How do I claim benefits?

You can find details of how to claim Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Housing Benefit online or by calling 0800 055 6688 (or 0800 012 1888 in Wales). You can also find out how to apply to your local authority for Council Tax Reduction on the GOV.UK website.

If you are also making a claim for JSA or Income Support, your claim will be automatically submitted for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction – you shouldn't need to apply separately.

You can get help to fill in the claim form, and further advice on benefits that you may be able to claim, from your local Citizens Advice. You usually need to give your National Insurance number and proof of your identity. You also usually need proof of your circumstances.

For example, if you are claiming a Sure Start Maternity Grant, you will need to provide evidence that you have received the advice of a health professional on the health and welfare needs of your baby.

You may need to attend an interview, though this depends on the benefit. For example, if you are claiming JSA, you will have to have an interview about why you are unemployed and what sort of job you are seeking.

If you’re claiming ESA, you'll have a series of tests to assess your capacity for work. You’ll also usually have to have monthly interviews with a personal advisor to discuss your work prospects, the steps you are prepared to take to move into work and the support you can get.

To get Universal Credit you also need to sign a 'claimant commitment' – an agreement that you'll complete certain tasks in order to claim Universal Credit. This will be based on things such as your health, your responsibilities at home and how much help you need to get work or increase your income.

If you don't keep to your claimant commitment your benefit could be stopped or reduced.

More details of the claimant commitment are available on the Turn2Us website.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.