Help from benefits

Benefits, allowances and universal credit are there to help if you are on a low income or caring for very young or disabled children. The amount you are entitled to is different for everyone and depends on where you live, how much you earn, how many children and the savings you have. Claiming what you are entitled to can make a difference to your family budget and circumstances, but it can be tough to keep up with changes.

For example you cannot claim Universal Credit and tax credits at the same time. If you get tax credits, they will stop when you or your partner applies for Universal Credit. Check how tax credits and Universal Credit affect each other.

Help with childcare costs

Even if you don’t have a job, if your child is between 2 and school age, you may be eligible for childcare funding to help you go back to work, study, train or take a few hours for yourself each week. All 3- and 4-year-olds are entitled to 15 hours of childcare per week. Here is an online calculator for you to check what help you could get with childcare costs. 

Gingerbread has a handy guide to childcare and universal credit depending on the age of your child.

Local discretionary payments

Your local authority may have their own schemes for help with council tax and other discretionary payments too, so it’s worth checking with your council if you are claiming all you are entitled to.

If you are self employed see how Universal Credit can help here: Self-employment and Universal Credit - GOV.UK (

Top tips

Do a family budget so you know exactly how much money is coming in and going out of your household. Citizens' Advice has an online budgeting tool to help.

Use an online benefits calculator to get an idea of whether you may be entitled to some help from benefits, allowances or universal credit. Here are some links to benefits calculators: Turn2us, Policy in Practice, or entitledto.

Get advice in person or on the phone from your local authority benefits advisors, work coaches or Citizens Advice to make sure you are claiming all you are entitled to.

Review regularly to keep up to date with changes in your family circumstances, changes in working patterns or hours, or money you’re paying out on childcare.

Handy links has everything you need to know about benefits for families all in one place.

Citizens Advice has lots of information about the different benefits you may be entitled to and you can make an appointment to talk to someone at your local Citizens' Advice too.

Gingerbread, the single parent charity, has plenty of information about benefits and universal credit.