Find out about statutory welfare benefits for people in different situations.
If you are not sure if you qualify for any benefits you can use an independent benefits calculator to check.
Means-tested benefits can be paid to people depending on their level of savings or income and can be paid either in or out of work. Other benefits are available based on your circumstances such as being disabled or a carer.
For most of these benefits you will need to make a claim through the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) rather than the council. Information on how to claim is provided for each benefit.
You are considered working age if you are 16 or older and younger than the state pension age. If you are age 16 or 17 the rules for benefits are complex and you should ask for independent advice on any benefits you may be able to claim. Working age claimants can be placed in one of three groups:
- claimants who are not currently ready or able to work which could be due to sickness or caring responsibilities
- claimants who are considered to be work ready
- claimants who are already in work.
The main working age benefits include:
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseekers Allowance
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Reduction
- Universal Credit
- Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independent Payment (PIP)
If you are aged between 16 and state pension age and need help with the extra costs of disability or long term health conditions you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment. PIP is non taxable, non means tested (it doesn't matter how much other income or savings you have); payable on top of other benefits and can be paid whether you are in or out of work. You will be assessed on daily living and mobility difficulties.
If you would like help completing the PIP form and have a social worker or support worker then they may be able to help you. You could also ask a local disability or mental health support agency. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on our Find advice and support on benefits page.
The Citizens Advice website also has detailed help on filling in your PIP claim form.
Disability Living Allowance for children (DLA)
You may be able to claim DLA if your child is under 16 and:
- needs more care, attention or supervision than a child of the same age who doesn't have a disability or health condition, or
- has difficulty walking or getting around outdoors in unfamiliar places.
DLA is also non taxable and non means tested so doesn't matter how much other income or savings you have.
If you would like help completing the DLA form and have a social worker or support worker then they may be able to help you. You could also ask a local disability or mental health support agency. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on our Find advice and support on benefits page.
The Citizens Advice website also has detailed help on filling in your DLA claim form.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
You might be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have difficulty working because you're sick or disabled. This is called having 'limited capability for work'. After you have made a claim for ESA, you are sent an ESA50 form which asks for more details about how your illnesses affect your daily life.
You will usually be required to attend a medical assessment. It is advisable to take someone with you to ensure that you provide a full account of your illness/disability and how it affects you. If you fail to attend this assessment without notifying Medical Services with a good reason, you will be found fit for work.
If you would like help completing the ESA or ESA50 form and have a social worker or support worker then they may be able to help you. You could also ask a local disability or mental health support agency. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on our Find advice and support on benefits page.
The Citizens Advice website also has detailed help on filling in your ESA claim form.
There are different types of benefits, allowances and grants available to you if you have children or are about to have or adopt a child. Many of these depend on your circumstances so we recommend you get independent advice if you are not sure what you can claim. The Gov.uk website has lots of useful information on the benefits available to families.
Maternity pay and allowance
If you are pregnant and in employment then you should be entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay. To qualify you must be earning at least £120 a week, have worked for the business for 26 weeks and given the correct notice to your employer. Speak to your employer and make sure you have given the correct notice of your pregnancy.
Some jobs give you contractual maternity pay as a benefit of working there. What you get depends on your employer, but you should never be worse off than if you just got statutory maternity pay. Check your contract of employment and the maternity policy of the business you work for.
If you are not eligible for statutory maternity pay then you may be able to claim maternity allowance. Your employer must explain why you are not eligible for the statutory maternity pay.
You can find more information on maternity pay and allowance on the Citizens Advice website.
If you are adopting a child through an adoption agency then you may be entitled to adoption leave and pay. You should speak to your employer about the business's adoption policy. You may also be eligible for statutory adoption pay.
The Citizens Advice website has information on adoption leave and pay.
If your child is under 16, or aged 16 to 20 and still in education or training, and you are responsible for them then you should be able to claim Child Benefit. It is paid every 4 weeks and there is no limit on the amount of children you can claim for. The amount you receive will depend on the amount you and your partner earn and how many children you have.
If you would like help completing the Child Benefit form and have a support worker then they may be able to help you. You could also ask a local support agency. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on our Find advice and support on benefits page.
The Citizens Advice website also has lots of information on how to claim for Child Benefit.
Other child and family benefits and grants
There are other benefits and grants you may be elgible for if you have children. If your children are below school age you may be able to get help with child care costs. If your children are of school age you may be able to claim free school meals and school uniform grants as well as child care costs for outside of school hours. Details of many of these benefits and financial support for families are available on the Gov.uk website. If you aren't sure what you can claim then speak to an independent advisor. There are lots of organisations that can help. Citizens Advice also have detailed guidance on benefits on their website.
Older people in Swansea are missing out on Pension Credits that could be worth around £55 a week. Swansea Council has a free phone number for people to call for advice and support: 0800 112 4763.
If you are over state pension age and have a disability or illness that makes it hard for you to look after yourself you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance. this benefit isn't just for people with a physical disability or illness. It can help with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you.
If you would like help completing the Attendance Allowance form and have a support worker then they may be able to help you. You could also ask a local disability or mental health support agency. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on our Find advice and support on benefits page.
The Citizens Advice website also has detailed help on filling in your Attendance Allowance claim form.
The benefits system does not consider foster children (that is, children who are 'looked after' by a local authority) to be 'dependent' children within the foster carer's family. This means that foster carers cannot claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, child additions within Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, or the child elements in Universal Credit for any looked after children. You should however be paid a fostering allowance by the relevant local authority. Any fostering allowances you receive are ignored as income when calculating entitlement to other benefits you are claiming.
If you have a special guardianship order or a child arrangement order, the children are not classed as looked after children because you have parental responsibility. This means that the children are considered to be dependent children and you can claim claim Child Benefit, Child Tax Credit, child additions within Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, or the child elements in Universal Credit. You may be able get Guardian's Allowance, if so in most cases it is disregarded as income for the purposes of means-tested benefits. Being in receipt of benefits may affect the amount the local authority decides to pay you.
When the young person reaches the age of 16, they may have entitlement to benefits in their own right - any claim would affect your entitlement to the benefits you claim for them (though your fostering allowance should not be affected).
The bedroom tax applies to social housing (council or housing association) and the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) applies to those who are in private rented. In both, there is a determination of the number of bedrooms that you require and this number will be used to calculate how much Housing Benefit you are paid or how much of the Housing Costs Element you will receive in Universal Credit. Under this scheme one additional bedroom is provided to foster parents regardless of the number of children they foster or the children's relationships to each other. You could find that you have three foster children but are only able to receive help for one bedroom.
If you have a shortfall between your rent and the amount awarded in your Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, you should apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). You will have to show income and expenditure to account for why you are not able to cover the shortfall, and your fostering allowance will be taken into account as income when the DHP application is considered.
Disability and carer's benefits
If your foster child is under 16 and has an illness or disability, they may meet the conditions for Disability Living Allowance (DLA). You can make the claim for DLA for the child and it will be paid to you, but because the benefit is for the child or young person, if the child moves out of your care, the benefit moves with them (remember you will need to notify the DWP of a change like this).
If the young person is over 16, they may meet the conditions for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The claim is made by and paid to the young person unless they have an appointee.
If the middle or higher rate of the care component for DLA, or the daily living component of PIP, is awarded, you may be able to claim Carers Allowance (CA) if you meet the conditions. This should not affect your Fostering Allowance.