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There is lots of support to help you back to work. Find out what service can help you the best.


Claiming the benefits that you are entitled to
If you have no income, or are already on state related benefits, you may be missing out on benefits that you are entitled to.

To get an estimate of what benefits and tax credits you may be able to claim and also find out how your benefit would be affected by a change in circumstances (e.g. if you find work). Please visit www.turn2us.
Housing Benefit
If you are struggling to pay your rent and fall into the following three categories, you could claim Housing Benefit:

  • You're on a low income or claiming benefits
  • You have a rental liability (you pay rent)
  • Your savings are below a certain level - usually £16000

You can apply for Housing Benefit whether you're unemployed or working. Housing Benefit can pay for part or all of your rent. How much you get depends on your income and circumstances:

  • If you rent privately, from a council or social housing landlord
  • Whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in council or social housing
  • Your household income and circumstances (including your partner's). Income includes money from savings (over £6,000), benefits and pensions.
  • If you're single and under 35, you can only get Housing Benefit for bed-sit accommodation or a single room in shared accommodation.

You can pick up an application to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction at any of the following locations:

You can download and print an application form from the website: Cardiff Council.

Or pick up an application to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction at any of the following locations:

Cardiff Council

Home Visit Service
If you need help to complete your form and you are not able to come into any of the above offices please contact us to arrange a home visit on Tel 20 53 7550.

Alternatively you can print an application using the following link Cardiff Council and return it to:

Benefit Section
Freepost CF429
Po Box 6000
CF11 0WZ

It is important to complete the application in full and provide all the required evidence so that your claim can be processed as quickly as possible.
Council Tax
Are you paying the right amount of Council Tax? You could be eligible for discounts on your bill.

Council Tax Reduction
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax bill and fall into the following categories, you may be eligible to claim Council Tax Reduction:

  • You're on a low income or claiming benefits
  • Your savings are below a certain level - usually £16000
  • You have a liability to pay Council Tax at your address

Disabled Person's Reduction
If you have certain facilities in your home because you have, or someone who lives with you has a disability, you may be entitled to a reduction in your Council Tax bill. In this context 'Disabled person' means a person who is substantially and permanently disabled. They can be an adult or a child and do not have to be responsible for paying the Council Tax bill. This reduction means your property will be considered in the valuation band immediately below the actual band shown in the valuation list.

You may be eligible:

  • If you have an additional bathroom or kitchen to meet the needs of the disabled person
  • If a room (other than bathroom, kitchen or toilet) to meet the needs of, and used mainly by, the disabled person. The room or wheelchair must be essential, or of major importance, to the disabled person's well being due to the nature and extent of their disability.
  • If extra space inside the property to allow for the use of a wheelchair. Wheelchairs for outdoor use only are excluded. An extra room does not need to have been specially built, but your home will not qualify for a reduction unless the room is essential or of major importance to the disabled person.

If you think you might qualify for a Disabled Person's Reduction please complete this form.

For further information call 029 2087 2087 or email ctax@cardiff.gov.uk.

Single Person's Discount
If you are the only adult living in a property which is your sole or main residence you are entitled to a discount of 25%.

To apply for Single Person's Discount complete this form.

For further information call 029 2087 2087 or email ctax@cardiff.gov.uk.

Disregarded Person's Discount
People in the following groups do not count towards the number of adults living at a property:

  • Full time students
  • Student nurses
  • Apprentices and youth training trainees
  • Patients in hospital
  • Patients in care homes
  • People who are severely mentally impaired
  • People who are staying in certain hostels or night shelters
  • 18 and 19 year olds who are still at school or have just left school
  • Care-workers working for low pay (usually for charities)
  • People caring for someone with a disability who is not a spouse, partner or child under 18
  • Members of religious communities (e.g. monks and nuns)
  • People in prison (except those in prison for non payment of Council Tax or a fine)
  • People aged over 18 and entitled to child benefit
  • Members and dependants of visiting forces
  • Non British spouse of students
  • Diplomats

The bill for a property where one of two residents is not counted will be the same as that for a property with only one resident, i.e. you will receive a 25% discount.

If someone who is not counted lives alone, or only with others who are not counted, a 50% discount applies.
For further information call 029 2087 2087 or email ctax@cardiff.gov.uk.

Students who are exempt from the Council Tax charge can fall into one of four different categories:

  • A student enrolled on a full-time course of education, lasts for at least one academic year or calendar year. To be considered full-time the student is normally required to attend for periods of at least 24 weeks in a year, undertake periods of study, tuition or work experience which together in each academic or calendar year amount to an average of at least 21 hours a week. Where a course includes periods of work experience, it is not treated as a full-time course of education unless the hours of study and tuition exceed the number of hours of work experience when aggregated for the course as a whole.
  • A student under 20 years of age undertaking a qualifying course of education. The course requires at least 12 hours per week to be spent on relevant activities on the course. It must last for at least 3 months and must not be Higher Education.
  • A school or college leaver, a person who is under the age of 20 and has left school or college on or after 1st May. This exemption applies to the period from 1st May to 31st October in the same year. This applies even if the school/college leaver does not go onto full-time education or they find employment immediately after leaving school/college. School and college leavers can continue to be exempt if they go on to some other form of further or higher education.

To qualify for an exemption a spouse, civil partner (or those living together as though they were civil partners) or a dependant of a student must:

  • Not be a British citizen, and
  • Be prevented by immigration regulations from either taking paid employment or from claiming benefits whilst living in the UK.

For further information please call 02920 872087 or email ctax@cardiff.gov.uk.
Working Tax Credits
Working Tax Credits are based on the hours you work and get paid for, or expect to be paid for. It doesn't matter if you're employed or self-employed, but unpaid work doesn't count as work when claiming tax credits. Check if your work can help you qualify for Working Tax Credit.

For more information go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

If you or your partner have a disability and usually work 16 hours or more a week, you could get extra Working Tax Credit. This is called the 'disability element'.

For more information go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

To calculate if you may be entitled to Working Tax Credits please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.
Child Tax Credits
You could get Child Tax Credit for each child you're responsible for if they're:

  • Under 16
  • Under 20 and in approved education or training

You don't need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.

You get money for each child that qualifies and Child Tax Credit won't affect your Child Benefit. To find out more please visit www.gov.uk.

How much you get depends on your circumstances - you can use the tax credit calculator to work this out. This can be found at www.gov.uk.
Support for carers
If you are a carer you may be able to get Carers Allowance to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs.

  • You don't have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
  • You need to be aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.

Further information on Carers Allowance can be obtained by visiting www.gov.uk.

If you're caring for someone for at least 20 hours a week, you could get Carer's Credit. This is a National Insurance credit that helps build your entitlement to the basic State Pension and additional State Pension. It makes sure there are no gaps in your National Insurance record. Please visit www.gov.uk for more information.

For further advice and support for carers and the people they care for please contact Carers UK on 0808 808 7777, Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 12pm and 2pm to 4pm alternatively you can visit their website at Carers UK.

If you are an overnight carer and the person you care for is in either a Housing Association or Cardiff Council property and under occupying the property, they may be able to have a bedroom allocated for you.
Discretionary Assistance Fund (Social Fund Reform)
From April 2013 Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans were replaced by a national Welsh scheme decided on by the Welsh Government. Two types of help are available:

  • Individual Assistance Payment - for people getting a means tested benefit such as Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit, who need help with purchasing goods or service. For example, a cooker, fridge or bed.
  • Emergency Assistance Payment - For anyone with an immediate threat to health or wellbeing. There is no means assessment for receiving this help

Help will be given by providing goods and services where possible. Where cash is the only option, payment will be made via a PayPoint outlet, these are available in many local shops. Any help given will not have to be repaid.
The current Budgeting Loan scheme will continue to be administered by the Department of Work and Pensions. This scheme helps pay for essential things like rent, furniture, clothes or hire purchase debts.

Claims for Individual Assistance Payments and Emergency Assistance Payments can be made by:

For more information on the Discretionary Assistance Fund please visit www.moneymadeclearwales.org.


Grants for people in need
There are several useful websites that list organisations which give grants to people in need. For example, some charities give grants to help people pay their bills or buy essential items. You can also search for charities which help people who are members, or ex-members of certain professions. Try these websites:

Some trade unions also give financial help to past and present members and their families. To find out if you can get help, contact your union.

More information on grants


Benefit Cap Leaflet - Back to Work Scheme

Starting or going back to work
As well as a regular financial income working can have many advantages including a sense of accomplishment, stimulation, enjoyment, company and friendship.

If you are returning to work or wanting to start work for the first time there are a number of different organisations within Cardiff who can help with:

  • Choosing what type of employment you are best suited
  • How to find a job
  • Writing your CV
  • Preparation and help with interviews
  • Skills for your employment
  • Where English is not your first language

Careers Wales is one organisation that can help, further information about them can be found at www.careerswales.com.

There are also a number of Enterprise Centres throughout Cardiff where you can seek assistance, they have very little online presence but can be found at:

3rd Floor
Central Library Hub
The Hayes
CF10 1FL
Monday - Friday 9:00am - 6:00pm

St Mellons Enterprise Centre
31 Crickhowell Rd
029 20361581
Monday - Friday 09:00am - 5:00pm

Ely and Caerau Hub
Cowbridge Road West
Monday - Friday 09:00am - 5:00pm

Grangetown Library
Havelock Place
CF11 6PA
Monday 09:00am - 1:00pm
Friday 09:00am - 1:00pm & 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Roath Library
Newport Road
CF24 0DF
Tuesday & Thursday 09:00am - 1:00pm

Llanrumney Hub
Countisbury Avenue
Tuesday 09:00am - 1:00pm
Thursday 09:00am - 1:00pm & 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Canton Library
Library Street
Wednesday 09:00am - 1:00pm & 2:00pm - 4:00pm

Llandaff North Library
Gabalfa Avenue
Llandaff North
CF14 2HU
Wednesday 09:00am - 12:00pm

STAR Splott Library
STAR Centre
Splott Road
CF24 2BZ
Wednesday10:00am - 1:00pm

Fairwater Library
Doyle Avenue
Wednesday 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Universal Jobmatch is the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) online service which is radically changing the way people look for and apply to jobs. It's one of the biggest changes to the labour market in 27 years.

It is open to all jobseekers, regardless of whether or not they are claiming a benefit.
For more information please visit www.gov.uk/jobsearch.

Depending on your income and the hours you work you may also be able to claim Working Tax Credits.

Further information can be found at HMRC Tax Creditsand a calculator to work out how much you may be entitled to at Tax Credits Calculator.
Taking a second job
You might be able to take on a second job to help you over a difficult patch in your finances. You will need to think about the effects that having more than one job might have on your health. You will also need to think about any possible effects on any in-work benefits you may be claiming.

There may also be tax implications on your second job. Further information on this can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

Depending on your employer and the hours that you work you may wish to see if they can increase your hours or if overtime is available.
National minimum wage
The minimum wage is the lowest hourly, daily or monthly remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the lowest wage at which workers may sell their labour.

The National Minimum Wage rate per hour depends on your age and whether you're an apprentice - you must be at least school leaving age to get it.

For details of the current minimum wage rate please visit www.gov.uk.
If you are employed or self employed a pension is one way that you can increase your income in retirement. You can either make monthly or lump sum payments to a pension provider. They will send you annual statements, telling you how much your fund is worth.

The amount you get when you retire depends on how much you paid in, how well the fund's investments have done and how you decide for your retirement income to be paid, e.g. as lump sums or regular payments.

You can take up to 25% of the fund as a tax-free lump sum if you want to.

Further information can be found at www.gov.uk.

Unlocking your private pension
If you have a personal pension and are aged 55 or over you may be able to take up to 25% of your pension early as a lump sum. However this will have a dramatic impact on your retirement benefits and is not suitable for everyone. More information on this can be found at www.moneyextra.com together with alternative options to unlocking your pension.
Tax and National Insurance
Make sure you're paying the right amount of tax and national insurance this is important to do especially if you have more than one job.

For more information about whether you're paying the right amount of tax please go to www.hmrc.gov.uk.

You can get help to check whether you're paying the right tax or national insurance from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To find your nearest CAB, including those which can give advice by email, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk.

You can get information about how to claim a refund of any income tax you've overpaid from HM Revenue and Income website at www.hmrc.gov.uk.

As well as tax and national insurance, your employer may be deducting other money from your wages. You should check to make sure the right amount is being deducted.

Other deductions your employer might make include:

Payments under a court order
This might be, for example, under an attachment of earnings order to repay a debt such as a bank loan or rent arrears. You may be able to apply to the court to have the amount reduced.

Repayment of a student loan
If your total pay during the year is below the threshold set by the Government, you may be able to claim a refund of any deductions made.
Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are unable to work because of illness. SSP is paid at the same time and in the same way as you would be paid wages for the same period.

The employer is responsible for paying SSP to employees who meet certain qualifying conditions. They also need to record any SSP they pay to an employee on a form P11 Deductions Working Sheet - or equivalent payroll record.

For more information and an online calculator please visit www.gov.uk.
Statutory Maternity Pay
If you are an employee and expecting a baby, you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This replaces her normal earnings to help you take time off around the time of the birth. You also have a statutory right to a minimum amount of maternity leave.

Whether you will receive SMP as an expectant employee depends on how long you have worked for and how much you earn. You will have to provide your employer with evidence of when the baby's due and give them notice of when you want them to start paying your SMP.

Payments of SMP count as earnings. Your employer will deduct tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) from them in the usual way.

For more information and a SMP calculator please visit www.hmrc.gov.uk.
Your rights as an employee
If you are currently in employment and have concerns or wish to find out more information regarding your legal rights as an employee the Citizen Advice Bureau provide a wealth of information on their website.

Please visit: www.adviceguide.org.uk.
Trade Unions
A trade union is an organisation made up with members who are usually workers or employees. It looks after their interests at work by doing things like:

  • Negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions
  • Discussing big changes like large scale redundancy
  • Discussing members' concerns with employers
  • Going with members to disciplinary and grievance meetings

For further information on Trade Unions and how to join one, go to www.gov.uk.

For a list of existing Trade Unions please visit www.certoffice.org.
It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of:

  • Age
  • Being or becoming a transsexual person
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or having a child
  • Disability
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion, belief or lack of religion/belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation

You can get more information regarding discrimination and your rights by going to www.gov.uk or Diverse Cymru.
Starting your own business
If you're thinking of starting up a business, you'll first need to come up with a realistic idea that you can turn into a product or service.

Find local support, including help with developing business ideas, on the National Enterprise Network website. National Enterprise Network.

More information can be found at www.gov.uk.


Further Education
You may wish to look at gaining extra qualifications or work related training. Financial assistance may be available to help with the costs of doing your course. You may also qualify for help with childcare and transport.

More information on this can be obtained from the Welsh Government website at www.wales.gov.uk.


Downsizing to a smaller home
If you live in a Council or Housing Association home and wish to reduce your property size, either to decrease your rental liability or move to a more suitable home assistance may be available:

  • Priority Downsizing List
  • Swapping or exchanging your home with another tenant
  • Homes with disabled adaptations

If you are affected by Welfare Reform you may also be able to receive:

  • Help with removal costs
  • Help setting up your new home in the form of a disturbance payment
  • If you rent privately you may to get assistance with your rent and bond in advance

Renting out a room
Have you thought about letting out a room in your home to a boarder or lodger? If you own your property and you pay income tax, you could get up to £4,250 tax-free under the Rent a Room scheme.

You may need to think about whether increasing your income in this way would affect your entitlement to benefits. You may also need to get permission from your landlord or mortgage lender and update your household insurance.

There are other advantages and disadvantages to the scheme that you may need to think about. For more information, in England, Wales and Scotland visit the Directgov website.
Charging an adult child or non dependant rent
You may wish to ask an adult child or non-dependents you may have living with for financial towards the expense of theme being in the property.

You may wish to consider before sitting down and discussing it with them:

  • The reasons why you want your them to pay rent. Helping them understand your rationale and intent will make it easier to accept.
  • The amount of rent you intend to charge and what this is based upon. Don't forget to take any existing financial obligations they may have into account before setting a monthly amount. This is new territory for you and them; keeping the amount reasonable will make it easier for them to adjust to.
  • Decide together when they will need to start paying you rent. Working with them will give them time to think it through and make it easier to accept.
  • What you intend to do with the rent they pay you. Some parents need these funds to offset household expenses; others set the funds aside for their children so they have money on hand to move out on their own later. Whatever your intentions, be open and honest with them.
Discretionary housing payments
For information please visit the Cardiff Council website.
Welfare Reform
Full information can be found on the Cardiff Council website.

An extra bedroom for an overnight carer
If you are effected by under occupation and have someone that provides overnight care you may qualify to have bedroom allocated to them.

Qualifying Conditions
As the claimant or partner you must be defined as a 'person who requires overnight care'. Such a person:

  • Receive Attendance Allowance (AA), or
  • Receive the middle or highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or
  • If you do not receive either of the above, you will need to provide sufficient evidence to show that overnight care is required

In addition, as the claimant or partner you must reasonably require, and receive, overnight care from one or more people who do not occupy your home. The person/people must regularly stay overnight for that purpose and be provided with their own bedroom.

Please note the low rate of DLA care is not sufficient - if you are in receipt of this, Cardiff Council would need further evidence to show that overnight care is required.

Children, young people and students

If you have school-age children, you may be able to get financial help for things like school meals, clothing and travel costs. This will depend on your financial circumstances
If you live apart from the other parent of your child, you should check you're getting all the child support and maintenance you're entitled to.

Financial support is available for some young people, for example, to:

  • Help with the costs of learning or training
  • Provide additional help for someone in a low-paid job
  • Support someone who is looking for a job or course or is caring for someone else.

Young people continuing in education after the age of 16 may be entitled to an education maintenance allowance to help pay for books, travel and materials.

Support and maintenance from non-resident parents
Where parents live apart, child maintenance is the regular financial support paid by the parent who is not living with the children to the parent who is the main day to day carer.

The Government believes that families themselves are best placed to determine what arrangements will work best for them. Evidence suggests that this is better for the children affected.

The Government wants to encourage and support parents to:

  • Fulfil their responsibilities as parents by continuing their involvement in their children's lives and through paying child maintenance
  • Make family-based arrangements wherever possible rather than relying on government services to step in and administer arrangements

If you wish to look at the amounts you should receive or expect to pay please look at the online calculator.
Cardiff Family Information Service
The Family Information Service (FIS) is a free information and advice service for ALL parents/carers of those aged between 0-19 and the professionals who work with them.

FIS are there to provide you with information, assistance and advice to help you find and choose:

  • Registered Childcare (childminders, nurseries, playgroups, creches, breakfast / after school clubs)
  • Unregistered Childcare (holiday / sport clubs, parent and toddler groups, nannies)
  • Children and young people's Activities
  • Family Support Organisations

FIS also provide information on:

  • Help with the costs of childcare
  • Careers in childcare
  • Childcare training

The FIS is your ideal starting point if you have any questions regarding support for your family. Cardiff FIS will be able to provide you with information tailored to your individual needs... so call the Family Information Service (FIS) first.

Tel: 029 2035 1700
Email fis@cardiff.gov.uk
Facebook page

Selling your belongings

If you own anything you don't want anymore, you could sell it to raise money. Places where you could do this include:

  • A car boot sale
  • In a garage sale
  • On an internet auction sites
  • Advertising in a local shop window or newspaper.

When you give a description of the item you're selling, it must be accurate. You should read any terms and conditions and be especially careful if you're selling over the internet.

Making the most of your money

Childcare and tax credits
If you are employed and pay for childcare, you may be eligible for extra tax credits to help with the cost of childcare.

If you're a single parent you must work 16 hours or more a week.

If you're a couple you must both work 16 hours or more a week. Only one of you has to work these hours if the other is:

  • Entitled to Carer's Allowance
  • In hospital or prison
  • Getting certain benefits, credits or reductions for disability or illness - e.g. Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or a disability premium for Housing Benefit

Childcare from your employer
If you are exempt from Tax and National Insurance. There are different types of childcare support your employer might provide that you don't have to pay tax or national insurance contributions.

These are:

  • Childcare Vouchers
  • Directly contracted childcare (childcare arranged by your employer with a specific provider)
  • Workplace nurseries
  • If you are not exempt from Tax and National Insurance

You have to pay tax and national insurance on what you get if your employer offers:

  • Cash to pay for childcare
  • Childcare fees paid direct to the childcare provider
  • School fees paid direct

Discretionary Learner Support
If you're 20 or over and on a further education course you may be able to get Discretionary Learner Support to pay for childcare. Each college has its own scheme so contact the college direct to find out more.

Childcare Grant
If you're in full-time higher education you can apply for a Childcare Grant to pay for childcare costs for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special needs.

Care to Learn
Care to Learn payments go direct to your childcare provider to pay for childcare costs. You may be able to get Care to Learn if you're under 20 and caring for your own child.

Further information on support while you study can be found at www.gov.uk.

Students with Dependant Children
If you are a full time student with dependant children you can apply for a Childcare Grant through Student Finance Wales. This grant is dependant on your University course, your income and that of your partner and any other dependants.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

There is more detailed information about student grants in the Student Finance Wales Guide, Childcare grant and other support for parents in full-time higher education Student Finance Wales Grants.
Funding for school
Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
The Welsh Assembly Government has introduced a new student support scheme, the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which started in 2009/10. Young people from low income households and who are continuing in further education can get financial help and bonuses.

There are four main things that determine if you can get EMA:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your course
  • Your household income
  • Your nationality and residency status

You don't need to study in Wales to get EMA. As long as you live in Wales and your school/college is participating in the scheme, you can apply for EMA.

Courses that allow you to get EMA are:

  • GCSEs
  • A or AS levels
  • BTEC, GNVQ, NVQ courses
  • Basic Skills courses

Courses must last at least 10 weeks.

You can download a form here.

Assembly Learning Grant (ALG)
ALG (FE) is for students aged 19 or over who are studying a course of Further Education at college. If you're eligible, you could get up to £1,500 a year.

There are lots of courses you can do and get ALG (FE) such as:

  • GCSEs
  • A or AS levels
  • BTEC, GNVQ, NVQ courses
  • Basic Skills courses

Your course must be 'eligible' for ALG (FE) support. Your college can tell you if the course you want to do is eligible.

Additionally, if you have previously received ALG (FE) while studying on a course that was at the same level (or higher) as the course you want to apply for now, you will not be eligible for ALG (FE) in the current academic year.

You can download a form here.

Visit Student Finance Wales for further information regarding Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and Assembly Learning Grant (ALG).

Students with Adult Dependants
You may be eligible for extra money if you have an adult who is financially dependant on you. This Student Finance Wales grant is dependant on your University course, your income and that of your partner and any other dependants.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website: Student Finance Wales

There is more detailed information about student grants in the Student Finance Wales Guide, Childcare grant and other support for parents in full-time higher education can be found here.

Students with Disabilities
Disabled Students' Allowances can help to pay for extra costs when studying, as a result of a disability. The amount you can claim does not depend on your income, or that of your parents or partner. You will have to attend a Disabled Students' Allowance needs assessment to determine the help required to complete your course.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website.

There is more detailed information about student grants in the Student Finance Wales Guide 2013/2014, Childcare grant and other support for parents in full-time higher education www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

Free School Meals
To qualify for free School Meals you must be entitled to one of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Job Seekers Allowance (Income Based)
  • Employment Support Allowance (Income Related)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Child Tax Credit with annual income of less than £16,190

If you receive Working Tax Credit you will not be entitled to Free School Meals for your child even if you also receive one of the incomes listed above.

To contact Free School Meals

By Phone: 029 20872873
By Post: Benefits Section, FREEPOST CF429, PO Box 6000, Cardiff, CF11 0WZ
By Fax: 029 20877034
By Email: Freeschoolmeals@cardiff.gov.uk

Free Milk
Free milk is only supplied to the following pupils:

  • All children under five
  • Children under the age of seven who would normally be entitled to free meals
  • All pupils in Key Stage 1

Free School Uniform
This grant is available to parents of pupils who are moving from year 6 of primary school to year 7 of secondary school.

Parents must either be in receipt of:

  • Free school meals
  • Income Support
  • Income Related Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Based Job
  • Seekers Allowance
  • Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit and a low income.

Tel: 02920872938
Email: mailto:studentsupport@cardiff.gov.uk
Website: www.cardiff.gov.uk/schools

Visit Uniform Exchange Events
Many schools or parent committees hold uniform exchange events a few weeks before the start of the school term. Parents donate items of uniform that kids have outgrown or no longer have a use for. Keep an eye on newsletters, school emails and school websites for details of uniform exchanges. If your child's school does not currently hold such events, be sure to get in touch with the head teacher to suggest it.

Take a Trip to the Supermarket
Some of the lowest priced school uniform items are to be found at the supermarket. Large, out of town supermarkets are the best ones to try. Pick up cheap shirts and buy socks in bulk. Sewing a school badge onto a bargain blazer will be cheaper than buying a finished blazer from a school outfitter. Be sure to choose items carefully, though, to avoid costly mistakes and potential embarrassment. For example, check uniform regulations to ensure that the style of skirt sold in the local supermarket complies with school guidelines. Take care to pick items in the correct colours, too. A blue blazer won't go down well if the school insist upon navy.

Free School Travel
Pupils are entitled to free school transport only if they are:
Over the statutory school starting age and under 11 (Primary aged), living over two miles from the nearest appropriate catchment school for their home address.

Secondary age and under the statutory school leaving age of 16, living over three miles from the nearest appropriate catchment school for their home address.

Pupils who qualify for free transport will be able to use contracted school buses, or will be given a free bus pass, which can be used on local commercial bus routes. Distances are measured via the shortest walking route to the nearest appropriate school and pupils must be of statutory school age to qualify.

Tel: 029 2087 2808
Website: www.cardiff.gov.uk/schools
Holidays and entertainment
Free swimming
The Welsh Government is funding free swimming in Wales for:

  • Children and young people aged 16 and under (during school holidays and at the weekends)
  • AND those over 60 (outside school holidays).

For more information visit your local council run pool.


Max Active Card
If you are in receipt of benefits and over 16, or aged 16-18 and in full-time education, you could be eligible for the Max Active Card and save up to 50% on Cardiff sports facilities such as pools, health and fitness suites, casual fitness classes, athletics, cycling facilities and much more.

Contact your local Council leisure centre for more information or visit www.cardiff.gov.uk.

Places to visit
There are lots of exciting places in South Wales to visit that are free to enter such as:

  • National Museum Cardiff
  • St Fagans National History Museum
  • The Big Pit
  • Cardiff's parks and green spaces make this one of the greenest cities in the UK
  • Cardiff Bay and Barrage

For more information on places to visit throughout South Wales visit www.southwalesattractions.co.uk. Try using the 'Free Admission' link.

Disabled Grants - Free/Subsidised activities and holidays
To find out what activities and holidays you could apply for visit www.turn2us.org.uk.

Spending less on food

Wastage and meal planners
Food wastage costs you money. As a country we throw away from our homes 7.2 million tons of food every year, the majority of which could have been eaten.

Meal planners also help you plan your meals and buy what you need to reduce costs and limit wastage.

For more information and a downloadable meal planner can be found at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.
Supermarket shopping
Brand Drop Challenge
Try down shifting the branded products that you buy in the supermarket, buy supermarket own brands and see if you can taste the difference. Reports show people are more likely to stick with branded washing powders, shower gels and other cleaning products rather than food. Yet these products don't even need tasting and the savings can be huge. Try down shifting these products too.

Everything from shortbread to Chardonnay is covered by The Supermarket Own Brand Guide, which reviews supermarket's own brands. It pits them against their brand name rivals and gives a mark out of 10.

Reviews are written by food critic Martin Isark. He's gradually tasting his way through the big supermarkets and has reviewed more than 10,000 products from Aldi, Asda, the Co-operative, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose.

Never shop when hungry!
You're more likely to buy things you don't need in a bid to satisfy your hunger pangs. Compare the cost of your shopping trolley at the major online supermarkets with MySupermarket. It looks at the five biggies: Tesco, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado and Sainsbury's. For toiletries, it checks Superdrug and Boots. The prices are often reflected in-store, so even if you're going in person, it's worth doing a check to see which is cheapest for you.

As you enter your data, MySupermarket also suggests alternative options that may be cheaper. For example, if you're buying two six-packs of cola and a 12-pack is cheaper, it lets you know.

Max your coupons
Coupons and deals are integral to supermarkets' strategies. The promotions follow what we call a 'capture and exploit' system.

  • CAPTURE. The aim is to attract customers who wouldn't come otherwise. These are generally discount vouchers or codes or a small range of heavily discounted items.
  • EXPLOIT. This is about targeting existing customers, with the dual aim of making them feel they're getting better value to promote customer stickiness and trying to target impulse spending through promotions on attractive luxury items.
    Hundreds of free coupons are available instantly on the web. Look for coupons on already-discounted products, as they'll work the cheapest.

Check out Free Grocery Coupons for an updated list of top ones. In February 2012, Which? investigated the price of 700,000 items on sale at the five big supermarkets and found some special offers were more expensive than products not on sale.

Supermarkets' tactics included upping the price per item when products went into a multibuy offer and exaggerating original prices to make special offers seem cheaper.

To help, supermarket comparison site MySupermarket now charts products' price histories to show if a supermarket's 'was price' is realistic.

How to do it
Simply sign up to Mysupermarket for free, then search for an item. On its page, scroll down and you'll see a chart of the big five supermarkets' average prices for that product over the last year.

Set up a price alert
You can get price alerts on your favourite groceries - ideal for stocking up on favourite items that don't go off. Search for a product, click 'add price alert' and MySupermarkert fires off an email as soon as the price drops in one or more stores.

Grab Online supermarket VOUCHERs
Online supermarkets commonly put out introductory discount vouchers to 'capture' new customers, eg, £15 off a £50 spend at Waitrose.

For a detailed list of free codes and vouchers, see the Shopping Vouchers deals list. All hot new vouchers go in MoneySavingExpert's free weekly email.

Consider less choice, lower price supermarkets
When shopping in-store, consider Lidl, Aldi, Home Bargains and B&M Home Stores too, if you haven't before. These can often prove cheaper than the other big supermarkets - many shoppers go once a month to buy all their staples, then use the big four for the rest of their goods.

Loyalty schemes don't give something for nothing
Supermarkets use sneaky tactics to keep us in their store so we don't take advantage of competitive markets.

Don't think supermarket loyalty schemes, such as Tesco Clubcard and Nectar, give you something for nothing. Loyalty point schemes are incorporated into pricing policies. So the golden rule is: choose where to shop on price, not because you get points, but always get points when you're spending there anyway.

Exploit price match policies
Three big supermarkets promise to refund the difference where a basket of groceries is cheaper at rivals.

Tesco's Price Promise
Tesco pays the difference if you buy groceries, and Asda, Sainsbury's or Morrisons sell the same for less. It used to offer double the difference, but now it just matches the price.

If any supermarket was cheaper for the basket as a whole, it automatically gives you a Tesco shopping voucher.

To qualify, you'll need to buy at least 10 different items, and the maximum you can get is £10. Vouchers must be used within 28 days and you can use them online and in-store. It works in Metros, Superstores, Extras (not Express & Homeplus). See Tesco Price Promise news story.

Asda's price guarantee
Asda promises to refund the difference where a basket of groceries is cheaper at rivals. After you've shopped in-store or online, enter your receipt on its Price Guarantee site.

If Asda's not at least 10% cheaper than Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Waitrose, it gives a shopping voucher for the difference. You need to buy at least eight items to qualify. Just present your voucher and original receipt at the checkout or redeem your voucher online when you pay for another shop.

It's always worth tapping in your receipt details. Often the vouchers are for a few quid, but some money savers have had payouts of up to £30. See full terms.

Sainsbury's Brand Match
Sainsbury's has also jumped on the price match bandwagon. Spend £20 or more, with at least one branded product in your basket, and gives back the difference if you could have got the basket cheaper at Asda or Tesco.

There's no need to enter your receipt details on its site. Sainsbury's says it will work out how much you're due and give you a voucher at the till when you pay for your shop. See full terms.

Time trips to bag bigger reductions
Reduction times varied by store/opening time, yet some definite patterns emerged. The first yellow stickers appear around 10am, and the silly-price reductions begin at 7pm, when stores cut prices by 75% and upwards.

Supermarket rough reductions schedule:

Amount you may be able to save
 Up to 25% offUp to 50% offUp to 75% and up
Asda12 noon5pm9pm

Source: The Great 'Supermarket staff, tell us your reduction policies' Hunt.

Most shop floor staff have the authority to reduce prices at their discretion, so keep your eye out for goods that are damaged/nearing their sell-by dates. But remember; they will be more likely to reduce prices for friendly customers, so don't go demanding a reduction!
Rural Regeneration Unit - Food Cooperative
The Rural Regeneration Unit has set up food cooperatives around Wales. A food co-op is a simple system through which customers access fresh fruit, salad and vegetables on a weekly basis at wholesale prices. Local produce is accessed as much as possible, quality and price permitting.

Some farmers supply direct through food co-ops. The co-ops provide 'bags' of fruit, vegetables or salad to customers at a fixed price. The supplier chooses the selection of fruit and vegetables according to what is in season and what offers best value for money that particular week. The supplier delivers the produce, in bulk, to the co-op. Customers order and pay in advance so there is no wastage. The co-op makes no profit and all the money taken goes directly to the supplier. Cash is paid on delivery.

The Rural Regeneration Unit has helped set up and support approx 300 food co-ops across Wales and it is expected that this number will continue to increase.
To find your local Food Cooperative visit Food Cooperative.
Fare Share Cymru
Fare Share aims to help vulnerable groups, whether they are homeless, elderly, children, or other groups in food poverty. Fare Share works with the food industry and takes any surplus 'fit for purpose' and distributes it to disadvantaged people.

For further information go to: www.faresharecymru.org.uk.
Cardiff Food Bank
Cardiff Foodbank was launched in 2009 as a franchise of the Trussell Trust, and is part of the National Foodbank Network. It is a project to help and support those suffering financial hardship and who are facing the reality of being unable to feed themselves or their families.

Food is donated by individuals, schools, businesses and churches and is sorted and stored for future use in the Warehouse in Ely. Front line professional care workers such as health visitors, charities, church pastoral workers social services, etc issue clients vouchers. Clients can exchange vouchers for 3 days of nutritionally balanced emergency food.

Clients collect food from the distribution centres across the City where they find a safe place to chat over a hot drink and snack and receive signposting to a range of support services. www.cardifffoodbank.co.uk.

Download the Foodbank information.

Spending less on clothing and goods

The Freecycle Network is made up of 5,094 groups with 9,309,384 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely not for-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Membership is free, and everything posted must be FREE, legal and appropriate for all ages. To view the items being given away or sought in Cardiff, you must be a member of the local group.

To find your local Freecycle group, please go to www.freecycle.org.
Voucher codes
There are many groups that offer free voucher codes for deals and free goods.


Car boot sales
Car boot Sales and markets are held around Cardiff all year round. Find a bargain from sellers' unwanted and disused goods and save yourself a fortune! Always check with the venues that these events are still running as car boot sales and markets can be seasonal.

Local Cardiff Car Boot Sales:

Splott Car Boot
Lewis Road
CF24 2ND
Opening Hours: Thursday and Saturday from 07:00

Bessemer Road Car Boot
Bessemer Road
CF11 8BE
Opening Hours: Saturday and Sunday from 09:30

Coed Glas School
Ty Glas Avenue
CF14 5DW
Opening Hours: Saturday 08:00 (March-December)

Dutch Garden Centre
The Dutch Garden Centre
Junction 30 M4
CF23 8LZ
Opening Hours: Sunday 09:00 (October-September)

Sully Sports and Leisure
South Road
CF64 5SP
Opening Hours: Sunday from 08:30 (May-September)
Charity shops
Charity shops are a great opportunity to recycle unwanted goods. If you are living on a budget you can pick up some bargains at your local charity shops.

If you are looking for specific items then you are unlikely to have much luck but if you are looking for general items such as clothing or kitchen wares then they are a great source of discounted, unwanted and sometimes unused goods.
Online Cashback
Cashback allows you to save money when you buy things online. When you purchase an item through a cashback site, they earn a commission and pass this on to you, this allows you to get money back and save on your shopping.

When you next need to shop online check a free to join cashback site like www.TopCashback.co.uk (or use the TopCashback App) to see if you could save money. TopCashback offers 100% of the commission back and there is even cashback you can earn without buying anything.


Public transport
If you use public transport there are ways that you can reduce your travel costs.

Journeys that you do on a daily basis usually work out cheaper if you buy a weekly of monthly ticket instead of one on a daily basis.

Buy a Family Ticket this should work out cheaper than individual tickets.

Instead of paying on the day plan longer journeys in advance. Travel companies and hotels may offer Advance Purchase Rates. If your plans change however they may have different terms and conditions with regards to your right to cancel. Hotels do not make money on empty rooms and grabbing a late deal may work out cheaper again.

Use the internet to research your costs as there are plenty of comparison websites there to help.
Reduce your petrol/diesel costs
Fuel consumption has a lot to do with the car you buy, but whatever you drive there are things you can do to save money and reduce your petrol usage.

There are many things that you can do to increase the efficiency of your vehicle such as:

  • Ensure that your tires are properly inflated
  • Take out any extra weight from the vehicle
  • Take off roof racks and boxes to reduce wind resistance

There are however many more things that you can do, search 'How to Use Less Petrol' online.

Before you buy petrol try websites like www.petrolprices.com. You may need to register with them they show the cheapest prices in the petrol station around you (Prices are within one or two days old).

There are also applications you can download for your smart phone from your app store.
Cardiff Cycle Workshop
Cardiff Cycle Workshop is Cardiff's award winning bike recycling centre, part of the Cycle Training Wales which are the leading provider of cycle training services in Wales and a not for profit social enterprise.

Cardiff Cycle Workshop aims to increase access to cycling and reduce the number of bikes going onto the scrapheap. They do this by taking in unwanted and abandoned bikes, reconditioning them and then selling them to the general public at a monthly workshop sale. All the bikes undergo a thorough assessment, before being serviced using both new and recycled components. Finally all bikes are subjected to a Pre-Delivery Inspection by one of their qualified mechanics before being put on sale. Bikes and components that cannot be reused are sent for recycling.

Cardiff Cycle Workshop holds a sale of reconditioned bikes at the workshop on the first Saturday of every month. A range of reconditioned bikes are available, adult bikes starting at £50 and children's at £5. All bikes have been fully checked by their qualified mechanics and are sold with a 3 month mechanical warranty.

Opening Hours
Wed-Fri 13:00-16:00 for sales of both bikes and recycled parts
1st Saturday of every month 10:00-12:00

Cardiff Cycle Workshop
Unit 4 Ely Brewery Workshops
Ely Bridge Industrial Estate
Tel: 07808 987798
Email: workshop@cycletrainingwales.org.uk
Pedal Power Cardiff
Pedal Power is the working name of The Friends of Pedal Power Project. They are a registered not for profit charity whose mission is 'to make cycling accessible to all'.

Pedal Power Cardiff are situated at two locations within Cardiff and offer an extensive range of different cycles for hire from standard bikes and tandems to specially designed tricycles for all abilities and ages.

Pedal Power Cardiff reconditions bikes for resale. If you have an old bike that you no-longer use please bring it to one of the Pedal Power Centres. If you would like a bike but are on a modest budget then contact Pedal Power to see what they have for sale after reconditioning.

Pontcanna: 029 2039 0713
Cardiff Bay: 07775 616411
Email: info@cardiffpedalpower.org

Postal Address
Friends of Pedal Power Project Ltd
Off Dogo Street
CF11 9JJ

Reducing your energy bills

For information on how to reduce your energy bills please see the Fuel Poverty page.