Benefits for Young People
Benefits for Young People aged 16-18
You might be entitled to different benefits depending on your age, personal circumstances and why you need help.
This section is a guide to what you might get. We recommend asking for help at an advice centre or college welfare office (see page 128-130) as they can guide you through the benefits system. www.direct.gov.uk
Not all young people have a right to benefits. But many young people need help with money at some time, so don’t be put off from applying! These are the basics;-
- If you are under 16, you cannot claim most benefits in your own right but your parent/guardian may be able to claim for you as their ‘dependant’.
- 16/17 year olds can only claim in limited circumstances (see below for details).
- Most people aged 18 and over can claim in the same way as any other adults but there are restrictions if you are still in full time education.
Two top tips for dealing with benefits;
- If you think you might be entitled to a benefit, claim it as soon as possible because it is difficult to get payments ‘backdated’
- If you need help to fill in a form or for any other reason, go to an advice centre, CAB (see page 113-114), or your college welfare office as soon as possible (see page 128-130). Connexions Page 129
16/17 year old care leavers exclusion from Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit/LHA. (see also page 19 & 73)
Most 16/17 year old care leavers cannot claim Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance, Housing Benefit/LHA, Social Fund payments or free prescriptions. You cannot claim if:
- You have been in local authority care for at least 13 weeks since the age of 14 and you were still in local authority care at the age of 16 or 17.
Instead, your social worker or personal adviser must provide a Pathway Plan, including financial support, so ask what has been arranged for you.
Exceptions: Sick, disabled, blind and lone parent care leavers and those who have been on a family placement for at least 6 months will still be able to claim Income Support and Jobseekers Allowance but not Housing Benefit or LHA. If you are too ill to work, disabled or a single parent, ask your social worker or personal advisor for more information.
Making a Claim for Benefits
You should never be turned away from a Social Security Office or Jobcentre just because you are young (unless you are under 16 or a 16/17 year old care leaver - see above). However, many 16/17 year olds need to register with the Careers or Connexions Services before claiming benefit. If the Social Security Office or Jobcentre turn you away without an interview just because you are young, ask for help from an advice centre, immediately.
When you claim any type of benefit, you need to give your name, address (if you have one), national insurance number and some form of ID (e.g. birth certificate, driving licence, passport, etc). Always answer every question on the claim form, even if the answer is ‘no’ or ‘not applicable’. Depending on which benefit you are claiming, you will also be asked to provide other documents (e.g. your rent book for Housing Benefit/LHA) and usually you will need to give the originals, not a photocopy. Always ask what is needed and how quickly to return the claim form and other documents. If you have a problem with any of these requirements, explain why.
Paying the Rent and Council Tax (aged 16 and over)
Whether or not you are in full time work, you may be entitled to Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance, if you are a private tenant to help pay the rent. LHA will be paid direct to you. The rules for full time students are more complicated and only some students can get Housing Benefit/LHA - ask for help from an advice centre/ college welfare office.
You claim Housing Benefit/LHA from the local Council (see pages 125-127) on a different form from your Income Support/Jobseekers Allowance. Note: you do not have to be on these benefits to claim Housing Benefit/LHA. You will have to provide original copies of certain documents along with the claim form so ask in advance what is needed and where to take the form and documents. If you rent a house or flat from a private landlord, the LHA you get may not cover all of the rent charged. This is a particular problem if you have more space than a bedsit or a room in a shared house and you are single, under 25 and have no children.
Top Tip! Before you move into private rented accommodation, ask for a ‘pre-tenancy determination’ from the local housing provider. This will tell you how much of the rent LHA may cover. If in doubt, go to a housing advice centre for help.
Council Tax Benefit
A person cannot be eligible for Council tax until they are aged 18. If you are 18 or over and living in your own accommodation, you will usually be sent a Council Tax bill. With some accommodation, such as houses in multiple occupation, the landlord is responsible for paying the Council Tax.
You can cut the cost of that bill by claiming Council Tax Benefit. There are no special rules for young people and you claim from the Council in the same way as Housing Benefit/LHA. If you live alone, you can get a 25% discount on the bill, even if you cannot claim benefit. Ask your Council for details.
In Full-time Work
As well as Housing Benefit /LHA and Council Tax Benefit, you could be entitled to benefits to top up your wages. Child Tax Credit is for people who are in or out of work and who have children under the age of 16, or under 19 (if in full time non -advanced education). Working Tax Credit if aged 25 and over working at least 30 hours or over. For individuals or families on low income who work 16 hours or more a week and a) have children or b) have a disability. Contact an advice centre or
The Tax Credits Helpline 0845 300 3900 & Textphone 0845 300 3909
Lines Open Mon - Fri 8am - 8pm, Sat 8am - 4pm
(Not Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day)