Financial support for individuals on low incomes

If you are an individual on a low income there are a range of Benefits that could help you to pay everyday living expenses.  Some of these Benefits are explained in this article. 

The South Gloucestershire Council website has information on current support available to those who are struggling financially with the cost of living, including details of face-to-face support and advice that is available. 

Further information is available about our Household Support Fund (available until 31st March 2024) which provides support for those struggling to buy food, pay energy and water bills.

Page Contents:

 Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a benefit payment to help towards your living costs. Universal Credit is replacing the following benefits for most people:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Income Support

 If you are not working or you are on a low income, you can apply for Universal Credit.

You must be 18 or over (although there are a few exceptions if you are 16 or 17), and under State Pension age (or your partner is).

 Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit that can help to pay part or all of your rent if you are on a low income. How much you are eligible for will depend upon your income, your household and other circumstances.

Housing Benefit is being replaced by Universal Credit so most people who are of working age will need to claim Universal Credit rather than Housing Benefit to get help with their housing costs, although there are some exceptions to this.

Working age people can apply for Housing Benefit in very limited circumstances as follows –

  • You live in temporary supported accommodation
  • You (and your partner if you have one) are old enough to get state pension. You can check the GOV.UK page for more information about State Pension age.
  • You were receiving the Severe Disability Premium before 16 January 2019 and haven't claimed Universal Credit.

 Council Tax Reduction

If you are on a low income you may be able to get help towards your council tax bill. This scheme is administered by your local council and not by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The local Council Tax Reduction scheme (CTR) takes into account a person’s income to decide how much of a discount can be applied to their council tax bill.  

More information about the CTR scheme and how to apply is available on the council’s website page Local Council Tax Reduction.

When working out how many people live in a property for Council Tax purposes, it is important to know that some people are not taken into account. These people are referred to as ‘disregarded people’. There is a separate reduction available if you live alone, live with someone who under the age of 18, or live with someone who is considered to be a disregarded person. This is known as a Single Person’s Discount (SPD).  For more information about SPD and other Council Tax discounts, please see the council’s website page Council Tax discounts.

 Working Tax Credit

Working Tax credit is a means-tested government payment to help with day to day expenses for working people on low incomes. You might be eligible for Working Tax Credit depending on your circumstances. 

You can only make a new claim for Working Tax credit if you:

  • Get the severe disability premium, or are entitled to it
  • Previously had or were entitled to the severe disability premium in the last month, and you’re still eligible for it

If you are not eligible to a new claim for Working Tax credit you may be able to apply for Universal Credit (or Pension Credit if you and your partner are State Pension age or over). For more information on eligibility and how to apply for Working Tax credit please see the government’s website GOV.UK

 Welfare Grant Scheme

The Welfare Grant scheme can provide help towards essential items for households who are in a crisis situation. This help can be by way of financial awards to help with food, essential household appliances and furniture.

An award can also be made to help with gas and electricity costs where you pay for these by topping up a pre-payment meter.

You can find further information about eligibility and how to apply for a Welfare Grant on the council’s Welfare Grant webpage.

 Disability and Sickness Benefits

If you are an adult living with a disability there are a range of benefits that may be able to provide financial support:

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Carers Benefits

Disability Living Allowance

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is for adults with long term ill health or a disability, however it is gradually being replaced with Personal Independence Payment (PIP). If you have reached State Pension age you can apply for Attendance allowance instead.

Personal Independence Payment

is a benefit for people who may need help with daily activities or getting around because of a long-term illness or disability. For more information and how to apply visit the GOV.UK  website. It can also help you with some of the extra costs if you have a long term ill-health or disability.

Attendance Allowance

Attendance Allowance is a tax-free benefit for people who are State Pension age or over and helps with extra costs if you have a disability severe enough that you need someone to help look after you. There are two different rates and how much you could get depends upon your circumstances. The GOV.UK website gives more details and how to apply.

Carer's Allowance

is the main welfare benefit to help carers. You may still be able to claim it, even if you don't think of yourself as a carer. For more information and how to apply visit the Age UK website or the GOV.UK website.

The Carers Support centre offer advice and guidance for carers and you can apply for a Carers Emergency card that can offer emergency care for the person you care for if you are taken ill.

Blue Badge Scheme

A Blue Badge can give you exemption from some parking restrictions and access to designated parking spaces. Information about the Blue Badge scheme and how to apply are available on the council’s Blue Badge webpage.

Further information about other Income Benefits and Disability Benefits that may be available along with how to apply for them can be found on the GOV.UK website.

 Further information

Citizens Advice - (formerly known as the Citizens Advice Bureau or CAB) offers free, independent and confidential advice.

They provide advice about many issues including:

  • Benefits
  • Debt and money issues
  • Consumer advice

Visit the Citizens Advice website for further information and to find your nearest Citizen’s Advice Office.

Money Advice service - provides free and impartial money advice across many areas such as debt, mortgages and budgeting. For more information visit the Money Advice service website.