Benefits and reduced income

Don’t miss out on income
If you need help claiming benefits
Universal Credit
If your benefits stop
Financial help if you’re disabled
Free food parcels
Help for Households

Don’t miss out on income

Use an online benefit calculator to quickly and easily understand what benefits you might be entitled to, how to claim and what how much you might receive.

You can find more information on benefits from:

If you need help claiming benefits

The local organisations below can provide you with free and confidential support to make and maintain a claim for benefits:

Citizens Advice Reading provide Help to Claim service on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. They can help you if you struggle to use a computer or verify your identity and support you to complete the actions on your online journal and understand what Universal Credit will mean for you.

They also have specialist benefits advisers. They can help people apply for benefits or appealing decisions, including preparation for tribunals. They also support people and families living with cancer to claim appropriate benefits.

Communicare can help complete benefit applications and forms in general, they are also able to make referrals to other support agencies for you.

Welfare Rights can help with benefit claims and specialise in help with Personal Independence Payment claims and any benefit mandatory reconsiderations or appeals.

Universal Credit

When making a new claim that is not directly related to a disability or health condition, you will need to claim Universal Credit. There is more information on our Universal Credit page and the Department for Work and Pensions website.

If your benefits stop

If your benefits reduce or stop unexpectedly, it’s important to find out why as soon as you can. If you claim:

  • Universal Credit – you can log into your online journal or contact the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
  • Other benefits from the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) – you will have been sent a letter. If you can’t find or have not received a letter contact the DWP on 0800 169 0310.
  • Tax Credits – you will have been sent a letter, if you can’t find or have not received a letter contact the DWP on 0345 300 3900.
  • Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support – contact Reading Borough Council’s Entitlement and Assessment Team on 0118 937 3707.

Get help and advice if you disagree with the reason your benefits have reduced or stopped.

Further help:

  • Welfare Rights – form filling, challenging decisions
  • Money Helper – a government-approved online advice service, providing impartial advice on money and pensions choices.
  • Communicare – checking entitlement, form filling, challenging decisions
  • Citizens Advice Reading – advice on budgeting, benefits, housing, employment, immigration, and debt options

Social tariffs

Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband.

For more information visit the Ofcom website here.

Financial help if you’re disabled

If you have a disability or long term health condition you can find out about help available to you on

Care and support costs

If you are struggling to afford to pay your adult social care charges – such as Personal Budget invoices from the Council, or Direct Payments contributions, check the financial assessment of your contribution for care and support is up-to-date.

Your financial assessment may need to be updated if there has been a change to your expenses, for example:   

  • Rent or mortgage or service charges. If you are paying more than you were at your last financial assessment, you should send details and evidence of your current costs using our contact form.
  • Higher than average heating/energy bills relating to disability or medical condition. Check your annual fuel bill amounts against the amounts in our disability-related expenses guide to see if you could get an allowance (or a larger allowance) for additional heating/fuel costs in your financial assessment. If your annual fuel bills amount to more than the average for your housing type then send details/evidence of your annual bills using the secure online disability-related expense assessment questionnaire.
  • Other disability-related expenses. Have your other disability-related expenses increased due to recent inflation? If you’re not sure, keep your bills and receipts that relate to expenses relating to disability/medical condition. You can use them to see what your expenses are, what they cost and how often. If you are paying more than you were at your last financial assessment, or you have new disability-related expenses then send us details and evidence of your extra costs by completing the disability-related expense assessment questionnaire.

When you submit updated housing costs and/or disability-related expenses information, your financial assessment will be reviewed to consider those extra costs and you will be informed of your new assessed maximum weekly contribution.

Entitlement to additional income through welfare benefits will be checked, and you will be offered advice and support on how to apply.   

If your assessed maximum weekly contribution is more than your weekly personal budget amount for care and support, you will be charged the lower personal budget amount. If you have any questions about your financial assessment, contact the Financial Assessments and Benefits Team on 0118 937 3724, email or use our contact form.

if your assessment is up to date and correct, but you are still struggling to afford to pay your care and support invoices due to financial hardship, contact your social care worker or call Adult Care Services on 0118 937 3747.


Information on government schemes and support if you are currently unemployed is available here.

Further advice and support are available from the Family Information Service including support for parent carers to access funded childcare and other government schemes.

Free food parcels

If you are struggling with paying for food, you can be referred to Reading’s food bank Readifood by a professional organisation or charity, like Reading Borough Council, Citizens Advice Reading or Communicare. Please speak to any professional you are working with for a referral, or contact one of the local advice agencies who can work with you to make a referral.

If you are struggling for food currently, please contact the Debt Advice Team. They will be able to provide you with details of where you can go to get a food handout as soon as possible.

Help for Households

The government have set up a Help for Households website with lots of useful information on:

  • Income support
  • Energy bills
  • Childcare costs
  • Household costs
  • Transport costs
  • Finding work
  • Discounts and offers
Last updated on 27/06/2023