As of 2020 there are around 2.86 million single parent families in the UK, or around one in four families with children.
Coping as a lone parent can be lonely, isolating and stressful for some people.
But most people are not aware of the benefits and financial support available to them, some of which are available to single parents.
It is no longer possible to make a new claim for older schemes such as income or housing benefit, though you may be entitled to support through these if you are on older legacy payments already.
You will instead have to make a new claim through Universal Credit, which is paid out monthly to help with your living costs.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)
- you’re under state pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
The amount you get depends on a range of factors. The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility for Universal Credit, but it may affect how much you get. Find out more about Universal Credit here.
Money off your council tax
If your children are under the age of 18 and you don’t live with another adult, you can apply for 25% off your council tax.
To claim, you’ll have to apply through your local council. Find out how to do that here.
You might also be able to get a council tax reduction – also called council tax support – depending on where you live, your income, your dependants, savings and any benefits you already claim.
If you’re on a low income and have more than one dependant, you may qualify for a 100% discount. Check how to apply for a reduction here.
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You get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is either under 16, or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training.
It’s paid every four weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for.
The rates are £21.15 for the eldest or only child and £14 per child for each additional child.
You can find out more on how to claim Child Benefit here.
If you’re a single parent, you may be able to claim child maintenance from the other parent to support your child.
In the UK, half a million families have an arrangement between themselves on how much one parent will fund the other. This is known as a family-based arrangement.
However, if this is not the case for you, you can apply to have a child maintenance arrangement set up for you. Find out more about that here.
Healthy Start scheme
If you’re pregnant or have children under the age of four, you can get free vouchers or payments every four weeks to spend on:
- cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
In addition, you must be receiving any of the following:
- Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
- Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
You can also get free Healthy Start vitamins. To find out if you’re eligible for Healthy Start, click here.
Help with childcare
You can also get help with childcare if you’re a single parent. The government offers tax-free childcare or 30 hours free childcare.
You can get up to £500 every three months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every three months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year). Find more about that here.
You may be able to get 30 hours free childcare if:
- you live in England
- your child is 3 to 4 years old
However, there are different schemes depending on whether you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Find out more about 30 hours free childcare in Wales here.
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