Benefits and support for your household
The benefits that you may be entitled to depend on your circumstances.
You can use an independent benefits calculator, entitledto to check what benefits you could get. The calculator will give details of your estimated benefit entitlement.
Further information about the different benefits available, qualifying criteria and how to claim are available on GOV.UK. You can download claim forms or you may be able to make an online claim for certain benefits.
If you or someone you support does not have access to the internet at home, there are computers that can be booked at libraries and some libraries have free Wi-Fi and courses to help you get online.
Highlighted below are the most common benefits you may qualify for and links for further information.
Universal Credit – the amount you get will depend on how much you earn and what other income or savings you have.
If you are already receiving "legacy" tax credits (Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit), you may wish to consider changing to Universal Credit instead.
Warning: Some people could be worse off of on Universal Credit. Please read about moving to Universal Credit from other benefits before making a new Universal Credit claim if you are currently receiving other benefits.
For people of working age, help with rent is available through Universal Credit. Some existing claimants may qualify instead via the Housing Benefit scheme from local district councils, but working age people cannot normally make a new claim for Housing Benefit and you should get help via Universal Credit instead. People of state pension age can continue to get help with rent via Housing Benefit.
The help towards your rent from Universal Credit or Housing Benefit will often not cover the full amount of the rent you have to pay, for example because of rent restrictions, your income or the presence of other people who live with you. Local councils have the power to award you additional money to make up the shortfall, these are called Discretionary Housing Payments. These can be awarded at the council's discretion and are often only made for temporary periods. Find out more about Discretionary Housing Payments on GOV.UK.
A limited amount of help with mortgage interest (in the form of a loan) is available via the Support for Mortgage Interest scheme. You normally have to be receiving a means-tested benefit such as Universal Credit for 9 months before being eligible.
Each council is responsible for their own Council Tax Support scheme and eligibility criteria vary from council to council for residents under state pension age. Most councils base eligibility on your income and capital (means-tested). Each council also has a separate exceptional hardship scheme for people who already receive some Council Tax Support, but are still in financial difficulty.
To find out more about your local schemes you should contact the local council which you pay your Council Tax to.
More information about the different benefits available, qualifying criteria and how to claim is available on GOV.UK.
Some other websites that provide information about benefits are:
- PIP information - a detailed guide to Personal Independence Payment regulations and case law
- WCA information - a detailed guide to Work Capability Assessment regulations and case law
- UC information - a detailed guide to Universal Credit regulations, guidance and case law
- Citizens Advice - Benefits and debt advice
- National Debtline - Independent debt advice
- Shelter - Independent housing advice