Benefits you're entitled to: Income Support
However, many families do not get the help that they need, either because they do not understand the system, or because they think that they are not entitled to anything.
Here's the Moneywise guide to claiming Income Support.
What is it?
Income Support is of particular interest to families with younger children. It is paid to those who are not expected to make themselves available for work, but are not ill themselves. These include parents of children under five (seven in Northern Ireland) as well as carers and those receiving Statutory Sick Pay.
How much might you get?
The amount of Income Support received varies wildly, depending on your circumstances. The amount of money you receive is the difference between your income and the amount that the government thinks you need to live on.
You may be able to get Income Support if you are working fewer than 16 hours a week and your income still falls below a certain amount. There are also some jobs you can do where you're allowed to work for more than 16 hours - for example, being a childminder. There are different premiums with Income Support - for example, for those with disabled children.
How can I work out what other benefits I'm eligible for?
The amount of money families receive from benefits varies wildly depending on circumstances. The government website gov.uk has details of how to contact different departments, while the tax credits helpline is available on 0345 300 3900.
The charity website Turn2us.org.uk includes a calculator that allows you to input all of your circumstances and work out your entitlements, while the charity also has a free helpline on 0808 802 2000.
Another benefits calculator is available at entitledto.co.uk.
Child tax credit
A scheme started in 2003 that sought to replace a raft of other tax credits and benefits, the payout depends on the number of dependant children in a family, and its level of income. The amount of credit is reduced as income increases. It is payable to the main carer of a child, usually the mother, and is available whether or not the recipient is working.