Financial support for parents
This page looks at how you can get help with housing costs if you are a parent or responsible for bringing up a child. It also gives advice on working out which benefits you can claim, and looks at other means of support.
If you are over 16 and have a low income or are receiving welfare benefits, you may be able to get housing benefit to help you pay your rent. This may not cover all your rent, so you may have to pay the shortfall yourself or try to claim a discretionary housing payment.
What if I'm under 35?
If you are single, under 35 and rent from a private landlord, you will normally only be entitled to enough housing benefit to cover the average cost of a single room in a shared house in your area. This is known as the shared accommodation rate. This rule will be applied if you are pregnant, until your baby is born.
Once your baby is born, the rule will no longer be applied and you will be able to claim housing benefit for a whole flat or house. Remember that your income will be taken into account and you may not be eligible for any benefit or your benefit may not be enough to cover your rent.
What if I'm a student?
Most students are not entitled to housing benefit, however, if you are a parent you might be. The rules about housing benefit for students are complicated so talk to an adviser at your university or college welfare service to find out if you will be entitled to claim.
Making sure you claim the benefits you're entitled to
It will be a lot easier to pay your rent if you are getting all the benefits that you should be. If you are pregnant or have children there are a number of benefits that you may be entitled to. Which benefits you can claim will depend on your personal circumstances, such as your income and savings, whether you are working and if you have a partner or are a lone parent.
To find out which benefits you should claim, talk to an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau or welfare rights agency. You can get help to fill in forms and to deal with the Department for Work and Pensions if there are any problems with your claims. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.
Working out your finances
To make sure that you can pay your rent and cover all your other essential costs, you should work out a budget and try to stick to it. Remember to include the costs of bringing up your child such as nappies, clothes, food, childcare, babysitters and toys.
Child support maintenance
If you and your partner don't live together, you can apply for child maintenance from them, to help with the costs of bringing up your children.
To find out more:
- get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau or Women's Aid centre - use the Advice Services Directory to find an agency near you
- go to the Child Support Agency website or call the national helpline on 08457 133 133.
Help with health and school costs
If you are pregnant and/or on a low income and claiming benefits or tax credits, you may also be able to get help with health costs, including:
- free prescriptions
- free NHS dental treatment
- free NHS sight tests
- help with travel costs to hospital
- healthy start tokens, to pay for milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.
You can find out more about help with health costs at the Citizens Advice Bureau's Adviceguide website.