A brief guide to benefits
Understanding the benefit system and completing the necessary paperwork can sometimes be a daunting experience. Here at the Welfare Benefits Information Centre, our aim is to simplify matters for you and to help you receive any benefits which you may be entitled to.
Social security benefits
The following headings give a brief overview of social security benefits.
Please note this is general information and in order to find out what benefits you may be entitled to please contact us.
Click on the heading for more information:
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Allowance
- Bereavement Payment
- Budgeting Loan
- Crisis support scheme
- Carers Allowance
- Child Tax Credit
- Child Benefit
- Cold Weather Payment
- Council Tax Support Scheme
- Discretionary Housing Payment
- Disability Living Allowance for children
- Employment Support Allowance
- Exceptional Hardship Fund
- Funeral Expenses Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
- Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- National Health Costs
- Moving from benefits to work
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
- State Pension
- Sure Start Maternity Grant
- Universal Credit
- War Pension
- Winter Fuel Payments
- Working Tax Credit
This is a tax free, non-contributory and non-means tested benefit paid to people aged 65 or over whom have needed help with personal care for at least 6-months. There are two rates of benefit depending on the amount of care and assistance required.
Special rules apply to people who are terminally ill and they do not need to satisfy the 6-month qualifying rule before making an application.
This is taxable, contributory, non-means tested and payable up to the 52nd week from the late spouse's death. This is a weekly benefit payable to widows and widowers who are aged between 45 and state pension age.
This is a tax free, one off lump sum of £2,000, payable when the late spouse/civil partner has paid a certain level of national insurance contributions. It is non-means tested. You must have been under state pension age when your spouse/civil partner died, unless they did not qualify for a Category A State Pension.
This is an interest free repayable loan which can only be used to cover specific needs.
It is only payable to people who have been in receipt of income support, pension credit or income based jobseeker's allowance for at least 26 weeks.
The care and urgent needs support scheme is run by Lancashire County Council (LCC) and provides support for the people of Lancashire. It has replaced the community care grant and crisis loan schemes operated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
This is a taxable, non-contributory and non-means tested benefit which is payable to someone who is caring for a severely disabled person.
The disabled person must receive attendance allowance, constant attendance allowance, or the middle to highest rate care component of disability living allowance.
This is administered by HMRC. You can get child benefit if you are responsible for a dependent child or qualifying young person and you pass the residence and presence test. There is no lower age limit for the child and it can ordinarily only be backdated 3 months. Child Benefit is tax free and does not depend on your income or savings or whether you stay at home with the child. You do not have to be the parent. You may be entitled where:
- a Dependent Child is under 16
- a Qualifying Young Person is under 20 who is in full time, non advanced education
- under 18 and has recently left education or training - but they must have registered for work, education or training with a careers service, Connexions or local authority support services, Ministry of Defence or similar
- Child Benefit is no longer taken into account as income for any new claims for IS, JSA (IB), ESA (IR) or any claim for HB/CTB
This is administered by HMRC. It is an income related, tax free payment for people, whether working or not, who are responsible for children. To obtain a claim pack telephone 0845 300 3900.
This is paid during periods of very cold weather to certain groups of people. It is normally paid automatically when the temperature is recorded or forecast to be 0°c or below over seven consecutive days.
For more information see GOV.UK - Cold Weather Payment.
The government has abolished Council Tax Benefit. In its place we have developed our own local Council Tax Reduction scheme, called the Council Tax Support scheme. However, the amount of funding available to councils has been cut so there has been a 20% reduction in benefit for all working age customers claiming this benefit.
Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) can be applied for by people who rent their home and qualify for some Housing Benefit already. We can give you a DHP if you "appear to the authority to require some further financial assistance........ in order to meet housing costs".
DHP's are discretionary (no one has a right to one) as is the amount of DHP and the period for which it is granted, which is usually on a short term basis.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:
- is under 16
- has difficulties walking or needs more looking after than a child of the same age who doesn't have a disability
For more information and to find out how to claim see the GOV.UK - Disability Living Allowance for children page.
Disability Living Allowance for adults has been taken over by the Personal Independence Payment.
If you're ill or disabled, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers you:
- financial support if you're unable to work
- personalised help so that you can work if you're able to
You can apply for ESA if you're employed, self-employed or unemployed. You must go to a Work Capability Assessment while your ESA claim is being assessed.
For more information see the GOV.UK - Employment and Support Allowance pages.
For those in need of assistance with paying their council tax, an exceptional hardship fund (EHF) is available.
To claim you must be in receipt of Council Tax Support and the fund is intended to help in cases of extreme hardship only.
For more information see our Exceptional Hardship Fund page.
These are lump sum payments to provide help with the cost of a simple funeral; they are tax free and non-contributory but repayable from any estate of the deceased. They can be claimed depending on the circumstances of the person making the claim and not on the circumstances of the deceased. Claims should be made within three months of the date of the funeral.
Only a person who is in receipt of certain qualifying benefits may qualify.
This is a non-taxable, non-contributory, means tested benefit paid by the local authority to help cover or pay towards rent. The amount you can claim will depend on your personal circumstances. See the Housing Benefit page for more information.
Incapacity Benefit is being replaced with GOV.UK - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
You'll be reassessed if you're already claiming Incapacity Benefit, to decide if you're capable of work or eligible for ESA.
You may be able to get Income Support if you meet all the specific conditions including:
- you and your partner have no income or a low income
- you're working less than 16 hours a week
- you haven't signed on as unemployed
The actual amount you get depends on your circumstances. For more information see the GOV.UK - Income Support pages.
You might get Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) if you're ill or disabled:
- from an accident or disease caused by work
- while you were on an approved employment training scheme or course
The amount you may get depends on your individual circumstances. For more information see GOV.UK - Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
To claim GOV.UK - Job Seekers Allowance you have to be available for and actively seeking full time employment. How much you get depends on your circumstances and the type of JSA you qualify for.
To qualify for JSA you usually have to be:
- 18 or over (but below State Pension age)
- able and available for work
- meet the GOV.UK - Other rules for eligibility
When you apply for JSA, you must go to an interview to complete your claim.
To find out how to claim and to apply online visit the GOV.UK - Job Seekers Allowance - How to claim page.
If you have a low income, you may be able to get help with NHS costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). The scheme covers:
- prescription costs
- dental costs
- eye care costs
- healthcare travel costs
- wigs and fabric supports
For more information and to find out how to apply visit the NHS - Low Income Scheme page.
Pension Credit is an income-related benefit made up of 2 parts - Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit.
- Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income if it's below a certain amount
- Savings Credit is an extra payment for people who saved some money towards their retirement, eg a pension
PIP helps with some of the extra costs caused by ill-health or a disability. What you'll get is not based on your condition but on how your condition affects you. For more information see the Personal Independence Payment page.
You can get support from Jobcentre Plus to help you prepare for, find and stay in work, including:
- training, guidance and work placement programmes
- work experience, volunteering and job trialling schemes
- help with starting your own business
- help to combine work with looking after children or caring responsibilities
- extra help for specific problems
You may also be able to keep getting some benefits once you start working.
For more information see the GOV.UK - Help with moving from benefits to work page.
The basic State Pension is a regular payment from the government that you can get when you reach State Pension age. Use the GOV.UK - State Pension calculator to work out when you'll reach State Pension age.
The State Pension is changing and the GOV.UK - New State Pension applies if you're eligible and:
- a man born on or after 6 April 1951
- a woman born on or after 6 April 1953
You could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant.
You usually qualify for the grant if:
- you're expecting your first child - or you're expecting a multiple birth (eg twins) and have children already
- you already get certain benefits
You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within 3 months after the baby's birth.
You don't have to pay the grant back and it won't affect your other benefits or tax credits. For more information see the GOV.UK - Sure Start Maternity Grant page.
Universal Credit is replacing certain benefits. You may be able to claim if you're on a low income or out of work. For more information see our Universal Credit page.
The war pensions scheme is separate from the Department of Work and Pensions and is administered by the veterans agency.
GOV.UK - Armed forces pension is paid either as a tax free lump sum or a weekly amount to someone who has a disability that is due to or has been made worse by serving in HM armed forces at any time, not just during war time.
GOV.UK - War widows/widowers pension is tax free, non-contributory, non-means tested and is payable at either lower or higher rate. It is payable to both men and women whose spouses died because of service or war injury. Claims should be made within three months of the date of death of the spouse as any delay may affect the claim.
This is a one off annual payment to help towards your winter fuel bill. It is payable to people who have reached pensionable age even if they are not in receipt of other benefits.
For more information see GOV.UK - Winter Fuel Payments.
You could get Working Tax Credit if:
- you're aged from 16 to 24 and have a child or a qualifying disability
- you're 25 or over, with or without children
- work a certain number of hours a week
- get paid for the work you do (or expect to)
- have an income below a certain level
For more information and to find out how to claim see the GOV.UK - Working Tax Credit pages.