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.
If you are currently in receipt of any means-tested benefits, it is advisable to get independent advice and support before making a new claim for Universal Credit. Once a claim for Universal Credit is made, it is not possible to return to your previous means-tested benefits, even if you are worse off or not entitled to Universal Credit.
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 which is currently the same for both women and men at the age of 66. 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.
If you are a couple who are living together in the same household as partners and one of you is over State Pension age and the other below State Pension age, you are called a 'mixed age' couple for claiming social security benefits. Since 15 May 2019 this has affected which means-tested benefits mixed age couples can make a new claim for. If you have been continuously in receipt of either Pension Credit or Housing Benefit under the pension age rules since 15/05/19, you can still make a new claim Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. If you are not in this protected group, you can only make a new claim for working age means-tested benefits until the younger member of the couple also reaches state pension age, this will usually be a claim for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is replacing most working age means-tested benefits. You can no longer make a new claim for the following working age, means-tested, 'legacy' benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Tax Credits - Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit (unless you live in temporary accommodation or certain types of supported accommodation)
If you are currently in receipt of one of these 'legacy' benefits and have a change in circumstances, this does not always mean you have to make a new claim. For example if you are in receipt of Housing Benefit and move to a new address in Swansea, this is a change of address for your existing Housing Benefit claim. If you are in receipt of Child Tax Credit and you start working enough hours, your existing Tax Credits claim can include Working Tax Credit. Please get advice and support if you are unsure whether you should stay on your current benefits or make a new claim for Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is not replacing contributory or 'New-Style' Employment and Support Allowance or 'New-Style' Jobseeker's Allowance. Entitlement to these are based on your National Insurance contributions, if you have been working and paid or been treated as having paid national insurance contributions at some point over the last three years you should check if you are eligible. Contributory benefits are not means-tested and therefore can be claimed if you or your partner have other income or capital. They can also be 'topped up' by Universal Credit.
If you need help to make a claim contact Citizens Advice.
Universal Credit can be claimed whether you are in or out of work and includes a standard allowance for you (and your partner if you are living together), plus extra amounts for dependent children, extra if your child is disabled, your rent, if you are a carer, if your health or disability prevents you from work related activity and if you have childcare costs.
To claim Universal Credit you (and you partner) must accept a claimant commitment. Your claimant commitment will set out your 'responsibilities' and what your work-related requirements are according to your situation. The default position is that if you are not currently working then you need to be actively seeking and available for work, unless your circumstances mean this should not apply. Citizens Advice has guidance for you to check whether you have been placed in the right work related activity group and guidance on what you can do if you have been sanctioned for not doing work-related activity.
Council Tax Reduction is not being replaced by Universal Credit and can be claimed if you are on a low income and/or in receipt of other means-tested benefits.
More information about Universal Credit:
- Universal Credit (GOV.UK)
- How could Universal Credit help you? (Understanding Universal Credit)
- How to claim Universal Credit: step by step (GOV.UK)
Personal Independent Payment (PIP)
If you are aged over 16 and under 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 means-tested and can be paid whether you are in or out of work.
To qualify for PIP you must have had difficulty with your mobility or getting to places and/or difficulty managing daily tasks for the previous 3 months and expect to have these difficulties for the next 9 months. The assessment looks at two mobility activities and ten daily living activities and you have to score enough points from descriptors in the activities to qualify for either the standard or enhanced rates of mobility and/or daily living.
More information and how to claim:
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (GOV.UK)
- The Citizen's Advice website has all the information you need on PIP, including how to make a claim, the process, help available to complete the form and the assessment: Personal Independence Payment (Citizens Advice)
- Most people will be referred to Capita for and need to have an assessment by a health professional, Capita has details of what to expect in an assessment: PIP assessment process (Capita)
- Find advice and support on benefits
Claiming New-Style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit when you are incapable of work
If you have recently been working and come to the end of entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be entitled to 'New-Style' Employment and Support Allowance.
New-Style ESA is based on your National Insurance contributions, is not means-tested and is paid just for yourself. It can be topped up by means-tested Universal Credit for extra amounts for your partner, children, housing costs etc.
If you are incapable of work due to sickness or disability, you can ask for this to be taken into account in your Universal Credit claim (either to top up ESA or just claiming UC). This is important for Universal Credit as if you are found to have limited capability for work, you will not be expected to be available for and actively seeking work and if you are found to have limited capability for work related activity, you will have no work-related requirements.
More information and how to claim:
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) (GOV.UK)
- Check if you can claim ESA (Citizens Advice)
- Getting Universal Credit if you're sick or disabled (Citizens Advice)
To start a claim for ESA or to be accepted as having limited capability for work for UC, you will need to submit sick notes. For ESA you will automatically be sent an ESA50 form as part of the 'Work Capability Assessment'. For UC, if you have submitted a sick note lasting for 4+ weeks or after you have submitted sick notes for 29 days, your work coach should refer you for a Work Capability Assessment and a UC50 form to be sent to you - if you are not sent the form, then ask your work coach to send you one via your online journal.
The Citizens Advice has a detailed guide on filling in the ESA50 form, which also applies to the UC50 form: Fill in the ESA capability for work form (Citizens Advice)
Most people will also need to attend an assessment. The Health Assessment Advisory Service has guidance on what will happen at the assessment: Health Assessment Advisory Service
Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
This is a benefit for people who have become disabled following an accident at work or are suffering from a 'prescribed' disease which has been caused by the work that they did. It is not a means-tested benefit and can be paid at the same time as New-Style ESA.
Carer's Allowance is a benefit that can be claimed by carers who are providing care for 35 hours a week, have low earnings, are not in full-time education and the person they are caring for receives a disability benefit (Attendance Allowance; Disability Living Allowance with the middle or higher rate care component; Personal Independence Payment with either rate of the Daily Living Component).
Universal Credit - Carer Element
If you receive Universal Credit, are caring for 35 hours a week and the person you are caring for receives a disability benefit you might be able to receive an additional element within your Universal Credit award.
The word 'care' has not been defined and can include emotional support.
More information on Carer's Allowance and the Carer Element of Universal Credit:
BEWARE: If you receive a payment of Carer's Allowance or the Carer Element within your award of Universal Credit, it could have a significant financial impact on the person you are providing care to.
Please seek advice before making a claim.
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.
Statutory payments are made by your employer and you must give your employer the correct notice.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is the minimum amount an employer must pay a 'qualifying' employee for up to 39 weeks. Your employer may well have a more generous scheme as part of your terms and conditions. SMP counts as income for means tested benefits, but the first £100 is ignored for Tax Credits and SMP is treated as earnings for Universal Credit (this means it is reduced any work allowance you qualify for and the 'taper'). To be eligible you need to have been working for the same employer for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks up to (and including at least 1 day of) the 15th week before your Expected Week of Confinement. Maternity pay and leave (GOV.UK)
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) has similar conditions to SMP, except that you have to be at least 21 (you cannot adopt below that age and the adoption has to under UK law and surrogate arrangements can be eligible). Either partner in a couple can claim - the other partner could get Statutory Shared Paternal Pay. Payment is on the same basis as SMP and can be paid for up to 39 weeks. Adoption pay and leave (GOV.UK)
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) has similar conditions to SMP except that payment is for only 1 or 2 complete weeks (your choice). The earliest it can be paid is from the child's date of birth or the date of the child's placement for adoption, and the latest is 8 weeks after those dates. Paternity pay and leave (GOV.UK)
Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) allows eligible new parents to share both their statutory pay between them. Although it has been available since 2015, the take up rates have been very low. If you both qualify for ShPP, it can be shared between you over a 37 week period after SMP, MA or SAP has been paid for two weeks. You can both be paid at the same time, but only a total of 39 payments between you (only 37 of these payments can be for SsPP) eg: if your partner has already received 30 weeks SMP, there is only 9 weeks' worth of ShPP left for you. Shared Parental Leave and Pay (GOV.UK)
Maternity Allowance is paid to women who have been working but do not qualify for SMP. This might be because you're self-employed, have become unemployed, haven't been with your employer long enough to get SMP, or earning were too low to qualify for SMP. Maternity Allowance (GOV.UK)
You are eligible for Child Benefit if you're responsible for a child under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training) and you live in the UK. It is important to be aware that the 'two child limit' does not apply to Child Benefit. Child Benefit is usually ignored as income for means-tested benefits, it can act as a key to unlock or speed up claims for other benefits for children and is important in determining how many bedrooms you require for help to pay your rent through Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
Child Benefit is a non-means tested benefit, but it is now 'affluence-tested' if either you or your partner individually have 'adjusted net income' over £50,000 by what is called the 'High Income Child Benefit Charge'. Basically this means if you or your partner has income over 50k, you will be charged extra tax which will gradually increase to 100% of the value of your Child Benefit when your individual income is over £60,000. You can choose to either not claim or continue to be paid Child Benefit, but then will need to register and complete a 'Self-Assessment' tax return, even if you previously never had to enter the world of HMRC self-assessments.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children
If your child is under 16 and suffers from a longer-term illness, a disability, learning difficulties, mental health problems or a behavioural disorder, they may qualify for DLA. Entitlement to child DLA is based on whether due to the child's disability or health condition they need substantially more attention to care for them or supervision to keep them safe than a child their age would generally need or a child without a disability/health condition would need or their mobility is significantly limited.
DLA is not means-tested and entitlement can result in you also receiving extra money from means tested benefits such as Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit and mean you are exempt from the benefit cap. Depending on the rate of DLA the child is entitled to, it could also mean you are entitled to Carer's Allowance for looking after them.
We have a freephone number for people to call for advice and support: 0800 112 4763.
Pension Credit is a means-tested benefit, and a new claim can be made when both you and any partner you live with are both over state pension age, which is currently 66 (get advice if you have a younger partner and have been receiving Housing Benefit under the pension age rules since May 2019, as you may still qualify).
Entitlement depends on what other income and capital you and any partner have. There is no capital limit, however, the first £10,000 of your capital is ignored completely and any capital over this figure will affect the amount of Pension Credit that you are entitled to. Pension Credit can be claimed to top up your income from your State Pension or other income you have and extra amounts can be included in the calculation if you are disabled, a carer or are looking after dependent children. You can submit a claim up to 4 months before reaching state pension age.
The new State Pension
The New State Pension replaced the basic State Pension for all claimants who reach retirement age on or after 6 April 2016. It is not means tested, so entitlement isn't affected by any other income or savings. It does not include any additional amounts based on your income.
Like the previous basic State Pension, entitlement depends on having paid or been credited with the correct level of national insurance contributions. But unlike basic State Pension there is no entitlement based on your spouse or civil partner's contributions record (except in some very limited circumstances), there is just one type of the new State Pension.
The basic State Pension
The basic State Pension is paid to those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016. This means a man born before 6 April 1951 or a woman born before 6 April 1953. As long as you reached pension age before this date, you are still eligible to make a claim, even if you have not done so yet.
If you reached your pension age on or after this date, you are not able to claim the old Basic State Pension and instead need to claim the new State Pension. The basic State Pension is not means-tested and so entitlement to it does not depend on your income or savings being below certain limits. It does depend on your National Insurance contributions or those of your husband, wife or civil partner. It is a taxable benefit.
Age Cymru have information about the State Pension and lots of other helpful advice on a wide variety of subjects in their guides and factsheets: Age Cymru West Glamorgan
Attendance Allowance is a benefit for people over state pension age who have a physical or mental illness or disability which means that they need help with personal care during the day and/or at night or need someone to keep an eye on them to help keep them safe. You do not actually have to be receiving this help, you just need to show that help is reasonably required.
Attendance Allowance is not means-tested and entitlement can result in you also receiving extra money from means tested benefits such as Pension Credit and can allow someone who is looking after you to claim Carer's Allowance.
Age Cymru's website has lots of advice and tips for claiming Attendance Allowance: Age Cymru West Glamorgan
The Citizens Advice website also has detailed help on filling in your Attendance Allowance claim form: Citizens Advice Swansea / Neath Port Talbot
If you would like help completing the Attendance Allowance form and have a social worker or support worker then they may be able to help you. A list of organisations who may be able to help is available on: Find advice and support on benefits
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.
Universal Credit for people in education
Although most students are not entitled to claim Universal Credit, there are some exceptions: Universal Credit and students (GOV.UK)
For young adults who remain in non-advanced education after the September following their 19th birthday (often due to disability or special needs): Universal Credit for young people receiving education (Contact)
Citizens Advice can help with what benefits you are entitled to whilst you look for new work.
Employment, training and jobs help:
Details of your redundancy rights: Your rights during redundancy (ACAS)
ACAS also have a helpline open Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 6.00pm, 0300 123 1100.