BENEFITS EXPERT: Change of status after daughter goes to university

My daughter is about to start a university course in September. Previously I have been working 20 hours a week and claimed Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. But these are due to stop in July or August and I am thinking of increasing my working hours. My daughter has applied for student finance but at present we only have my wages to live on. Can we claim anything else?

When your daughter starts University you will be treated as a lone parent. Your Child Tax Credit will cease but you may still qualify for Working Tax Credit, but only provided if you work at least 30 hours a week. So whether or not you qualify will depend upon how much you are earning in your new circumstances. You may also be due for Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit but these too depend upon your income.

Q. I am a woman of 61 receiving Carer’s Allowance topped up by Income Support and a private pension. After receiving maximum rebates, I pay rent of £7 a week and Council Tax of £5 a month. I am thinking of giving up caring, so what would be my benefit options if I did?

A. if you were to stop looking after your relative you would cease to receive Carer’s Allowance and lose entitlement to Income Support, which includes a special addition paid because you are a carer. You will be too young to claim pensioner benefits, so, if you are an able-bodied person, the only benefit available to you would be Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This would either be based on the National Insurance you paid before you were a carer, or upon your current income. Either way you will be more than £30 a week worse off than you are as a carer.

I have recently taken up post in the press office of the MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Society and am a regular reader of ‘Benefits Expert’. Here at the Society we are running a campaign called MS: Enough, that is calling for changes to the welfare benefits system to make it fairer for people with long-term conditions such as MS.

We are always on the look- out for people with, or affected by, this condition, in particular experiences and problems such people have encountered in claiming Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit.

We would be pleased to hear from any of your readers who have stories that would help us raise awareness about MS and help with the difficulties associated with it.

Pui-Yi Cheng,

Press and PR Officer

MS Society

Tel: 0208 8438 0700