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New Opportunities to Claim Benefits

Newsletter issue - November 2009.

If your income has dropped in the current tax year, perhaps because your business has made a loss, or your company can't afford to pay you a salary, you could be eligible to claim tax credits or other state benefits. The Tax Office is actively encouraging people to check whether they would be eligible to claim working or child tax credits, and has included an interactive questionnaire on its website to help you decide, see: www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/who-qualifies/overview/quick-questionnaire.htm

The questionnaire does not cover complex claims such as where a member of the family has a severe disability, but it will cover most situations. Remember a claim for tax credits is based on your family's total income, so you need details of your partner's or spouse's income as well as your own.

If you are aged 60 or over, you may be eligible to claim pension credit from the Department of Work and Pensions (not the Tax Office). You don't have to be retired to claim pension credit, just aged 60 or more. Like tax credits your claim is based on your income as a couple, not just your income alone. If you have savings of over £10,000 these are also taken into account. This savings threshold was £6,000 until 2 November 2009, which excluded a lot of people from qualifying for this benefit.

If you find you are eligible for pension credit or tax credits, you should check whether you could receive help to pay council tax or housing benefit. Claims for both of these benefits now ignore any income received by the family as child benefit.