One of the first questions that many single mothers have on becoming the sole head of a household is ‘how am I going to cope as a single mum?’. Often, the biggest part of this challenge is financial. If, like me, you’re entering single motherhood after a separation, the chances are you’re going from a two-income household to a one-income household overnight. So, what support can single mothers in the UK get? There are various benefits for single mums, financial support systems, reductions, grants and fund options available for single parents living in the UK. Getting familiar with the systems in place to support you is a great idea, even if you are not eligible, or ultimately do not need to utilise any of the avenues of support.
It’s important to note that many of these supports are means-tested, so you will likely need to make an application based on your income and outgoings, so getting your finances in order, creating a budget and getting to grips with managing your money is the best start you can make.
There is plenty of help and advice available in How To Be A Happy Single Parent, with a whole chapter dedicated to getting your finances in order and support on building a budget to manage your money.
What Benefits Are There For Single Mothers In The UK?
Here’s a run-down of the main support available for single parents in the United Kingdom.
- Universal Credit: A means-tested benefit that provides financial support to those on low incomes or not working. This is not just for single parents, but many single parents are eligible for support via the scheme. gov.uk/universal-credit
- Child Benefit: A tax-free payment that can be claimed by anyone responsible for a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they are in full-time non-advanced education or on approved training. gov.uk/child-benefit
- Help with Childcare Costs: You may be eligible for support toward your childcare costs depending on your work situation and income. Use the online calculator to see what you may be able to receive. gov.uk/childcare-calculator
- Child Maintenance Service Payments: You may be eligible for child maintenance payments from your child’s other parent, depending on both of your incomes and how you are sharing custody between you. Use the online calculator to figure out what payments you may be able to claim. It’s worth noting that this system is not perfect and many people struggle to receive what they’re owed by their coparent or even choose not to go an official route on child support.
- Tax Credits: Financial support for those on low incomes, including Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. gov.uk/manage-your-tax-credits
- Council Tax Reduction: Support for those on a low income and responsible for paying Council Tax, which can reduce the bill or mean not having to pay anything at all. https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction
- Free school meals: Single parents on a low income may be eligible for free school meals for their children. gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
- Grants and loans: Eligibility for a grant or loan to help with essential expenses such as rent, furniture, and clothing. turn2us.org.uk
- Prescriptions and health costs: Single parents on income support can get free prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, glasses, fares to hospital, wigs, and fabric supports. nhs.uk/nhs-services