BENEFITS EXPERT: Struggling couple needs help

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I wrote to you last summer because I was going back to work following the birth of my first child and my partner had lost his job. You helped me to claim Tax Credits.

 My partner has since found another job but most of his wages go towards the £190 a week we have to pay for our baby’s nursery.

 I work 40 hours a week and he works 21.5 and we receive £77 a week Tax Credits which allows for our child care costs. Our rent is £565 a month and Council Tax £120. Can we get any help with these because we are really struggling? Also will our Tax Credits for the coming year depend upon this year’s or next year’s income?

You can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit from your local council.  

 These benefits are based upon your income but not all of your income will be taken into account in the calculation.

 For example, if you pay child care costs, up to £175 a week for one child can be ignored. This rule should enable you to qualify for some help but I could not estimate how much without knowing more about your circumstances.

 Your entitlement would take account of the weekly take home pay of you and your husband, whether you live in social housing or private accommodation and the local authority area where you live. This is because Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction schemes vary from area to area.

 However if, for example, you and your partner earn the National Minimum Wage and pay a rent that is treated as reasonable for your needs, you should be entitled to a significant reduction.

 Tax Credits are based upon an annual income figure of your gross income. This is usually the preceding tax year.

 Tax Credits for the period from this April will be recalculated and based upon income for the Tax Year ending April 5, 2016. This could cause Tax Credits to rise or fall depending upon circumstances. In around June the Tax Credit Office will ask for your income details for the previous Tax Year. Your new award will be based upon this figure, but if you expect your income for the coming year to be widely different from this, you can request your calculation to be based upon a revised figure.

You have said that people are treated as paying National Insurance if they earn over £112 a week. I have two jobs, each paying £80 a week. Am I covered?

Afraid not! You cannot add the two wages together. The £112 plus must come from one job.