Claiming state benefits, getting the help you need

The benefits system exists as a safety net if times are hard since your divorce but it is no substitute for a job and the self respect that comes from earning your own living, however modest. .

BENEFITS posterState benefits
Money and divorce are difficult and getting divorced will mean that you may have gone from having two salaries to just one or, if you have stayed at home to look after the children, you may have no income at all.  It may be that in the short term at least you will be eligible for state benefits.

You can find out what you may be entitled to claim by visiting dwp.gov.uk which is the website for the Department of Work and Pensions which deals with benefits.  Your local council will help you make a claim for help with rent or council tax if you are eligible.

The Citizen's Advice Bureau has an excellent guide to state benefitsThe Child Support Agency may be worth contacting if you have children to look after and are in receipt of state benefits.

Tax credits - check them out
Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit are available to those on low incomes who work more than sixteen hours a week.  Check out the current details.  Tax Credit is money paid to you regularly directly into a bank, building society, Post Office or National Savings account.  You can apply if you are self-employed and it can include an amount for childcare.  For those looking after a child under the age of one or a disabled child you may get more money.

£10 noteNearly all families with children can claim Child Tax Credit – the upper earnings limit is currently in excess of £58,000 and over £66,000 if you have a child under one.  These limits are revised regularly.  Nine out of ten families with children will be eligible for some payment.

Working Tax Credit
You do not have to be the parent of the child (or children) in order to make a claim but you do have to be the person who has main responsibility for that child (or children).

If you are in a low paid job and have no children you can apply for Working Tax Credit. You can be self-employed or working for someone else but you must work for at least sixteen hours a week.

If you work more than thirty hours a week, are disabled or are over fifty and returning to work after a period on benefits you can get extra help. How much you get depends on things such as your income and is made up of different elements.

The benefits system is complex and changes often so it's best to check this out for the latest information.

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