Income Maximisation (Welfare Benefits)


If you have no income, or are already on state related benefits, you may be missing out on benefits that you are entitled to.

To get an estimate of what benefits and tax credits you may be able to claim and also find out how your benefit would be affected by a change in circumstances (e.g. if you find work). Please visit www.gov.uk online.

Housing Benefit

If you are struggling to pay your rent and fall into the following three categories, you could claim Housing Benefit:

  • You're on a low income or claiming benefits
  • You have a rental liability (you pay rent)
  • Your savings are below a certain level - usually £16,000

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you're unemployed or working. Housing Benefit can pay for part or all of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances:

  • If you rent privately or social housing landlord
  • Whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in council or social housing
  • Your household income and circumstances (including your partner's). Income includes money from savings (over £6,000), benefits and pensions.
  • If you're single and under 35, you can only get Housing Benefit for bed-sit accommodation or a single room in shared accommodation.

Council Tax

Are you paying the right amount of Council Tax? You could be eligible for discounts on your bill.

Council Tax Reduction

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and fall into the following categories, you may be eligible to claim Council Tax Reduction:

  • You're on a low income or claiming benefits
  • Your savings are below a certain level - usually £16000
  • You have a liability to pay Council Tax at your address

Disabled Person's Reduction

If you have certain facilities in your home because you have, or someone who lives with you has a disability, you may be entitled to a reduction in your Council Tax bill. In this context 'Disabled person' means a person who is substantially and permanently disabled. They can be an adult or a child and do not have to be responsible for paying the Council Tax bill. This reduction means your property will be considered in the valuation band immediately below the actual band shown in the valuation list.

You may be eligible:

  • If you have an additional bathroom or kitchen to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • If a room (other than bathroom, kitchen or toilet) to meet the needs of, and used mainly by, the disabled person. The room or wheelchair must be essential, or of major importance, to the disabled person's well being due to the nature and extent of their disability.
  • If extra space inside the property to allow for the use of a wheelchair. Wheelchairs for outdoor use only are excluded. An extra room does not need to have been specially built, but your home will not qualify for a reduction unless the room is essential or of major importance to the disabled person.

Single Person's Discount

If you are the only adult living in a property which is your sole or main residence you are entitled to a discount of 25%.

Disregarded Person's Discount

People in the following groups do not count towards the number of adults living at a property:

  • Full time students
  • Student nurses
  • Apprentices and youth training trainees
  • Patients in hospital
  • Patients in care homes
  • People who are severely mentally impaired
  • People who are staying in certain hostels or night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year olds who are still at school or have just left school
  • Care-workers working for low pay (usually for charities)
  • People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • Members of religious communities (e.g. monks and nuns)
  • People in prison (except those in prison for non payment of Council Tax or a fine)
  • People aged over 18 and entitled to child benefit
  • Members and dependants of visiting forces
  • Non British spouse of students
  • Diplomats

The bill for a property where one of two residents is not counted will be the same as that for a property with only one resident, i.e. you will receive a 25% discount.

Students

Students who are exempt from the Council Tax charge can fall into one of four different categories:

  • A student enrolled on a full-time course of education, lasts for at least one academic year or calendar year. To be considered full-time the student is normally required to attend for periods of at least 24 weeks in a year, undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which together in each academic or calendar year amount to an average of at least 21 hours a week. Where a course includes periods of work experience, it is not treated as a full-time course of education unless the hours of study and tuition exceed the number of hours of work experience when aggregated for the course as a whole.
  • A student under 20 years of age undertaking a qualifying course of education. The course requires at least 12 hours per week to be spent on relevant activities on the course. It must last for at least 3 months and must not be Higher Education.
  • A school or college leaver, a person who is under the age of 20 and has left school or college on or after 1st May. This exemption applies to the period from 1st May to 31st October in the same year. This applies even if the school/college leaver does not go onto full-time education or they find employment immediately after leaving school/college. School and college leavers can continue to be exempt if they go on to some other form of further or higher education.

To qualify for an exemption a spouse, civil partner (or those living together as though they were civil partners) or a dependant of a student must:

  • Not be a British citizen, and
  • Be prevented by immigration regulations from either taking paid employment or from claiming benefits whilst living in the UK.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credits are based on the hours you work and get paid for, or expect to be paid for. It doesn't matter if you're employed or self-employed, but unpaid work doesn't count as work when claiming tax credits. Check if your work can help you qualify for Working Tax Credit.

For more information go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

If you or your partner have a disability and usually work 16 hours or more a week, you could get extra Working Tax Credit. This is called the 'disability element'.

For more information go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

To calculate if you may be entitled to Working Tax Credits please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Child Tax Credit

You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you're responsible for if they're:

  • Under 16
  • Under 20 and in approved education or training

You don't need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.

You get money for each child that qualifies and Child Tax Credit won't affect your Child Benefit. To find out more please visit www.gov.uk.

How much you get depends on your circumstances - you can use the tax credit calculator to work this out. This can be found at www.gov.uk.

Support For Carers

If you are a carer you may be able to get Carers Allowance to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs.

  • You don't have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
  • You need to be aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.

Further information on Carers Allowance can be obtained by visiting www.gov.uk.

If you're caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week, you could get Carer's Credit. This is a National Insurance credit that helps build your entitlement to the basic State Pension and additional State Pension. It makes sure there are no gaps in your National Insurance record. Please visit www.gov.uk for more information.

For further advice and support for carers and the people they care for please contact Carers UK on 0808 808 7777, Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm alternatively you can visit their website at Carers UK.

If you are an overnight carer and the person you care for is in a Housing Association property and under occupying the property, they may be able to have a bedroom allocated for you.