Help with rent for Single Mothers
If you are unemployed, on DSS and claiming benefits of any sort including receiving housing benefit to pay your rent there may be times when you need a quick loan to pay some unexpected or large bills.
It can be difficult for single mothers in a number of ways. As well as finding it hard to find childcare benefits are often not enough to cover rent on top of other costs. While help for single mothers is available it is important to know what is available and where to find it.
Claim Housing benefit
This year universal credit is replacing other forms of benefit (Jobseeker’s Allowance, income support etc). The idea is that this will be used to help people pay their rent or mortgage.
One problem people may have is that the housing benefit does not cover council tax. If you are struggling to pay council tax then contact your local authority as you may be entitled to pay a lower rate.
You are entitled to housing benefit if you pay rent regardless of whether you have a private landlord, housing association property or council property. It also applies if you are living in a hostel or boarding.
Other Benefits for single Mothers
- Child benefit- At present this is £20.50 per week for the oldest child and 13.55 each week for younger children.
- Child tax credits- This will vary depending on the amount of hours you work and the amount of children you have. The basic elements starts off at £545 per year going up to £1255 if you have a severely disabled child.
- Healthy start- If you are 10 weeks pregnant you can qualify for the NHS Healthy Start Scheme, giving you vouchers toward the cost of healthier foods for your children.
- Sure Start- A £500 maternity grant that goes directly into your bank account. This grant is given to help parents with the costs of looking after their children.
- Free school meals- This will ensure that your children can be well fed during the school day. It is especially important as children who eat well during school have been shown to concentrate better and their grades tend to reflect this.
Another aspect that will affect your entitlement to rent assistance for single mothers is your income. If you earn more than £16,000 in capital (not counting personal possessions) then you can’t apply for rent assistance.
If you are full time student then you are not entitled to apply for help with rent. However if you study part time or are a disabled student then you should be entitled to assistance, although this can vary depending on where you are applying and what course you are studying so it’s important to check this before you apply for a course!
How much benefit can you claim?
How much you can claim depends on your circumstances and where you are. As of April 2013 the rules have changed and the amount you can claim will be restricted depending on any other benefits you may be claiming as well (ie the benefit cap).
On a basic level it will usually cover the rent itself and possibly some other costs such as maintenance. It may not cover bills such as heating or electricity so it is vital you check this while making a claim.
In some cases it may be possible to get additional payments on top of other benefits, what is often known as a discretionary payment. However this is something that is often short term so should not be something you rely when renting a property.
What if you don’t claim benefits?
It is possible to claim help with rent if you are single mother but don’t claim benefits. However this is dependent on the amount of income you or your partner claims (if you subsequently get married or find a partner.)
The type of help available to you will often depend on individual circumstances and what is available in your local area. If you have a Citizen’s Advice Bureau near you they can offer advice based on your individual circumstances and what support is accessible near you as this may vary depending on your local council.
If you are looking to apply for grants and other forms of support it is best to talk to the Department of Work and Pensions directly (www.dwp.gov.uk) to find the support that you are entitled to.