This information should not be relied upon as legal or professional advice. Read the disclaimer.
MPs are often approached by constituents asking what benefits they may be able to claim. Establishing what a person or family may be eligible for can be difficult, given complicated individual circumstances, the range of benefits available and complex rules.
MPs and their staff will however find it helpful to have a basic knowledge of the benefits available for people in different situations, and of online and other sources where people can get further information.
There are several online benefits calculators people can use to find out what benefits they may be able to claim, by inputting their details. GOV.UK recommends the following calculators:
- Policy in Practice – for information on DWP benefits, tax credits, Council Tax Reduction, how these are calculated and how benefits will be affected if a person starts work or their working hours change
- entitledto – for information on the above benefits, and how benefits will be affected if a person starts work
- Turn2us – for information on benefits, and how benefits will be affected if a person starts work or their working hours change
Age UK also has an online benefits calculator.
Benefits calculators may not however always give accurate results for some groups, e.g. students, people who have recently arrived in the UK, or people in hospitals or care homes.
Other online resources
The Citizens Advice website gives information on benefits for people who are working or unemployed, sick or disabled, a parent, a young person, an older person or a veteran; tailored to reflect the situation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Disability Rights UK has a comprehensive collection of factsheets and guides, covering not only benefits for disabled people. It also has an interactive factsheet – What you can claim – that allows a person, by selecting the situations that apply to them, to get an idea of the help and support they may be able to get by way of benefits, tax credits, housing grants, independent living, education and other help, including help from local authorities.
Age UK’s website has various information guides and factsheets covering a variety of topics including benefits and entitlements. Age UK also has general guide to benefits for older people, More money in your pocket (PDF 2.73 MB).
Many other organisations provide information and advice on benefits for specific groups of people, such as single parents, carers, people with health conditions or disabilities, and bereaved people. Many also operate helplines giving specialist advice. When looking at the websites of smaller organisations particularly, it’s worth checking whether information on benefits is up to date.
Hard copy guides
There are several good independent guides to benefits system. The best known are:
- The Child Poverty Action Group’s annual Welfare benefits and tax credits handbook
- Disability Rights UK’s annual Disability Rights Handbook
Social security is devolved in Northern Ireland, but the long-standing “parity” principle requires Northern Ireland to keep broadly in step with the rest of the UK in social security matters. There are however some differences between social security provision in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and changes to the benefits system may follow a different timetable.
The Scotland Act 2016 devolved significant new welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament including responsibility for disability and carers’ benefits; benefits for maternity, maternity, funeral and heating expenses; and powers to vary the housing cost element of Universal Credit and UC payment arrangements.
Further information can be found on the mygov.scot website under Benefits and grants. CPAG in Scotland also has an extensive range of factsheets and resources, including information on the new Scottish benefits and what’s changing in Scotland.
- GOV.UK: Benefits information
- Citizens Advice: Benefits
- entitledto: A-Z benefits information
- Age UK: Benefits and entitlements
- Child Poverty Action Group
- Advicelocal postcode tool
The Commons Library does not intend the information in this article to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual. We have published it to support the work of MPs. You should not rely upon it as legal or professional advice, or as a substitute for it. We do not accept any liability whatsoever for any errors, omissions or misstatements contained herein. You should consult a suitably qualified professional if you require specific advice or information. Read our briefing for information about sources of legal advice and help.