Check if you can increase your income
You might be able to increase your income by doing things like:
claiming benefits or government grants
checking you're being paid the right wage
getting help from charities
renting out a room
getting child maintenance
You can get advice from the Money Talk Team at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You can call 0800 028 1456 to be directed to your local bureau.
You can also find more information on the Money Talk Team website.
Check if you can claim benefits
You might be able to claim benefits if you’re either:
on a low income
looking for work
sick or disabled
a parent or guardian
Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could get and how to apply.
You'll need information about your savings, income, pension, childcare payments and any benefits that you or your partner gets.
If you're 18 or over, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator.
If you're under 18, get advice from your nearest Citizens Advice.
Check you’re being paid the right wage
Check the National Minimum Wage calculator on GOV.UK to see if you’re being paid the right amount. You can also check if your employer owes you money.
If you’re not being paid the right amount, start by having an informal conversation with your employer. If they agree they’ve made a mistake, ask them to pay you what you’re owed.
Get help speaking to your employer if you’re not being paid minimum wage. You should do this as soon as possible because there’s a 3 month time limit on when you can make a claim against your employer.
If this doesn’t help, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. They can help you take further action, such as raising a formal grievance.
Check deductions from your wages are correct
Your employer might take money from your wages before you’re paid. These are called ‘deductions’. Deductions can include:
things required by law, such as tax, national insurance and student loan repayments
things you've agreed to, such as pension contributions
money taken to pay a creditor directly
If you think your employer is making deductions they shouldn’t, or that the amount taken is wrong, contact your nearest Citizens Advice. They can help you challenge the deductions your employer is making.
Check you’re paying the right amount of tax
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
you're registered blind
you spend money on things that are essential for your job
If you’re married or in a civil partnership
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
your partner's income is between £11,850 and £43,430 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.
You can apply for Marriage Allowance on GOV.UK.
If you or your partner was born before 6 April 1935
You can claim Married Couple’s Allowance. This could save you between £336 and £869.50 a year.
Use the Married Couple’s Allowance calculator on GOV.UK to find out what you could get.
If you’re registered blind
You can claim Blind Person’s Allowance if you’re unable to do work for which eyesight is essential. 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 how to claim on GOV.UK.
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 if you can get tax relief and how to claim on GOV.UK.
If you’ve recently lost your job
You might be able to get back some of the tax you paid while you were working. This is called a ‘tax refund’ or sometimes a ‘tax rebate’.
You might be able to get a tax refund if you lost your job part way through the tax year and you were paying tax through PAYE.
You can check if you can claim a tax refund on GOV.UK.
If you’ve been made redundant
If you’ve been in the same job for 2 years or more you’ll usually get redundancy pay.
The minimum amount you should get is called ‘statutory redundancy pay’. For each full year you’ve worked for your employer you can get:
half a week's pay if you're aged 18 to 22
1 week's pay if you're aged 22 to 40
1.5 weeks' pay if you're aged 41 and over
If you have children
You might be able to get help with your child’s school costs, for example free school meals.
If your child’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. This is called ‘child maintenance’ or sometimes ‘child support’.
You can arrange child maintenance payments with the other parent yourself. Use the child maintenance calculator on GOV.UK 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.
Check if you can get help with your energy bills
You might be able to get grants, benefits or other help from the government or energy suppliers. Check what grants or benefits you can get to help you pay your energy bills.
Check if you can get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund
If you are on a low income, you could get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund. This could be because you’ve had a crisis of some kind, and you need money to pay for essentials like food or bills. This is called a crisis grant.
You could also get help to live independently in the community or to ease exceptional pressure on your family. For example, you might need help to buy furniture or white goods for a new home after a period of time being homeless or setting up home after a relationship has broken down. This type of grant is called a community care grant.
Crisis grants and community care grants are grants, not loans, so they don’t have to be repaid. The grants are discretionary though so your council may not be able to give you one, for example, if it has already paid out a lot of grants and its budget is running low. Whether you get a grant or not may depend on the level of priority that the council gives to your application.
The Scottish Welfare Fund is a Scotland wide scheme which is administered by local councils. You'll need to apply to your local council. Find details about the Scottish Welfare Fund and your local council websites on mygov.scot.
Get a discretionary housing payment to help pay your rent
If you get Housing Benefit or the housing costs part of Universal Credit and still can’t afford your rent, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment (DHP).
You should apply for a DHP if you can’t afford your rent because your benefits have been reduced due to the bedroom tax or the benefit cap.
Your local council doesn’t have to give you a DHP - it depends on your circumstances. If your local council agrees to give you a DHP they’ll tell you:
how much you'll get
when the payments will stop
If you still need help after your DHP stops you can apply again.
Contact your local council and ask how to apply. You can find out how to contact your local council on mygov.scot.
Other ways to get more money
You might be able to get money from:
local or national charities
a budgeting loan or advance - if you're on certain benefits
other adults who live with you
renting out a spare room in your home
a pension, if you're over 55
Get help from charities
You might be able to get extra money from a charity. Some of these grants are open to everyone, others might be available to you based on your situation - such as your job or health.
Use the Turn2Us grant search to find charities that could help.
You might also be able to get help from a food bank.
Get help with your savings
If you’re on a low income and get Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits, you might be able to get help from the government with your savings.
Find out more about Help to Save on GOV.UK.
Get an interest-free budgeting loan
If you claim certain benefits you might be able to get a budgeting loan. This can help pay for essential goods like clothing or a washing machine.
Budgeting loans are interest-free, so you'll only have to pay back what you borrow.
You'll usually need to pay back the loan within 2 years.
You might be able to get a budgeting loan if you get:
income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
income-related Employment and Support Allowance
Check what you could get and how to apply on GOV.UK.
You can't get a budgeting loan if you’re on Universal Credit. You can apply for a budgeting advance instead.
If other adults live with you
Having another adult in your home can affect the benefits you get. For example, it might mean you’re not able to get the single-person discount on council tax. It also means household bills such as energy and water might be higher.
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.
Renting out a room in your home
If you have a spare room you might want to rent it out as a source of income. You can find out more about taking in a lodger on the Shelter website. You'll need to check:
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 how to join the Rent a Room Scheme on GOV.UK.
If you’re over 55 and have a personal pension
You might be able to take some money from your pension savings to help pay for essential costs, or to pay off your debts.
Taking money from your pension will mean you’ve less income when you retire. If you’re getting benefits it could affect your claim.
You should get financial advice before taking any money from your pension savings - you’ll have to pay. Check how to find a financial adviser - they can tell you which option is best for you.
You can also get free guidance on your pension options from Pension Wise. They’ll explain the different options so you can decide which is best for you.
Page last reviewed on 22 February 2019