Benefits Expert: ‘Are we entitled to anything?’

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Q MY wife and I live on my wages of £96 a week from 16 hours work.

 Our monthly rent is £600 but we only receive £91.50 a week Local Housing Allowance (LHA) from the council, with my family helping towards the rest.

 I might be offered 30 hours a week work for £180 wages. How much LHA would I lose?

Mr H (High Barnes)

A USUALLY you lose £0.65 of LHA for every £1 rise in pay. However working 30 hours a week should make you entitled to Working Tax Credit (WTC).

 The maximum WTC for a couple in your situation would be about £89 a week. This would be the amount payable if your annual income was under £6,420.

 So you could well be entitled to some WTC and still have some LHA.

 With earnings of £180 a week and maximum WTC of £89 a week, for example, you could still be eligible for LHA of about £2.50 a week.

Q I RECEIVE the maximum Working Tax Credit for a single person which is £52 a week. This is based upon my income for last year which was under £6,420.

 How is WTC affected if you earn more than this and how much is too much?

Ken (Sunderland)

A EVERY £1 of income above £6,420 causes the person to have £0.41 deducted from their maximum annual award, which for you is £2,710.

 The more a person’s income rises above £6,420, the more is deducted from the maximum award.

 A point will therefore be reached where their income is too high for them to qualify for anything. A single person whose maximum annual award would be £2,710 would cease to qualify if their annual income reached £13,029. Your WTC from April will be re-assessed and based upon your income for the current year.

Q I HAVE just turned 60 and spend my week caring for my mother and sister and my weekends working part-time.

 My husband is self-employed but not making enough to live on. My 17-year-old grandson who is at college lives with us but we get nothing for him. Might we be entitled to anything?

Mrs A (Washington)

A YOUR mother and sister should find out about Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance.

 Your husband should find out about Working Tax Credit and Council Tax Benefit. You should find out about Carer’s Allowance, State Pension and Pension Credit for yourself and Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in respect of your grandson.

 I have written to you personally with more detail. Who said the benefits system was complicated?