Benefits you can claim if you are not working or only working a few hours a week
If you are not working, or only working a few hours a week, there are several benefits you may be able to claim. However, remember that if you have come from another country to the UK, you may not be able to claim certain benefits, or your right to claim may depend on your circumstances. The benefit cap may reduce your benefits by reducing your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit if your total benefits would otherwise be more than the cap.
All parts of the UK have now switched over to Universal Credit (UC). This means that you will not be able to make a new claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Tax Credits or Housing Benefit, you will have to claim UC instead. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if you have reached State Pension age or if you are in receipt of a Severe Disability Premium.
Benefits for you
Any new claim for benefits if you are not working and you are able to look for work will be a claim for Universal Credit. However, you should check in case you are able to claim any another benefit which is not work related. For example, if you are a parent and care for a disabled child, you may be able to claim Carers Allowance and Disability Living Allowance
As the benefit system changes, you may be told that you have to claim Universal Credit if you make a new claim for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Working Tax Credit.
Benefits for your children
As well as benefits for yourself, you may need to claim benefits for your children, such as Child Benefit . You can no longer make a new claim for Child Tax Credit (unless you are in receipt of the severe disability premium) you will be told to claim Universal Credit instead.
If you are pregnant or have a child under four, you may be able to claim Healthy Start vouchers to help with the costs of milk, fruit or vegetables.
If you are pregnant with your first baby or have recently had your first child, you may be entitled to the Sure Start Maternity Grant. If you are based in Scotland you may be entitled to Best Start Grant – pregnancy and baby payment instead.
Benefits for housing or council tax
You will be told to claim Universal Credit if you make a new claim for Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
If you are already in receipt of Housing Benefit it may help towards payment of your rent. If you pay a mortgage, some benefits can include help towards the mortgage, usually after a waiting period of 13 weeks (39 weeks from April 2016). For example, this help can be included in Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and income-based Employment and Support Allowance.
Council Tax Reduction can help you with the costs of your council tax bill. This is a separate application to Housing Benefit. Council Tax Reduction depends on your local authority (council) and so you should check on their website to find out more. Council Tax Reduction is not being replaced by Universal Credit so you can receive it while also claiming UC.
Checking your benefit entitlement
You can check your benefit entitlement online by using the Turn2Us or EntitledTo calculator. This is a free tool which helps you check which benefits you may be entitled to now, and will also give you an indication of your future Universal Credit entitlement if applicable. If you need more information, you can ring the Working Families helpline for more advice.
This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.