Welfare Benefit Information

The following is an A-Z guide to the main welfare benefits, Tax Credits and local authority benefits available in the United Kingdom. Please note that the rules and criteria for many benefits are changing all the time therefore we will endeavour to keep this site updated as much as possible. As such, this information should only be used as a guide and claimants should always seek further advice before claiming any benefits.



Attendance Allowance
You may be entitled to Attendance Allowance (AA) if you are aged 65 or over with a mental and/or physical illness and you have care and/or supervision needs. Unless you are terminally ill you must have had these needs for at least six months before you claim. It is paid at two rates depending on the level of care you need and is not affected by any income or savings you have.
 
If you are entitled to either rate you may become entitled to, or increase your entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. If you have a carer they could be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and an increase in their means-tested benefits. However, if you live alone this could affect any means-tested benefits you may get as you could lose entitlement to any severe disability premium or severe disability amount that may be included in your claim.

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Bereavement Support Payment
Bereavement Support Payment is a new benefit available to people whose spouse or civil partner dies on or after 6th April 2017. It replaces three existing bereavement benefits: bereavement payment, bereavement allowance and widows parent's allowance. These benefits remain in place if your spouse or civil partner died before 6th April 2017. For women widowed before 9th April 2001, widows pension and widowed mothers allowance remain in place.

 
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Budgeting Loan
This is an interest-free loan to help with the cost of certain expenses such as household items, clothing, rent in advance or moving expenses and expenses associated with looking for or starting work. You have to be getting a qualifying benefit when you claim and you or your partner should have been receiving the qualifying benefit throughout the previous 26 weeks. Qualifying benefits are: income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and pension credit.
 
The amount of loan you get depends on what you are able to repay, your personal circumstances and the amount of any other loans you may have. The amount of any loan will be reduced pound for pound for any savings you have over £1000 (£2000 for those aged 61 or over). Budgeting loans have been replaced by budgeting advances for those in receipt of Universal Credit.
 
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Carers Allowance
Carer’s Allowance (CA) is paid if you are providing care for 35 hours or more a week for a person who is entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) care component at the middle or higher rate, Personal Independence Payment daily living component (either rate), Attendance Allowance (AA), or constant attendance allowance in respect of an industrial or war disablement. You do not have to live with the person you care for. Your income and capital are ignored but you must not be in full-time education (21 hours or more). If you are working, you must not be earning over the current earnings limit when you claim. Your partner’s income is ignored. You get national insurance credits for every week you receive CA.

If you get CA you can qualify for a carer premium or extra amount if you claim universal credit income support; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; housing benefit and/or council tax benefit or a carer’s additional amount if you claim pension credit but the CA does count as income for these benefits. However, before you claim CA check whether this will affect the person who you are caring for – if they get a benefit that includes a severe disability premium or additional amount and they live alone, they could lose this if you claim CA.

Your CA stops four weeks after the disabled persons DLA or AA stops and continues eight weeks after their death.

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Child Benefit
Child benefit is paid if you are responsible for a child or qualifying young person (this is certain children aged between 16 and 19). You count as responsible for a child if you have a child living with you, or if you contribute to the cost of supporting the child at a rate of at least that of child benefit. Child benefit can continue until the qualifying young person reaches their 20th birthday, provided certain conditions are met, such as the child being on (or enrolled to start on) a course of full-time non-advanced education or approved training before s/he is 19. Child benefit is not is not affected by any income or capital you have and is not dependent on NI contributions. It is paid regardless of whether or not you are working. There is no upper or lower age limit for claiming. It cannot be paid to two people; there is an order of priority for claimants.

Under some circumstances child benefit can be paid for 20 weeks from the Monday after the child or qualifying young person leaves education or training.

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Child Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit (CTC) is a means-tested benefit paid if you are responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if in full-time non-advanced education or approved training). You are treated as responsible for a child if they normally live with you. If two people (or couples) make competing claims for the same child the HM Revenue and Customs will decide who is mainly responsible.  It is paid whether you are in or out of work. Entitlement continues for 20 weeks after the school leaving date if the child is under 18 and registers for work or training with a qualifying body such as Connexions. Tax credits are usually based on your previous year’s income. Certain changes of circumstance must be reported within one month but a change in income does not have to be reported – although this could result in an over or under-payment. 
 
CTC can be backdated for up to three months without having to explain why you have not claimed. 

If you work 16 hours or more a week you may be entitled to both CTC and Working Tax Credit (WTC).

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Community Care Grant
Community Care Grants (CCG) can be paid if you need help in special circumstances such as helping you to return to the community after being in institutional or residential care (including prison); stay at home rather than go into institutional or residential care; set up home in the community after having an unsettled way of life, for example after living in a night shelter (as part of a planned programme to resettle you); care for a prisoner or young offender when they leave prison on temporary licence; ease exceptional pressures on you and your family or pay for certain travel expenses like going to a family funeral or visiting someone who is ill. There are certain excluded items. It does not have to be repaid. CCG's are administered by Inverclyde Council's Scottish Welfare Fund team and applications should be made by telephone on 01475 714444. 


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Council Tax Reduction
Council Tax Reduction (CTR) is paid if you are on a low income and need help with your council tax. It is means-tested and paid as a reduction on your council tax bill.
 
If you have a non-dependant, such as a friend or grown-up daughter, living with you this may affect the amount of CTR you are awarded. If you have capital, such as savings, these must total less than £16,000 unless you are over 60 and receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit. The first £6,000 of capital will be ignored but if you have capital between the lower limit of £6,000 and the upper limit of £16,000 your CTR will be reduced (and could be reduced to nil). It is paid whether you are in or out of work. You will get full CTR if you are getting income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or guarantee credit of pension credit.


If you are the only person liable for council tax on your home and you have an adult on a low income living with you, you might be able to get 'second adult rebate' instead of CTR, no matter how much income or capital you have. The local council should do a ‘better off calculation’ and tell you which benefit would pay you more. It is paid whether you are in or out of work.

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Crisis Grants
Crisis Grants are paid if you need help in an emergency or crisis and you do not have enough money to meet your immediate needs. In certain circumstances they can be paid for rent in advance. You have to show that a crisis loan would prevent a serious risk to the health and safety of you and your family. It does have to be repaid and you have to show that you can repay it before any loan will be made. You do not have to be getting a benefit to get a crisis loan. CG's are administered by Inverclyde Council's Scottish Welfare Fund team and applications should be made by telephone on 01475 714444.
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Disability Living Allowance
You may be entitled to disability living allowance (DLA) if you have personal care or supervision needs and/or have mobility problems.  You must be under 65 when you first claim, but once awarded you can continue to receive it after the age of 65 as long as you continue to qualify. You must have had the needs or difficulties for at least three months and expect them to last at least a further six months unless you are terminally ill. There are two components; care and mobility. You can be paid either or both of the components and the amount you receive depends on your care and/or mobility needs and whether you need help during the day and/or during the night.

You can claim DLA care component for your child from birth but it will not be paid until the child reaches 3 months unless they are terminally ill, however the rules for the mobility component are different. The higher rate of the mobility component can only be paid when the child reaches the age of 3 and the lower rate cannot be paid until the child is 5 years old.

It is not affected by any income or capital you have. If you receive DLA you may also be entitled to disability-related premiums if you claim income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and/or council tax benefit, income-related employment and support allowance, or an additional amount if you claim universal credit or pension credit. 

If you get DLA care component at the middle or higher rate your carer may qualify for carer’s allowance (but your carer should check whether this will affect any income support/income-based JSA/income-related ESA/housing benefit/council tax benefit, universal credit or pension credit you, or your partner, are getting).

DLA usually stops 28 days after you go into a NHS hospital (after 84 days if you are under 16).  The care component usually stops after 28 days if you enter a care home unless you are paying the fees for the home yourself.

DLA for adults is now being phased out and replaced by Personal Independence Payment.

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Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and support allowance (ESA) is paid if you are unable to work due to an illness or disability. It replaced Incapacity Benefit and Income Support paid on the grounds of incapacity for all new claimants since 27th October 2008. Eventually all claimants will be moved onto ESA.

Contributory ESA is paid if you satisfy the NI contribution conditions, but you do not have to pass a means test. Income-related ESA is paid if you pass the means test, but you do not have to satisfy NI contribution conditions. ESA is paid at two rates, the lower rate during the assessment period (13 weeks) and then at one of two higher rates depending whether you go into the work-related activity group or the support group. After the assessment phase if you are found to have limited capability for work you will be placed in the work-related activity group and will have to undertake work-focused activities to help you back to work as a condition of entitlement to the benefit. If you are severely ill or disabled you will be placed in the support group and entitlement does not depend on attending work-focused interviews, but you can volunteer to do so.

If you are found not to have limited capability for work you will have to claim JSA. The permitted work rules have been extended to ESA allowing you to work certain hours without it affecting your benefit. It is possible to receive contributory ESA (or ESA in youth) topped up with income-related ESA.

There are special rules for claimants aged under 20 or under 25 in some circumstances (ESA in youth) which mean they could get contributory ESA without having to satisfy the NI contribution conditions.

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Funeral Payments
To get help with the cost of a funeral through a funeral expenses payment you have to receive one of the following qualifying benefits: income support; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; housing benefit; council tax benefit (including second adult rebate where you are the 'second adult' ); child tax credit paid at a rate which exceeds the family element; universal credit and working tax credit which includes the disability or severe disability element; or pension credit.

The payment covers the cost of a simple low cost burial or cremation. You can claim as a friend of the deceased but the DWP may refuse the claim if they believe there is a close relative who could meet the cost who does not receive a qualifying benefit. It can be paid up to three months after the funeral even if you have paid the bill. You do not have to repay the funeral payment but it can be recovered from the deceased person’s estate.

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Housing Benefit
Housing benefit (HB) is paid to help you with the cost of your rent. Help with rents in the private sector is administered through the local housing allowance (LHA) scheme but there are exceptions. HB is means-tested. If you have a non-dependant living with you this may affect the amount of HB you are awarded. If you have capital, such as savings, it must total less than £16,000 unless you receive the guarantee credit part of pension credit. The first £6,000 of capital will be ignored but if you have capital between the lower limit of £6,000 and the upper limit of £16,000 your HB will be reduced (and could be reduced to nil) HB is usually paid direct to your landlord but LHA is usually paid direct to you. You will get full HB if you are in receipt of income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or the guarantee credit of pension credit.



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Income Support
Income support (IS) is means-tested and does not rely on NI contributions. It is paid if you are under pension age and you are not required to sign on as available for work because you are either a lone parent (but see below), a carer (or ill and disabled if they claimed before 27th October 2008), or a student. It can include help with some housing costs, such as mortgage interest. If you have any capital, such as savings, it must be below £16,000. The first £6,000 of capital will be ignored but if you have capital between the lower limit of £6,000 and the upper limit of £16,000 your IS will be reduced (and could be reduced to nil).

If you are a lone parent and your youngest child is aged 5 or over you cannot claim IS (unless you qualify via one of the other routes to IS). You will need to make a claim for JSA.

You can work part time up to 16 hours a week but only a small amount of your earnings will be disregarded and the rest will count as income and reduce your benefit. Your partner must not work more than 24 hours a week and their earnings will also count as income and affect the amount of benefit you get. It is paid at either a single person or a couple rate and the amount depends on whether you are aged under or over 25. If you are over 60 you should claim pension credit.

The claimant and/or their partner may have to attend work-focused interviews as a condition of receiving IS.
 
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Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
Industrial injuries disablement benefit (IIDB) is paid on top of any earnings or other non-means tested benefits. It is paid if you are disabled or sick as a result of being injured or contracting a disease in the course of employment and is paid whether or not you are capable of work. Self-employment does not count. The amount you get depends on your age, whether you have dependants and the seriousness of the illness or disability which is assessed by a doctor. If you get IIDB you may also be entitled to disability-related premiums if you claim income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit and/or council tax benefit – although IIDB counts as income for these benefits.

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JobSeekers Allowance
Contribution-based JSA is a flat rate benefit paid for up to 26 weeks.You have to satisfy the national insurance contribution conditions. It is not means-tested but any earnings from part-time work and income from pensions can affect the amount of benefit you receive. You must show that you are available for work and actively looking and you must have a jobseeker's agreement with Jobcentre Plus. It is paid at two rates, depending on whether you are aged under or over 25.

Contribution-based JSA can be topped up with income-based JSA in certain circumstances. If you are still unemployed at the end of the 26 weeks you will automatically go on to income-based JSA as long as you satisfy the means test and are still available and actively seeking work. 

You cannot claim contribution-based JSA for dependants.

Income-based JSA is means-tested and does not rely on NI contributions. It can also be paid at the same time as contribution-based JSA depending on household income. It can include help with some housing costs, such as mortgage interest. If you have any capital, such as savings, it must be below £16,000. The first £6,000 of capital will be ignored but if you have capital between the lower limit of £6,000 and the upper limit of £16,000 your income-based JSA will be reduced (and could be reduced to nil).

You must show that you are available for and actively seeking work and you must have a jobseeker's agreement with Jobcentre Plus. You can work part time up to 16 hours but only a small amount of your earnings will be disregarded and the rest will count as income and reduce your benefit. Your partner must not work more than 24 hours and their earnings will also count as income and affect the amount of benefit you get.

It is paid at either a single person or a couple rate and the amount depends on whether you are aged under or over 25. There are different rules for 16 and 17 year olds, they can only claim if they are estranged from their parents, suffering financial hardship or part of a couple responsible for a child. If you are a man aged 60 to 64 years old you may be better off claiming pension credit.

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Maternity Allowance
Maternity allowance (MA) is paid for up to 39 weeks if you are not entitled to statutory maternity pay. To qualify you must have been employed or self- employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks prior to the Sunday of the week in which your baby is due. These do not have to be consecutive weeks or for the same employer and any part weeks of work will count as a full week. 
 
Your average weekly earnings must be at least £30 per week in any 13 weeks in the 66 weeks. MA is paid at a fixed weekly rate or 90 percent of your average wages before tax which ever is the lower. You may be able to get an additional amount for a dependant if they are on a low income and look after your children. You can claim MA from the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) but the earliest MA can be paid is from the 11th week before the EWC, unless your baby is born before then.

You may qualify for means-tested benefits in addition to MA. Your MA may reduce or stop if you claim certain non-means-tested benefits including contributory employment and support allowance, carer’s allowance, bereavement benefits, jobseeker’s allowance.

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Pension Credit
You may be entitled to Pension Credit (PC) if you are over pension credit qualifying age and on a low income. PC is means tested and made up of two parts; guarantee credit (paid from pension credit qualifying age) and savings credit (paid from the age of 65). The guarantee credit tops up your income to a guaranteed minimum level. You can get more money if you are a carer, severely disabled or have qualifying housing costs (mortgage interest). There is no upper capital limit but an assumed income applies of £1 for every £500 you have over the first £6,000 which is disregarded. The guarantee credit usually entitles you to full HB and CTB and other passported benefits such as free dental treatment.

The savings credit is paid to reward you for having made some ‘modest’ provision for your retirement. You may be entitled to the savings credit if you or your partner are aged 65 or over and you have extra income from an additional pension or savings over £6,000. 

PC can be backdated for up to three months. You do not have to give a reason for claiming late.

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Retirement Pension
State retirement pension is paid when you reach retirement age. It is based on the amount of NI contributions you have paid (or your spouse’s or civil partner’s in the case of a Category B pension). If you do not meet the NI contribution conditions for less than 25 percent of your working life you will not qualify for a state pension in your own right.
 
You must make a claim for your state retirement pension. If you do not claim you will be treated as if you have chosen to defer your retirement. A form should be sent to you four months before you reach retirement age.

You can work and claim your state pension. Your earnings will not affect the amount of pension that you receive but you may pay additional income tax as both earnings and state pension are taxable. You will no longer be liable to make NI contributions and should obtain an exemption certificate to give to your employer.



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Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is paid by your employer to enable you to take time off work before and after the birth of your child. It is paid for up to 39 weeks. To qualify you must have been employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the week your baby is due and meet the earning conditions. It is paid at 90 per cent of your average gross wages for the first six weeks and then at a standard rate or 90 per cent of your average gross wages whichever is lower.

The earliest that SMP can be paid is 11 weeks before the week the baby is due (unless the baby is born before this) and you will continue to receive it even if you decide not to return to work. You will not have to repay it. You can return to work for up to 10 days during your maternity leave without it affecting your SMP, these are known as ‘keeping in touch days’.

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Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks of sickness if you are unable to work. Some employers pay additional sick pay but they can not pay you less that the amount of SSP. You are entitled to SSP from the first day that you start a job if you fall sick and meet the earnings conditions, but it is not paid until you have been sick for four consecutive days because the first three days are known as ‘waiting days’.

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Sure Start Maternity Grant
Sure Start maternity grant is a one-off payment to help towards the cost of a new baby. You do not have to repay it. To be eligible you have to receive one of the following qualifying benefits: income support; income-based jobseeker’s allowance; income-related employment and support allowance; child tax credit paid at a rate exceeding the family element including the additional baby element if applicable; working tax credit including the disability or severe disability element, universal credit or pension credit. You can claim from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due and up to three months after the baby is born. If you have adopted a child, or in certain circumstances have been granted a residence order for a child you must apply within three months, the child must be less than one year old. You can also apply if you are getting benefit for a dependant under the age of 20 who is pregnant and expecting a baby within 11 weeks or has given birth within the last three months .

Any capital, such as savings, you may have does not affect the grant. You apply by filling in SF100 which must be signed by a health professional.

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Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) replaces a range of benefits and Tax Credits for people of working age. UC is a single, monthly payment that includes help with your rent and can be claimed by people under Pension Credit age who have a low to moderate income. It does not matter whether you are in work (or how many hours you work), unemployed, caring, or too ill to work. UC brings together six benefits and Tax Credits and replaces them with a single monthly payment. It is replacing the following:

  • Jobseekers Allowance  - income related (JSA IR)
  • Employment and Support Allowance – income related (ESA IR) 
  • Income Support  (IS)
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC) 
  • Housing Benefit (HB)

Generally speaking, if you intend to claim one of the benefits listed above for the first time after November 2016, you will claim UC instead. If you already receive one of the benefits UC is due to replace you continue to do so as normal until your circumstances change or you are told you need to claim UC instead. This “migration” will take several years to complete so it may be a while before you have to
claim UC, however the following changes in your circumstances may result in an immediate claim for UC:
  • JSA/ESA (IR) claimants who move from benefits into work will need to claim UC rather than Tax Credits,
  • JSA (IR) claimants whobecome sick are no longer able to claim ESA (IR) and should claim UC instead,
  • ESA (IR) claimants who become fit for work are no longer able to claim JSA (IR) and should claim UC  instead, 
  • Employees who stop working can no longer claim JSA/ESA (IR) and will need to claim UC instead (different rules for JSA/ESA – contribution based,
  • Lone parents who claim IS can no longer claim JSA/ESA (IR) when their child turns 5 and will need to claim UC instead,
  • Claimants who become responsible for a child for the first time can no longer claim Tax Credits and will claim UC instead.

 

However, if you already receive one component of Tax Credits and you need to claim the other component, this will not require a new UC claim as this will be treated as a Tax Credits change of circumstances. Please see our Universal Credit leaflet for more information.

 



Working Tax Credit
You may be entitled to working tax credit (WTC) if you or your partner work 16 hours or more a week and are responsible for a child, or you have a disability that puts you at a disadvantage in getting a job; or you are aged 50 or over and have been in receipt of a qualifying benefit for the previous 26 weeks and are returning to work of at least 16 hours per week; or you are aged 25 or over and work 30 hours or more per week. 

WTC can be backdated for up to three months without having to explain why you are claiming late. 

WTC is usually calculated on your income in the previous tax year and the amount you receive depends on your individual or family circumstances. WTC has extra elements if you work for 30 hours or more, are treated as disabled or are 50 years or over and have recently been unemployed (but this is only payable for one year). You may also get help with up to 80 per cent of any eligible childcare costs to enable you to return or continue working.

Where you have qualifying children you will be entitled to child tax credit in addition to WTC. Certain changes of circumstance must be reported within one month but a change in income does not have to be reported – although this could result in an over or under-payment.

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