What benefits can I claim?

Five young people are standing side by side with their arms around each other. One young person is holding a baby, one is wearing a head covering and another is wearing a yarmulke.

For times when life is being a general pain in the arse, benefits are there to help. Whether you’re struggling with the increase in cost of living or you have a disability which makes it difficult to work, there is financial support out there. Whatever your situation, we want to make sure you have access to the support you deserve. 

What are benefits and how do they work?

Benefits are payments from the government that help people on low incomes or with specific needs. If you’re eligible for benefits, you can apply for them on the government website. You don’t have to pay benefits back, but you may have to do certain things to make you eligible for the money. For example, if you’re claiming Universal Credit while looking for work, you will be expected to attend regular meetings with your work coach to help you find work.  

What benefits can I get if I can’t find work or am on a low income? 

If you’re able to work but struggling to find a job, you should check to see if you’re eligible for Job Seeker’s Allowance. The amount given depends on your age and will stop as soon as you find work. 

If you’re working but you can’t get many hours, or you’re on a low income and need help with your living costs, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. The amount of money you’ll receive depends on your circumstance – for example, whether you have a job or whether you have a child. 

What benefits can I claim if I have a child?  

There are quite a few different benefits available for people with children or about to have children. Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave is paid through your employer and is there to support you during the later stages of pregnancy and the early stages of having a baby. 

If you are self-employed or have recently stopped working, you’ll be eligible for Maternity Allowance and if you’re unemployed and have a baby on the way, you may be able to claim Universal Credit. 

Child benefit

Once your child is born, you’ll be able to claim Child Benefit, which is £21.80 a week for your first child and £14.45 a week for any children after that. Most people are entitled to it provided they don’t earn over 50K. There are various other benefits available depending on your circumstances, for example, if your child has a disability or they live with someone else. For a run down of all the different support available when you have a child, take a look at this government page. 

Childcare & nursery

All 3 and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours of free nursery or childcare each year. This is usually taken as 15 hours each week for 38 weeks of the year. The support available can depend where you live, and you can find out what is available in your local area here.

Some 3-4 year olds may be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare each week for 38 weeks of the year. Your eligibility depends on whether you are working, what your income is and your immigration status. There are also different schemes for other parts of the UK. You can find out more on the government website, here.

Free school meals

If your child is in a government funded (state) school and is in reception, year one or year two, they will be entitled to infant free school meals.

If your child is in year three or above, they may also be entitled to free school meals if you are receiving certain benefits. For the full details and to apply for free school meals for your child, head to this government page.

What benefits can I get if I am disabled or have an illness?

If you have a disability or are unwell for a long period of time, working may not be an option for you. In addition to Universal Credit, you may be eligible for Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance.

As you can imagine, there are lots of different circumstances related to illness or disability which result in people needing financial support. To see more info on all the different support available, take a look here.

What benefits can I claim if I’m a carer? 

As a carer, it can be hard to find the time to work alongside your caring responsibilities. Therefore help is on hand in the form of Carer’s Allowance or Carer’s Credit. You may also be eligible for Universal Credit, but the amount you receive can be affected by any other benefits you receive. 

What benefits can I claim if I’m at uni? 

Benefits for uni students depend on your personal circumstances, such as your income and any savings you may have. You may not be able to get benefits if the money you get through your student loan is too high. 

It’s not easy to get benefits while in higher education, but you may be able to access benefits if you have a child, don’t have parental support or have a disability. You can find more details on benefits for students here

I find the benefits system so confusing – help!

You are not alone! The benefits system can certainly be a tricky one to navigate. But don’t let that put you off. A good way to find out what benefits you’re eligible for, is by using a benefits calculator. They’re pretty straightforward and will tell you what you can apply for. 

Alternatively you can contact Citizen’s Advice or Turn2Us for advice over the phone about what benefits you may be eligible for and how to apply for them.  

Next Steps

By Holly Turner

Updated on 20-Oct-2022

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