Are you getting all the benefits you should be?
Last updated: 06/04/2023
We know, for many single parents, this is an incredibly difficult time. In order to maximise your income, check you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to.
We have listed below benefits you might be entitled to.
Money to pay for day to day living expenses
Universal Credit provides financial support, for living expenses, childcare and housing costs, to working age people and their families. Amounts are paid for you and your children. It can also provide money towards rent and childcare costs.
The actual amount you get is based on your family’s circumstances and income but you do not have to be working to get it.
Single parents aged 16 to 65 can claim Universal Credit. The upper age will increase in line with the qualifying age for state pension. Pregnant women aged 16 and over can claim it from 11 weeks before their baby is due.
Universal Credit needs to be claimed online and is calculated and paid monthly in arrears.
For more information and how to apply see: Universal Credit
New style Jobseeker's Allowance and new style Employment and Support Allowance
If you have made the necessary National Insurance contributions you may get new style Jobseeker’s Allowance or new style Employment and Support Allowance if you stop working. You get new style Jobseeker’s Allowance if you are made redundant or leave your job for reasons other than illness or disability. You get new style Employment and Support Allowance if you leave work due to illness or disability.
New style Jobseeker’s Allowance weekly rates:
Single parents aged under 25: £61.05
Single parents aged 25 and over: £77.00
New style Employment and Support Allowance weekly rates:
Single parent aged 16 or 17: £61.05
Single parent 18 and over: £77.00
Additional support component: £40.60
For more information and how to apply see: Benefits based on your National Insurance contributions
Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
Citizens Advice Scotland have very important information if you’re struggling to afford your energy bills or top up your prepayment meter. You might be able to take advantage of certain benefits, grants and help offered by the UK government, the Scottish government and energy suppliers.
Benefits if you or your children have a disability or long-term illness
Child Disability Payment and Child Winter Heating Assistance Payment
Child Disability Payment is given to help with the extra costs of caring for a child, or young person up to the age of 18, with a disability or long-term ill-heath condition. It has replaced Disability Living Allowance for children living in Scotland.
To get Child Disability Payment your child must meet the following conditions;-
- be living in Scotland and
- be under 16 when you apply (but can continue to receive it until they are 18)
- need help with their personal care because of their physical or mental disability or illness and/or
- need help when moving around because of their physical or mental disability or illness and
- have had their disability or illness for 3 months before you apply and be expected to have it for at least 6 months after.
Your child does not need to have a diagnosis, but you may have to provide evidence of how their disability or health condition affects them.
The amount you will get for your child depends on how much help they need.
There are 2 amounts called components. The care component is paid for the day to day help your child needs with things like dressing, washing and eating. Your child can get this from 3 months old. The mobility component is to pay for the extra help your child needs to physically get around and to stay safe when they are moving around. A child can get the mobility component from age 3.
The care component has 3 rates and the mobility component has 2.
- High rate £101.75
- Middle rate £68.10
- Low rate £26.90
- High rate £71.00
- Low rate £26.90
For more information and how to apply see: Financial help for children with a disability or long-term illness
Child Winter Heating Assistance is given to help with the cost of heating the homes of severely disabled children.
To get Child Winter Heating Assistance your child must meet the following conditions on the whole of the third week in September:-
- be living in Scotland and
- be getting the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, Child Disability Payment or the enhanced daily living rate of Personal Independence Payment and
- be under 19 years old
You do not need to apply for this benefit as it will be paid automatically if your child meets these conditions. It will be paid in November or December. You will get a letter telling you when it is paid.
Child Winter Heating Assistance is £235.70 each year. It is paid for each child who qualifies so families could get more than one payment.
Adult Disability Payment
Adult Disability Payment is a benefit from the Scottish Government to help with the extra costs of having a disability or long-term ill-heath condition. It has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for adults living in Scotland.
You can no longer apply for PIP in Scotland.
To get Adult Disability Payment you must meet the following conditions: –
- be living in Scotland
- be 16, or over, and under pension age when you apply
- not be getting DLA or PIP
- need help with your personal care because of their physical or mental disability or illness and/or
- need help when moving around because of your physical or mental disability or illness and
- have had your disability or illness for 13 weeks before you apply and be expected to have it for at least 39 weeks after.
You do not need to have a diagnosis but will have to provide evidence of how your disability or health condition affects you. If you have a progressive illness that will limit your life expectancy you do not need to have had the illness for 13 weeks before you can get Adult Disability Payment.
The amount you will get depends on the services, equipment and support you need.
There are 2 amounts called components. The daily living component is to help with the day-to-day help you need with things like dressing, washing and eating. The mobility component is to help with the extra help you need to physically get around and to stay safe when you are moving around.
Each component has 2 rates.
Daily living component:
- Enhanced rate £101.75
- Standard rate £68.10
- Enhanced rate £71.00
- Standard rate £24.45
If you have a progressive illness that the doctors expect will limit your life expectancy you will automatically get the highest rates of both the care and mobility components.
For more information and how to apply see: Financial help if you have a disability or long term illness
Benefits if you care for someone
You may get Carer’s Allowance if you care for an adult or child for at least 35 hours per week. The care you provide can include helping the person you care for to wash, cook, shop and attend medical appointments. The person you care for does not have to live with or be related to you.
You can only receive one award of Carer’s Allowance even if you care for more than one person for more than 35 hours per week each.
You can get Carer’s Allowance, providing you meet the other criteria, if you are disabled or have a carer yourself.
If the person you care for has several carers only one can receive Carer’s Allowance.
Carer’s Allowance is £76.75 per week.
For more information and how to apply see: Carer’s Allowance
Carers Allowance supplement
If you are receiving Carer’s Allowance, you will also receive a supplement from the Scottish Government. It is paid automatically into your bank account in June and December.
The supplement is £270.50 paid twice a year.
Young Carer Grant
If you are 16, 17 or 18 years old and care for someone who is getting Personal Independence Payment (PIP) daily living component, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Child Disability Payment care component at middle or highest rate, Attendance Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment you may be able to claim a young carer’s grant.
The grant of £396.65 is paid once a year and you may be able to get it for 3 years.
For more information and how to apply see: Financial help if you are caring for someone with a disability or illness
Benefits for your children
You can get Child Benefit for each child, or young person, that you are responsible for. That usually means that they live with you and you take care of their day to day needs. You do not have to be their parent.
A child is someone who is under 16 years of age. A qualifying young person is someone between 16 and under 20 in full-time non-advanced, or further, education.
Only one person can get Child Benefit for each child even if you share their care with someone else.
Child Benefit weekly rates:
First or only child: £24.00
Second and subsequent children: £15.90
For more information and how to apply see: Child Benefit
Scottish Child Payment
The Scottish Child Payment is £25 per week given by the Scottish Government for each eligible child under 16 years old.
You must also be receiving one of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit, or waiting for your first payment of Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit
For more information and how to apply see: Scottish Child Payment
Educational Maintenance Allowance
Young people aged 16 to 19 who stay in school or college may get the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Your child may get the EMA if your income is below £24,421 or £26,884 if you have more than one child who qualifies.
For more information and how to apply see: EMA
Money if you are pregnant
Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks by your employer. You’ll receive 90% of your average weekly earnings for six weeks followed by 33 weeks at £172.48 or 90% of earnings if this is less.
To qualify you must have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due. You must also have earned at least £123 per week (before tax) over the last eight weeks. Your employer arranges Statutory Maternity Pay and it will be paid to you in the same way as your salary.
For more information see: Money when you’re expecting or have just had a baby
If you do not get Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer you may get a benefit called Maternity Allowance instead. This could be the case if you are self-employed, changed your job during pregnancy, have just started a new job or are on a low income.
Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks and you will receive 90% of your earnings, or £172.48 per week, whichever is less.
To qualify you must have been working for any 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date. The 26 weeks do not have to be in a row or with the same employer. You must also have earned £30 per week or more.
For more information see: Money when you’re expecting or have just had a baby
Best Start Grant
The Scottish Government has introduced a grant to help with the costs of a new baby called the Best Start Grant. This has replaced the Sure Start Maternity Grant which is no longer available in Scotland.
The Best Start Grant includes 3 different payments:
- Best Start Pregnancy and Baby Payment – to help with the costs of pregnancy and having a new baby. You will receive £707.25 from your 25th week of pregnancy to 6 months after the birth of your first child and £353.65 on the birth of any following children.
- Best Start Early Learning Payment – a payment of £294.70 to help with the costs of early learning. It is paid when your child is between 2 years and 3 years 6 months old. Your child does not need to be in nursery to get it. If you did not get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment you can still apply for this part.
- Best Start School Age Payment – a further payment of £294.70 to help with the additional costs when your child is school age. Your child does not need to start school to get this.
For more information and how to apply see: Best Start Grant
Best Start Foods
Best Start Foods is a voucher scheme for children and pregnant women. Vouchers, worth £19.80 or £39.60 are added onto a prepaid digital smartcard every 4 weeks. They can be used for formula milk, cow’s milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables at participating shops.
If you get vouchers you automatically qualify for free vitamins available from health centres.
Vouchers are awarded to each of the following groups:
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you are under 18 years of age and at least 10 weeks pregnant whether or not you receive any benefits
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you are over 18 years of age, at least 10 weeks pregnant and receive a qualifying benefit
- £39.60 every 4 weeks if you have a baby under one year old and receive a qualifying benefit (Note: The year starts from the expected date of delivery and not the date of birth, so vouchers may be received for more or less than one year)
- £19.80 every 4 weeks if you have a child who is over 1 and under 4 years old and you get a qualifying benefit.
For more information and how to apply see: Best Start Foods
The Baby Box
All new-born babies in Scotland will be given a free Baby Box containing useful items including:
- clothes, from new-born up to 6 months
- a digital thermometer
- a bath towel
- a changing mat
The box has a mattress, mattress protector and a fitted sheet, and can be used for your baby to sleep in. Your midwife will help you register for it at your 18 -20 or 28 week antenatal appointment. You don’t need to do anything else. Your baby box will arrive between weeks 28 to 32 of your pregnancy.
Help to pay for childcare
From Universal Credit
An amount to help pay for registered childcare is added to your Universal Credit if you are working. It does not matter how many hours you work but there is a limit on how much you can get. 85% of your childcare costs can be paid but the most you can get is £646.35 per month for 1 child or £1108.04 per month for two or more children.
You can get help with childcare costs for more than two children.
You cannot usually get help with childcare costs if you are not working but can get help to pay them in the assessment period before you start work. You need to prove you have a firm job offer that you intend to accept.
Maximum amount for one child (85% of £760 limit): £646.35
Maximum amount for two or more children (85% of £1,300 limit): £1,108.04
For more information and how to apply see: Universal Credit
From Working Tax Credit
No new claims can be made for tax credits but if you are already getting them you will continue to do so until your circumstances change or you are invited to claim Universal Credit instead.
Tax credits provide money to cover the day to day living expenses and can also help with the cost of childcare.
Childcare element of Working Tax Credit
One child (70% of up to £175.00 p/w of registered childcare costs): up to £122.50 p/w
Two or more children (70% of up to £300.00 p/w of registered childcare costs): up to £210.00 p/w
Note: If you earn above £6,770 per year, your working tax credit, including the childcare element, will be reduced so you may not receive the full 70% of your childcare costs.
For more information see: Tax Credits
Early Learning Childcare hours
In Scotland 3, 4 and some 2 year olds can get 1,140 hours per year of free Early Learning and Childcare. It is funded by the Scottish Government.
This works out at 30 hours per week of free childcare if you only use it during term time or 22 hours per week if you use it throughout the year
The free Early Learning and Childcare hours are available for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds.
For more information see: Early Learning and Childcare
Help from the council
Free school meals
Your child can get free lunches in school if you get:
- Universal Credit (where your monthly earned income is not more than £722)
- Income Support
- income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
- income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
For more information and how to apply see: Free School Meals.
School clothing grant
You may be able to get financial help with your child’s school clothing and shoes. This help is called a ‘school clothing grant’. You apply to your local council.
It’s normally a cash grant paid directly to your bank account.
Who can apply and the amount of money you’ll get depends on your local council. Everybody who gets a school clothing grant will get at least:
- £120 per child of primary school age
- £150 per child of secondary school age
For more information and how to apply see: School Clothing Grant
Discretionary housing payment
If you have a shortfall between the money you get to pay rent and the rent you pay – including a shortfall caused by the bedroom subsidy – you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to make up the difference. You must be entitled to Housing Benefit or help to pay rent from Universal Credit in order to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Ask for a Discretionary Housing Payment form from your local council’s housing department.
For more information see: Housing options.
Help if you are in a crisis or on a low income
Budgeting Advances and Loans
If you get Universal Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment or Support Allowance you can apply for a Budgeting Advance or Loan to pay for things you need to start or stay in work or essential household items.
Which one you get and how much depends on what other benefits you receive and what you need it for, but the amount will be between £100 and £812.
Budgeting Advances and Loans need to be paid back so before applying it is worthwhile checking with a Welfare Rights Officer at your local council, a Citizens Advice Bureau or other support service to see if there are grants or benefits you can get that do not have to be repaid.
For more information and how to apply see: Budgeting Advances and Loans
Help to pay for a funeral
Funeral Support Payment is money to help pay for the costs of a funeral or cremation. It can help pay for the cost of the funeral of an adult, a child or a still born baby born after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
You may get Funeral Support Payment if the person who died lived in the UK and the funeral is taking, or has taken, place in the UK. You must also be getting certain benefits.
For more information and how to apply see: Help to pay for a funeral
Scottish welfare fund – crisis grant, community care grant
You must be 16 or older and on a low income, or getting certain benefits, to apply for a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.
There are different grants you can apply for depending on your circumstances. You do not need to pay these grants back.
For more information and how to apply see: The Scottish Welfare Fund
Help with NHS costs
If you are receiving certain benefits or have an income under a specific amount you may get help to pay for the cost of NHS services and equipment. These include things like dental treatment, glasses and travel to and from hospital.
For more information see: NHS Inform – help with health costs
Help if you’re a student
If you are a student and in financial difficulty you can ask for help from the college or university’s Discretionary Funds. How these funds are used is decided by the college or university. They can be given for anything considered necessary to help you to continue your studies.
Talk to your Student Financial Adviser at the college or university to apply.
Colleges and universities also have Covid Funds to help you with the extra costs of studying from home.
Check if you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to.
You can call the Lone Parent Helpline or use the benefit checking tools in the links below to see if you are getting the right amount of benefits and if there are others you could apply for.
- Lone Parent Helpline: 0808 801 0323 Mon – Fri, 9.30am -4pm
- entitledto benefits calculator
- Turn2us benefit calculator
Help to apply for benefits
Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB)
Your local CAB may be able to identify benefits you can apply for and help you apply for them. They can also help you deal with any debt you have.
To find details of your nearest CAB click here
Welfare Rights Officer at your local council
Contact your local council for an appointment with a Welfare Rights Officer who can help you apply for benefits.
Social Security Scotland
Contact Social Security Scotland for help to apply for benefits from the Scottish Government including Scottish Child Payment, Child and Adult Disability Payment.
Telephone: 0800 182 2222