Financial help and advice
Benefits and allowances
This section gives a summary of some of the benefits and financial support. You can get details of these and other benefits from your local Benefits Office or Jobcentre plus office, or from GOV.UK (opens in a new tab). You can also get booklets about benefits from many post offices.
Getting advice on your individual circumstances is essential and advice can be obtained from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Benefits Adviser. Tel: 01437 764551
If you have an illness or disability
Attendance Allowance (AA)
If you are over 65 and you need help looking after yourself, you may qualify for Attendance Allowance. There are two rates, higher and lower, depending on the care you need. AA is not means tested and is tax free.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
You can only make a new claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) if you’re claiming for a child under 16 - this is known as DLA for children (opens in a new tab).
Anyone aged 16-64 must apply for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (opens in a new tab) instead of DLA.
PIP is gradually replacing DLA for people aged 16 to 64, even for those with an indefinite or lifetime DLA award. If you were 65 or over on 8 April 2013 you can continue to get DLA if you’re eligible (opens in a new tab).
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability if you’re aged 16 to 64.
You can get PIP whether or not you work. PIP has two components:
A daily living component
for help participating in everyday life;
A mobility component
for help with getting around.
You can be paid either the daily living component or the mobility component on its own, or both components at the same time.
Each component is paid at two different levels: a ‘standard rate’ and an ‘enhanced rate’. The rate you are paid depends on whether your ability to carry out daily living or mobility activities is ‘limited’ or ‘severely limited’. This is tested under the PIP assessment
You can check how Personal Independence Payment (PIP) affects you using the PIP checker (opens in a new tab)
Employment Support Allowance
If you’re ill or disabled and under State Pension age, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) offers you financial support (opens in a new tab) if you’re unable to work, and personalised help so that you can work if you’re able to. You can apply for ESA (opens in a new tab) if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed, or a student on Disability Living Allowance (opens in a new tab) or Personal Independence Payment (opens in a new tab).
You might be transferred to ESA (opens in a new tab) if you’ve been claiming other benefits like Income Support or Incapacity Benefit. You must go to a Work Capability Assessment (opens in a new tab) while your ESA claim is being assessed. This is to see to what extent your illness or disability affects your ability to work.
You’ll then be placed in 1 of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:
- work-related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser
- Or support group, where you don’t have interviews.
How much ESA you get depends on your circumstances and the type of ESA (opens in a new tab) you qualify for. You won’t be eligible for income-related ESA if you get Universal Credit (opens in a new tab).
You can make a claim to ESA by filling in and print out the (ESA1) form available at GOV.UK (opens in a new tab) and taking it to your local Jobcentre Plus office (opens in a new tab), or over the phone.
If you are caring for someone
Carer’s Allowance is paid to people who look after someone who is disabled. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
You may qualify for Carer’s Allowance if you meet the following criteria:
- You are aged 16 or over and;
- You spend at least 35 hours a week looking after someone who receives a qualifying benefit (Attendance Allowance, middle or higher rate Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component, Constant Attendance Allowance at/above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension, Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP) and;
- You are not in full-time education (21 hours a week or more) and;
- You are not earning more than £110 a week if you have a part time job
Payment of Carer’s Allowance may reduce other benefits that are paid to you or the person you look after. If you receive certain other benefits you may not receive payment of Carer’s Allowance but may have what is called an ‘underlying entitlement’ and a premium added to other benefits. Always seek advice before claiming.
You can claim Carer’s Allowance (opens in a new tab). This service can be used on a smartphone or tablet, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and may help you make your claim more quickly. The time to complete the claim online is around 24 minutes and has significantly less questions that the paper form. Once submitted, your claim will arrive immediately at the Carer’s Unit. Helpline numbers are provided if you need help.
A Carers Allowance leaflet – ‘Everything you need to know about Carer’s Allowance’ is available at GOV.UK (opens in a new tab)
If you are on low income
Working Tax Credit (opens in a new tab) is a payment to top up the earnings of low paid working people.
You could get Working Tax Credit if either of the following applies:
- you’re aged from 16 to 24 and have a child or a qualifying disability
- you’re 25 or over, with or without children and you work
Advice and help applying for benefits
Help and advice on a range of topics, including benefits and tax for older people.
For more info: GOV.UK (opens in a new tab)
Changes to benefits
Some benefits are affected if you go abroad, move into residential or nursing home or if you go into hospital. For example Attendance Allowance and Disability Allowance will be affected after four weeks in hospital either in one stay or sometimes when added together. Other benefits can be affected too.
Could you claim tax back on your savings?
Banks and building societies are required by law to deduct income tax at 20% from interest before they pay it to you. They pay this to HM Revenue & Customs. If you are not due to pay any tax you can register your bank and building society account to receive your interest without tax taken off. You do this by completing form R85 and giving it to your bank or building society.
If you are due to pay a small amount of tax (you fall within the 10% tax bracket) you may be able to claim back some of the tax taken off. Please contact your local tax office.
If you need more help: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) (opens in a new tab)
Income Related Benefits
Income Support is an income related benefit for people aged between 16 years and Pension Credit qualifying age and:
- a carer, pregnant, a lone parent with a child under 5 or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled
- have no income or a low income (your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account)
- working less than 16 hours a week (and your partner works less than 24 hours a week)
The amount of Income Support due may be affected by other income into the household. Savings over a certain amount usually mean you cannot get Income Support (this figure normally changes annually so you should check the current amount).
You don’t need a permanent address, e.g. you can still claim if you sleep rough or live in a hostel or care home. You can also qualify up until the age of 21 if you’re one of the above, are orphaned or estranged from your parents and enrolled in education.
Pension Credit is a benefit paid to people who have reached the qualifying age and have a low income.
Pension Credit is not the same as the state retirement pension, which is based on your National Insurance contributions during your working life. Pension Credit can be paid on top of retirement and other pensions.
Pension Credit is income related and made up of two parts:
Guarantee Credit- which tops up your income if it is below a certain amount
Savings Credit- is an extra payment for people who have saved some money toward their retirement e.g. through a pension. However if you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, you may not be eligible for this.
Pension Credit age is gradually going up to 65 in line with State Pension age (65 for women and 66 for men). To find out when you will qualify for Pension Credit or State Pension use the State Pension Calculator at GOV.UK or contact the helpline.
You may still be able to get Pension Credit if your weekly income is more than the minimum, for example if you or your partner are a severely disabled person or a carer. You may also be eligible for Support for Mortgage Interest if you are paying interest on mortgage payments, which is paid direct to your lender.
NHS Low Income Scheme
If you are on a low income and find it difficult to pay for health costs, you may be entitled to help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. You may be entitled to help toward the cost of:
- NHS dental treatment
- Glasses and contact lenses, or
- Travel to receive NHS treatment if referred by a doctor (GP or hospital doctor) or dentist
To claim, you will need to fill out a HC1 form. You can get this from your local Jobcentre, NHS Hospital, or by calling the NHS Publication Order Line on 0345 603 1108. Some dentists and opticians may also provide them.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit
Eligibility for these benefits depends on your income and family circumstances. Even if you cannot get Council Tax Benefit you may be able to get your bill reduced (for example, if you live alone or your home has been adapted to meet the needs of a disable person). These benefits are paid by Pembrokeshire County Council. Tel: 01437 764551.
Help for one-off expenses - the Social Fund
The Social Fund provides lump sum payments, grants and loans, which are discretionary and not for a standard amount. It is administered by Jobcentre Plus and includes budgeting loans, funeral payments, cold weather payments and winter fuel payments.
You can apply for a Budgeting Loan to help pay for essential things (opens in a new tab) like rent, furniture, clothes or hire purchase debts. How much you can get depends on whether you are single, part of a couple or have children, and if you:
- can pay the loan back
- have any savings over £1,000 (or £2,000 if you or your partner are over 62)
- already owe money to the Social Fund
Budgeting Loans are interest-free so you only pay back what you borrow. You normally have to repay the loan within 104 weeks. You can apply for a loan if you’ve been getting income-related benefits (opens in a new tab) for at least 26 weeks. You must still be getting income-related benefits when your application is assessed. Budgeting Loans won’t affect your other benefits.
You can download a form (SF500) to apply for this loan from GOV.UK (opens in a new tab) or contact Jobcentre Plus on 0345 603 6967.
A Funeral Payment helps people on a low income with the essential costs of a funeral. You may be able to claim a Funeral Payment if you or your partner receive Universal Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award, Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element, or Housing Benefit.
Savings do not affect Funeral Payments, and other benefits will not be affected by claiming a Funeral Payment.
You can download a form (SF200) to apply for this grant from GOV.UK (opens in a new tab)
Cold Weather Payment
Cold Weather Payments help towards extra heating costs during very cold weather. A payment of £25.00 is paid automatically for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November to 31 March.
You can get this payment if you also get Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Universal Credit. If you get Income Support, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related) income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must also receive a pensioner or disability premium or have a child who is disabled or under the age of 5.
Other payments and schemes
You may be able to get National Insurance credits if you’re not paying National Insurance, e.g. when you’re claiming benefits because you’re ill or unemployed.
Credits can help to fill gaps in your National Insurance record, to make sure you qualify for certain benefits including the State Pension. You can contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 (textphone: 0300 200 3519) to find out of you have any gaps in your National Insurance record and to find out if you are eligible.
Green Deal helps you make energy-saving improvements to your home and find the best way to pay for them. You may be able to claim back money from the government if you make energy-saving home improvements through the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. You can contact the Energy Saving Advice Service for more information on this or other energy saving matters on 0300 123 1234
Equity release schemes offer older homeowners the chance to get cash for some of the value of their home. Sometimes this is a lump sum or as regular payments. Before you participate in an Equity release scheme you must seek independent financial and legal advice to ensure that this is the best way to make your money work for you.
Financial support for disabled students
Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs) help with costs incurred in attending recognised courses at university, as a direct result of disabilities. DSAs are available to full time and part time students with disabilities although part time students must be studying 50% of a full-time course. DSAs are available to both undergraduates and postgraduates. See GOV.UK (opens in a new tab)
Don’t forget – you may be entitled to other concessions, such as free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests, free or reduced bus and rail travel or free TV licences. The criteria for receiving such concessions is usually based on age, disability or the benefits you receive
Financial help and advice
This section tells you about some of the benefits you may be eligible for and how to apply for them, as well as where to go for financial advice and support. It is important that everyone claims the benefits they are entitled to and this will vary from person to person.
Please note any new benefits you may claim may affect the benefits you or your cared-for already receive. Always seek advice before claiming a new benefit.
Help with managing your finances in the future
You may wish to prepare for a time when you can no longer manage all your paperwork and bills yourself.
Independent Age offer free advice over the phone to older people, their families and their carers on issues that may affect them such as benefits and social care. They also offer face to face befriending and free telephone discussion groups, signposting and downloadable guides and factsheets on their website.
If you are worried about debts, the following organisations may be able to help:
Helpline offering information and advice on debt. They also provide self help information packs and a range of fact sheets.
Free & impartial money advice set up by government, including money management and debt advice
Sometimes offers financial help to people living in poverty or distress who are struggling to pay their utility debts.
People with mental incapacity are often highly vulnerable. Without the right protection, they can be at risk of financial abuse and could face losing their home or their savings. If you suspect that someone is being financially abused, contact Pembrokeshire County Council Adult Care, or if you think a criminal offence has been committed, contact the police straight away (see Safeguarding - Pembrokeshire County Council)