Benefit and tax credit payments
The majority of benefits are usually paid by direct credit transfer into an account. This includes the following:
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provides benefits.
- tax breaks
- Child Support
- Allowance for Guardianship
If you have trouble opening an account or making payments using this method, see the section Difficulties opening or managing an account.
Council Tax Reduction is usually paid for by a reduction in your Council Tax bill. If you are a local authority tenant, Housing Benefit may be paid through a rent reduction, and it is sometimes paid directly to your landlord in other circumstances. Otherwise, your local council will usually pay your Housing Benefit via cheque or direct deposit. Some councils will agree to pay you by check if you ask them.
When you file a claim for benefits, the office that decides your claim will also decide how you will be paid. You cannot appeal the manner in which your benefit is paid, but if it causes you problems, you should file a complaint.
Problems with benefits and tax credits has more information on how to complain.
Deposit into a bank account
The most common method of receiving benefits and tax credits is by direct credit transfer (also known as "direct payment"). This means that the funds are transferred directly into an account in your name. When you file a claim, you will be asked to provide information about the account you want to use to receive your benefit or tax credit. If you have trouble opening an account or making payments using this method, see the section Difficulties opening or managing an account.
If you have any questions about direct payments of benefits or state pensions, you should contact the office that handles your benefit claim or pension. If you received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions requesting account information, the letter will include a phone number you can call for more information.
If you need help claiming tax credits, call the Tax Credits Helpline at 0345 300 3900.
Benefits or tax credits can be paid into:
- a typical bank or building society account (such as a current account)
- a basic bank account (also known as an introductory account)
Basic bank accounts are simpler to open but do not permit overdrafts. Some standard and basic bank accounts allow you to withdraw money from a post office, but you should check with your bank or building society first.
When you open any type of account, you will be asked to prove your identity and where you live. If you cannot provide proof, you may be unable to open an account.
If you have a Post Office card,
It will close on November 30, 2022. Until then, most benefits can be paid into this account. If you receive tax credits or Child Benefit, they will no longer be able to be deposited into your Post Office card account after April 5, 2022.
You can change the account into which your benefit or tax credit is paid from a Post Office card account to another type of account by calling the DWP helpline. You can also ask the following questions:
Account transfers for Post Office cards
Phone number: 0800 085 7133
Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you are unable to open a bank or building society account,
You may make use of the Payment Exception Service.
Using an existing account or establishing a new one
If you already have a bank or building society account, check to see if it is suitable for receiving your benefit or tax credit. It may not be appropriate if it is a savings or mortgage account. If it is a joint account or an account that is frequently overdrawn, you should consider using another account instead.
If you are unable to use a bank account,
Benefits paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) cannot be paid by cheque.
If you refuse or are unable to open an account to receive your benefit, the DWP will pay you through the Payment Exception Service.
The Payment Exception Service employs the i-movo system. You can get your benefit from a PayPoint outlet in a local shop or newsagent. On the PayPoint website, you can look for a store near you.
The DWP will send you vouchers via text message, email, or regular mail. To get your money, you'll need your voucher, a memorable date, and proof of ID. Because the DWP does not require your agreement to pay you in this manner, the Payment Exception Service will be your only option if you are unable or unwilling to be paid into an account. Learn more about the Payment Exception Service on the GOV website. UK website
HMRC can also send you vouchers via text message or regular mail.
If you are having trouble opening an account, you can seek assistance from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you lose your right to tax credits because you do not have an account, or if you have difficulty receiving other benefits because you do not have an account, you should seek assistance from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Direct Payment Issues
If you are paid by direct deposit and there is a mistake or delay due to an error or inefficiency on the part of the bank, building society, or post office, you should ask them to correct it. If the problem has not been resolved, you should file a complaint. If the error or poor service is the result of a problem at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the local authority, or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), file a complaint with the office responsible for making the payment. If the error or inefficiency causes you financial harm, you may be able to seek restitution.
Learn how to file a complaint with the DWP, a local authority, or HMRC.
Check out how to file a complaint against a bank or a building society.
Payment issues with checks
If you are paid by check and do not receive it, or if it is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you should contact the office that paid it as soon as possible. You should also contact the authorities to report the loss or theft.
If you have problems with your cheque, you can also seek advice from an experienced adviser, such as one at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Click on nearest CAB to find information about your local CAB, including those that can provide advice via email.
It is illegal to treat you unfairly because of your age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or childbirth, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation when you receive benefits or tax credits. Furthermore, the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, and most local authorities have policies that state they will not discriminate against you based on other factors, such as caring responsibilities. You can file a complaint if you believe you have been discriminated against when receiving benefits or tax credits.
See our Discrimination pages for more information.
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