Benefits & Tax Credits

We have a team of trained advisers on hand to help you navigate the complex benefits and tax credit rules and make sure that you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to. Not only can we work out what you are entitled to or what you may be entitled to if your circumstances change, for example if you separate from your partner or you get a job, we can help you make your claim and we can help you challenge a decision if you think it’s wrong.

The section gives you the information and tools to understand more about benefits and tax credits and how to claim money that you are entitled to.

Some benefits are only available to people in work (see In-work Benefits section below), some only to people who are unemployed (see Out-of-Work Benefits section below) and some that you may be able to claim whether you are in work or not, for example disability benefits (see Disability Benefits section below) and child benefit (see Other Benefits & Credits section below).

Note: some areas of law are particularly complex and advice often needs to be tailored to individual circumstances. This is especially true for people aged under 18, students, people from abroad and British nationals returning from an extended period abroad. We recommend that if you fall within one of these groups you should complete our Request Advice form as the information on our website may not adequately cover your particular situation.

The Benefit Cap & Universal Credit

The Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap is a limit on the total amount of benefits you can get if you are of working age.

The limit (cap) from 7th November 2016 is:

  • £384.62 a week if you’re a couple – with or without dependent children.
  • £384.62 a week if you’re a lone parent with dependent children.
  • £257.69 a week if you’re a single person without children.

If your relevant benefits exceed the limit for your household, it is your housing benefit that will be reduced and if you don’t make up the shortfall you may face eviction for rent arrears.

Benefits not included in the cap

The following benefits are not included when calculating the total amount of benefits for the cap:

  • Council Tax Reduction
  • Pension Credit
  • State Retirement Pension
  • One off payments made by your local authority to help you out in a crisis
  • Winter Fuel and Cold Weather Payments
  • A short term advance from the DWP to help you out over a crisis until your first benefit payment
  • Non-cash benefits, for example, free school meals
  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay or Adoption Pay

You may be exempt from the cap if:

  • You qualify for Working Tax Credit
  • You’re above the qualifying age for Pension Credit.
  • You get certain benefits for sickness or disability or a war pension
  • You or your partner have been in employment for at least 50 weeks out of the 52 weeks before your last day of work
  • You or your partner gets a War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension.

See here for who is exempt from the Benefit Cap.

To find out more about the benefit cap, see here.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit (UC) is a means tested benefit for people of working age. It is being phased in gradually.

Universal Credit will replace the following benefits:-

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

The aim of UC is that the benefits system will mimic being in work. It will be paid monthly in arrears.  The rent element of UC will be paid directly to the claimant although it will be possible to have direct payments to the landlord in certain circumstances (and generally only for a limited period of time).

Personal Budgeting Support is available to all Universal Credit claimants – please ask your work coach at the Job Centre if you would like to be referred for help with budgeting or debts.

Lowestoft (Post codes NR32 and NR33, NR34 4xx and IP19 1xx  only) – became ‘full service’ on the 25th May 2016.  This means that ALL new claimants for the above benefits, (including working people claiming housing benefit or tax credits) will be required to claim Universal Credit. The same applies if someone has a change of circumstances (e.g. has another child).  All claims will be on-line.  The online application will form the basis of the claimant’s online account.

Total Universal Credit outside of London is capped at:-

  • £1667 a month if you’re a couple – with or without dependent children
  • £1667 a month if you’re a lone parent with dependent children
  • £1117 a month if you’re a single person without children.

For up to date information on Universal Credit and how it might affect you, see here. Or request advice via our secure online form

 

Help when you start work

You may be able to get additional benefits if:

  • You start a new job; or
  • You increase your hours or wages; or
  • You go back to work after being sick or disabled.

For more information about help you can get when starting work, see this page in Citizens Advice Advice Guide section or request advice.

In-work Benefits

In work benefits are available whether you are employed or self-employed. This section assumes that you are working at least 16 hours a week either in one job or across several jobs.

The benefits you can claim include:

  • Employment Support Allowance (read about thisin Out of Work Benefits section below).
  • Disability Living Allowance (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Personal Independence Payments (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Housing Benefit: help with rent (see Housing Costs section below).
  • Council Tax Reduction (see Housing Costs section below).
  • Child Benefit (read about this in Other Benefits & Credits section below).
  • Health Benefits (read about this in Other Benefits & Credits section below).
  • Working Tax Credits.
  • Child Tax Credits.
  • Statutory Sick Pay (see ‘Pay & Entitlements’ in Employment advice section).
  • Statutory Maternity Pay (see ‘Pay & Entitlements’ in Employment advice section).
  • Maternity Allowance (see ‘Pay & Entitlements’ in Employment advice section).

Working Tax Credit

Subject to your household income you may qualify for Working Tax Credit:

If you’re single or in a couple, and have no children, and:

  • You are 25yrs or over and you work at least 30 hours a week
  • If you are 16yrs or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and you are disabled and in receipt of a qualifying benefit (pdf).
  • If you are 60yrs or over and work at least 16 hours a week.

If you’re single and are responsible for at least one child or young person, and:

  • You are 16yrs or over and you work at least 16 hours a week.

If you’re in a couple and you are responsible for a child or young person, and:

  • You are 16yrs or over and you or your partner works at least 16 hours a week and the two of you work at least 24 hours a week between you in total.
  • You are 16yrs or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and you are disabled and you get a qualifying benefit.
  • You are 16yrs or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and your partner is a hospital in-patient or entitled to Carer’s Allowance or in prison or gets certain disability benefits.
  • You are 60yrs or over and work at least 16 hours a week
  • If you are on maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave and you normally work 16 hours or more, you can claim Working Tax Credit before you go back to work, as long as you are responsible for a child.

Help with child care costs

You may be able to get up to a maximum of 70% of childcare costs provided by a registered child minder, out-of-school club or another approved provider in addition to your working tax credit.

To find out if you qualify for Working Tax Credit and how much you might get, see here.

How to claim Working Tax Credit

To claim Working Tax Credit call 0345 300 3900 (textphone 0345 300 3909).

Child Tax Credit

If you are responsible for a child or young person, and subject to your household income, you may get child tax credits if:

  • You are 16yrs or over and you are responsible for at least one child or young person.

Note: A young person is someone aged up to 20 who is in full-time education up to A level or equivalent, or on or has been accepted for certain approved training courses. You can also get Child Tax Credit for a young person aged under 18 who has registered with the Careers Service, if they have left school within the last 20 weeks.

To find out more about Child Tax Credits, download this fact sheet(pdf)

To find out if you qualify for CTC and how much you might get, use this quick online questionnaire.

How to claim Child Tax Credit

To claim Working Tax Credit call 0345 300 3900 (textphone 0345 300 3909).

Help with Childcare Costs

Child Tax Credit does not include help with child care costs but you may get help if you qualify for Working Tax Credit, see Help with child care costs above.

For other help that may be available with child care, see here.

Out-of-Work Benefits

Out-of-work benefits are available whether you are unemployed or work less than 16 hours per week or retired.

The benefits include:

  • Disability Living Allowance (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Personal Independence Payments (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Housing Benefit: help with rent (see Housing Costs sectionbelow).
  • Council Tax Reduction (see Housing Costs sectionbelow).
  • Child Benefit (read about this in Other Benefits & Credits section below).
  • Health Benefits (see Other Benefits & Credits section below).
  • Child Tax Credits (see section in In-work benefits above).
  • Attendance Allowance (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Carer’s Allowance (see Disability Benefits section below).
  • Pension Credit (see Pensions & Benefits for Older People section below).
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Income Support.
  • Employment Support Allowance.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you are 18 or over and under state pension age (find your state pension age), fit, available for and actively seeking work, you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). If you are under 18 you may be able claim JSA, so contact us for advice. If you claim JSA you may also be entitled to help with your housing costs and council tax [see ‘Housing costs’] and, child tax credit if you have children.

There are two types of JSA:

  • Contribution based (non-means tested); and
  • Income based JSA.

Contribution-based JSA

You may qualify for contribution based JSA if you have been working and paying National Insurance contributions within the last couple of years. Find more information about National Insurance contributions.

Contribution-based JSA is not affected by:

  • Any savings you have.
  • Your partner’s earnings.

But the amount you get may be affected by any part-time earnings or an occupational or personal pension. See Benefits for people looking for work. You only get contribution-based JSA for yourself, if you have a partner and/or a mortgage, you also need to claim income-based JSA. Contribution-based JSA is paid for 182 days (roughly 6 months) after which you will need to claim income-based JSA. Find out more about JSA.

To claim Contribution-based JSA

  • Call the Freephone number Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888

If you need help claiming Contribution Based JSA or need advice about Contribution Based JSA, then you can request advice.

Income-based JSA

You may qualify for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if:

  • You do not have enough National Insurance contributions to get contribution-based JSA;
  • You are not working or working less than 16 hours a week;
  • You have a partner and your partner is not working or is working less than 24 hours a week.

The amount of any Income-based JSA you may get is dependent on your and your partner’s income and savings. Even if you are not entitled to any money it may be worth claiming JSA as you will get National Insurance Credits which may help towards your state pension in the future.

To claim Income-based JSA

Call the Freephone number Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm:

Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888

If you need help claiming Income-based JSA or need advice about Income-based JSA, you can request advice

Income Support

Income Support is an alternative to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for certain people who are not required to be available for work.

You may qualify for income support if you are:

  • A single parent aged under 18;
  • A single parent bringing up a child under five;
  • Getting Carer’s Allowance;
  • Looking after your partner, who is temporarily ill;
  • Looking after a child under 20 for whom you are responsible and who is temporarily ill;
  • Incapable of work because you’re pregnant. Note some pregnant women might be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead [see ESA below].

Note: There are other exceptional cases when you can claim Income Support. If you have no money to live off please request our specialist advice.

For more information about Income Support, you can find it here.

To claim Income Support

  • Call the freephone number Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm:
    • Telephone: 0800 055 6688
    • Textphone: 0800 023 4888

If you need help claiming Income Support or need advice about Income Support, you can request advice.

Employment Support Allowance

You can claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you are 16yrs or over and under your own state pension age and if:

  • You can’t work because of sickness or disability.
  • You are not getting Statutory Sick Pay.
  • You and or your partner are not entitled to Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit.
  • You satisfy certain tests (see Work Capability Assessment below in this section)

There are two types of ESA:

  • Contributory ESA, and
  • Income-related ESA.

Contributory ESA

You may qualify for Contributory ESA if you have been working and paying National Insurance contributions within recent years. Find more information about National Insurance contributions.

You also qualify for contributory ESA, if the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) converts your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance into contributory ESA.

Contributory ESA is not affected by:

  • Any savings you have.
  • Your partner’s earnings.

But the amount you get may be affected by any part-time earnings from ‘permitted work’ or an occupational or personal pension. You may be able to get both Contributory ESA and Income-related ESA, depending on your circumstances.

You can only get contributory ESA for up to 365 days if you are assessed as being in the work-related group, see below.

Income-Based ESA

You can get income based ESA if you do not have the necessary contributions record and if:

  • Your income is less than your applicable amount.
  • Your savings are less than £16,000.
  • You have a partner, and s/he works less than 24 hours per week.

The Work Capability Assessment

Most people are given a face-to-face medical assessment within the first 13 week of claiming ESA. The assessment considers both your physical and your mental health. Find out what to expect at your assessment.

The assessment determines whether:

  • You have limited capability for work and should be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group; or
  • It is not reasonable to require you to work and should be place in the Support Group.

Work-related Activity Group

If you are in the work-related activity group:

To claim Employment Support Allowance

Call the Freephone number Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm:

Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888

To claim in writing you can download a form to fill in.

You will be required to complete a medical questionnaire (form ESA 50). For help completing your ESA 50 or any other help or advice about ESA, you can request advice.

Housing Costs

If you are on a low income, help with your rent, mortgage and council tax may be available to you.

Help with Rent

Housing benefit can help with your rent whether you rent privately, from a local authority such as Waveney District Council or from a housing association.

There are different rules about the maximum benefit you can get depending on whether you are renting privately or from a social housing provider (Local Authority or Housing Association or registered social landlord).

Housing Benefit when renting from a private landlord

This section assumes that you moved in or claimed housing benefit on or after 7th April 2008. If you moved in or claimed housing benefit before 7th April 2008, see here.

The maximum amount of rent that can be used to calculate your entitlement to housing benefit is called the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). Your LHA is determined by the number of bedrooms the rules say you need for your household (the size criteria). If you are single, it is also determined by whether you are 35 or under.

Size Criteria

You are allowed up to a maximum of 4 bedrooms; one bedroom for:

  • Each single adult aged 35 or over or each adult couple.
  • Each single adult entitled to the Severe Disability Premium
  • Every child aged 16 or over.
  • Any 2 children under age 10.
  • Any 2 children of the same sex aged under 16.
  • Any other child.
  • Any carer who does not live in the household but provides regular overnight care to you or your partner (Local Authorities may need to satisfy themselves that this additional room is needed).
  • Foster carers who have fostered or become approved foster parents within the last 52 weeks, irrespective of the number of foster children.
  • Adult children in the armed forces (or reservists) who normally live at home but are deployed on operations.

If you are single and aged 35 or under, the maximum rent that will be used to calculate your housing benefit is the shared accommodation rate.

Note:  Housing Benefit does not cover water charges, charges for heating, hot water, lighting or cooking, and payments for food or fuel if these are included within your rent.

Find out your LHA.

Housing Benefit when renting from a local authority or housing association or registered social landlord

If you are of working age, 18 or over and under your own state pension age, the maximum amount of rent that can be used to calculate your entitlement to housing benefit is determined by special rules about the number of bedrooms you need.  The rules allow one bedroom for:

  • An adult or couple;
  • A young person aged 16 or over;
  • 2 children under 16 of the same gender;
  • 2 children under 10 regardless of gender;
  • A non-resident overnight carer for a disabled person;
  • A severely disabled child who is unable to share a bedroom;
  • Foster carers who have fostered or become approved foster parents within the last 52 weeks;
  • Adult children in the armed forces (or reservists) who normally live at home but are deployed on operations.

Note these rules do not apply if you or your partner have reached pension credit age or if you live in shared ownership accommodation (visit ‘Home ownership’ in our Housing advice section).

If you under-occupy your home, your maximum rent for housing benefits purposes will be reduced by

  • 14% for one bedroom too many.
  • 25% for two or more bedrooms too many.

Note:  Housing Benefit does not cover water charges, charges for heating, hot water, lighting or cooking, and payments for food or fuel if these are included within your rent.

Other help with your rent in either the private or the public sector

If you are struggling to pay your rent you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) for your Local Authority. This is a short-term payment made at the discretion of the Local Authority.

How to claim Housing Benefit

When you claim Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance you should be given a claim form for Housing Benefit at the same time.

If you claim Pension Credit by telephone you can claim Housing Benefit at the same time.

If you are claiming contribution based JSA or contributory ESA or if you want to claim Housing Benefit on grounds of low income you should apply direct to your Local Authority.

More information on Housing Benefit.

To find out how much Housing Benefit you will get or for any advice about Housing Benefit, you can request advice.

Help with Mortgage Costs

If you have a mortgage and /or a loan for repairs on the home you are living in you may get help with these costs if you are receiving income support, income based JSA, income based ESA or Pension Credit.  You do not have to make a separate claim but you should provide the DWP with all the information when you make your initial claim.

You will not necessarily get the full costs and you should note that the payments are usually made direct to your lender.

The rules about claiming help with mortgages and secured loans for repairs to your home are complex and you should request advice

If you have problems paying your mortgage and want information about your options, see here.

Help with Council Tax

Council Tax Reduction Scheme

Your Local Council will have its own scheme, called the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, to help people on low income with their Council Tax bills. Find out about your local scheme from your Local Council or Citizens Advice office.

Note: You may qualify for a discount on your Council Tax.

Disability Benefits

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a non-means tested benefit for people with disabilities who have either care and / or mobility problems.

DLA is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments for all new claims from 13th June 2013 for people aged 16 or over.

You can continue to receive DLA:

  • Until you turn 16; or
  • If you are aged over 65, and you were in receipt of DLA on 8th April 2013, or
  • If you were in receipt of DLA on 13th June 2013 – until either your claim comes up for renewal, you report a change in circumstances

Note: All existing claims for DLA for people aged between 16 and 64 are scheduled to end by 31st March 2016 and be replaced by claims for Personal Independence Payments.

Disability Living Allowance for Children aged under 16

There are two types of DLA:

  • DLA (care) and
  • DLA (mobility).

You can apply for DLA for your child if s/he needs more needs a lot more care, help or supervision than other children of the same age. Your child may qualify for DLA (care), DLA (mobility) or both.

DLA (care)

You can apply for DLA (care) for your child from birth if s/he needs:

  • Help with eating, washing, getting dressed, going to the toilet or communicating their needs.
  • Someone to supervise them to stop them being a danger to themselves or others.
  • Someone with them to help them lead a normal social life.
  • Someone with them when they are on dialysis. S/he must need to have dialysis at least twice a week and if they are an out-patient no member of the hospital staff helps with or supervises the treatment.

Your child only has to have the care need, they do not actually have to be getting the help, to qualify for DLA.

If the child is terminally ill, special rules apply.

There are three rates of DLA (Care) – lower, middle and higher. Our advisers  can advise you about whether your child may qualify and help you to complete the necessary forms.  Contact us if you think that your child may qualify.

DLA (mobility)

You can apply for DLA (Mobility) for your child from when they are 3 years old (higher rate) or 5 years old (lower rate), if s/he cannot walk outdoors on an unfamiliar route without guidance or supervision from another person for most of the time either because s/he has a physical or mental disability.

Examples of qualifying conditions your child may include:

  • Difficulties walking as a result of a physical disability.
  • Mental health problems which affect your child’s ability to walk.
  • Learning difficulties and have only learned familiar routes.
  • Being blind or partially sighted.
  • Being deaf and has not learned how to cope safely with traffic.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Panic attacks as a symptom of a mental disability.
  • Suffering from phobias, obsessive behaviour or have no sense of danger as a symptom of a mental disability.
  • Severe agoraphobia (a fear of being outside).

There are two rates of DLA (mobility) lower and higher. Our Advisers can advise you about whether your child may qualify and help you to complete the necessary forms. Contact us if you think that your child may qualify.

Personal Independence Payments

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) replaced DLA for people aged 16-65 for all new claims form 13th June 2013.

To qualify for PIP you must have met the ‘disability’ conditions for at least 3 months and be likely to continue to meet these conditions for at least another 9 months.

There are two components in PIP. One for assistance with daily living and the other for people with mobility needs. You can apply for either or both components.

The Daily Living Component

To get the daily living component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out some or all of ten ‘daily living activities’. These are:

  • Preparing food.
  • Eating and drinking.
  • Managing your treatments.
  • Washing and bathing.
  • Managing toilet needs or incontinence.
  • Dressing and undressing.
  • Communicating verbally.
  • Reading and understanding written information.
  • Mixing with others.
  • Making decisions about money.

PIP Mobility Component

To get the mobility component of PIP, you must have a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to carry out one or both of the ‘mobility activities’. These are:

  • Planning and following journeys.
  • Moving around.

Each component of PIP is paid at one of two rates, the standard rate or the enhanced rate, depending on the severity of the effect of your disability on you.

Our Advisers can advise you about whether you may qualify for PIP and help you to complete the necessary forms. Contact us if you think that you may qualify. Get more information on PIP.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance (AA) is a non-means tested benefit for older people with care needs who:

  • Are 65yrs or over, and
  • Do not get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Note: You can continue to get DLA (mobility) or PIP (mobility) in addition to AA provided that you claimed these before you reached 65yrs.

You can get Attendance Allowance if you need:

  • Help with eating, washing, getting dressed, going to the toilet or communicating their needs, or
  • Someone to supervise you to stop you being a danger to yourself or others, or
  • Someone with you to help you lead a normal social life, and
  • You have needed this help for at least 6 months.

If you are terminally ill and not expected to live more than 6 months you are automatically treated as having care needs and can claim AA immediately (no waiting period).

You only have to have the care need, you do not actually have to be getting the help to qualify for AA.

Attendance Allowance is paid at one of two rates, the standard rate or the enhanced rate, depending on the severity of the effect of your disability on you.

Our Advisers at can advise you about whether you may qualify for Attendance Allowance and help you to complete the necessary forms. Contact us if you think that you may qualify.

Get more information about Attendance Allowance.

Pensions & Benefits for Older People

Pensions and benefits for older people include:

State Retirement Pension

When you reach state pension age, you can claim a State Pension if you’ve paid enough National Insurance Contributions during your working life. To get the full state pension you must have paid National Insurance Contributions for 30 qualifying years. You may also be entitled to credits towards your State Pension if you’ve looked after children or cared for someone long-term.

In addition to your basic state pension, you may qualify for a State Second Pension.

To find out how much State pension you will get and the date you will qualify for your State pension, see here.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is a benefit for people who have reached state retirement age. Find out your state retirement age. You do not need to have paid any National Insurance contributions to get Pension Credit and you can get it whether or not you are still working.

Pension Credit is made up of guarantee credit and savings credit. You may be entitled to guarantee credit, savings credit, or both.

Guarantee credit is for people on low income. It tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level.

You may get savings credit if you only have a small amount of income or savings.

To claim Pension Credit call

  •  0800 991 234 (Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm)
    Textphone: 0800 169 0133 or
  • Download a form.

Get more information about Pension Credit if you’re over 60yrs.

Our Advisers can advise you about Pension Credit, calculate how much you may be entitled to and help you to apply – request advice now.

Annual Winter Fuel Payment

You can get a tax free winter fuel payment if you have reached your state retirement age by the third Monday in September for the winter in question. You do not have to make a claim, these payments are usually made automatically.

Get more information about Winter Fuel Payments.

Our Advisers can advise you about Winter Fuel Payments – request advice now.

Other Benefits & Credits

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is a tax-free benefit paid to most people who are responsible for children aged under 16, or a young person aged under 20, if they are still in full-time education up to A level or equivalent, or on certain approved training courses. You may also get Child Benefit for a young person who has been accepted on a course.

You do not need to have paid any national insurance contributions to get Child Benefit and you can get it regardless of your income. However, if either you or your partner earns £50,000 or more per year you may have to pay extra tax if you chose to continue to get Child Benefit. For more information about Child Benefit for high earners, see Child Benefit and tax if you have a high income.

Our Advisers at NESCAB can advise you about whether you qualify for Child Benefit, help you to claim and advise you about any other Child Benefit issues – request advice now.

Maternity Grant

You may get a Maternity (Sure Start) grant of £500 to help with the costs of your new baby if:

  • You or your partner are pregnant, or have given birth;
  • You’re the parent (but not the mother) of the baby or you are responsible for that parent, and you are responsible for the baby. The parents must not be partners when you make the claim;
  • You’ve been given an adoption or residence order;
  • You’ve been appointed as Guardian of the baby;
  • You’ve had a baby by a surrogate mother and you’ve been given a parental order;
  • An adoption agency has placed a baby with you for adoption;
  • You’ve adopted a baby from overseas; and
  • You, or your partner, are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

The qualifying benefits for a Maternity Grant are:

  • Income Support;
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Pension Credit;
  • Universal Credit;
  • Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element;
  • Working Tax Credit where there is entitlement to a disability element.

Applying for a Maternity Grant

You can apply for a maternity grant from the eleventh week before the baby is due, and up to three months after the baby is born/ comes into your care. Note – where you take responsibility for the child, for example  through adoption or a residency order, the child must be aged 12 months or under when you make your claim.

The form for claiming a Maternity Grant, SF100 (Sure Start) is available from your local benefits office or online. Get more information about Maternity Grants. Our Advisers can advise you about whether you qualify for a Maternity Grant, help you to claim, and advise you about any other Maternity Grant issues – request advice now.

Bereavement Benefits

If you are married, or in a registered civil partnership, and your partner dies, you may be able to get extra financial help. In Scotland, this includes people who had an ‘irregular marriage’ i.e. you lived with someone as husband and wife and you were ‘irregularly married’ before 3rd May 2006.

Bereavement benefits include:

Our Advisers can advise you about whether you qualify for any Bereavement Benefits, how to apply and advise you about any other Bereavement Benefit issues – request advice now.

Help in a Crisis or an Emergency

Budgeting Loans

Budgeting Loans will be available until the introduction of Universal Credit. They will then be replaced by ‘Budgeting Advances.’

To be eligible for a budgeting loan you or your partner need to be in receipt of:

  • Income Support;
  • Income-based JSA;
  • Income-based ESA, or
  • Pension Credit guarantee, and

You must have been getting one of the above benefits in the last 26 weeks. Gaps of up to 28 days are ignored.

Note: You cannot get a budgeting loan if you have been disqualified from receiving JSA under Section 14 of the Job Seeker’s Act 1995 (trade disputes).

Budgeting Loans can help you pay for:

  • Furniture and household equipment.
  • Clothing and footwear.
  • Rent in advance and/or removal expenses to secure fresh accommodation.
  • Improvement, maintenance and security of the home.
  • Travelling expenses.
  • Expenses associated with seeking or re-entering work (for example, a suit to wear at interview).
  • Maternity or funeral expenses.
  • Hire purchase and other debts which were taken out for expenses in one of the other categories.

To apply for a Budgeting Loan, ring 0845 603 6967 or download the form.

Send the completed form to: Jobcentre Plus, Chesterfield BDC, Brightside Lane, Sheffield, S99 1AN.

Our Advisers can advise you about whether you qualify for a Budgeting Loan Grant, help you to claim and advise you about any other Budgeting Loan issues – simply request advice now.

Short-term Advances of benefit

If you are claiming any contributory or income related benefit (e.g. Job Seeker’s Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and Income Support), you may be able to get a Short-term Advance of benefit to help you through a period of time (e.g. before receiving their first payment of benefit). You’ll need to show that you or your family are in financial hardship. These advances will be recovered from your future benefit payments.

Short-term Advances of benefit may also be available to you if you have a change of circumstances that will:

  • Increase the amount of benefit to which you are entitled;
  • Where the first payment of benefit is made in respect of a period shorter than that in respect of which subsequent payments will be made (e.g. the first payment is made in respect of a week and the next payment is due to be paid in two weeks’ time and will be made in respect of those two weeks); or
  • In cases where it is impractical for benefit to be paid on the due date (e.g. due to a technical problem in processing the claim or payment).

Our Advisers can advise you about whether you qualify for a Short Term Benefit Advance, help you to claim and advise you about any other Short Term Benefit advance issues – request advice now.

Social Fund – Funeral Costs

If you have to pay for the funeral of your partner (whether your wife or husband, your civil partner a partner with whom you were co-habiting) or your child, you may be able to get a funeral payment to help with the essential costs of the funeral if you are in receipt of certain benefits. You do not have to repay a funeral payment, although it can be recovered from the estate of the person who has died.

You may also get a funeral payment to help with the funeral costs of a close relative or friend but if there is someone who is closer or equally close to the person who has died and who is not on benefits the Job Centre will expect them to pay for the funeral.

You can claim a funeral payment if you or your partner is getting one of the following:

  • Income Support.
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
  • Housing benefit.
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
  • Pension Credit.
  • Child Tax Credit, if your award is high enough.
  • Working Tax Credit including an extra amount for disability.
  • Universal Credit.

Your capital (for example, savings) doesn’t affect a funeral payment. A funeral payment will not cover all the costs of a funeral. It will also not pay for expenses which are already covered under a pre-paid funeral plan.

Otherwise, a funeral payment can include:

  • The costs of a new burial plot or the costs of cremation.
  • The cost of transporting the body for the return journey between the funeral home or place of rest and the place where the person died. But only if this journey is over 50 miles. Only the part of the journey over 50 miles will be paid for.
  • The cost of transporting the coffin and one car of mourners to the funeral, but only if the return journey is over 50 miles. Only the part of the journey over 50 miles will be paid for.
  • The cost of one return journey for you to attend or arrange the funeral.
  • The cost of getting documents to release the assets of the person who has died.

A funeral payment can also include up to £700 for other expenses, including:

  • The funeral director’s fees.
  • Flowers.
  • The cost of collecting and transporting a body 50 miles or less.
  • Extra religious requirements.

You can claim a funeral payment from the date of death up to three months after the date of the funeral, even if you have already paid the funeral bill.

You can claim by:

  • Phoning the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Bereavement Service. They can take a claim for a funeral payment and bereavement benefits over the phone. They can also do a benefit check to see if the next of kin is entitled to any other benefits as a result of the death
  • Contacting your local Jobcentre Plus office for a claim form SF200.

Our Advisers can advise you about whether you qualify for a Funeral Grant , help you to claim and advise you about any other Funeral Grant issues – request advice.

Local Welfare Assistance

Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants were abolished in April 2013. County Councils and Unitary Authorities were allocated funds to help people in crises. To find out more about your local scheme contact your local council authority or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Citizens Advice North East Suffolk is an emergency gateway for the Suffolk County Council Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. We can assist clients to apply for items such as furniture, white goods and bedding and we may also issue food and fuel vouchers on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

Foodbanks

If you at struggling to feed yourself or your family you may be able to get help from a foodbank where you can get up to 3 days worth of food for your household. The Trussell Trust Charity runs a network of foodbanks across the UK. You usually have to get a voucher from someone like your GP, social worker, support worker or a Citizens Advice office. To find your nearest foodbank, visit www.trusselltrust.org or ask your local council.

We can issue foodbank vouchers for the local foodbanks in Waveney and South Norfolk – get in touch.

Cold Weather Payments

Cold weather payments are automatically paid to people in receipt of certain benefits – see below. Each postcode area in the country is linked to a weather station and payments are made for periods when the weather station forecasts or records an average daily temperature of zero degrees centigrade or less for seven consecutive days. The payment is £25 for each period of cold weather.

You will be entitled to a cold weather payment if you get Income Support, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, or income based Employment Support Allowance, for at least one day during the period of cold weather and:

  • You have a child under five in your family, or
  • You have a child for whom you get Child Tax Credit with an extra amount for their disability, or
  • You get an extra amount for disability or for being over state pension age and you don’t live in a care home.
  • You will also be entitled to a cold weather payment if you  are getting income based Employment Support Allowance and get a support component or work-related activity component and you don’t live in a care home, or you are getting Pension Credit and don’t live in a care home.

Charitable Support

There are a number of charities that can help you. Charities support different groups of people and/or different needs. To find out if there is a charity that can help, see here.


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