Finances and Benefits
Finances and benefits
Many people experiencing domestic abuse worry about whether they’ll have enough money to live on if they separate from their partner. It might be that they have controlled all of the household finances and you aren’t used to dealing with these, or you have been looking after children and not in paid work or have been working part-time.
There are welfare benefits (money) you can get to support yourself and your children either if you leave your home or you stay in your home and have your partner removed. These include:
- Income Support
- Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Housing Benefit
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credits
- Pension Credits
- Employment Support Allowance
If you are making a new claim for JSA or already receiving it and have experienced domestic abuse you may be eligible for the Jobseeker’s Allowance Domestic Violence (DV) Easement. This exempts JSA claimants from attending job seeking activities and to be actively seeking employment for up to 13 weeks.
Universal Credit is the new benefit system that has replaced many of the benefits and tax credits listed above with a single monthly payment. The roll-out of Universal Credit was completed in December 2018 and anyone who is still receiving one or more of the older benefits are due to be switched to Universal Credit by the end of 2023.
If you are applying for or receiving Universal credit and you are experiencing domestic abuse, you may be able to get some extra support. For example:
- A break from looking for work or any work-related requirements
- Alternative payment arrangements if you claim as a couple and want the payment to be split into two bank accounts instead of one
- Support to open a new claim as a single claimant if you have left the relationship
- Receiving the housing element of Universal Credit for both a former permanent home and temporary accommodation.
If your claim is turned down, you have the right to appeal. You can ask Women’s Aid or Citizen’s Advice to help you with this.
You may be able to get a Crisis Grant or a Community Care Grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund by applying to your local council. These are one-off payments designed to help you meet urgent living costs in emergency situation or to help you to settle in a new home, for example, if you are fleeing domestic abuse.
If you’re in financial crisis, professionals such as social workers, health care professionals, Citizen’s Advice, and Women’s Aid may be able to refer you to a food bank with a voucher to receive short-term, emergency support with food. You can contact your local food bank to find out who their referral partners are.
Who else can help?
It is a good idea to get advice when applying for benefits. Women’s Aid and Citizen’s Advice have lots of experience of helping people apply.
If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse, you can contact a local Women’s Aid service. Women’s Aid specialise in supporting women and children affected by domestic abuse and may be able to help with emotional and practical support, including practical support with benefits.
Find your nearest Women’s Aid group: https://womensaid.scot/find-nearest-wa-group/
Citizen’s Advice will be able to provide information and help you to understand what your rights are in lots of areas, including housing, social security, finances, and immigration. This includes practical support about benefits.