be getting, or treated as getting, a qualifying benefit to get SMI. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get SMI for a mortgage or loan you take out.
A Budgeting Loan can help pay for:
- furniture or household items (for example, washing machines or other ‘white goods’)
- clothes or footwear
- rent in advance
- costs linked to moving house
- maintenance, improvements or security for your home
- travelling costs within the UK
- costs linked to getting a new job
- maternity costs
- funeral costs
- repaying hire purchase loans
- repaying loans taken for the above items
You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on certain benefits for 6 months. You only have to pay back the amount you borrow, and repayments are taken automatically from your benefits.
The lowest amount you can borrow is £100. You could get up to:
- £348 if you’re single
- £464 if you have a partner
- £812 if you or your partner claim Child Benefit
How much you could get depends on whether you:
- can pay the loan back
- have savings of more than £1,000 (£2,000 if you or your partner are 63 or over)
- are paying back an existing Budgeting Loan
You could get a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment) if you get certain benefits and need help to pay for a funeral you’re arranging. Your Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from any money you get from the deceased’s estate.
The estate includes any money or property they had but not a house or personal things left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner.
Local council support schemes:
From April 2013, each local authority is responsible for providing help to its residents struggling with an emergency.
Cold weather payments:
You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest. You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.
You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. Cold Weather Payments are different to Winter Fuel Payments.
Check if you can get a payment in your area.
Attendance Allowance helps with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you.It’s paid at two different rates and how much you get depends on the level of care that you need because of your disability.
You could get £61.85 or £92.40 a week to help with personal support if you’re both:
- physically or mentally disabled
- State Pension age or older
It does not cover mobility needs. The other benefits you get can increase if you get Attendance Allowance. You do not have to have someone caring for you in order to claim.
Personal Independence Payment:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can help with extra living costs if you have both:
a long-term physical or mental health condition or disability
difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
You can get PIP even if you’re working, have savings or are getting most other benefits.
There are two parts to PIP:
- a daily living part - if you need help with everyday tasks
- a mobility part - if you need help with getting around
Whether you get one or both parts and how much you get depends on how difficult you find everyday tasks and getting around.
You could get £69.70 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
You do not get paid extra if you care for more than one person. If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance.
Statutory Sick Pay:
This is paid to employees if they are off sick from work for more than four days, for a period of up to 28 weeks.
The Basic State Pension is a Government-administered scheme, funded by National Insurance contributions, to give those who have reached the Government-defined retirement age a guaranteed weekly income.
You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months. You must claim within three months of your partner’s death to get the full amount. You can claim up to 21 months after their death but you’ll get fewer monthly payments.
Bereavement Support Payment has replaced Bereavement Allowance (previously Widow’s Pension), Bereavement Payment, and Widowed Parent’s Allowance.
If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
You will get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically (you do not need to claim) if you’re eligible and either:
- get the State Pension
- get another social security benefit (not Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit)
If you do not get either of these, or if you live abroad, you may need to make a claim. If you’ve got a Winter Fuel Payment before, you do not need to claim again unless you’ve deferred your State Pension or moved abroad.
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