Once you’re no longer living together, you’re classed as separated for tax and benefit purposes. Separating from your partner may mean that you become entitled to new benefits and tax credits or higher amounts of benefits you already receive. If you or your ex-partner were claiming benefits for the family before you separated, tell Jobcentre Plus and/ or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) about your change in circumstances straight away, to avoid being overpaid or losing out on money.
Qualifying for extra benefits can make a big difference to the options that could be available to you, for example, in terms of affordability of housing. It is usually worthwhile, financially at least, if the parent with care of the children can work at least 16 hours a week as this allows them to qualify for Working Tax Credit. This benefit can make a substantial difference to a single parent’s income.
If you have permanently separated from your partner, you can claim benefits and tax credits as a single person straight away. You may not be able to claim if your separation is temporary or on a trial basis and there is a chance you may get back together. You can get advice on benefits and tax credits and help applying, from your local free advice centre, such as Citizens Advice or contact the Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline free on 0808 802 0925 for more advice.
Further detailed information can be found on page 4 of the factsheet ‘Action to take when a relationship ends’ which is produced by the charity Gingerbread who provide expert advice and practical support for single parents.