Understanding your benefits

Working from home

Benefits are payments from the government to people on low incomes or to meet specific needs. Millions of people in the UK claim benefits from the Department of Work and Pensions every year.

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Read the information and watch the videos on this page to learn more, then have a go at our quiz.

Advice for young people on claiming benefits

There are benefits available for the following people:

  • If you are receiving a low income
  • If you are out of work
  • If you have children
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you are sick or disabled
  • If you have been bereaved
  • If you are a carer.

Here are some specific benefits:

What are tax credits?

Tax credits are weekly or monthly payments made by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). There are two tax credits and you can claim one or both of them, depending on your household circumstances.

  • Working tax credit is paid to people who work and are on a low income
  • Child tax credit is for those with children in addition to child benefit. You do not need to be in work to receive it.

Tax credits are being replaced by Universal Credit. People who currently receive tax credits are expected to be moved across to Universal Credit by September 2024.

Find out more on the government website.

What is Universal Credit (UK)?

Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It is paid monthly. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work.

Are you eligible?

  • You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
  • You’re on a low income or out of work
  • You’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
  • You’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
  • You and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you.

Check if you are eligible on the government website.

What is Housing Benefit?

Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you’re unemployed, on a low income or claiming benefits. You cannot claim both Housing Benefit and Universal Credit. However, if you are not eligible for Universal Credit, you may still be eligible for Housing Benefit.

Check if you are eligible on the government website.

Find advice on what to do if you are at risk of losing your home.

What is Bereavement Support Payment?

If your husband, wife or civil partner has died in the last 21 months you may be eligible to receive a support payment, and up to 18 monthly payments following this to help with things like mortgage, rent or household bills.

You must claim within three months of your partner dying to get the full amount. You can claim up to 21 months after their death but you will receive less money. If this date has already passed, you can call the bereavement service helpline for help or see if you're eligible for the Widowed Parents Allowanceinstead.

Find out who is eligible.

Benefits for 18 year olds living at home

If you pay rent to a landlord who is also a close relative and you live in the same property, then you will not be able to claim housing benefit. However, if you meet the criteria for Universal Credit (see above) you might still be entitled to receive payment even if you're living with your parents.

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