Written by: Cally Worden
Do you know about all of the benefits you could be entitled to if you are on a low income? Despite the ‘Universal Credit’ system giving the impression that all benefits are rolled into one this is not the case. It replaces only Income-Based Job Seeker’s Allowance and Income Related Employment and Support Allowances, Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credits and Housing Benefit. There are numerous additional benefits that may also be available to you.
Individuals receiving certain income-related benefits may qualify for an interest-free Budgeting Loan that is designed to help pay for essentials, such as clothing, rent, or furniture. Those in receipt of Universal Credit need to apply for the slightly differently named Budgeting Advance. Although repayable over time via your benefits these types of loans can be invaluable if you have an immediate cash-flow problem.
The death of a loved one is always devastating, and there is generally a strong desire in those left behind to provide a decent send-off. This can be tricky when you have little cash to spare. If you are on a low income you may be eligible for assistance with the costs associated with providing a funeral, so do ask at your benefits office if you find yourself in this situation.
Mortgage Interest Support
The monthly outlay on mortgage repayments can be a heavy financial burden, and lenders tend to be unforgiving if you fall into arrears. For those on certain income-related benefits Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) payments may be available to help with your monthly repayments. Be aware that, as of April 2018, any SMI payments received will be effectively made as a loan, and repayable to the government when you come off benefits and return to work, or when you sell your home.
Grants for Energy Efficiency
The government are keen for householders to go-green to help the environment. If you wish to make modifications to your home in order to reduce your energy consumption you may be eligible for an Energy Efficiency Grant to help with the costs.
Free TV Licence
This long-standing benefit remains available to the over 75’s, and anyone blind or living in a nursing or residential care home. Others on low incomes may also benefit from a discounted rate – check on the Gov.UK website to see if this may apply to you.
Bus and Travel Concessions
The over 60s and those who are disabled may qualify for free or concessionary travel benefits. The rules for qualification vary across the UK, so check online or at your benefits office to see if you could be eligible.
Armed Forces Benefits
There are various benefits available to those who are serving or have served on our Armed Forces. For example – those disabled in the service of their country may be eligible for assistance with medical costs, and anyone injured or disabled in service prior to 6th April 2005 could receive additional help towards their pension.
Child and Education Benefits
In Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you may be eligible for the Education Maintenance Allowance to help towards the cost of education for 16-18 year olds. In England the 16-19 Bursary offers a similar provision. Free school meals and assistance with the cost of school uniforms may also be available to anyone on a low income, and expectant mothers may qualify for a Sure Start Maternity Grant to help with maternity and baby-related items.
Help for the Ill, Injured and Disabled
Those in receipt of Income Support may qualify for help with some NHS charges, and also with the cost of transport to and from appointments for medical treatment. For disabled individuals the Blue Badge Parking Scheme can be invaluable, and a Disabled Facilities Grant may be offered to help towards the costs of adapting your home in accordance with your needs. In addition, anyone left severely disabled following vaccination against certain diseases may be entitled to a tax-free one-off payment of up to ¬£120,000.