Making a home in the UK can be a very valuable experience, with a high quality of life and numerous advantages in terms of benefits. The British government has a lot in place to help those in need, and specifically to help four different groups of individuals: people of working age, pensioners, disabled people and those taking care of them, families and children. That being said, if you are going to claim benefits, make sure the claim is done to the right department to ensure that you will get your benefits as quickly as possible.
Benefits are usually paid into a bank account to ensure security, and convenience. But, how do you know if you are eligible for benefits? You need to check if any of the following apply to you: low income (currently employed or still looking for work with less than £16,000 in savings), living and working in the UK for at least three months, you have children who depend on you, ill or disabled, you are taking care of someone, you are 60 or older, or you have been bereaved. You can always use government provided Benefits Advisor tool (link provided at the bottom of this page) to check your eligibility.
Three very important parts of the benefits in the UK are the statutory sick pay, child care (or child maintenance), and council tax benefits.
Statutory Sick Pay
The statutory sick pay applies when you are employed under a contract, have average weekly earnings of at least £107, and have been sick for four days in a row (including weekends, and holidays). Your must tell your employer that you are sick, and provide him with some form of medical evidence after being sick for eight days. If all of this applies, the statutory sick pay is remunerated by your employer, directly into your bank account, with a standard weekly rate of £85.85; though, this might be subject to change depending on your circumstances.
Childcare, or child maintenance, is financial support for your child’s daily living cost. The way it works is fairly straightforward: the parent who does not have the daily care of the child pays whoever takes care of his child, be it another parent, grandparent, or guardian. If all of the above is not possible, parents can seek the help of the Child Support Agency (CSA) to get advice.
Council tax benefit
Council tax benefits are applicable when you earn a low income, even if you do not work or are in the process of looking for work. To see if you are eligible for the council tax benefit, there are numerous online benefits advisers. Depending on who you are, you may get a tax reduction percentage ranging from 7.5% to 25%.
Another very important aspect of being in the UK is the housing benefit. Living in the UK can be very pricey, especially if you are living in London, but thankfully the government will help those who do not earn enough and cannot pay their rent without support. Those follow the same rules as the aforementioned benefits; you are eligible to get housing benefits if you pay rent, if your income is below a certain level and if your savings are below £16,000. Whether you are able to work in the UK, looking for a job or unemployed does not matter as long as you earn a low income. On the other hand, if you have savings over £16,000, live in the home of a close relative, are a full time student, or are an asylum seeker you will not be eligible to get benefits.
If you do already get support from the government, one very important element is to report any changes in your personal circumstances. If you fail to do so you may be prosecuted, asked to pay a penalty, get a reduction or withdrawal of benefits, or asked to repay the overpaid benefits. If you are not sure what you are supposed to do, you can always contact the Citizens Advice Bureau, who can help you in case you are being suspected of fraud.
If you are an expat living and working in the UK, you should not have too much cause to worry. If you do not earn enough money to fully sustain yourself, the British government will be here to help.