Which benefits should I be claiming?
Q. I have been speaking to one of my friends about my benefits as I am starting to struggle financially.
She told me that she has been claiming Child Tax Credit for the past five years since leaving work, but I have never made a claim.
We both have 17-year-old sons in full-time education, should I be making a claim for Child Tax Credit or would it be Universal Credit instead?
A: Many people who have a relatively low income qualify for Child Tax Credit, however, it may be that you are receiving payments under the old system through another benefit that you receive.
Tax Credits only started in 2003, so people who were receiving payments for a child before that time may have been getting the payments included in there Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance.
If you have had a continuous claim for benefits since pre-2003 then you may have payments for your child included, these are known as deferred tax credits.
If your friend has come off benefits since 2003 then she would have needed to make a claim for Tax Credits as the deferred method would no long have been available to them.
If you are receiving Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance then you could check the award letter; if there are payments for your son included then you will see them in the breakdown of your personal allowance.
If you are not receiving payments for your son in that way then you should look to make an application for Universal Credit if you are in a full service area or Child Tax Credit if you are in a Live Service area such as Sunderland.
It is worth speaking to Citizens Advice to get a benefit check so that you know how much you should be receiving.
Q. I have been caring for my father for a long time and I have been claiming Income Support as a carer.
I have been to a carer’s centre and they asked if I got Carer’s Allowance, which I don’t.
They told me that it is taken into account and makes your Income Support lower, so I don’t understand whether it is something I should be claiming or not?
A: You can claim Income Support as a carer without claiming Carer’s Allowance, so long as the DWP accept that you are providing sufficient care for your father then they will continue to pay you Income Support.
Generally, the Government have set the rate for a single person on Income Support at £73.10, so if you have no income from elsewhere then that is how much you would receive.
However, if you were on Carer’s Allowance then the Government would treat you as needing £73.10 plus the carer’s premium of £34.95, totalling £108.05; they would then deduct the Carer’s Allowance payment of £62.70, leaving you with Income Support of £45.35 per week.
In total you would get £108.05 from Income Support and Carer’s Allowance together, which will make most people £34.95 per week better off if they claim Carer’s Allowance rather than just Income Support as a carer.