Benefits and tax credits are payments from the government to certain people on low incomes, or to meet specific needs. They can help you if you:
Are on a low income
Are out of work
Are sick or disabled
Have been bereaved
Are a carer.
Who administers benefits?
Different organisations administer different benefits. These include:
Department for Work and Pensions DWP which operates through agencies such as Jobcentre Plus and The Pensions Service
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
Employers pay some benefits then claim the money back from the Government these are called Statutory Benefits
What types of benefits are there?
Benefits can usually come under one of two types:
Your means (income, savings and other capital) will be looked at to see if they are low enough for you to qualify. If your means are greater than your needs (the amount the government estimates you need to live on), the benefit is reduced or may not be paid at all, so the amount you are entitled to can vary from one person to another. You can get these benefits even if you have not paid enough national insurance contributions. Entitlement to means-tested benefits is calculated by the Turn2us Benefits Calculator.
Non-means-tested benefits don't take into account your income and savings in the same way as means-tested benefits do, but they do have their own rules which must be met:
These benefits are to replace earnings, for example when you lose your job or are unable to work because of illness or disability. Whether you get the benefit depends on if you (or in some cases your partner) have paid or been credited with enough national insurance contributions. They are not means-tested, but if you have income in the form of earnings or pension payments the amount you get may be affected.
These benefits replace earnings if you are off work due to maternity/adoption/paternity or sickness. There is no means-test but there are earnings rules to meet in order to qualify. These benefits are paid through your employer.
Mostly these benefits are intended to help with the extra costs of having a disability or caring for someone with a disability. There is no means-test and no national insurance contributions conditions, you just have to fit the rules for who can claim. They are usually ignored as income for means-tested benefits