Our in depth UK benefits list explores the different types of benefits and who's eligible to receive them.
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Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be entitled to receive benefits to help with financial pressures. Let's get stuck into some of the main UK benefits and the criteria you'll need to meet to receive them.
Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit supporting people of working age on a low income. This replaces these six existing means-tested benefits: Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Housing Benefit. If you already receive one of these benefits and your circumstances change, it's recommended you seek advice prior to claiming Universal Credit.
To claim Universal Credit, you must
Universal Credit can be applied for online through the Government website.
If you're unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week, you may be eligible for New Style Jobseekers Allowance.
This is a contribution-based benefit so you can receive the payment if you've paid enough Class 1 National Insurance contributions in the two full tax years before the calendar year of your claim. The benefit is paid for up to 182 days.
The main difference between Universal Credit and Jobseeker's Allowance is that your savings and investments aren't taken into consideration for Jobseeker's Allowance (unless you have a private pension). You can also claim for both payments simultaneously.
If you're aged 25 and over, the weekly rate is £84.80 and if you're aged 18 to 24, the rate is £67.20.
ESA is a benefit for people under State Pension age who have limited capability to work due to an illness or disability and aren't already receiving statutory sick pay.
Similarly to Job Seeker's Allowance, it's a contribution- based benefit as you must have paid enough Class 1 or 2 National Insurance Contributions during the last two full tax years prior to the year you claim.
New Style ESA doesn't take into consideration your or your partner’s income and savings, although pension payments may affect this.
As with JSA, the weekly amount is £84.80 if you're 25 and over and £67.20, if you're aged 18 to 24. You can also apply for ESA and Universal Credit simulatenously, providng you meet both criteria.
Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit for people who are on low income and have reached State Pension age. This benefit tops up your weekly income to the following basic amounts for 2023/24:
As with Universal Credit, additional payments are paid if you're severely disabled, or are a carer for someone who is.
You may also be eligible for other means-tested benefits such as Housing Benefit, Support with Mortgage Interest, and Council Tax Support.
Housing Benefit is provided through your local council and is a means-tested benefit to help people on low income pay rent.
A claim for Housing Benefit can be made if:
If you don't fall into one of these categories and require assistance with your rent, you should claim Universal Credit.
Discretionary Housing Payment is available to claim through your local council and can be provided to assist with rent shortfalls if you're already in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit where a housing element is included for rental costs.
Assistance can also be applied for to help with costs of starting a tenancy such as a rental deposit or rent in advance if you need to move. To apply for this benefit, visit your local councils website.
To qualify for a Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan, you need to receive one of the following:
You can start getting a loan:
Support with Mortgage Interest is provided as a loan and the repayment depends on your circumstances when the house is sold, or ownership is transferred. Therefore, you'll have to pay interest on this payment.
This benefit is provided by your local council and is a means-tested benefit to help people on a low income with their Council Tax bill. The support you receive depends on your local council’s rules, although they are broadly similar across the country. Council Tax support is:
For further details, visit your local council’s website.
Disability Reduction Scheme for Council Tax (Disabled Band Reduction Scheme)
Your Council Tax bill can be reduced if you or somebody in your home is ‘substantially and permanently disabled’ and you have:
If any of these apply, the bill for your home will be reduced to the next lowest band. If you are already in an band A property, you'll have your bill reduced by 17%. Contact your local council for further details and an application form.
People who are severely mentally impaired are not included in the calculation of Council Tax liability. To qualify for this benefit:
You also need to receive one of these benefits:
If you meet the criteria and live with one other person who isn’t severely mentally impaired, you'll receive a 25% discount on your Council Tax. If everyone in the house has a severe mental impairment, an exemption for the whole property is applied and you won’t have to pay Council Tax.
If you're considered severely mentally impaired but live with two or more adults who aren't severely mentally impaired, you won't receive a Council Tax discount. To apply for this benefit, contact your local council.
If you're a live in carer for someone other than your husband, wife, civil partner or your child if they're under 18, you're classed as being disregarded as an occupant of the property. You are classed as being disregarded as an occupant of a property if you are a live-in carer looking after someone. The person you care for cannot be your husband, wife, civil partner or your child under 18. If you care for a child under the age of 18, you can be disregarded if you're not their parent.
You must care for the person for at least 35 hours a week and they must receive one of the following benefits:
The carer does not have to receive Carer’s Allowance to be disregarded.
Care workers living at a property may also be disregarded for Council Tax purposes.
To be classed as a care worker, you need to:
PIP is a benefit for people aged between 16 and state retirement age who have additional care needs due to illness or disability. If you're in receipt of PIP before you reach state retirement age, your claim will continue past State Pension age if your additional care needs remain.
PIP is a non-means-tested benefit, so your income and savings aren't taken into consideration. There are two parts to PIP - a daily living and mobility component. The daily living element is for the extra help you need with everyday tasks such as preparing meals, washing, dressing, and managing money whilst the mobility element considers how far you can walk and any difficulties you may have with making journeys.
If you're awarded this benefit, you should check to see if you're eligible for other means-tested-benefits or disability discounts.
The weekly rates for the Personal Independence Payment in 2023/24 are:
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is a benefit for children under 16 who have additional care or mobility needs due to illness or disability. There are additional age rules in relation to the mobility element of DLA.
DLA has two components - the personal care component and mobility component. It is non-means tested so income isn't taken into consideration.
The weekly rates for 2023/24 are:
Attendance Allowance is for people who've reached state pension age and are:
This benefit is available to people who live on their own or with others and is not dependent on whether the assistance that is needed is being provided. It's also a non means-tested benefit so income is ignored.
If you receive this benefit, it's worth checking what other means-tested benefits or disability discounts you may be eligible for.
The weekly rates for Attendance Allowance in 2023/24 are:
Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who provide more than 35 hours of informal care for those in receipt of the following benefits:
You must also:
The weekly rate for this benefit in 2023/24 is £76.75 a week. Before claiming Carer’s Allowance, make sure you seek professional advice as it can impact on the benefit entitlement of the person you're caring for. Receiving this payment may also mean you're entitled to receive other means-tested benefits.
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We support the wellbeing ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. If you think you may be entitled to receive benefit support but aren't sure about eligibility, we can help. Contact our team of advisors to discuss further.
The benefits system is complicated and legislationis often changing, so if you're unsure about anything, we recommend seeking expert advice in relation to your personal situation.
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