If you are struggling to get to grips with the benefits system, feel like you need support talking to your local council and government agencies, or need a little help managing your money then you can speak to our Benefits Rights Advisor, Joe Eley. We offer free, confidential advice and support which is tailored to your needs.
We can help you to:
- Complete benefit checks
- Fill in forms
- Provide representation at appeals tribunals
- Provide advice on any type of benefits
- Assist in resolving problems with rent arrears, including Housing Benefit backdating requests and appeals
- Manage your debts
- Budget your money
- Access the Scottish Welfare Fund
For advice and information about budgeting and debt Joe can refer you to your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Money Matters who offer a range of services to help you manage their finances. Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector and Glasgow Homeless Network have produced a Quick Guide to Welfare Benefits & Reforms to help keep people informed about changes to the welfare benefit system. Below are some of the benefits you might be entitled to.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
This is a benefit for people who are not fit to work. If you are awarded ESA you will be placed in one of two groups:
Work Related Activity Group – lower level payments. You will have to do some work related activity organised by the Jobcentre.
Support Group – higher level payments. You do not have to do any work related activity.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
This is a benefit paid to people who have a long term illness or disability. Only children under the age of 16 and existing claimants who were aged 65 or over on 8 April 2013 (the day Personal Independence Payment was introduced) can continue to claim Disability Living Allowance.
There are two parts to this benefit:
Mobility – this into account physical difficulties with walking or support you need to go out on your own
Care – this looks at any problems you have with personal care such as cooking, washing and dressing
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
This benefit replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA). It is designed to allow people with a long term health problem or disability to live as independently as possible.
There are two parts to this benefit:
Mobility – this takes into account physical difficulties with walking or support you need to go out on your own
Daily Living – this looks at any problems you have with things like cooking, washing and dressing, budgeting and social interaction
How is PIP different to DLA?
- PIP involves a face to face medical assessment
- The low rate care of DLA does not exist under PIP. There are only two rates available for each part of PIP
This is a benefit paid to people age 65 or over who have a long term illness or disability and need help with their personal care.
This benefit considers things like:
- washing and bathing
- toilet needs
- dressing and undressing
- managing your medication
Working Tax Credit
This benefit is available to people who are working and on a low income.
Working Tax Credit will depend on your circumstances. The different elements of the benefit are added up and compared with your income to calculate how much you should be paid. Your award is normally based on your previous year’s income unless you have had a significant change in earnings.
Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
This benefit is for people who are looking for work. To qualify you must be unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week. You are expected to meet a set of requirements which sets out what you must do to look for work. If you don’t meet these requirements your benefit will be stopped.
This benefit is for people who are not expected to work. In order to qualify for Income Support you must fall into one of the following groups:
- You are a carer who is looking after someone who receives certain benefits
- You are a single parent and your youngest child is under 5 years of age
- Certain types of students
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction
If you are on benefits and/or have a low income you may be entitled to help with your rent and council tax.
The State Pension is based on your National Insurance contribution throughout your working life. The amount you are paid upon retirement will depend on the number of years you have contributed. It is not means tested and can be paid once you reach pensionable age.
In April 2016 the rules changed so there is now a capped flat rate state pension. The number of contributing years you have made will still be taken into account but once the maximum rate is reached you will not build up any extra pension. There are transitional rules in place to protect the pensions already built up by people close to retirement age.
This is an income based benefit available to people over qualifying age on a low income. Qualifying age for Pension Credit is different to state pension. In some cases you can claim pension credit before you qualify for your state pension.
There are two types of Pension Credit:
Guarantee Credit – if your income falls below the amount the Government says you need to live on, Guarantee Credit will be paid to top up your income
Savings Credit – this is paid to people over 65 with certain types of income. It is intended as an extra payment for people who have made modest savings for their retirement.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
You may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay when you stop work to have a baby. You do not have to repay this money if you decide not to return to work after your maternity leave ends.
SMP is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, you will be paid 90% of your average weekly pay. For the following 33 weeks, you will be paid £139.58 per week. If your average weekly pay is less than £139.58, you will continue to be paid 90% of your usual wage.
SMP can start any time from the 11th week before your due date. Every woman has the right to take a full year off work for their maternity leave if they wish. It is important to remember that SMP will only be paid for 39 weeks, so the last 3 months of your leave will be unpaid.
If you are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance from the Government.
You can get Maternity Allowance if you have a job but don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. You can also be paid Maternity Allowance if you are not currently working, but have had a job recently.
Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks at a rate of £139.58 per week. If your average earnings are less than £139.58, you will be paid 90% of your usual wage.
Maternity Allowance can start anytime from the 11th week before your due date. If you are currently working, you can delay the start of your Maternity Allowance right up until the week your baby is born. If you are not currently working, you must take your Maternity Leave 11 weeks before your due date.
Child Benefit is a tax free payment available to most people responsible for a child or young person, unless you have a very high income.
Child Benefit is paid at a flat rate of £20.70 per week for your first child and an extra £13.70 for each additional child.
Child Benefit is paid to the person with main responsibility for the day to day care of the child. In most cases, this will be the mother of the child, however it may be claimed by another family member such as the father of the child or a grandparent if they are the main carer for the child.
Child Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit is an income based payment available if you are responsible for a child or children and have a low to moderate income.
How much Child Tax Credit you receive is based on your income and individual circumstances.
The Warm Home Discount scheme (WHDS) offers a one off payment of £140 (inclusive of VAT) towards the energy bills of households that need it most in England, Scotland and Wales.
The scheme was introduced by the Government in April 2011 and administered by energy suppliers. The discount is provided to eligible customers as a payment credited to their energy account, or as a £140 credit on their prepayment card or key, during the winter.
There are two groups who may qualify for the WHDS; those in receipt of Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (the core group) and those on a low income (the broader group. To check if your supplier is part of the scheme you can phone them directly and ask if they are in the Warm Home Discount Scheme or click here.
If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
You qualify for the discount if on 8 July 2018 all of the following applied:
- your energy supplier was part of the scheme – see Eligibility above
- your name (or your partner’s) was on the bill
- you were getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (even if you get Savings Credit as well)
You’ll receive a letter by 7 December 2018 telling you how to get the discount if you qualify. Your letter will say if you need to call a helpline by 28 February 2019 to confirm your details. Your electricity supplier will apply the discount to your bill by the end of March 2019.
Contact the Warm Home Discount Team if you did not get the letter and you think you’re eligible for the ‘core group’. You can call them on 0800 731 0214.
If you’re on a low income
You may be able to apply directly to your electricity supplier for help if you do not get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit but:
- your energy supplier is part of the scheme – see Eligibility above
- you’re on a low income
- you get certain means-tested benefits (See table below)
To get the discount you’ll need to stay with your supplier until it’s paid.
Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount – check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply. Check with your supplier as early as possible. The number of discounts suppliers can give are limited.
Between April 2015 and March 2016 hundreds of Cairn tenants benefited from over £326,000 in additional income after using our Benefits and Money Advice Service. Two families have shared their story with us.
It’s so difficult for elderly people to make a claim. Particularly over the phone. The phone number is always engaged and when you eventually get through they ask so many questions and if you don’t have the information to hand you have to start over. It’s really off-putting. The woman at the council said you can go online and do it, David and I just looked at each other and thought we can’t do that. It’s not surprising lots of people just give up.
David has had three strokes and I’ve had my own health problems so we look after each other. I knew something about an attendance allowance but I wasn’t sure whether we were eligible.
When we met Joe we were nervous about sharing personal information. We’re from a generation where you don’t talk about money, but Joe is a great listener. He asked the right questions and put us at ease.
We sat and talked through our situation. Joe filled in some forms and they were sent off to the Department of Work and Pensions.
The first thing that happened was we got a combined state pension and Attendance Allowance. That extra income made a big difference.
Soon afterwards Joe was back in touch. He asked if we were sitting down and then told us that because we were receiving Attendance Allowance we were entitled to Guaranteed Pension Credit. We were so happy but Joe said he wasn’t finished yet. Because we were getting the attendance allowance and guaranteed pensions credit it also meant we were entitled to full housing benefit to pay our council tax and rent. It was even backdated.
What amazes me is how do we manage to get this? How can we be entitled to this? It’s because people don’t know about it. Without Joe we would never have received these benefits and it’s been life changing. Joe said there isn’t any harm in making a claim and he wouldn’t advise anyone to claim anything they’re not entitled to. All the rules are quite baffling, we’re just ordinary folk that wouldn’t know what we’re entitled to.
We’ve done things like pay for our funerals in advance. It makes us very secure that we’re not going to have any money problems. Three things I never talk about is politics, religion or money so we’ve not told anyone about the change to our financial situation but I feel it’s important to share our story to encourage more people to contact Joe.
Attendance allowance £8559.20
Housing benefit £4418.40
Council tax – £800
Guaranteed pension credit is £3247.40
Total new benefits of £17,025 a year
My ankle starting getting painful and before long I was in terrible agony. I went to the Doctors and it wasn’t broken. I took some time off, rested but it just kept getting worse. The pain would travel up to my hip and I couldn’t walk. I ended up getting an emergency MRI and it turned out I’ve got a crack on my hip and arthritis on my hip, knees, ankles and spine.
I was running my own company before I became unwell, a successful business that I’d built up over years. But then I couldn’t work anymore. To go from feeling proud and self-sufficient to being so reliant on other people was very difficult for me. I was in this zone where I couldn’t run my own life because I was in such pain. I would see things and I couldn’t speak properly. I was blaming the medication I was on but I’ve since learned it was actually the way my body and mind were reacting to the pain I was suffering.
The benefits agency wasn’t very helpful. I was really upset because I felt like I was being accused of lying about my health.
I got a letter one day from Cairn saying I was about £700 in rent arrears. I couldn’t understand it. I thought the benefits agency would have taken care of it all. I got in a right state. I called my housing officer in tears and told her I couldn’t cope. Jacquie was superb, she just said, ‘Don’t worry, calm down, I’ll come and see you.’
I can safely say if it hadn’t been for Jacquie I don’t know what would have happened to me. Jacquie went above and beyond the call of duty to look out for me. And then she brought Joe over.
For some reason I imagined that Joe would be young and tall but then in he comes looking like a wee Glasgae hard nut! Joe and I had a chat about my situation. He’s really easy to talk to and we got on right away. He told me we should appeal the previous decisions.
After Joe helped me win my appeal for the daily living allowance he said we’ll put in for carers allowance for my daughter who looks after me. Because we won the appeal we also got full housing benefit.
With Joe’s help I went from not working and zero income to receiving Personal Independent Payment, Carers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Housing Benefit and a Council Tax reduction.
The help I’ve had from Joe has changed everything. I’ve got peace of mind that my bills are paid and I’m not going to get into arrears. I’ve had to adjust to a different income, and we do struggle a bit, but I’m nowhere near as stressed as I was before Jacquie and Joe got involved.
Personal Independence Payment £4,828.80
Carers Allowance £3,229.20
Employment Support Allowance £3,280.80
Housing Benefit £4,080.65
Council Tax Reduction £685.30
Total new benefits of £16,104 a year
If you have any questions about benefits you might be entitled to please contact Joe Eley on 0800 990 3405.