Financial support for families on low incomes

If you have a family to support and you are on a low income, there are a range of benefits and other help available, to support you with the costs of everyday living.  

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 2023) which provides support for those struggling to buy food, pay energy and water bills.

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Universal Credit

Universal Credit has replaced the following benefits for most people:

  • Housing Benefit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working 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 can get 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.  You can apply for housing benefit if you’re in one of the following groups:

  • you live in temporary supported accommodation
  • you (and your partner if you have one) are old enough to get state pension. 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 Council Tax Reduction 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, some people are not taken into account - they are referred to as ‘disregarded people’. There is a separate reduction available if you live alone, live with someone who is not an adult, 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 a single person discount and other Council Tax discounts, please see the council’s website page Council Tax discounts.

Tax credits

Tax Credits are means-tested government payments to help with day to day expenses for working people on low incomes or those who are caring for children.

For most people, Tax credits have been replaced by Universal Credit.

You can only make a new claim for tax credits 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.

If you cannot make a new claim for tax credits, you may be able to apply for

Universal Credit (or Pension Credit if you and your partner are State Pension age or over).

There are two types of tax credit – child tax credit and working tax credit. You might be eligible for one or both of them, depending on your circumstances.

Child tax credits are for those who are responsible for children; they are paid in addition to child benefit and you do not need to be working to claim them. For more information about Child Tax Credit, please see the government’s website GOV.UK

Working tax credits are for people who are in work, either for an employer or self-employed, but who earn a low income. For more information about Working Tax Credit, please see the government’s website GOV.UK

Child Benefit

You can claim Child Benefit  in the UK, a tax-free payment, for each baby you are responsible for (you do not have to be their parent), regardless of whether you are working or have savings.

You get Child Benefit if you are responsible for bringing up a child who is:

  • under 16
  • under 20 if they stay in approved education or training.

Only one person can get Child Benefit for a child.

It is paid every four weeks and there is no limit to how many children you can claim for.

Welfare Grant Scheme

Welfare Grant awards 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, baby formula and nappies, 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 Grants webpage.

Free school meals

Free school meals are available to pupils or parents of pupils who are in receipt of certain benefits.

Further information on eligibility and how to apply for Free School meals can be found in our School meals article.

Disability benefits

The council can provide help if you have a disabled child. Please see our website pages for more information about  financial and other support  and Cares & Disability benefits.

There are a range of benefits available to support children with disabilities for further information, visit GOV.UK.

Financial help when having a baby

There are benefits and support that can help towards the costs of having a baby such as Maternity Pay, Statutory Maternity Leave and Maternity Allowance. Further details of these benefits and others is available on government GOV.UK website.

Financial help if you are a student with children

If you are studying and supporting a family there are benefits that can help you with your income.  For information on the Parent’s Learning Allowance and the Childcare Grant please go to the GOV.UK website.

Savings Accounts for children

Find details of Junior Individual Savings accounts (ISA’s) on the GOV.UK website.

Financial Support with childcare

If you use registered childcare such as a childminder or your child attends a registered nursery setting, you may be able to get help towards the cost of this childcare.  See our article How to apply for free childcare or the GOV.UK website for more information.

Financial Support when your child is at school

If you child is at school you may be able to get financial support towards the cost of Home to School transport and uniform costs and your child may be eligible for Free School meals. 

Other family and household related benefits

There are other family related benefits which you may be eligible for and details of these can be found on the government GOV.UK website.

Healthy Start

If you’re under 18 and more than 10 weeks pregnant, you qualify for Healthy Start until your baby is born.

If you are pregnant or have a child under four years old AND are in receipt of certain benefits you could qualify for Healthy Start. 

If you are eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops.

For more information or to apply, visit the Maternal and child nutrition page and the Healthy Start website.

Further information

Dealing with finances can be a daunting task but there are organisations that can provide help and support.  Vist the council's website for further information.

Citizens Advice

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

They provide advice about:

  • Benefits
  • Employment
  • Debt and money issues
  • Consumer advice
  • Housing issues
  • Family matters
  • Law and Court issues
  • Immigration
  • Health matters

Visit the Citizens Advice  website for further information and to find your nearest Citizens Advice office.

Money Advice service

The 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.