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i The advice on this page applies to anyone with personal debts taken out in the UK.

Saving money and increasing income

Increasing income: Make sure you’re not missing out on benefits

Benefits are paid by the government to people who are unable to work or have a low income.  If you’re struggling financially, it’s important to make sure you’re getting all the income you’re entitled to. The extra money you could claim from benefits can make a big difference to your situation.

To find out if you’re entitled to any extra benefits use our free online benefits calculator. If you think you might be entitled to claim a benefit you should apply for it.

Claiming benefits can provide extra money for essential living costs such as food, clothing and housing. Benefits are not just for people are unemployed, you may be able to claim if you:

  • Have children or dependents
  • Are on a low income
  • Are ill or disabled

Read our guide about more ways to maximise your income.

What kind of benefits can I claim?

The government is in the process of moving people from “legacy benefits” (this means Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and others) to Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is the benefit that most people in the UK claim, as it has been designed to support people who are unemployed, on low incomes, unable to work due to illness or disability, or caring for dependents. It combines several previous benefit types into one monthly payment (sometimes divided into two payments for people living in Scotland).

The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) and most local authorities have adopted Universal Credit as standard, so you’ll be directed to apply for Universal Credit when you make a new claim.

I'm on benefits, will I be moved to Universal Credit?

The government wants to move everyone over to Universal Credit by 2024. You might be moved over earlier if:

  • You've had a change in circumstances: If your claim has changed, you'll be moved onto Universal Credit
  • The DWP writes to you asking if you'd like to move: You can agree to this change
  • You claim from your local authority: they are moving to Universal Credit as standard for the claims they manage

It has been agreed that if a UC payment would be lower than your current benefits, you would receive a top-up

Visit Gov.UK for more information.

It's important that you keep the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) up to date about your situation when claiming benefits. If you're overpaid, DWP Debt Management will chase you to repay any overpayments and can take money directly from wages and benefits to repay what you owe.

There are some areas in the UK that have yet to adopt Universal Credit as the standard benefit. In these rare cases, you may still be able to apply for:

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

Simply fill in an online form on the Gov.UK website. You'll need to provide information about your living situation. You'll also need to provide your national insurance (NI) number and a contact telephone number you can be reached on.

Residents of Northern Ireland will need to apply for JSA online via NI Direct.

Income Support

Visit the Gov.UK website (or NI Direct website for Northern Ireland residents) to find out how to apply for Income Support.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Visit the Gov.UK website to find out how to apply for ESA / PIP over the telephone.

You can also fill in and print out the ESA1 form and send or take it to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Working and Child Tax credit

You can order a Tax Credits claim form by using the Gov.UK online tool or calling the Tax Credits Office. It can take up to two weeks for your form to arrive.

I'm on benefits and need help paying debt - can you help?

We give free and impartial debt advice to people with all sorts of debt problems. If you feel that you need some help with your financial situation get help by calling us or through our online debt advice tool.

I'm on benefits and need help paying debt - can you help?

We give free and impartial debt advice to people with all sorts of debt problems. If you feel that you need some help with your financial situation get help by calling us or through our online advice tool.