A popular query on the national Citizens Advice website is what help is available if you’re on a low income. If you’re of working age but not earning enough to get by, here are some options.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction
Both of these benefits are provided by Surrey Heath Borough Council. You may be eligible if you (and where applicable your partner) earn very low incomes, have less than £16,000 in savings and pay rent or council tax. If you still find the total of your benefits is insufficient to cover your housing costs, the council can also provide a Discretionary Housing Payment.
You can find out more and download an application form by searching for “benefits” on the council website surreyheath.gov.uk Alternatively you can visit them in Camberley or phone 01276 707100.
Working age benefits
Several benefits are available from the DWP if you’re on low income. It’s best to use an online calculator like Turn2us (benefits-calculator.turn2.us.org.uk) before you apply, or contact us at Citizens Advice Surrey Heath.
Universal Credit is gradually being rolled out across the UK to replace most working age benefits and Surrey Heath is a “live service” area. This means that if you’re single have less than £6000 savings and expect to earn less than £336 in the next month, you may find you are asked to apply for UC instead of other benefits mentioned below. Going on to UC could cause long delays but you will usually be better off longer term and you can ask for an Advance Payment. You will need to apply online at gov.uk
Job Seekers Allowance may be payable so long as you’re working less than 16 hours a week and are able to actively seek other employment. You can apply online via gov.uk and you’ll then get a text or phone call within 2 working days to arrange a JSA interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office.
Working Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits may be available if you’re in paid work for more than 16 hours or are responsible for a child under 16 (or young person under 20 in full-time education or training). You will need to fill in a paper form which you can download from gov.uk
Income Support may be available if you’re pregnant or a carer or a lone parent with a child under 5 or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled. You can apply by phone on 0800 055 6688 or send a paper form available from gov.uk to the Jobcentre Plus.
If you qualify for any of these benefits you may also be eligible for free prescriptions and free school meals.
Help with heating costs
If you’re receiving DWP welfare benefits you can often get a Warm Home Discount from your electricity supplier and you will generally be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment from the DWP for each week the temperature is constantly below zero.
Are you struggling to feed yourself or your family, need emergency clothing, transport or essential household items? You may be eligible for support from Surrey County Council’s Local Assistance Scheme. We can assess your situation to see if you meet the criteria for a payment from this fund. For more information, about the scheme, please visit surreycc.gov.uk/localassistancescheme
There is a Trussell Trust food bank in Farnborough and in Camberley Besom provides food parcel deliveries for families in need. In both cases you would need to obtain a referral in advance, eg, from a charity, GP, social worker or from us.