Housing Benefit Guide

If you are on a low income or are claiming benefits, you could be entitled to claim housing benefits to help you pay your rent. You can apply for it whether you are unemployed or working, and it can pay either a part of your rent, or the entire bill.

However, it does not pay for food, heating, water or other bills – you need to check out a benefits calculator for a look at what you could get to help with these expenses.

What is it?

Housing benefit exists to help you with the cost of rent, and can pay for all or part of your accommodation. There is no set amount of housing benefit you can receive, and the upper limit is decided only by the benefits cap. The amount you’ll receive is based on several factors including:

  1. Your eligible rent
  2. Your household income (including benefits, pensions and savings)
  3. If you have a spare room
  4. Your circumstances (disability, age etc.)

‘Eligible rent’ here means the reasonable rent for a property in your area, and includes maintenance service charges like included waste disposal or elevator maintenance, but not bills like heating.

Are you eligible for Housing Benefit?

Eligibility

If your savings are in excess of a certain amount (ordinarily £16,000), then unfortunately you will usually be ineligible for housing benefit. Similarly, you won’t be eligible if you live in the home of a close relative (so no subsidising rent at the parent’s house!) and if you’re a full time student, unless you are disabled or have children.

If you are living with a partner, only one of you may register for housing benefit. In addition to this, if you’re single and under 35, you can only get housing benefit for bedsit accommodation or for a single room in shared accommodation.

The number of spare rooms in your house will reduce the amount of housing benefit you can receive accordingly. On top of this, adult couples will be expected to share a bedroom, or the room will be considered “spare.” Two children under 16 of the same sex will also be expected to share a room, as will two children under the age of 10, regardless of gender.

Single adults over 16 may have their own room without it affecting your housing benefit. Individual rooms can also be occupied by children who would otherwise share but can’t (for example if you have an odd number of children, so one must get their own room), and by children who cannot share due to a medical condition or disability. Lastly, a non-resident overnight carer for you or your partner can be given a room in the house without any effect on your housing benefit – but only if they have to stay over!

Note that rooms occupied by students or members of the armed forces will not count as “spare” while these people are away, so long as they intend to return.

Renting Privately

The amount you are entitled to and the system for receiving it changes if you are renting privately instead of from a council, beginning at up to £260 per week for a one-bedroom house and increasing up to £417 per week for a 4+ bedroom house or shared accommodation.

If you are renting from a council, your housing benefit will be paid directly to them, never entering your bank account. If you are renting privately, however, the money goes into your bank account or building society account first, and from there to your landlord.

Housing Benefit also applies to shared accommodation such as apartments.

How to claim

If you’re claiming other benefits already, contact Jobcentre Plus to claim housing benefit alongside Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance. Jobcentre Plus will then send the details of your claim on to your local council.

If you’re claiming Pension Credit, contact the Pension Service to make your housing benefit claim alongside your Pension Credit claim.

If you’re not claiming any other benefits, you can get a housing benefit claim form from your local council, which comes with notes to help fill it in effectively. Easy!

Further Information

If you have any further questions about housing benefit, call this number and just ask!

Inland Revenue Guide

Until 2005, the Inland Revenue was a department of the Government responsible for collecting tax, including income tax and National Insurance contributions. Today, this responsibility falls to HM Revenue and Customs. Below is a guide to the different taxes used by the UK Government and who has to pay them.

Income Tax

income tax

Income Tax is a tax that you pay on income that you receive, but you don’t pay it on all types of income.

You pay income tax on things like:

  • money earned from being employed
  • self-employed profits
  • some state benefits
  • the majority of pensions
  • interest on savings
  • rental income with the exception of live-in landlords
  • income from a trust

Most people in the UK receive a Personal Allowance- this is the amount of income that you can have before you pay tax. Tax reliefs can also be used to reduce the amount of tax that you pay.

The majority of Income Tax is paid through PAYE (pay as you earn) meaning that it is automatically calculated and deducted from your wages before you receive them.

For more complex tax affairs, you may have to complete a Self Assessment tax return.

Self Assessment Tax Returns

self assessment

Self Assessment is a system used by HMRC to collect Income Tax, particularly from people with businesses or other income who cannot use the PAYE method. If you need to send a self-assessment form, you fill it in after the end of the tax year (April 5). You must send it by the deadline of the 31st January if you have filed online or 20 days later for paper returns.

When filling in your return, you must have kept records such as bank statements or receipts to ensure that you fill it in correctly. You can get help by an accountant or by HMRC itself to do this. Based on what you report, HMRC will send you a bill of what you owe- how much you pay depends on which Income Tax band you are in.

People who need to send a tax return generally include:

  • self employed (you can discount allowable expenses)
  • receiving £2,500 or more in untaxed income.
  • making profits from selling things such as shares.
  • living abroad and having a UK income.
  • an income over £100,000.

You can also fill in a tax return to claim money back from HMRC for:

  • donations to charity
  • private pension contributions as a higher rate tax payer.
  • work expenses over £2,500.

 

 Corporation Tax

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Corporation Tax is paid by companies on their taxable profits. Profits of up to £1.5 million mean that your Corporation Tax has to be paid 9 months and one day after your accounting period ends, but for profits over £1.5 million, you must pay your corporation tax in instalments.

You can pay via online/telephone banking, Direct Debit, at the Post Office or by your building society.

If your company or organisation pays too much Corporation Tax, you may be eligible for a refund and HMRC will pay back what you have overpaid, their interest rate is 0.5%.

HMRC will pay you interest if:

  • You decided to pay your Corporation Tax early, such as 6 months after your accounting period ends.
  • If you have paid more than you owe.
  • If you pay in instalments.

 VAT

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VAT is charged on things like:

  • Selling goods or services as a business.
  • Hiring or loaning goods to someone.
  • Selling business assets.
  • Items sold to staff.
  • Commission.
  • Business goods for personal reasons.
  • Nonsales such as part exchanges.

Businesses who are VAT registered must charge VAT on their services or goods.

You must report to HMRC the amount of VAT that you have charged and paid. This is done through your VAT Return, which is submitted around every three months.

Tax Credits

tax credits

HMRC also deals with Tax Credits. There are two types of tax credits: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. Child tax credits are given to families with children under a certain age, whereas working tax credits are used to supplement workers who have a low income. You can apply for both types of credits online.

Child Support Guide

If you have a child and you and your partner are separated, child maintenance is financial support that you pay towards the cost of your child’s everyday living expenses. There are several ways to arrange it: between you and your ex-partner by yourselves, or by using the child maintenance service.

CSA child maintenance agreements

child support

Any child maintenance arrangements are dealt with by the Child Maintenance Service. The Child Support Agency only handles cases that already exist. Any arrangements made through the CSA will be ending between now and 2017.

 Eligibility for Child Maintenance

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Child maintenance is designed for children who are either:

  • Under 16
  • Under 20 and are in full time education but not higher than A Level or equivalent.
  • Under 20 and living with a parent who has registered for child benefit on their behalf.

You can apply for child maintenance if you are:

  • The parent that the child lives with
  • The parent that the child doesn’t live with.
  • A grandparent/other guardian of the child.
  • A child over 12 in Scotland.

You cannot apply if the ‘receiving’ parent and child live outside of the UK. To differentiate, the receiving parent cares for the child day-to-day, whilst the paying parent does not.

Arranging Child Support yourself

Hand adult and child

If both parents agree, you can arrange child maintenance yourself. This is known as a ‘family based agreement’ and is a private way to sort out child support. The parents arrange everything by themselves and no outside parties have to be involved. This form of support is flexible and means that it can be changed if necessary due to circumstances. The parents agree how much the payments should be and when they should be paid- it is not a formal agreement but should be written down in case of future disagreement.

An example of a family based agreement could be:

  • The paying parent pays for school uniform, school trips and a regular payment for everyday living costs.

It is important to note that this form of arrangement isn’t legally binding but if you encounter problems, you can apply to make it so that it is.

If you can’t agree on an arrangements

You can get the Child Maintenance Service to collect payments on behalf of your child if you and your ex partner cannot agree. This is known as a ‘statutory arrangement’ and you will have to pay a fee to arrange it this way.

You may need to use the Child Maintenance Service in circumstances of:

  • Not knowing where the other parent lives.
  • Disagreements about parentage.
  • Disagreements over how much child maintenance should be paid.
  • Arrange payments from the paying parents.
  • Pass payments on to the receiving payments.
  • Review the payments when a change in circumstances is reported.
  • Review payment amounts year on year.
  • Take action if payments are not made.

 Fees

child-support-check

In June 2014, the Child Maintenance Service introduced application fees and enforcement charges. You will have to pay the fees for collecting and paying out child maintenance.

If you choose to use the ‘collect and pay’ service, where the child maintenance service collects the money from the paying parent via wages or benefits and passes it onto the receiving parent, you will have to pay a fee each time you make or receive a payment. Paying parents will pay a 20% fee on top of their regular payments and receiving parents will have 4% taken off what they receive.

If you choose a family-based arrangement you do not have to pay any fees.

Non-payment

If for some reason, the paying parent does not pay their child maintenance, the service will firstly find out why the payment has not been made, arrange for them to pay and lastly warn them of action that may be taken if they do not pay. In 2014, enforcement charges were brought in for lack of payments:

Liability order £300

Lump sum deduction order £200

Regular deduction order £50

Deduction from earnings request or order £50

They can also enforce payments in three ways:

  • Take money from a parents wages or earnings, by telling their employer how much to take.
  • Take money from a bank account, by telling the bank to do so.
  • Take court action, by sending bailiffs or in extreme cases, prison.

 Applications

child

When making a new arrangement, your first port of call is to talk to the Child Maintenance Options team. If you apply, you will need to have to hand:

  • Details about the child you are applying on behalf of: including full names of their parents.
  • Your national insurance number.
  • Your bank account details.

The application fee costs £20, but you don’t have to pay if you are under 19, live in Northern Ireland or a victim of domestic violence.

Your information will be used to set up and manage payments. If your information is not adequate, the service may contact the paying parents employer, Government organisations such as the Job Centre Plus, prison services or the paying parents bank account to get information.

Most cases are fully set up within a month, but can take longer if there was a problem in contacting the paying parent. The first payment is usually made within 6 weeks of making payment arrangements.

Changes you need to report

Either parent should tell the service if:

The paying parent’s income changes.

You wish to close the case.

There is a change to the number of nights that the paying parent cares for the child.

The paying parent must report:

  • Moving house.
  • Start/stop getting benefits.
  • Changing your phone number.
  • Employment details.
  • If you become self employed.
  • If you become unemployed.

The receiving parent must report:

  • Any changes to the number of children living with you.
  • A child leaves for full time education or reaches the age of 20.
  • You’re moving house.
  • Your phone number changes.

If you do not give the right information you could be taken to court or pay a fine of up to £1000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DWP Guide

About the Department for Work and Pensions

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[box]You can phone the DWP on 0843 557 4607[/box]

The Department for Work and Pensions (often shortened to DWP) is a division of the Government responsible for managing welfare, pensions and child maintenance. As the UK’s largest public service department, the DWP administers the State Pension as well as a range of disability, ill health and unemployment benefits to over 22 million claimants.

The DWP is made up of four smaller operating agencies. The Job Centre Plus, which issues working age benefits, for example Job Seekers Allowance, as well as deciding which claimants get Employment and Support Allowance following a work capability assessment. Then there is the Pension Service, which pays out the basic State Pension as well as Pension Credit, and is responsible for overseeing the recent pension reform. The Disability Carers service provides financial support to disabled people and their carers. Lastly, there is the Child Maintenance Group which oversees child support schemes, operating both the Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service.

The DWP was formed back in 2001 as the result of a merger between the Department of Social Security, Employment Service and certain parts of the Department for Education and Employment. It’s initial role was to create the Job Centre Plus and the Pensions Service. The department has offices in Leeds, London, Blackpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Warrington.

 Searching for jobs with the DWP

universal job match

The Job Centre Plus, a division of DWP has a job searching tool which people looking for work can use to find a role for them. It is called Universal Job Match. You can use the service to search and apply for jobs across Great Britain and abroad. If you are claiming Job Seekers Allowance, this service is most likely what you will have to use to show that you have been applying for work.

To search for a role, you must create a Government Gateway ID. Doing this allows you to save job searches, upload your CV, set up job alerts to your email address and keep track of previous applications. You can also build a profile detailing which skills and industries you want to be matched for jobs with- meaning that you find a job that is suitable for you, rather than applying for anything and everything. You can also save up to five cover letters on your account, making the process of applying for jobs within the same industry much easier. Lastly, keeping record of applications makes it much easier to discuss your job search with your job centre adviser.

 How to calculate your State Pension

StatePensions

There is a tool on the Government website which allows you to calculate approximately how much State Pension you are entitled to receive. It gives you an estimate of your basic State Pension and information about the new pension reforms and how they affect you if you reach the pension age on or after the 6th April 2016. It will not be able to calculate any additional state pension. In order for the tool to calculate, it will ask you how many years you worked and paid National Insurance or claimed certain benefits. This is otherwise known as your years of National Insurance contributions that will go towards your state pension. To help the tool work accurately, you should count tax years from 6th April to the 5th April and be sure not to count any years twice. You should also not count the current tax year. It is also advised that you don’t take what the tool says and use it to make financial decisions that could affect your future, as it is only an estimate and doesn’t take into account circumstances.

 How to estimate which benefits you are entitled to

benefits11

The Government website has an independent benefits calculator tool which you can use to find out what benefits you could get and how to go about claiming them. The tool is free to use and completely anonymous- it has replaced the former Benefits Adviser service. There are two calculators: ‘entitledto’ for information on income related benefits such as tax credits and Council Tax reductions and ‘Turn2us’ for information on other income related benefits such as Universal Credit. To use the service, you will need several points of information to hand, for example: the amount of savings you have, yourself and your partners income, any existing benefits and pensions, council tax bill and information about your outgoings i.e. rent or mortgage payments. If you are under 18, you cannot use the calculator and they will not provide accurate results if you are: a student, prisoner, not a British/Irish citizen, on strike, living in a residential care home or living outside the UK.

For more help with any queries relating to your benefits, pension payments or job searches then please phone the DWP.

 

 

Companies House Guide

About Companies House

companies house logo

[box]The Companies House Phone Number is 0844 453 0195.[/box]

Companies House is the name of the registrar of companies in the United Kingdom. It is an executive agency as part of the Government and falls under the Department of Business. All forms of companies are registered with Companies House and all registered companies, including small and inactive ones, must file annual financial statements in addition to company returns- these are all public records. Only some unlimited companies are allowed to be exempt from this.

A system of registration has existed in the UK since 1844. The current legislation behind it is the Companies Act 2006.

When registering, England and Wales are treated separately, but you can apply for a unified register meaning that your company will be registered in both England and Wales. Your company must advise Companies House of where you are planning to house your registered office, otherwise known as the official address of the company- this could be in England, Scotland or Wales. Once you have done this, your company will be known as ‘registered in Scotland’ or ‘registered in England’.

The office for Companies House is based in Cardiff, Wales and it handles companies which are incorporated within England and Wales. There is also an office in London but this is used solely as a facility to file and view documents which will later be processed in Cardiff.

How to find out information about a company

company records

Using the Companies House service, you can get limited information about a company for free, including: it’s registered office address, directors details, previous names of the company, whether or not it has been dissolved, when the companies’ accounts were filed or due and a history of filed documents. You can also use this service to check whether the name of a company has already been taken.

For other filed documents, such as company accounts, returns and reports, there is a £1 charge. You must register with Companies House to order these and pay the charge via Paypal.

You can monitor any company to find out when it is due to file information for free. You just need to register with the Companies House WebCheck service- you can also use it to check on your own company.

Lastly, you can also join a subscription service if you wish to get access to: all historical company records, detailed mortgage information, document packages and online certified copies. To do this, you will need to get a Companies House Direct account which costs £4 per month and £1 per document.

 Filing your Companies House annual return

annual return

Every year, a company must file an annual return which will feature information such as who the directors are, where the registered office is and shareholders. You can also use the Companies House service to file your annual accounts, although it is possible that you may be able to do this in conjunction with your Tax Return. For a guide to processing your tax return, look here.

Your annual return must be sent to Companies House once a year if you are the director of a registered company. It is separate from your companies accounts and tax returns and will be done at a different time. You will receive an email alert or reminder letter and the due date is generally a year after your company was incorporated or the date that you filed your last return.

You have up until 28 days after your due date to file your return. After that, you may be fined up to £5,000 and your company could be struck off.

Your return must include details of the company’s directors and secretary, a description of what the company does (including industry classification codes), the type of company that it is e.g. private/public, its registered address and the address of where its records are kept.

How to file changes to a company

companies house online

If you make specific changes to your company, you must tell Companies House about them. This includes new appointments of directors and secretaries, name changes, registered office address changes, changes to your accounting reference date, changing where the company records are kept, changes to the structure of your shares and details of any new mortgages.

To file your changes, you will need to log on to the Companies House database using the email and password that you use to sign up for the online service. If you are having any trouble with this or for more information call Companies House now.