Benefits you may be entitled to if you’re separating

Make sure you don’t miss out on benefits you may be entitled to when you separate. You may be able to claim tax credits and get a discount on your rates or Council Tax. You may also need to tell HM Revenue and Customs and others that your circumstances have changed.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is based on the hours you work and how much you earn. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee or self-employed. You don’t have to have children to qualify for Working Tax Credit, but if you do, you might be entitled to more. Following your separation, you may be able to claim this or claim more.

Read more in our guide Working Tax Credit.

Child Tax Credit

After you separate you may qualify for Child Tax Credit. The amount of tax credits you can receive depends on the number of children you have, whether your child has a disability and how much income you have.

Read more in our guide Child Tax Credit.

Tax credits help with childcare costs

You may be able to get some help towards childcare costs if you qualify for Child Tax Credit. This would mean you could claim a percentage of your childcare costs, up to certain limits. You have to be working for at least 16 hours a week (either employed or working for yourself) to qualify.

You can find out more in our guide Tax credits and other help with childcare costs.

Reporting changes to your circumstances for tax credits

If you’re already receiving tax credits, you should report any changes in your circumstances to HM Revenue and Customs as quickly as possible. You should tell them if:

  • you’re permanently separating from your partner
  • you’re changing your address
  • you’re changing your name

There’s a full list of the things you should tell HM Revenue and Customs, and when and how to report them.

In England, Wales or Scotland, you can find these details on the GOV.UK website.

In Northern Ireland, you can find these details on the nidirect website.

Child Benefit

You can get Child Benefit if you’re responsible for a child aged under 16. This age limit rises to 20 if they’re still in full time education up to A-level, Highers or an equivalent level, or doing certain ‘approved’ training courses.

If your ex-partner was claiming Child Benefit and you are now going to be responsible for your children, and want to claim it, you can switch who claims the benefit. Your ex-partner should contact the Child Benefit Office and explain that they no longer want to claim Child Benefit. You will then have to make a new claim for it.

In England, Wales or Scotland, you can find contact details on the GOV.UK website.

In Northern Ireland, you can find contact details on the nidirect website.

There’s more information in our guide Claiming Child Benefit.

Child Benefit and the Higher Tax Charge

If you or your ex-partner is earning over £50,000 and you receive Child Benefit, then you may be taxed on the amount you’ve received. You should contact the Child Benefit Office and notify them about your change of circumstances following separation.

If you had opted not to receive Child Benefit, so that your ex-partner didn’t have to pay the extra tax, you should speak to the Child Benefit Office about making a claim for payment.

Reducing your Council Tax or Rates Bill

England, Wales or Scotland

If you’re the only adult in your home following your separation, you can apply for a single person discount of 25% off the full amount of your Council Tax bill. If you have children over 18 living with you who are still in full-time education, they may not be classed as an adult for Council Tax purposes. Other people, such as full-time carers, are exempt as well.

Northern Ireland

Following your separation, you may find yourself on a low income, which might mean you can claim ‘rates Housing Benefit’ or ‘Rate Relief’.

These are means-tested benefits, so you will only qualify if your income and savings are below a certain level. Help is available if you own or rent your home.

If you’re already receiving ‘rates Housing Benefit’ or ‘Rate Relief’, and your circumstances change, such as changes to your income, benefits or the number of people in your household, you should report these to the Land & Property Services within one calendar month of the change taking place.

Find out more about reducing your rates bill on the nidirect websiteopens in new window.

Your next step

Did you find this guide helpful?