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If you’re a single parent on a low income, you might be able to get extra money to boost your income. This could include:
Universal Credit has replaced a number of benefits for most people. Most people can no longer make a new claim for things like Housing Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance or tax credits.
If you’re already claiming benefits like these, you’ll be moved onto Universal Credit by 2024. You can keep claiming them for now, but you may have to claim Universal Credit if your work or home situation changes.
Universal Credit can help with living costs like rent if you’re on a low income. It’s made up of a standard allowance plus extra payments if you have children, pay for childcare, have a disabled child, need help with housing costs, have a disability or health condition, or care for someone who is disabled. You may be eligible for some or all of these, depending on your situation.
Universal Credit is replacing many older benefits, such as:
Important: If you make a claim for Universal Credit, you’ll stop getting any of these older benefits. Citizens Advice has useful information about moving to Universal Credits from other benefits.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if you:
There’s no upper income limit where you stop being eligible for Universal Credit – it depends on your situation. You can earn a certain amount of money before your Universal Credit is reduced. This is called the work allowance, and it’s related to your housing costs.
For every pound you earn over this allowance, your Universal Credit will drop by 55p (called an earnings taper).
If you’re self-employed, different rules apply. Your Universal Credit will be calculated using the amount the government expects you to earn each month – this is called the minimum income floor. If you earn more than this, your Universal Credit will be based on your actual earnings.
Our benefits checkers can help you work out what benefits you can get.
If you’re working and paying for registered childcare, you can get up to 85% of this cost paid through Universal Credit. The maximum support each month is £646 for one child or £1108 for two or more children. You can’t get help with childcare costs if you have a tax-free childcare account or childcare vouchers from your employer.
Note: if you open a tax-free childcare account this will stop your Universal Credit payments altogether. If you’re not sure whether you’re better off claiming Universal Credit or having a tax-free childcare account, please talk to us.
More on childcare costs when you’re working:
You may be able to get help with your housing costs – your rent and some service charges – through the housing element of Universal Credit. Shelter has more about this.
If you’re a homeowner, Universal Credit can’t help with your mortgage. But you may be able to get Support for Mortgage Interest instead.
Universal Credit has replaced Housing Benefit for most people. If you already get Housing Benefit, you can continue to get it until:
You may be able to get other support too, depending on your situation. Make sure you claim for everything you could be getting. Talk to us if you’d like help in understanding what you could claim.
You may be able to get Child Benefit if you’re the main carer. The amount you’ll receive will depend on your situation.
More on Child Benefit (gov.uk)
If you’re on a low income and responsible for paying Council Tax, you may be eligible for Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support). This can reduce your bill or even mean you don’t have to pay anything at all. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances.
There are other ways you can reduce your council tax bill. For example, if your children are under 18 and there’s no other adult in the house, you may be able to get 25% off your council tax. Your income doesn’t matter. If you share a home with an adult who’s studying full time or an apprentice/trainee, or someone who is severely mentally impaired (for example, who has dementia), you might still be able to get this discount.
Every council has slightly different rules, so to find and more or apply for a Council Tax discount, contact your local council.
More on Council Tax discounts (gov.uk)
If you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for a disabled person, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance. You could be caring for a disabled child or parent, for example, or someone you’re not related to. You have to be earning £132 or less each week to claim.
You can find out more on our page on parenting a disabled child.
If you have a disability or long-term health condition that means you need help with everyday tasks or getting around, you may be eligible for a weekly benefit called Personal Independence Payment. You won’t be asked about your income or savings when you apply. Our page on disabled single parents has more.
You may be eligible for a grant or loan to help with essential expenses such as rent, furniture, clothing and more. Our page on financial help has more information, including where to apply.
Universal Credit is gradually replacing tax credits for most people. So most people can no longer make a new claim for them. However, if you’re currently getting one tax credit, you can still make a claim for the other.
If you’re already getting tax credits, you can continue to claim them until:
The information here only applies to people already claiming tax credits. If you’re not, you’ll need to make a new claim for Universal Credit.
There are 2 types of tax credits available to working single parents:
The amount you can get through these is related to your income in the previous tax year.
There are times when you can still get Working Tax Credit even when you’re not actually working. For example:
You can claim up to 70% of your childcare expenses through Working Tax Credit. The maximum amounts are 70% of £175 a week (£122.50) for one child, or 70% of £300 a week (£210) for two or more children.
You can get help with childcare costs up to the September after your child’s 15th birthday, or after their 16th birthday if they’re getting Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, or are registered blind.
If your working situation or other circumstances change, it’s important to tell HMRC as soon as possible. You must let them know about any changes within 1 month to make sure you’re not underpaid or overpaid. If you get tax credits you’re not entitled to, you’ll have to repay them.
You must tell HMRC within 1 month if:
See a full list of all the changes you have to report.
You can let them know about a change:
Date last updated: 28 June 2023