Domestic violence and benefits

This article is 79 months old


A new report from Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), which draws on evidence from the charity's advice work, outlines a problem some women have when they leave an abusive partner and need benefits to support their children.

Women fleeing a violent partner with their children can be left with virtually no money for weeks or even months if their former partner is the Child Benefit recipient. This is because the procedure for assessing competing claims for Child Benefit can be long, drawn out and is inflexible. And, women in this position can’t get Income Support for daily living costs until the Child Benefit is sorted. She must make a fresh claim for Child Benefit in her name but it can take weeks or months for an ex-partner’s Child Benefit claim to be ended. A a new award to the mother can’t be made until that’s done.

What’s more - because receipt of Child Benefit is the test of whether someone is entitled to claim Income Support as a lone parent – a delay in getting Child Benefit has the knock-on effect of denying entitlement to Income Support until the Child Benefit claim is sorted.

In the worst cases, mothers can be left without Child Benefit or Income Support for 16+ weeks.

CPAG want guidance for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff so that they accept reasonable evidence that a woman lives with her children in a refuge following domestic abuse – such as a letter from refuge staff – as sufficient to show she is responsible for and living with her children, and therefore her Child Benefit claim should take priority over her ex-partner’s. It also wants Income Support rules to be changed so that women who have fled domestic violence with their children can claim Income Support as lone parents, irrespective of whether or not they have been awarded Child Benefit.


If you have experienced domestic abuse

If you are in immediate danger, phone 999 and ask for the Police.

If you need information, advice and support on domestic violence/sexual abuse and what help is available, the charities listed at the end of this news article can advise further.

Turn2us tools and resources can help you find financial support

Money to start a new life away from your abuser can be a key factor if you are or have been sexually abused.

Turn2us tools and information resources can help you find out what might be available to help you through benefits and grants.


You can use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits.

Our Your Situation information section includes the following sections which you might find helpful, depending on your situation:


Although there aren't many that specifically help people experiencing domestic/sexual abuse, many charities listed on this interactive tool can provide support, if you meet their qualifying rules.

This might be a charitable fund:

  • Attached to an occupation or industry you work in or used to work in. For instance, for anyone who works in or has worked in the banking sector, whatever their job, the Bank Workers' Charity offers support if you have experienced abuse of any kind
  • That helps individuals and families on low incomes who are living in difficult situations
  • That supports people who have a particular faith or nationality
  • A local fund that helps people in need who live in a particular area.

Many funds also help the dependents of people their fund supports – e.g. their partners, ex-partners or dependent children.

Find an Adviser

If you need advice on your particular situation, our Find an Adviser tool can help you find local experts, including Citizens Advice offices in your area and local services that help people who have experienced rape, sexual abuse, domestic violence, forced marriage or female genital mutilation (FGM).

Charities that support people who have experience domestic or sexual abuse


Women and children


Men and boys