Financial Support for Single Parents
Many people are not aware of all the benefits and support they are able to apply for. Some are available to all single parents. Others are dependent on income and other circumstances.
If you are pregnant or a single parent looking after a child under 5, working less than 16 hours a week, have less than £16,000 in savings and living on a low income or without an income you may be able to claim Income Support.
Universal Credit is the new benefit that is replacing a range of previous benefits. At present. it is only running in certain areas of the UK, but will be rolled out across the country.
Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit can be paid if you are on a low income, whether you are working or whether you are claiming benefits. If your income has reduced due to ill health or disability, you may become entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit or you may be paid at a higher rate than you were getting before. Contact your local authority to make a claim. If you have a spare bedroom your housing benefit may be reduced, learn about Bedroom Tax.
Help to pay mortgage interest
If you are receiving Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance an amount can be added to your benefits to help pay the interest (but not the capital). This can include help towards ground rent, some service charges and interest on loans for essential home improvements.
You must have been claiming one of these benefits for at least 13 weeks before you can start to receive help with your mortgage interest. When you make your claim for these benefits tell Jobcentre Plus that you also want to claim help with your mortgage interest. They will send you a form to fill in and take to your mortgage lender, who will complete it and send it back to Jobcentre Plus.
Working Tax Credit
If you work at least 16 hours a week, but on a low income, you may be entitled to claim Working Tax Credits.
If you claimed Working Tax Credit before being absent from work due to ill health or disability, you can continue to claim it for up to 28 weeks. You may also qualify for an extra amount of money called a disability element when you return to work. If you did not qualify for Working Tax Credit before, you may qualify if your income drops when you are on sick leave. To qualify, you must have worked at least 16 hours a week before your sick leave.
Statutory Sick Pay
This is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks for a period of sickness lasting four days or more. Some employers may also pay you occupational sick pay on top of this as part of your contract of employment. You must provide a medical certificate to your employer to get Statutory Sick Pay.
Other benefits you could claim
If you claim income support you may also be able to claim the following benefits. Some of these benefits are also available to single parents who are not on income support.
- Child benefit
You can claim Child Benefit if you have a child under 16, or under 20 if they are in full time non-advanced education (e.g. sixth form or further education college) or on approved training.
- Child tax credit
If you get income support you should receive the maximum amount of child tax credit, the actual amount depends on how many children you are responsible for. If you used to claim tax credits as a couple, tell HMRC about your change in circumstances straight away.
- Help with rent
You can apply for housing benefit to help with the cost of your rent at the same time as applying for income support or you can make a claim directly to your local council. Housing benefit is available if you live in private rented, local authority or housing association accommodation.
- Help with council tax
If you are the only adult in your home who has to pay council tax, you qualify for a 25 per cent discount on the bill. If you get income support you should also get council tax benefit to help with the rest of the bill. Apply at your local council or at the same time as claiming income support.
- Extra help with rent and council tax
If you get housing benefit or council tax benefit but need extra financial help to pay the bill, you can ask your local council for a top-up payment. This is called a discretionary housing payment. You do not have an automatic right to these payments; it is up to your local council to decide. If you can, get advice before you apply.
- Prescriptions and health costs
If you get income support, you can get free prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, glasses, fares to hospital, wigs and fabric supports. You can also get free help if you claim child tax credit and your income is under a certain limit.
- Cold weather payment
If you get income support and have a child under five, or you get the disability or severe disability element of child tax credit, you should automatically receive a cold weather payment. These are paid in periods of very cold weather as defined by the government.
- Free school meals
If you get income support or child tax credit but not working tax credit, and have a household income below a certain limit, your child may be entitled to free school meals. Some income, such as child maintenance, is not counted.
- School uniforms
It is up to your local council what, if any, help they give with the cost of school uniforms. Contact the education department at your local council.
- Funeral expenses
If you are arranging a funeral you may qualify for a payment to help with the cost. The money may have to be paid back from the deceased’s estate if possible.