No matter how old you are or the nature of your challenges, if you need financial help it is important you get what you are entitled to.
The UK provides more than £100bn in benefits each year. Recipients include the young, the old, the sick and the disabled. They also include people who are retired, veterans, widows, parents, unemployed, working on low income, and more.
Unfortunately, many people are not claiming all of their various benefits and tax credits. Too often, this is because the benefits systems are complex and changing rules mean people are not aware of what they are eligible to receive.
Find out what benefits you are entitled to
If you think there are benefits you are entitled to, or worried you are missing out on more assistance, you can use Entitled To. This is an independent, anonymous and free online service to help you earn what national and local benefits you qualify for.
If you are impacted by Covid-19, such as made sick, self-isolated or earning less, you should check what benefits you can get. If you are already receiving benefits, there may be changes from the virus that affect what you can receive and the conditions you have to meet. Visit Citizen’s Advice for details.
What benefits can I claim? How?
There are many kinds of benefits that fall into several categories. At a high level, the following are some benefits that many people become eligible for at some stage of life.
This benefit is available to people who are unemployed or on a low income. Recipients receive a monthly payment to cover living costs. This benefit pays a standard allowance, although you may be entitled to more if children and disabilities are a factor. Check if you are eligible here.
Find out how much money you are eligible for with a universal benefit calculator. A universal credit calculator will also show how your benefits will be affected if you start work.
To use the calculator, you need information about your income, savings, council tax bill and existing benefits. It will also ask about your regular outgoings. Use Money Dashboard to easily find and categorise this information.
Child benefit and benefits for families
Child benefit is a monthly payment to help with the cost of children. To qualify, you must be responsible for a child under 16 years old (or up to 20 if still in education or training). Benefits start at £21.05 a week for a first child, plus £13.95 for each additional child. Details about claiming are available on Gov.uk here.
Other family benefits around maternity and paternity leave and childcare are also available. For example, if you are pregnant, you can start receiving a maternity allowance as early as 11 weeks before the due date. More details about eligibility and amounts can be found here.
Heating and housing benefits
Housing benefits are available to help you pay rent if you are unemployed, on a low income, receiving severe disability premiums, have reached state pension age, or are living in supported or sheltered temporary housing. This is being gradually replaced by Universal Credit. There are a number of exemptions, so take a close look at the housing benefits information page on Gov.uk.
Heating benefits, or cold weather payments, help to cover heating bills. Recipients get £25 for each full week of weather below 0 degrees Celsius between 1 November and 31 March. (Winter fuel payments are a different benefit.) If you are receiving pension credit, income support or universal credit, you may be entitled.
Jobseeker allowance benefits
When you are between jobs, you may be entitled to a Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). This is a weekly benefit payment if you also meet age, income and savings requirements. The allowance goes up to £58.90 per week for people under the age of 24 and £74.35 for those 25 or over.
You must be able to prove that you are actively looking for work in order to receive payment. You can apply for JSA online.
Other types of benefits
If you are in particular circumstances, such as a recent bereavement, disability, caring for others, living abroad, or even in the armed forces or a veteran, there are tailored benefits and tax credits designed to support you.
To determine what claims benefits might apply to you, review the Gov.uk page. Be sure to check that the benefits apply to your country of residence, as England, Scotland and Wales often have slightly different rules.