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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Benefits for young people

If you're 16 or over you may be able to claim certain benefits or tax credits (government payments) if you're on a low income, looking for work, disabled or caring for a child or older person.

Making a claim

For many people, claiming benefits can seem a little daunting. The first thing to do is phone your local Jobcentre Plus office. Advisers will be able to help you find out what you're entitled to and guide you through filling in a claim form.

If you're 16 or 17, someone will call you back within 4 hours to discuss your situation, and if you're 18 or over, an adviser will contact you within 24 hours. Remember that the more information you can give an adviser about your personal situation and financial circumstances, the easier it will be for them to judge what you're eligible for.

If you're on a low income or not working

If you’re aged 16 or over and on a low income, you may be able to apply for financial help from the government. Exactly how much you’ll get will depend on your age and your personal circumstances.

Income Support

If you're over 16 and unable to work because you're a lone parent, a parent who has to stay home and look after your children, registered as a disabled person, or you're responsible for the care of a relative who is disabled you may be eligible for Income Support.

If you're a university student, on a training course or in full time education, you'll only be able to qualify under special circumstances. In this instance, any part-time work you take on may mean you lose your entitlement to Income Support.

If you're getting Education Maintenance Allowance, this will not affect your Income Support claim.

Jobseeker's Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit open to most people over the age of 18 who are unemployed, not in education and looking for work. You could also be eligible if you have a job where you work less than 16 hours every week.

If you're under 18, or if you're a student, it's unlikely you will be entitled to the allowance.

If you're 16 or 17, you will only be able to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance in exceptional circumstances. For example, estrangement from your family leading to severe hardship. If you think that you might have exceptional circumstances, contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus office.

If you do claim JSA because of estrangement, remember that the more information you give Jobcentre Plus about the breakdown of your family relationship, the quicker they can make a decision. You can also ask another adult who knows about your situation to go with you to your interview, and your parents won't be told about your meeting unless you want them to be.

Housing Benefit

You can claim Housing Benefit to help pay for your rent if your income and savings are below a certain level.  If you're single and aged under 25 you can only get Housing Benefit for bed-sit accommodation or a room in shared accommodation.  You cannot get Housing Benefit if you're living with your parents or other close relatives and paying rent to them.

You won't usually be able to claim if you're a full-time student unless you're disabled or have children, but it's still worth checking.

Working Tax Credit

Working Tax Credit is a weekly payment to help towards your living costs. It's mainly available for people who are over 25, but if you're aged 16 or over and have children or a disability that affects your ability to work or look for work, you may also be able to claim it.

If you care for a child or older person

Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is a weekly payment to help towards your living costs if you're 16 or over and have full responsibility for looking after a child (even if you're not the parent).

How much you get depends on how many children you're responsible for, whether you live alone and the child's age. There are extra payments if the child is disabled.

Carer's Allowance

You may be able to claim Carer's Allowance if you are 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for the same relative, friend or neighbour who themselves claims certain other benefits.

Carer's Credit

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance credit which lets carers build up qualifying years for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension.

Young parents

Remember that if you're under 20, you can also get financial help with your childcare if you're in college, at school or taking part in a work-based learning programme from the Care to Learn scheme. You can also apply for Child Benefit, although this may affect the amount of other benefits you can get.

If you're ill or disabled

Employment and Support Allowance

If you’re over 16 and have an illness or disability which affects your ability to work, you may be able to apply for Employment and Support Allowance.

You’re usually only able to claim this if you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions during your working life.  However, you may still receive it if you’re under 25 and satisfy certain conditions.

Disability Living Allowance

You may be able to claim Disability Living Allowance for yourself or on behalf of a disabled child if you're responsible for their care. The award looks at two things: level of mobility and the amount of care needed.

If you're a student in higher education

If you’re doing a higher education course, you can apply for student finance to help fund your studies. Full-time students can’t usually claim income-related benefits as well - but part-time students and certain groups of full-time students are sometimes eligible.

The Social Fund

You may be able to get financial help for some unexpected payments if you're already claiming Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance and some other benefits. These include:

  • budgeting loans
  • crisis loans
  • maternity grants if you're having a baby

Additional links

Careers Advisers are here to help

If you're aged 13-19 you can contact a Careers Adviser for information, advice and support on a range of issues affecting young people

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