Financial help for lone parents
If you are bringing up a child as a lone parent, there is a wide range of financial help available to you. This applies whether you are working, looking for a job or currently unable to work. Find out what you are entitled to.
Child maintenance is regular reliable financial support that helps towards the child’s everyday living costs. The parent who is not the child’s main day-to-day carer pays child maintenance to the parent who is the main carer.
A parent who does not live with their child still has a financial responsibility for the child. You should do everything you can to make sure your child is covered by an effective maintenance arrangement.
Before you avail of the statutory maintenance service you should discuss your options with Child Maintenance Choices. They can help you decide on the best maintenance arrangement for you and your family.
Maintenance if your ex-partner lives abroad
The Child Maintenance Service in Northern Ireland can only deal with an application for child maintenance when both parents and the child live in the UK.
There are some exceptions to this and you can get more advice about whether these rules apply to you from the Child Maintenance Choices Helpline.
If you are able to look for full-time or part-time paid work you may be able to get Jobseeker's Allowance. Whether or not you qualify and how much you get depends on your circumstances.
Employment and Support Allowance
If you are not able to work due to a health condition or disability, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA offers you personalised support and financial help so that you can work if you are able to. If you cannot work because of an illness or disability, you will receive a support component in addition to the basic rate.
If you aren't available for full-time work and you don't have enough money to live on, you may be able to get Income Support. Whether or not you qualify and how much you get depends on your circumstances. To find out if you are eligible, click on the link below.
You can get help with childcare costs as long as you place your child with a registered childcare provider. Once you are working you may qualify for Working Tax Credit which could enable you to claim back up to 70 per cent of your eligible childcare costs.
Job Grant is a work related payment you may get when you or your partner move directly from benefit into work of at least 16 hours a week. You might also be eligible if you have increased the hours you work in an existing job or have a combination of jobs. The work must be expected to last for at least five weeks and you must notify the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office within 21 days of starting.
You must also have been claiming one or a combination of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks immediately prior to moving into work:
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income Support
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Benefit based Training Allowance payments where the allowance is based on Jobseeker's Allowance (Contributory), Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based), Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance
You may also get a Job Grant if your partner starts working at least 24 hours a week, and as a result your benefit stops.
Job-hunting, childcare and financial advice
Social Security Agency can give you advice on job-hunting, and provide you with information about financial help and childcare to help you either get or keep your job.
The Steps to Work programme helps people move into and sustain employment. This includes work experience, training and qualifications which can be tailored to suit individuals. If you are over 18 years old, or a lone parent aged 16 years old or over, who is not working or working less than 16 hours each week, you can take part. You don’t have to be getting benefits.