The following pages will give you basic information on benefits, entitlements and maintenance for single parents. We have also listed useful organisations who will be able to give you further information.

Income Support

What is Income Support?

This is extra money to help people on a low income.

It is for people who don't have to sign on as unemployed.

This could be if you are:

  • sick or disabled
  • a lone parent responsible for a child under 12 years of age
  • a carer, or
  • registered blind.

Can I get Income Support?

It is for people who:

  • are 16 to 59 years old
  • have a low income
  • work less than 16 hours a week
  • are not in full-time study
  • do not get Jobseeker's Allowance
  • do not have savings above £16,000, and
  • live in Great Britain

Employment and Support Allowance

What is Employment and Support Allowance?

Employment and Support Allowance replaced Incapacity Benefit and Income Support, paid because of an illness or disability, for new claims from 27 October 2008. If you are currently receiving these benefits you will continue to receive them, so long as you continue to satisfy the entitlement conditions.

Although, Employment and Support Allowance will initially be for new customers only, you will be fully eligible for the work-focused help which will be available with the Employment and Support Allowance and can access this on a voluntary basis.

Employment and Support Allowance is a new way of helping people with an illness or disability to move into work, if they are able.

There is evidence which shows that people are better off in work, not only financially, but in terms of their health and well-being, their self-esteem and the future prospects for themselves and their family.

Employment and Support Allowance offers you personalised support and financial help, so that you can engage in appropriate work, if you are able.

It gives you access to a specially trained personal adviser and a wide range of further services including employment, training and condition management support, to help you manage and cope with your illness or disability in a work context.

Central to Employment and Support Allowance is the new medical assessment called the Work Capability Assessment which assesses what you can do, rather than what you can't, and identifies the health related support you might need.

Most people claiming Employment and Support Allowance will be expected to take appropriate steps to help prepare for work, including attending a series of work-focused interviews with their personal adviser.

Under Employment and Support Allowance if you have an illness or disability that severely affects your ability to work, you will get increased financial support and will not be expected to prepare for a return to work; however you can volunteer to do so if you want to.

Tax Credits

Tax credits are payments from the government. If you're responsible for at least one child or young person who normally lives with you, you may qualify for Child Tax Credit. If you work, but earn low wages, you may qualify for Working Tax Credit.

Who can get tax credits?

Nine out of ten families with children get tax credits, but you don't need to have children to qualify. You may also qualify if you are working and earning low pay.

How much do you get?

The amount of tax credits you get depends on things like:

  • how many children you have living with you
  • whether you work - and how many hours you work
  • if you pay for childcare
  • if you or any child living with you has a disability
  • if you're aged 50 plus and are coming off benefits

Your payments also depend on your income. The lower your income, the more tax credit you can get.

Example 1

Mr and Mrs Khan both work full-time. Between them, they earn about £25,000 a year. They have three children. They get about £87 a week in tax credits.

If their income was higher, and they earned about £50,000 a year, they’d get about £10 a week instead.

Example 2

Jon Barry is aged 30, not married and lives alone. He works full-time and earns £10,000 a year. He gets about £24 a week in tax credits.

How tax credits work

If you're married or living with a partner you'll need to make a joint claim for tax credits. You can only make a single claim if you don’t have a partner.

The Tax Credit Office pay tax credits directly into your bank, building society, Post Office® or National Savings account if it accepts Direct Payment - either weekly or every four weeks.

Who gets the payments?

If you're both working and you both qualify for Working Tax Credit, you can decide who'll get the payments.

If you’re claiming Child Tax Credit and you’re in a couple you need to decide which one of you is the children’s main carer. If you’re the main carer then the money will be paid to you.

How tax credits payments work

The tax credits payments you receive are based on your current personal circumstances and your income from the tax year that ended on the 5 April 2009.

If you’re making a new claim for tax credits your payments will usually run from the date of your claim to the end of the tax year. For example, if you make a claim on 10 November 2009, your payments will be worked out from that date until 5 April 2010.

Each year during April, May and June the Tax Credit Office write to you asking you to:

  • check the information they have about your personal circumstances
  • confirm the income you received in the year that has just ended
  • renew your claim

This helps the Tax Credit Office to check that the payments they have made to you were correct. It also allows them to base your payments for the year ahead on the right amount of income.

Sometimes you will have been paid too much or not enough. If this happens the Tax Credit Office will make an adjustment to make sure that your payments are correct. Any payments they make from 6 April 2010 to the date on which you renew your claim are temporary or provisional and if you don’t renew, you may be asked to pay them back.

Changes at home and work

If your circumstances change it can affect the amount of money you should be getting. So please contact the Tax Credit Office as soon as possible to tell them about any changes.

Contact the Tax Credit Office

You can contact the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900 or textphone 0845 300 3909 open from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm seven days a week except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Child Benefit

You may be able to get Child Benefit if any of the following apply:

  • your child is under 16
  • your child is over 16 and in education or training that qualifies for Child Benefit
  • your child is 16 or 17, has left education or training that qualifies for Child Benefit and is registered for work, education or training with an approved body

You can get Child Benefit even if your child doesn’t live with you. However, if they live with someone else, you can only get Child Benefit if:

  • you pay towards the upkeep of your child
  • what you pay is at least the same as the amount of Child Benefit you get for your child
  • the person bringing up your child is not getting Child Benefit for them - if you and another person both claim Child Benefit for the same child, only one of you can get it

You can also get Child Benefit for a child even if you are not their parent, but you have to be responsible for them to qualify.

How much Child Benefit will you get?

There are two separate amounts, with a higher amount for your eldest (or only) child. You get £20.00 a week for your eldest child and £13.20 a week for each of your other children.

How is Child Benefit paid?

Child Benefit can be paid into any bank, building society, or National Savings & Investments (NS&I) account that accepts Direct Payment. It’s usually paid every four weeks, but it can be paid weekly if you are getting Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income related Employment and Support Allowance or if you are a single parent.

Maintenance payments

Child Maintenance Options

Child Maintenance Options provides impartial information and support to help both parents make informed choices about child maintenance.

The fact that they are impartial means they are there to help both parents and aren't biased towards any one way of arranging child maintenance.

They can help you for example:

  • if you're separating from the other parent or are not living with them and you need to set up a child maintenance arrangement
  • if you're thinking of switching from a private agreement to an arrangement using the Child Support Agency (CSA), or the other way round
  • if your child maintenance arrangement has broken down or is not working as you'd like it to.

If you're a guardian, relative or friend, or if you have a professional interest in finding out more about child maintenance, they may also be able to help you.

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