Benefits you're entitled to: Jobseeker's Allowance
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 Jobseeker's Allowance.
What is it?
Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for those who could work but who currently aren't but are looking for a job.
How much might you get?
There are two different types of JSA. The first, income-based JSA, is means tested. The second, contributory JSA, is not means tested. Contribution-based JSA is received for six months after becoming unemployed if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions.
You only get income-based JSA if your income and savings are low enough. If you have a partner they must either not be working, or working fewer than 24 hours a week.
Contribution-based JSA is £57.90 per week if you are under 25 and £73.10 if you are 25 or over. You you may get less if you have part-time earnings or a personal/occupational pension.
Income-based JSA is very variable, depending on savings, housing costs and other circumstances. It is calculated by comparing your income to an amount that the government considers enough to live on.
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.
A scheme originally established in 1944 to provide protection against sickness and unemployment as well as helping fund the National Health Service (NHS) and state benefits. NI contributions are compulsory and based on a person’s earnings above a certain threshold. There are several classes of NI, but which one an individual pays depends on whether they are employed, self-employed, unemployed or an employer. Payment of Class 1 contributions by employees gives them entitlement to the basic state pension, the additional state pension, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance, maternity allowance and bereavement benefits. From April 2016, to qualify for the full state pension, individuals will need 35 years’ of NI contributions.
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.