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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

Child Maintenance is regular financial support paid by the non-resident parent to the parent with care to help with the child's everyday living costs. It can be arranged through the Child Support Agency, the courts or a private arrangement with the other parent. A parent’s financial responsibility for their child does not end if their relationship with the other parent ends.

If you (or your current partner who you live with) are claiming income-related benefits, any maintenance you receive will not affect those benefits.

Maintenance if your ex-partner lives abroad

The UK has arrangements with more than 100 countries and territories that mean a person living in one country can claim maintenance from an ex-partner living in another. Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders - or REMO - is the name used in the UK for this process. REMO claims are handled by the courts.

Follow the link below for a list of all the countries that the UK has a REMO arrangement with.

Making a claim against someone abroad

If you already have a court order for maintenance from when your ex-partner still lived in the UK, you should go to the court that made the order. The REMO process may attempt to enforce the existing court order in the other country. Use the link to the CourtFinder below to find contact details for the court. Staff at the court will be able to explain the process you will need to follow.

If you don't already have a court order for maintenance (if you only have a Child Support Agency (CSA) assessment, for example) you should contact either your:

  • local magistrates' court
  • family proceedings court

They can help you apply for maintenance from the ex-partner living abroad as CSA assessments are not enforceable abroad. Use the link to the CourtFinder below to find contact details for your local court.

Jobseeker's Allowance

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. To find out if you are eligible, click on the link below.

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.

Income Support

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 benefit. Whether or not you qualify and how much you get depends on your circumstances. To find out if you are eligible and to apply online, click on the link below.

In Work Credit

In Work Credit is a tax-free payment of £40 to lone parents (£60 for parents in London) who have been claiming certain benefits for a year or more and go back to work for at least 16 hours a week. In Work Credit is paid for 52 weeks on top of other working benefits. To find out more, speak to someone at your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Childcare costs

Jobcentre Plus can also help with childcare costs as long as you place your child with a registered childcare provider and you are doing something connected with your chosen career. 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

Job Grant is a work related payment you may get when you 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 Jobcentre Plus 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
  • Jobcentre Plus/New Deal Allowance payments where the allowance is based on Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Employment Zone payments where the allowance is based on Jobseeker's 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

Jobcentre Plus 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.

Useful contacts

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012