If you are a housewife (or househusband) and you don’t work or haven’t been in a job for a significant amount of time, then there may be a raft of benefits and state help that you aren’t claiming which can help you be relatively financially independent while your partner brings in the household’s main income.
So, what benefits are available to the person who stays at home to look after the family or to keep the household running smoothly?
Introduced in 2013, Universal Credit replaced six means-tested benefits and tax credits in one go. Those were income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support. While Universal Credit is only available to married or cohabiting people or those with children in selected areas, it is available to single people across the country.
The credit available to those with partners or children is being rolled out across the rest of the country in stages. You can check to see whether your local jobcentre is in a Universal Credit area by checking the Department of Work and Pensions map.
Universal Credit is paid monthly directly into your bank account. The amount you will receive depends on whether you have any income and will gradually reduce as your income increases.
Benefits for families
There are a raft of benefits available to families that can help you with the costs of bringing up children. These include benefits for women who are currently pregnant or have a newborn baby, benefits for partners of women who have just had a baby, benefits for adopters and benefits for those who have taken on the responsibility of bringing up a child or a young person. The Citizens Advice website has a useful tool to help you find out if you are eligible for any of these benefits.
You may be eligible for statutory maternity pay or a Maternity Allowance is if you are having a baby. The amount you will receive, if anything, will be determined according to whether you work, how much you take home and how long you have been in the same job for.
Statutory maternity pay is paid by your employer for up to 39 weeks if you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks and are earning at least £112 a week. Maternity Allowance is paid to women who have worked but are not eligible for statutory maternity pay.
Fathers who work may be eligible for statutory paternity pay for two weeks after the birth of a child. This is also available for paternity leave when you are adopting a child. Those who are not eligible for paternity pay may be able to claim income support if they are claiming housing benefit, council tax benefits or tax credits while in work.
Most people in the UK are eligible for Child Benefit. If you are looking after a child on behalf of somebody else, then you might be able to claim Guardian’s Allowance as well.
If your child has a disability, then you may be able to claim extra support under the Disability Living Allowance.
Many parents can also claim Child Tax Credit irrespective of whether they are working. The amount you can claim and your eligibility will be determined by your income and how many children you have.
Once you’re beyond working age, then you may have to rely on the state pension for an income. But if you have not worked for many years and therefore not made any National Insurance contributions, then your eligibility may be in doubt.
In April 2016, the Government introduced a new flat rate state pension of £151 a week. As part of the change, wives or husbands who stayed at home but had previously relied upon their partner’s National Insurance Contributions (NICs), are no longer guaranteed a state pension.
If you are concerned that you may get a reduced pension or none at all, then you should visit the Government’s website at gov.uk/state-pension-statement or by calling 0845 3000 168 to get a pension forecast.
The new rules mean that you must have made NICs for 35 years to qualify for the full pension or a minimum of 10 years to be in line for any pension at all.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read more about Oliver Jones