Means Tested Benefits

Universal Credit

If you live in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced and are eligible to claim it, you should claim Universal Credit rather than:

  •  Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
  •  Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  •  Income Support
  • Housing Benefit. 

Universal Credit also replaces Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

To find out whether you live in an area where Universal Credit has been introduced click here 

If you live in an area where Universal Credit has not been introduced you may still be able to claim the following means tested benefits

Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)

To be entitled to income based JSA you must meet certain conditions including :

  • You must have no income or your income must be below your applicable amount (this amount will depend on your circumstances);
  • You must not have more than £16,000 in savings or capital.
  • If you fulfil the conditions and  you are aged between 18 and 24 you will receive £57.90 a week
  • If you are over 25 you will receive £73.10 per week

Income Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

  • A Work Capability Assessment will determine which of two different groups you are placed in – the work related activity group or the support group. The group you are placed in will determine the additional amount of ESA you will receive as well as your responsibilities to retain the benefit and whether your entitlement to ESA will be time limited. 
  • You will be placed in the work related activity group if you are found not to have a limited capability for work. If you are placed in this group you must meet work related conditions which may include undertaking work related activity. If you don’t meet these conditions then your ESA payments may be reduced.
  • You will be placed in the support group if you are found to have a limited capability for work. Unlike the work related activity group, you do not have to do work related activity.
  • If you are a single person – during a period of up to 13 weeks after your  claim (the assessment phase)  you will receive £57.90 a week  if  you are under 25 and £73.10 a week if you are 25 or over
  • If you are a single person  and are entitled to ESA after the 13 week assessment phase you will enter the main phase and be entitled to £73.10 a week if you are under 25 and £73.10 a week if you are 25 or over
  • If you are placed in the work related activity group then you will receive an additional £29.05 per week.
  • If you are placed in the support group then you will receive an additional £36.20 per week.
  • If you are disabled and receive income-related ESA then you may also be entitled to receive the Enhanced Disability Premium, this is £15.75 a week. To qualify for the Enhanced Disability Premium you must receive a ‘qualifying’ benefit or be in the ESA support group. A qualifying benefit would be the highest rate care component of DLA or the enhanced daily rate component of PIP.
  • You may also be entitled to receive the Severe Disability Premium, this is £61.85 a week.  To qualify for the Severe Disability Premium you must receive a qualifying benefit, no one must get Carers Allowance for looking after you and you must technically be considered as living alone.

To be entitled to income related ESA you must meet certain conditions including:

  • You must have no income or your income must be below your “applicable amount” (this amount will depend on your circumstances);
  • You must not have more than £16,000 in savings or capital.
  • Savings below  £6,000.00  do not affect your entitlement.  If you have savings or capital between £6,000-16,000 then your benefit will reduce on a sliding scale.   If you have over £16,000.00 in savings or capital  then you will not be entitled to ESA

Income Support

Income Support is a means tested benefit and is only available to limited groups of people for example you are pregnant and are incapable of work because of your pregnancy or you are a lone parent and are responsible for a child under 5.

If you are not in this group then should claim another means tested benefit – for example JSA if you are looking for work or ESA if you have a limited capability to work.

  • If you are aged between 18 and 24 you might receive up to £57.90 per week and if you are 25 or over you might receive up to £73.10 per week
  • You can have savings of up to £6,000.00 after which the benefit will reduce on a sliding scale. There is no entitlement to Income Support if you have over £16,000.00 in savings.

Housing Benefit

The amount payable will depend on the level of rent you pay and your income. It is subject to a savings cap of £16,000 after which the benefit will not usually be available.

Pension Credit

The savings credit element of this benefit can help by topping up a low income and could provide you with up to £14.82 a week

The benefit is reduced if you have over £10,000.00 in savings. Every £500 in savings above £10,000.00 is also treated as providing  you with £1 of “income” for the eligibility calculation.

Council Tax

Some properties will be exempt from council tax, for example if a property is occupied by a person who has a severe mental impairment and no one else is liable to pay council tax. Other exemptions are available if a property is unoccupied because major works are needed or a person has left home and is now resident in a care home. You will need to check the available exemptions with your local authority.

If you are liable to pay council tax then there are three different schemes for reducing council tax bills. These are:

  • The Disability Reduction Scheme
  • The Discount Scheme
  • The Council Tax Reduction Scheme

The Disability Reduction Scheme – you are entitled to a disability reduction if  you or another person living in a property are ‘substantially and permanently disabled.’ If you are entitled to this reduction then your council tax bill will be reduced to the valuation band below the band which attaches to your property.

The Discount scheme – this reduction applies if fewer than two adults are living in a property. The discount could be as much as 50% of your council tax liability.

The Council tax reduction scheme – this scheme replaces Council Tax Benefit. Each local authority in England and Wales is required to have a scheme in place. As each local authority will have their own scheme, you will need to check the scheme offered by your local authority

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