Benefits Expert: ‘We have no savings’

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I EARN £1,220 a month net but my partner is unemployed, receiving £80 a month Child Benefit for her child. My daughter lives with my estranged wife and I pay her £45 week. We have no savings and wonder if we might be due any help?

Mr N. (by email)

YOU do not appear to be receiving Tax Credits but it looks likely that you would be eligible. You would be entitled if your joint taxable annual income was under £25,676 and you work at least 24 hours a week. Awards are initially based upon your income for the previous tax year, but may be calculated using current income if this would be more advantageous.

 You also look to be entitled to Council Tax Benefit, which in your current circumstances would reduce your Council Tax to about £620 a year and, if you pay rent, Housing Benefit that would reduce your basic rent to about £40 a week.

I HAVE been on the sick for four years, having been refused Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) but won it after an appeal. I am now told my ESA will finish at the end of June because my savings are over £16,000.

 They say I could only carry on getting ESA if I was in the ‘support group’. Is there any way I can get into the support group and have my benefit re-instated?

Mr D. (South Hylton)

SOME people on ESA are expected to undertake ‘work-related activity’ to improve their chances of becoming employable. Those who are too ill for this are in the ‘support group’. People in the work-related activity group can only get ESA beyond a year if they have a low income.

 This excludes those like you who have more than £16,000 savings. You could ask for the decision to put you in the work-related activity group to be superseded.

 However, you would have to show that your condition had deteriorated and that you should now be in the support group.

 There are a variety of health problems that would put someone in the support group, all of them pretty serious. They include such things as being unable to press a button on a keypad or moving from a chair to one next to it.

AS I worked beyond pension age I kept my Reduced Earnings Allowance (REA). My firm packed up without warning but I soon found another job. However, my REA has been stopped. Can they do this?

Paul (Plains Farm)

AFRAID so. If the work stops so does the REA, even if you start work again soon after.