Maximising your income

Kidney Care UK Patient Support & Advocacy Officer for Wales, Linzi Isaac, discusses how to ensure you are maximising your income through the benefits and schemes that are available to you.

Living with kidney disease can often come with its own financial implications but there are a number of schemes and benefits you can sign up for to make sure you get the most out of your money.

Housing benefits

Council Tax

  • If you live alone (or are the only adult in your household) you are entitled to a Council Tax discount.
  • If you claim Job Seeker's Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit or Income support you are eligible for support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
  • If you have made adaptations to your home such as an additional bathroom for a disabled person, you’ll be eligible to get your Council Tax bill reduced.
  • If you are on home dialysis you may also have your Council Tax reduced.

If you think you may be eligible for a Council Tax discount or reduction you should apply to your Local Authority Council Tax department as each council runs its own scheme.

In Northern Ireland there is a slightly different scheme but you can apply for a reduction of your Housing Rates through Land & Property Services.

Discretionary Housing Payment

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) provide financial support to help with rent or housing costs (at the discretion of your local authority).

You can only receive a DHP if you are entitled to Housing Benefit or the Housing Costs element of Universal Credit.

Apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment through your local council.

Support with energy and utility costs

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is available to domestic customers who have additional communication, access or safety needs. If you are of pensionable age or living with a disability, chronic illness or visual/hearing impairment you should register with both your energy and water providers.

The PSR provides you with free extra services, along with protection from disconnection if you struggle to pay your energy bills. Services include:

  • advance warning of planned power cuts
  • priority in an emergency
  • annual gas appliance safety checks for homeowners.

Each energy provider holds their own register which you can sign up to by contacting your supplier.

Financial hardship and utility bills

Most of the big energy companies have funds to support customers who are facing financial hardship. This can come in the form of grants and debt advice. Contact your energy provider to find out more.

The British Gas Energy Trust is a charitable trust which provides independent advice and support to the customers of all energy companies. If you’re worried about energy debt, read about the support available on their website.


Water suppliers in England and Wales offer a scheme that caps your annual metered bill amount so you won’t pay over a certain amount for the year, no matter what your actual consumption is.

You are eligible for WaterSure in England or WaterSure in Wales if:

  • you are a home therapies patient
  • you have three or more children under 19 years old living in your home.
  • To qualify you must also be in receipt of one or more benefits such as Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance or Child Benefit.

Apply for WaterSure directly to your water company. You will need to supply evidence that you qualify, such as a copy of your awards notice for a benefit and evidence of your medical condition from your GP.

Disability benefits

Severe Disability Premium

You may be eligible for a Severe Disability Premium (SPD) if you are on an income-related benefit such as ESA, Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, and also in receipt of one of the following benefits

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance care component at middle or highest rate
  • Personal Independence Payment care component

Severe Disability Premium is an additional £67.30 a week if you’re a single person or £134.60 a week for a couple if you are both eligible.

If you are receiving SDP the DWP will not migrate your existing benefit to Universal Credit.

SDP can be backdated to when you became entitled to it. In some cases, this can be for a long time and can mean you get a big back payment. You will need to contact the office for the benefit you get and tell them that you think you should be entitled to a Severe Disability Premium.

Help with the cost of transport

Travel passes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Each of the four nations has its own scheme for issuing travel cards.

Wales – Disabled Person’s Concessionary Travel Card

You are eligible for free bus journeys and free/discounted journeys on Transport for Wales trains if you receive one of the following benefits:

  • DLA mobility component at higher rate
  • PIP award with 8 or more points under Descriptor 7 “Communicating Verbally”; or 12 points under Descriptor 11 “Planning and Following a Journey”; or 8 or more points under Descriptor 12 “Moving Around”

You may also be eligible to apply for a Disabled Person with Companion Travel Card if you are unable to travel independently.

To apply for the Disabled person's Concessionary Travel Card visit the Transport for Wales website or call your local council.

England – English National Concessionary Travel Scheme

Card holders are entitled to travel free of charge on any off-peak local bus service (some regions allow the card to be used on all bus services).

Eligibility criteria differ slightly between each Local Authority but as a general rule you are eligible if any of the following apply to you:

  • Your ability to walk is severely impaired
  • You have a Blue Badge
  • You’re unable to drive due to a medical condition
  • You’re registered blind or severely sight impaired

Contact your local council to find full eligibility criteria and apply for the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme.

Scotland – National Entitlement Card

The National Entitlement Card provides free travel on registered local and long-distance bus services throughout Scotland, at any time of day for any number of journeys, for those aged 60 and over, as well as for eligible disabled people who live in Scotland. You are eligible for the Card if you:

  • Get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Get the higher/middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Receive Attendance Allowance
  • Receive any rate of the mobility or daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • Have a Blue Badge

You can apply for a National Entitlement Card with your local council.

Northern Ireland – Half Fare SmartPass

This card entitles the holder to half fare bus travel on participating services along with concessionary ferry services. You will be eligible for a Half Fare SmartPass if you:

  • Get the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Get the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment
  • Have had a driving licence refused or revoked on medical grounds
  • Are partially sighted

Free travel is available to people in Northern Ireland for everyone aged 60 and over or registered blind.

You can apply for a Half Fare SmartPass by contacting Translink or collecting an application form from your local Translink bus or rail station.

Vehicle Tax

You can apply for exemption from paying vehicle tax if you get the higher rate mobility component of DLA or enhanced rate mobility component of PIP.

You can get a 50% reduction in vehicle tax if you get the PIP standard rate mobility component. The vehicle should be registered in the disabled person’s name or their nominated driver’s name.

Contact the DVLA to claim vehicle tax exemption or deduction.

Kidney Care UK financial support

Last but not least, we have our patient grants at Kidney Care UK.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet we can help you by providing an individual grant to help cover:

  • Domestic costs such as utilities and bills
  • Household items like white goods and furniture
  • Travel expenses
  • Education and training

Your Renal Social Worker, or a member of your kidney care team, will help you complete the application form. If no one is available to help at your unit, one of our Advocacy Officers can support you.

I’ve seen grants help in a range of ways, from replacing broken household appliances to funding a dog grooming course that has kick-started a new vocation. The possibilities are endless!