Maximising your income

You may be able to claim benefits, even if you are not on a low income or unemployed

There is often a misconception that you can only claim benefits if you are unemployed or on a low income. Lots of benefits do not take into account your income at all such as if you or someone in your household has a disability. Do not delay, if you or someone in your household is on a low income, is looking for work, sick or disabled, a carer, a parent or guardian, or is pregnant check what your are entitled to using the Turn2Us benefits calculator

Please note if you or someone in your household currently get Income Support, Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, do not move to Universal Credit until you get advice as you may be worse off. Call Citizens Advice Universal Credit Help to Claim helpline between 8am and 6pm on 0800 144 8 444

Check if you can earn some of your salary ‘tax free’

You don’t have to pay tax on everything you earn. You can earn an amount tax-free that’s your ‘personal allowance’. You might pay less tax if you’re married or in a civil partnership or you’re registered blind or you spend money on things that are essential for your job.

You might be able to save on the amount of tax you pay if you’re married or in a civil partnership.

If you were born on or after 6 April 1935 you can claim Marriage Allowance if you’re earning less than £11,850 a year and your husband, wife or civil partner earns between £11,851 and £46,350 a year. The allowance lets you transfer some of your Personal Allowance to your partner – this means they can save on the tax they pay. Here you can apply for Marriage Allowance .

If you or your partner were born before 6 April 1935 you can claim Married Couple’s Allowance. This could save you between £336 and £869.50 a year. Use this Married Couple’s Allowance calculator to find out what you could get.

You can claim Blind Person’s Allowance if you’re registered with your local council as blind or severely sight impaired.

You’ll be able to earn an extra amount tax-free – this is on top of your Personal Allowance. You have to claim Blind Person’s Allowance – you won’t get it automatically. Check here on how to claim.

If you spend your own money on things that are essential for your job

You can sometimes pay less tax if you have to spend your own money on things that are essential for your job – this is called ‘tax relief’. You can’t claim tax relief on things you also use outside of work, or if your employer pays you back for what you’ve spent.

Things you could claim tax relief for include:

  • special clothing for work, such as a uniform or protective clothing
  • membership of professional bodies
  • tools for your job

Check here if you can get tax relief and how to claim.

Renting out a room, as another source of income

If you have a spare room you might want to rent it out as a source of income. There are things you should check before renting out a room including:

  • if you need permission from your landlord or mortgage lender
  • how any extra income might affect the benefits you receive
  • if you’ll lose the 25% single person discount on your council tax

If you’re a taxpayer the Rent a Room Scheme allows you to earn £7,500 a year tax free by renting out a room in your home. Check here on how to join the Rent a Room Scheme


Free school travel to school

Some children can qualify for a free travel pass to help them get to school. This can depend on:

  • the age of the child
  • distance to travel to school
  • evidence of low income
  • availability of a safe walking route
  • the child’s special needs or disabilities

To find out if your child is eligible click here

Disabled person’s travel pass

  • You must be aged 5 or over, or if applying under category G you must be 16 or over.
  • You must permanently reside in the Merseyside area.
  • You must be blind or partially sighted or profoundly or severely deaf or be without speech or have severe difficulty walking or have lost the use of both arms, have a learning disability or are unable to drive for medical reasons

Not sure if you qualify? Review each of the eligibility criteria in more detail here

Free travel for over 60s

Merseytravel offers free travel on all buses, trains and Mersey Ferries river crossings for anyone aged 60 or over who lives in Merseyside.

When you reach your 60th birthday you can apply  for a Merseytravel Over 60s travel pass. Once you reach State Pension Age you will be given your English National Concessionary Travel Pass which also allows you to travel on local bus services anywhere in England.

Click on this link to find out more details

Maximise your income if you have children

You can apply for free school meals if either:

  • you get certain benefits
  • you’re not allowed to claim benefits because of your immigration status – check if your immigration status lets you claim benefits here

If you get Universal Credit

You can apply for free school meals if you either:

  • started your claim for Universal Credit before 1 April 2018
  • earn less than £7,400 a year net, not including benefits

You’ll remain eligible for free school meals until 31 March 2023, even if your earnings increase or you stop getting Universal Credit. If your child is getting free school meals on 31 March 2022, they’ll keep getting them until they finish their stage of education, for example primary or secondary.

If you get other benefits

You can apply for free school meals if you get any of these benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit – you can’t apply for free meals if your yearly income is £16,190 or more before tax or you’re also entitled to Working Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – you might get this for 4 weeks if you’re no longer eligible for Working Tax Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Guarantee Credit (part of Pension Credit)

You can apply for free school meals here.

Your child will automatically get free school meals if they’re in reception class or year 1 or 2.

Free prescriptions

You can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you:

  • are 60 or over
  • are under 16
  • are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • are an NHS inpatient

You’re also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you’re entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

You can read more about who can get free NHS prescriptions here.

There’s a simple way to find out if you’re eligible for free NHS prescriptions and any help with other NHS costs by using this eligibility checker.

Maximising Household Income

Make sure everyone in your household is paying their fair share

If other adults live with you make sure you’re splitting the bills fairly. If you’ve got grown up children still living with you ask them to pay board.

Payments to help with living costs if your child/rens other parent doesn’t live with you

If your child/ren’s other parent doesn’t live with you, you might be able to get payments to help with the living costs of your child. Usually the parent who doesn’t have day-to-day care of the child makes regular payments to the parent who does. You can arrange child maintenance payments with the other parent yourself. Use this child maintenance calculator to work out how much payments should be. If you can’t reach an agreement with the other parent get help from the Child Maintenance Service

Please note fees are payable each time you make or receive a regular child maintenance payment through the Child Maintenance Service. The fee is 20% (which is added to the payment) for paying parents and 4% (which is taken off the payment) for receiving parents

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Do you or someone in your household have an illness, disability or mental health condition? 

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is extra money to help you with everyday life if you have an illness, disability or mental health condition. You may be entitled to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – even if you have income, savings and whether you’re working or not! Check if you are eligible for PIP here.