Posted by Julia Roxan on 31 January 2017

I am working but on minimum wage and am struggling to pay all my bills. Is there any help for someone in my situation?

If you are working, you may still be able to get benefits or tax credits if you are on a low income. It does not matter whether you are working for someone else or self-employed. The benefits you can get depend on your circumstances, your earnings and other money you have coming in, and on how many hours you work each week. There are different benefits for people who work less than 16 hours a week and for people who work 16 hours or more.

If you have more than one job, you should add the hours from both jobs together. If the number of hours you work changes from week to week, your benefit will depend on your average hours.

If you work less than 16 hours a week, you may be able to claim Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance. However, if you have a partner who lives with you and works 24 hours a week or more, you will not be able to claim these benefits. Your partner may be able to claim Working Tax Credit instead. This applies whether your partner is lesbian, gay or heterosexual and whether you are married, in a civil partnership or just living together.

You could also be entitled to some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to help with the costs of rent and Council Tax. If you have children, you can claim Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. You can get these benefits whether or not you do any work. You may also be able to get help such as free prescriptions, free school meals, help with the costs of a new baby or help with funeral costs, depending on the benefits or tax credits you get and your income.

If you work 16 hours or more a week, you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit. This will depend on your circumstances and how much money you have coming in. You may also be entitled to other benefits, for example, if you are on a low income you could get some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to help with rent and Council Tax.

If you have children, you can claim Child Benefit and you may also be entitled to some Child Tax Credit. You do not have to be working to get Child Tax Credit, but your earnings will affect the amount you get. You may also be entitled to other help such as free prescriptions, help with the costs of a new baby or help with funeral costs.

All the above applies in the Forest of Dean at present until the introduction of Universal Credit for working people. This is currently scheduled for late 2017.