A means-tested benefit is a payment available to people who can demonstrate that their income and capital (their 'means') are below specified limits. It is a central part of the welfare state in the United Kingdom.
The main means-tested benefits in 2013 are:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Working tax credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
- Housing Benefit
Receipt of such benefits other than Housing Benefit and tax credits is a passport to other non-cash help such as free school meals, free prescription charges, Legal Aid, cold weather payment. The claimant, their partner and dependent children are covered.
Assessment of means
The income and capital limits are specified in relation to the needs of a household, normally a couple and any children living with them. A couple who are not married may be treated as Living together as a married couple.