Welfare Benefits

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is a benefit payable to people actively seeking work. Contribution based Jobseeker’s Allowance is based on a person’s National Insurance contribution history. Income related Jobseeker’s Allowance is means tested and is not payable to people whose savings are in excess of £16,000 or where a person has a partner who works more than 24 hours a week. Individuals on Jobseeker’s Allowance may be required to undergo training etc to assist them in finding work.

Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is payable to individuals who are employed but unable to work because of sickness or disability. SSP is paid by an employer if a person is off sick for at least four days and then for the next 28 weeks of a person’s absence from work. Individuals cannot claim Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit whilst they are in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay. However they can claim Personal Independence Payment. Should a person’s sickness or disability extend beyond 28 weeks they should then claim Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

Employment Support Allowance

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) is payable to individuals who are unable to work because of sickness or disability.  ESA is not available to people claiming Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Statutory Sick Pay. Contribution based ESA is based on an individual’s National Insurance contributions and is taxable. Contribution based Employment Support Allowance may be reduced if an individual is receiving monies from other income sources. Contribution based Employment Support Allowance is payable for a maximum of one year in the Work Related Activity Group (this group is assessed as people capable of some work in the future).

There is no time limit for individuals in the Support Group (these are people who are assessed as having illnesses or disabilities that severely limits their potential for work). Claimants in the Support Group would not be subject to the Benefit Cap. Income related Employment Support Allowance is payable to individuals with no income or a limited income, and with savings of less than £16,000. The amount an individual is entitled to can also be affected by whether they are single or part of a couple; whether they get disability or carer’s benefits, and the result of the Work Capability Assessment. Income related Employment Support Allowance is not taxable.

Income Support

Income Support is a means tested benefit payable to people unable to work because of their circumstances (sickness, looking after children as a lone parent etc). Income Support may also supplement monies received from other benefits (Statutory Sick Pay, Severe Disablement Allowance, Incapacity Benefit etc).

Income Support is payable to individuals with a low income and with savings of less than £16,000. Individuals must not be at an age eligible for Pension Credit. They must in most cases not be in full-time education. Income Support can be payable to individuals still working however they must work fewer than 16 hours a week. If a person has a partner their partner must not work more than 24 hours a week.   

Bereavement Benefits

Bereavement Benefits are payable to individuals whose husband, wife, or civil partner has died. Bereavement Benefits are usually based on the National Insurance contributions of the person who has died. They are not means tested and can be paid regardless of a widow/widower’s employment status.

Bereavement Payment is a tax-free lump sum of £2000. Receipt of state pension income can affect eligibility to Bereavement Payment. Bereavement Allowance is payable for the first year following the death of a spouse or civil partner. It can be claimed if the widow/widower is over the age of 45 but below State Retirement Age and is not entitled to Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

The amount of Bereavement Allowance payable depends upon the age of a widow/widower and their husband/wife/civil partner’s National Insurance contribution record. Bereavement Allowance is taxable.

Widowed Parent’s Allowance is paid to widows/widowers where they have dependent children at the time their husband/wife/civil partner died. Widowed Parent’s Allowance would also be receivable to widows who were pregnant at the time of their partner’s death.

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance is payable to individuals whose level of disability meets certain thresholds. It is made up of a Care Component and a Mobility Component.

To be eligible for the Care Component of Disability Living Allowance an individual must have difficulty doing everyday tasks such as washing, cooking, dressing, taking their medication etc. There are three weekly rates for the Care Component of Disability Living Allowance.

The Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance is payable to individuals who have difficulty walking or need help getting around. There are two weekly rates for the Care Component of Disability Living Allowance.

Disability Living Allowance is not available to new claimants.

Personal Independence Payment

Personal Independence Payment is the successor benefit to Disability Living Allowance for individuals living with disabilities. Like Disability Living Allowance, it is made up of two components, the Daily Living Component and the Mobility Component.

Eligibility for the Daily Living Component is based on an individual’s inability to undertake tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking, taking their medication etc.

The criteria for the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment is based on an individual’s ability to walk or get around independently.

Generally Personal Independence Payment is being more vigorously assessed than Disability Living Allowance with claimants often being required to attend medical assessments.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is payable to people above State Retirement Age who were not already in receipt of either Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

There is no Mobility Component to Attendance Allowance.

Eligibility for Attendance Allowance is based on a person’s inability to undertake tasks such as cooking, dressing, washing or being able to manage their medication needs etc.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is payable to individuals who are sick or disabled because of an accident at work or because of an illness caused by their work. The amount payable varies and depends upon the seriousness of the person’s condition. Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit isn’t taxable and can be paid regardless of the person’s work status. The Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit is not included in the Benefit Cap.

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is payable to individuals who spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person. The Carer does not have to be resident at the same address as the disabled person.

The person being cared for must either be in receipt of the highest or middle rate of the Disability Living Allowance Care Component or either rate of the Personal Independence Payment Daily Living Component. The Carer must not be in full-time education or earning more than £100 a week. Carer’s Allowance is taxable. If the carer is entitled to certain benefits providing a greater income than Carer’s Allowance then Carer’s Allowance would not be payable.

Housing Assistance

Individuals meeting certain criteria may be entitled to help with their housing costs – rent, mortgage interest payments. Tenants may be able to get Housing Benefit to help pay their rent.

Individuals can claim Housing Benefit whether they work or not. Housing Benefit may cover all or some of an individual’s rental costs depending upon their circumstances. Levels of income and savings affect the level of Housing Benefit payable as do who a person lives with; the size of the home and how much rent is paid. Individuals may get more Housing Benefit if they receive sickness and disability benefits or carer’s benefit. Housing Benefit for people below state retirement age is due to be replaced by a housing component within Universal Credit.

Individuals living in social housing could have their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing component reduced if they have more bedrooms than they are considered to need. People who rent from private landlords have their Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing component based on the Local Housing Allowance threshold for the area where they live. Details regarding Local Housing Allowance rates and thresholds can be found at the relevant Local Authority Housing Benefit department.

Housing Benefit claims can be back-dated for six months provided a good reason is provided for not claiming earlier. Discretionary Housing Payments may be available to those who find it difficult to pay their rent in certain circumstances.

Support for Mortgage Interest

Support for Mortgage Interest is available to those who own their own home through a mortgage. Eligibility is based on a person claiming Universal Credit, Income Support, Income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, or Income based Employment Support Allowance. Only mortgage interest is paid not capital repayments to pay off the mortgage. Individuals who have any income from work would not be entitled to Support for Mortgage Interest if they receive Universal Credit.

Council Tax Reduction

Individuals on low incomes may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction. Council Tax Reduction is administered by local authorities and criteria can vary between them. The Council Tax Reduction depends upon a variety of factors including an individual’s level of income and savings; benefit eligibility; how much Council Tax applicable; and who lives with the claimant. Individuals may get more Council Tax Support if they receive disability benefits or carer’s benefit. Individuals who live alone get a 25% discount off Council Tax regardless of their other circumstances. People who’ve left their home empty to go to hospital or a care home may also be entitled to Council Tax Reduction.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is paid to individuals who work but have a low income. The criteria for Working Tax Credit include number of hours worked; whether the person is disabled or not; and whether the individual is responsible for a child or not. Couples need to make joint claims for Working Tax Credit. Working Tax Credit may provide entitlement to help with health costs. Working Tax Credit is due to be replaced by Universal Credit.

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is paid to individuals who are responsible for looking after a child aged under 16, or a young person aged under 20 in full time education or training. Child Tax Credit can be paid to be people in work as well as those not working. Eligibility for Child Tax Credit depends upon an individual’s income. A joint claim should be submitted for couples. The number of children cared for would also vary the level of Child Tax Credit receivable. Parents of children with disabilities may be entitled to Child Tax Credit.  Child Tax Credit is due to be replaced by Universal Credit.