Financial help and advice
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