Being a single parent can be one of the most stressful and difficult situations to contend with especially for low income earners. If you are a low income earner there are plenty of single parent financial options to help you get through the most financially difficult years from pregnancy to 5 years old especially. However many government benefits continue through the life of the child until they reach the age of an adult. Most parents will do whatever they can to get help with bills but there are definitely more suitable options than others to ensure you do not leave yourself in more trouble than before.

Universal Credit

For many low income earners including single parents the new Universal Credit, rolled out across the UK in specific jurisdictions starting in 2013 until 2017 will be the only government benefit program needed. If you are currently on a benefit program, you will be automatically notified of your changeover to the new universal benefit system. The UC will be replacing other benefit programs including Income Support, Job Seeker’s Allowance, working tax credits, child tax credits, housing benefits and Employment and Support Allowance.

Mixed race woman holding baby and talking on cell phone

As the new UC is meant to replace a number of other encumbrances of benefit programs that applicants often had to switch between and reapply, it will be a welcome change once it is available country-wide. Until that time that your region is eligible for the new UC, check out the following programs as a lone parent needing financial help.

Current Programs

If your child is under 5 years old, you live in the UK, do not work more than 16 hours a week and have a low income you may qualify for Income support, without having to sign on for Job Seeker’s Allowance and the commitments to look for work.

If your child is over 5 years old and is not disabled you will need to apply to Job Seeker’s Allowance and commit some time to searching for a job in order to receive the benefits of JSA. However, for those with children between the ages 5-12, you will not be forced to accept a job outside the hours of when your child would be in school.

If you earn under £50,000 you will be eligible for the Child Tax Credit that pays a standard amount per child from birth until the child reaches adulthood. This tax credit does not affect your child benefit which can also be claimed if you are the primary care giver. Another tax credit includes the Working Tax Credit and is granted based on a low income. These tax credits also allow you to claim up to 70% of childcare costs as long as children are placed with a registered childcare provider.


The government also provides a Housing Benefit for low income earners that rent. For most benefits, you must meet eligibility requirements that also include not having more than £16,000 in savings or liquid assets.

Lastly the Healthy Start Scheme is designed to provide the basics for caring for a child including money for milk, fresh fruits and vegetables and formula. The weekly vouchers provide a much needed benefit for new single parents to meet the extra dietary demands of young children. You must be a minimum of 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old. The Sure Start Maternity Grant provides much needed money for the basics you will need for a new baby including furniture and clothing, will not affect your other benefits and does not need to be repaid.

As a single parent, search for government benefits to help you through the financially demanding early years of child-rearing. Searching charity grants can also help out in specific crisis situations.