So when you are faced with the extremely difficult decision of having to give up your job/career, as the pressure of having a child with additional needs requires more focus than your job and your stress levels need to be listened to and heard, where on earth do you start to look for financial support?
Just the thought of giving up my job and having to claim benefits scared me massively! Not only because of the stigma that is attached to being on benefits but also the scary prospect of not earning an income!
I’d always been in employment or self-employed even since my eldest, now 24 year old, daughter was tiny. So how was I going to adjust to being on benefits?!
So here is a how it was for me back in 2016:
It took about a year, from thinking to myself that something ‘had to give’, to finally taking the leap to become a full time Parent/Carer. I couldn’t emotionally or physically continue to work.
I did some homework and found ‘Turn to Us’ (https://www.turn2us.org.uk/) to be the best online benefits calculator. I needed to have a rough idea of how things were going to look financially, as a lone parent to my three daughters, and I certainly needed some reassure that I wouldn’t be facing the horror of potentially losing the roof over our heads!
The benefit calculator gives you a rough estimate of what benefits you may be entitled to and a rough idea of the amount you are entitled to. I would highly recommend that you do a calculation for your own personal circumstances!
Types of benefits you will be eligible for include:
Child Tax Credits
- Working Tax Credits (if you are able to work any hours at all)
- Child Tax Credits (your child needs to be in full time education or employment up until the age of 18 years)
- Child Tax Credits Disability Element
Child Tax Credit has been replaced by Universal Credit for most people.
You can only make a new claim for Child Tax Credit if you:
- get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
- got or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and you’re still eligible for it
You will continue to get Child Benefit until your child is 18 years.
Types of benefits you may be eligible for include:
Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme
This is a relatively new scheme (from April 2019), previously you could get support with your mortgage interest and you did not have to pay this back, however it is now a loan.
If you’re a homeowner, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on:
- your mortgage
- loans you’ve taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home
This help is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).
As it is paid as a loan, you’ll need to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home.
You usually need to be getting, or treated as getting, a qualifying benefit to get SMI.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for children may help with the extra costs of looking after a child who:
- is under 16
- has difficulties walking or needs much more looking after than a child of the same age who does not have a disability
They will need to meet all the eligibility requirements.
The DLA rate is between £23.60 and £151.40 a week and depends on the level of help the child needs. (Please note figures are correct at time of printing ie 2020/2021)
|Care component||Weekly rate|
|Mobility component||Weekly rate|
For me, initially I used my daughter’s DLA for adaptations, for example sensory equipment. However, when I had to give up my job, this then became part of my salary so to speak and had to be used towards the bills.
If you find yourself in a similar position, please don’t feel embarrassed about telling any professional who may ask, that DLA is being used in the way as it becomes a necessity!
You could get £67.25 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits.
You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
You do not get paid extra if you care for more than one person.
If someone else also cares for the same person as you, only one of you can claim Carer’s Allowance.
Carer’s Allowance can affect the other benefits that you and the person you care for get. You have to pay tax on it if your income is over the Personal Allowance.
Income Support can help you cover your costs if you’re on a low income.
You can only apply for Income Support if you either:
- get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
- got or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and are still eligible for it
If you cannot apply for Income Support you can apply for Universal Credit instead.
All of the following must also apply to you (and your partner if you have one):
- you have no income or a low income, and no more than £16,000 in savings
- you’re not in full-time paid work (you can work less than 16 hours a week, and your partner can work less than 24 hours a week)
- you’re not eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
- you live in England, Scotland or Wales – there are different rules for Northern Ireland
You must also be between 16 and Pension Credit qualifying age, and at least one of the following:
- a lone parent (including a lone adoptive parent) with a child under 5
- a lone foster parent with a child under 16
- a single person looking after a child under 16 before they’re adopted
- a carer
- on maternity, paternity or parental leave
- unable to work and you receive Statutory Sick Pay, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance
- in full-time education (not university), aged between 16 and 20, and a parent
- in full-time education (not university), aged between 16 and 20, and not living with a parent or someone acting as a parent
- a refugee learning English – your course needs to be at least 15 hours a week, and you must have started it within 12 months of entering the UK
- in custody or due to attend court or a tribunal
You do not need a permanent address – for example, you can still claim if you:
- sleep rough
- live in a hostel or care home
- a basic payment (personal allowance)
- extra payments (premiums)
Your income and any savings (over £5,999) can affect how much you get.
You must be at least 16 to get Income Support.
|Single||16 to 24||£58.90|
|Single||25 or over||£74.35|
|Lone parent||16 to 17||£58.90|
|Lone parent||18 or over||£74.35|
|Couples||Both under 18||£58.90|
|Couples||Both under 18 – ‘higher rate’||£89.00|
|Couples||One under 18, the other 18 to 24||£58.90|
|Couples||One under 18, the other 25 or over||£74.35|
|Couples||One under 18, one over – ‘higher rate’||£116.80|
|Couples||Both 18 or over||£116.80|
You could get the higher rate if either of you is responsible for a child, or if each of you would be eligible for one of the following if you were not a couple:
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
You could also get an Income Support ‘premium’ – this is extra money based on your circumstances, for example if:
- your partner is a pensioner
- you’re disabled or a carer
These are the ‘secret’ financial benefits that no one ever tells you about!
‘WaterSure’ is a scheme which helps some people with their water bills. To apply for the scheme, you must be on benefits and need to use a lot of water either for medical reasons or because your household has a certain number of school-age children. You also need to be on a water meter or be waiting to have one installed.
If you get your water from Welsh Water you’re covered by WaterSure Wales, which works in a similar way to the English scheme.
If you get help through the WaterSure scheme, your water bill will be capped. This means you will not pay any more than the average metered bill for the area your water company deals with.
In some cases, your normal metered water bill could be less than your company’s WaterSure cap. If this applies to you, you will only be billed for the amount of water you use.
You can ask your water company what their cap is if you want to check this before applying.
Who qualifies for WaterSure
To qualify for WaterSure you need to:
- be on a water meter or have applied for one and be waiting for it to be installed, or be paying an assessed charge because it’s not possible to fit a meter at your property
- be on certain benefits
- have a high essential use of water
Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
This advice applies to England (click on link for the advice).
If you’re struggling to afford your energy bills, you might be able to take advantage of certain benefits, grants and help offered by the government and energy suppliers.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.
You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time.
You’ll only be eligible if you already get:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
Find out more about Cold Weather Payments on GOV.UK.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
You might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill under the Warm Home Discount Scheme if you’re either:
- getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit
- on a low income
Check with your supplier to see if they offer the Warm Home Discount – not all suppliers are part of the scheme.
If you’ve applied for the Warm Home Discount but you switch supplier before you get the payment, you have to apply again with your new supplier. Your new supplier might have different rules about who gets the discount. This doesn’t affect you if you get the discount automatically, without having to apply.
Find out more about the Warm Home Discount Scheme on GOV.UK.
Grants to help pay off your energy debts
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from a charitable trust to help pay it off.
The following energy companies offer grants and schemes that are open to anyone – you don’t have to be a customer:
There are also companies who offer grants specifically for their customers:
- npower Energy Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- Ovo Debt and energy assistance
- E.on Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- Bulb Energy Fund
When you apply for a grant, you’ll have to provide detailed information about your financial situation in your application. It could take a while to complete, and it might be worth getting help applying.
You could be eligible if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.
You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.
What you get depends on:
- where you live – each council runs its own scheme
- your circumstances (eg income, number of children, benefits, residency status)
- your household income – this includes savings, pensions and your partner’s income
- if your children live with you
- if other adults live with you
To check your local area, insert your postcode on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction
In addition to the above, there are also charities that offer financial support to families with a child with disabilities:
Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.
Our purpose is to improve the lives of low-income families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.
Our mission is to provide items and services to all low-income families in the UK raising disabled or seriously ill children, that they could not otherwise afford or access, and that help improve their quality of life, realise their rights, and remove some of the barriers they face.
Our vision is that all families raising disabled or seriously ill children have the same choices, quality of life, opportunities and aspirations as other families.
We provide grants for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers. It can be a struggle financially, emotionally and physically for families raising a disabled or seriously ill child, and these grants help break down many of the barriers families face, improving their quality of life and easing the additional daily pressures.
For further information on other grants:
i-Go Card (East Sussex)
With an i-go card you:
- get discounts and accessibility information at more than 80 leisure centres, attractions, activities and clubs
- join the children’s disability register and
- can sign up to our email newsletter Parent Voice
Where you can go with i-go
See the i-go scheme providers and their offers and events.
You can get an i-go card if you:
- 0–25 years old
- Live in East Sussex, or
- Study in East Sussex
And if you have any of the following:
- Statement of Educational Needs
- Education Health and Care Plan
- Blue Badge
- Concessionary Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Or you can ask a professional to support your application using this form(opens new window) (Word, 18k)
Please check your local area to see whether they do something similar.
CEA Card – cinema card
The Card enables a disabled cinema guest to receive a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them when they visit a participating cinema.
The Card is also one way for cinemas to make sure they look after their disabled guests.
There are often other attractions and places to visit that offer ‘Carer goes free’ ie Druscillas, Knockhatch, Swimming, so check your local area for other available discounts.
*Disclaimer* – I am not a financial advisor and the information provided is from my own personal experience and research.
I hope you have found this useful, however I recommend that you check what is available to you and your personal circumstances.