Dealing with Welfare Benefits

What is welfare benefits and who can help you to access them?

The “welfare benefits”, also called social security benefits, is a form of financial support from the government for people who are (1) unemployed/looking for work (2) employed but on a low income, or (3) have specific costs to meet because of their personal situation.
 
The social benefits system is often found difficult to grasp and navigate around by people who approach it for a first time: indeed, your eligibility for different types of benefits and the amount of money you can receive depend on a number of factors (your savings, the number of adults and children in your family, their age and health condition, other benefits you already receive). This is why, if you struggle to understand what benefits you are entitled to receive, we would recommend that you acquire one-to-one advice which considers closely different aspects of your individual circumstances.
 
The agency which deals with claims for welfare benefits is Jobcentre Plus. You can also contact Jobcentre Plus to request an assessment of your eligibility for benefits. Find the contacts of your nearest office by following this link.
 
! You can always book a FREE one-to-one advice consultation with Action for Social Integration`s experienced legal advisers by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk. If your case falls outside our area of expertise, we will do our best to refer you to the most relevant advice institution and, if you ask us to, will always agree to acquire advice on your behalf.

You might be entitled to benefits if one of the following applies to you:
– You are on a low income  (either employed or looking for work)
– You have dependent children
– You are ill or disabled
– You are caring for someone
– You are aged 60 or over
– You have been bereaved
– You are pregnant or have recently had a baby

Another important thing to know, if you consider applying for benefits, is that the financial support you receive under different schemes within the social benefits system, is designed to help you with different types of expenses. For example, the Housing Benefit is designed to allow people on a low income to pay all or parts of their home rent, while a Council Tax Benefit is meant to help you with paying your Council Tax bills. There are other benefits which are more closely related to employment: the Jobseekers Allowance scheme, for example, allows you to get financial support if you are unemployed but available and looking to work.
 
The Tax Credits are another form of financial aid from the government for people in a low income: if you are working but are on a low income you might be entitled to receive Working Tax Credit. If you are responsible for at least one child or a young person who normally lives with you, you might be eligible for a Child Tax Credit.
 
For a more detailed outline of the range of benefits you can apply for, the differences between them, application requirements and the institutions you will need to contact, please have a look at the following benefits schemes: 

Income Support
It provides money for basic living expenses to certain groups of people who are not required to be available for work. For example:
• People looking after children on their own (called single parents or lone parents)
• People looking after someone who cannot look after themselves (called carers)
• People who are not able to work because of health reasons (called incapable of work).
To claim Income Support you must be under 60 and over 18.Child BenefitYou can get Child Benefit if you are responsible for a child aged under 16, or a young person under 20 if they are still in full time education or on certain training courses. This is not affected by how much money you have or if you are working.

Jobseeker`s Allowance
It is a benefit for people who are unemployed but capable of work.
To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must show that you are looking for work. JSA provides money for basic living expensesWorking Tax Credit If you work more than 16 hours a week you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit. This depends on your circumstances and how much money you have each week.

Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit
If you are working but living on a low income you may be entitled to some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit to help you with the costs of rent and council tax. You will normally be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit if you are receiving Income Support or Jobseeker`s Allowance.  You claim these benefits from your local authority, also called local council, not from a Jobcentre Plus office. If you are renting accommodation from a private landlord you may be entitled to Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

Child Tax Credit
is a payment for people who are responsible for at least one child. You do not need to have a very low income to get some help from Child Tax Credit. Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit are paid by HM Revenue and Customs.

You can easily find out what benefits you are entitled to by using this online Benefits Adviser provided by the government`s digital information services. All you will have to do is answer anonymously a set of questions about your income, savings and outgoings. Similarly, to assess your eligibility for Tax Credit, fill in the following online Questionnaire.
 
If you struggle with filling in these questionnaires, please contact us by calling 02088036161 or emailing us at advice@afsi.org.uk and we will do it for you!
 
Alternatively, for an A to Z list of all available benefits click here.

 


 

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