Housing & benefits

I'm having problems with my mortgage/rent
If you do not already have a family law solicitor, please see our Directory where you will also find a Solicitor Help link. Your solicitor in the separation/divorce will be able to guide you as well as the agencies below.

Shelter can advise on housing problems.
Shelter provides independent, free, professional advice about housing difficulties. They will explain your rights to you and help you to take action.
If you have an urgent problem, ring Shelterline - Britain's first 24 hour, free national housing helpline on 0808 800 4444 (freephone) (minicom for deaf callers).
They also have different websites for each part of the UK:

Housing benefit
This is help towards your rent or your mortgage interest when you are on a low income or in receipt of particular benefits. This is sometimes called rent rebate or rent allowance and is paid by local councils. You do not have to get any other benefits. It may also help towards things you have to pay for, like children's play areas and the cleaning of communal areas. It does not cover all housing costs. For example, mortgage interest if you are buying your home. If you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance you may be able to get help with these other housing costs as part of your benefit. See

If you are homeless, you should contact your local council immediately. The number will be in your local telephone. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) will also have someone to assist you.

For further information, have a look at Shelternet above.

Keep people informed
Always remember that communication is best. Your mortgage lender or landlord could be more likely to agree different terms with you if you keep them informed.

Important - Tax Credits
9 out of 10 families with children are entitled to tax credits. But you don't need to have children to qualify.
There are extra credits for lone parents and those with a disability. Help may also be available for costs with childcare. CHECK IT OUT.

The Department for Work and Pensions
There are various names for benefit services but the above name is now widely used.
This department looks after services and benefits:

  • For people of working age, whether you are able to work or unable to work because of sickness or disability.
  • For pensioners and people thinking about pensions for their future. For families, including child support.
  • For disabled people and their carers.

Choose one of the above categories which apply to you
These are displayed in the top middle section of the homepage of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website. Just visit and then click the appropriate link. Alternatively, you can browse through the A-Z list of services and benefits by clicking on the link at the top of their website but it would save time by starting in a particular category. Also, you may not have known about new benefits that are now available.

Here are some topics which may interest you: previously we had direct links to these subjects but the DWP website has changed. Please do a search on their site by clicking on the link above.

On a low income?
If you are on a low income and any of the following apply: you are a lone parent, you are sick or disabled, you are aged 60 or over, you are caring for someone who is ill or disabled, you are registered blind: check Income Support

If you are paying rent and on a low income: check Housing benefit

If you are paying council tax and on a low income: check Council Tax Benefit

If you are on a low income and need help with health costs: check Help with health costs

If you or your partner are getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance and have a child under 5 or you are disabled or are aged 60 or over: check Cold Weather Payment

If you need things for your home or other things which you cannot pay for in a lump sum and you get Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance: check Budgeting Loans

If you need immediate help with day-to-day living costs or something else in an emergency: check Social Fund Crisis Loans

For a full list, check out the website above. Remember that Gingerbread and One Parent Families have excellent leaflets on many of these subjects. They also provide free advice lines.

Looking for a job?
Lots of help and advice including benefits when job hunting

Benefits advice and online calculator

You may not have any experience of state benefits and you may think that you should not claim but receiving one benefit can have many knock-on advantages. Please think carefully and take advice - try One Parent Families/Gingerbread. This may be a temporary measure and many people going through the divorce process are eligible.

'Abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives. When we choose not to focus on what is missing but on the abundance that is present - food, health, family, friends, work - the wasteland of misery falls away and we experience daily joy.'
Sarah Ban Breathnach

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