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Benefits & Tax Credits

Becoming a student can have an impact on your entitlement to certain benefits. Your student status may mean you are no longer eligible to claim a benefit you have been receiving, or your new income from student funding may affect the amount you are able to receive.

This page provides information on how being a student affects your entitlement to specific benefits. It is important to understand how your income will change when you become a student to avoid relying on support you may no longer receive. Figuring this out in advance will help you prepare ahead financially, and budget for your time as a student.

The rules around benefits can be complex, so if you are in any doubt about your entitlement, or how being a student affects this, it is important you speak to the right people to get advice. You can get in touch with the UWS Funding and Advice Team or contact your local benefit advice team (details below).

Student Status

Full-time Students

As a general rule, full-time students cannot claim benefits. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as lone parents or those with a disability. The time of year can also affect your eligibility. There are also some benefits that are unaffected by your student status. These are Child and Working Tax Credits, and Child Benefit.

You can read more about these exceptions in the sections below.

Part-time Students

As part-time students don’t get support for living costs while they study, being a student rarely affects your entitlement to benefits but it also doesn’t excuse you from meeting the conditions of any benefits. For example, for a part-time student to receive Jobseekers Allowance, they must remain available for work and cannot use their studies as a reason for being exempt from this.

If you are a part-time student on a low income, you should ensure you are claiming the benefits you are entitled to claim and should seek advice from your local council's benefit advice team.

Many part-time students can apply for Discretionary and Childcare Funds. These funds can contribute to the costs of books, course materials, travel and childcare that you face as a direct result of your studies.

Most benefit agencies will understand that this income is for study related costs only. However, if your benefit office questions any income you receive from us, or try to reduce or stop your benefits as a result, please let us know and we will write them a letter explaining the purpose of the funds.

Students Repeating a Period of Study or with Resits

If you have been unable to progress as a result of having reassessments or repeating a period of study, your student status can impact your entitlement to both benefits and student support.

If you are repeating a period of study, are registered as a full-time student, and are accessing the standard package of student support, you are classed as a full-time student for the purposes of benefits and will generally be unable to claim unless you meet the exceptions noted below.

If you are resitting exams but are registered as an assessment only student, you are still treated as a full time student during this time. Assessment Only students are unable to claim student support, and are also unable to claim benefits unless you meet the exceptions noted below.

If you want to find out more about your student funding options when you have resits, please visit our dedicated webpage.

Note: You also continue to count as a full-time student if you are doing re-sits after the official end date of your course. This means your student support will end at the end of term, but you remain unable to claim benefits until you complete your resits.

Benefits

Council Tax Exemption/Discount

Full-time students are normally exempt from paying council tax, but you will need to prove to your council that you are a full-time student meeting the necessary criteria. If you live in a property where all residents are students, you will all need to provide this proof.

If you are the only adult in your home, you will also be exempt from council tax as you would be the only person liable for this. Again, you will need to provide proof of your student status to your council.
If you are living with a spouse or partner (or other adult who it is not a full-time student), they will also be liable for council tax. This means you cannot claim a full exemption, but your student status should allow you to claim a single occupancy discount.

For further information on the process to follow, please log on to Self Service Banner and select the Council Tax Exemption option. Depending on the Local Authority, the information is either transferred electronically by UWS or the request will result in a letter being produced for you, which you will need to collect from the Hub/Student Link on your campus.

Please read the guidance on Self Service Banner carefully as this will explain what you need to do.

Child Benefit

You may claim Child Benefit if you’re responsible for one or more children under 16 (or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training).

There’s no limit to how many children you can claim for and your student status will not affect your entitlement.

You may have to pay a tax charge if your (or your partner’s) individual income is over £50,000.

Further information can be found on the UK Government website.

Child Maintenance

Students remain entitled to Child Maintenance and student income will not affect the amount of Child Maintenance you receive. Child Maintenance will be taken into consideration when applying for some elements of student funding.

Further information can be found on the UK Government website.

Disability Living Allowance/Personal Independence Payment

You student status will not affect your entitlement to DLA/PIP and will be disregarded in applications for student support.

Further information can be found here on the UK Government website.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is being introduced in stages across the UK and will replace all means-tested benefits for people of working age, including Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

If you are currently in receipt of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit, you will be contacted by the DWP when the time comes to move to Universal Credit.

If you are a new applicant for benefits, or your circumstances have changed, you may apply for Universal Credits if this has been rolled out to your local area.

If you receive the Standard Allowance of Universal Credit, this will be taken into account when you apply for student support. If you receive any Housing or Child elements of Universal Credit, these are not taken into account when you apply for student support.

If you are eligible for a student loan for maintenance, it counts as income when applying for Universal Credit, along with any Young Students’ Bursary, Dependents’ or Lone Parents’ Grants. Any Independent Student Bursary, Tuition Fees, Disabled Students’ Allowance, Childcare Grants, or Travel Expenses are disregarded.

If you are not eligible for a student loan and receive a grant instead, the grant income counts as income when applying for Universal Credit. This includes the Care Experienced Bursary and Accommodation Grant, Nursing and Midwifery Bursary, Dependents’ or Lone Parents’ Grants. Any Tuition Fees, Disabled Students’ Allowance, Childcare Grants, or Travel Expenses are disregarded.

Further information can be found on the UK Government website

Tax Credits

Being a full-time student does not affect your entitlement to Tax Credits however some elements are taken into account when assessing your entitlement for student support.

Tax Credits are provided from the government to help families or individuals on a low income. You claim on your own if you are single, or jointly with your partner if you are married, in a civil partnership or living together.

There are two types of Tax Credit:

  • Child Tax Credit for those responsible for at least one child or young person
  • Working Tax Credit for those working a minimum number of hours, but on a low income

There is also a childcare element of Working Tax Credit for those who need to use childcare to be able to work.

Many of our students are parents and will receive Child Tax Credits. However, due to the minimum number of work hours necessary to claim Working Tax Credits, many of our students, particularly lone parents, are unable to meet this requirement without it impacting on their studies.

Working Tax Credits are taken into account when applying for student support, but Child Tax Credits are not.

You will find further information on the UK Government's website.

Income Support

As a general rule, full-time students cannot usually claim Income Support while they study. This is because students are expected to finance their studies and living expenses through loans and grants.

There are a few exceptions to this rule which would allow students to apply, including:

  • Single parents if their youngest or only child is under five years old*
  • Those in receipt of Carer's Allowance
  • Those who are incapable of work because of pregnancy or have 11 weeks or less before their expected week of childbirth

Those in receipt of Statutory Sick Pay

If you fall into one of the above categories, this may mean you are eligible to apply for Income Support, but your student support will usually be too high for you to qualify during term time. If this is the case you may be entitled to this during the summer break.

*If your child is over 5, you may be eligible for Job Seekers Allowance.

If you receive Income Support during term time, this is taken into account when applying for student support.

Part time students can continue to claim this benefit throughout their studies.

Further information can be found on the UK Government's website.

Job Seeker's Allowance

As a general rule, full-time students cannot usually claim Job Seeker's Allowance while they study, even if unemployed and looking for work. This is because students are expected to finance their studies and living expenses through loans and grants.

There are a few exceptions to this rule which would allow students to apply during the summer break, including:

  • Single parents
  • A member of a couple with a child where both of you are full-time students

If you receive Job Seekers Allowance during term time, this is taken into account when applying for student support.

Part-time students can continue to claim this benefit throughout their studies.

Further information can be found on the UK Government's website

Employment Support Allowance

Employment and support allowance (ESA) is for people who have limited capability for work because of illness or disability.

There is a contributory and an income-related ESA. Contributory ESA is for people who have paid national insurance contributions. Income-related ESA is means tested and is for people whose income and capital are low enough. It is possible to receive one or both types of ESA.

Students can claim contributory ESA providing that they meet the eligibility criteria and satisfy the limited capability for work test.

Students can only claim income-related ESA as a full-time student if you are also in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

ESA is taken into account when applying for student support.

Part time students can continue to claim this benefit throughout their studies.

Further information can be found on the UK Government's website.  

Housing Benefit

As a general rule, full-time students cannot usually claim Housing Benefit while they study. This is because students are expected to finance their studies and living expenses through loans and grants.

There are a few exceptions to this rule which would allow students to apply, including:

  • disabled students
  • students who are responsible for children
  • students in receipt of income support or income based jobseeker's allowance (during the summer break)
  • students who leave their course temporarily because of illness or caring responsibilities

If you fall into one of the above categories, this may mean you are eligible to apply for Housing Benefit, but your student support may be too high for you to qualify during term time. If this is the case you may be entitled to this during the summer break.

Part-time students can continue to claim this benefit throughout their studies.

You will find further information on the UK Government's website.

 

Best Start Grants (Social Security Scotland)

Best Start Grant has replaced the Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland. You can only apply for Best Start Grant if you live in Scotland. If you live somewhere else in the UK, you can apply for the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

Best Start Grant is three cash payments that you can apply for if you're a parent or a carer.

You can get Best Start Grant payments if you have a child who's the right age for a payment, and as long as you receive, or will receive, one of one of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), not 'contribution based' JSA
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), not 'contribution based' ESA

Remember that you might not start to qualify for the above benefits until your baby is born, so even if you don’t get the benefits now, you might later.

Best Start Grant includes 3 one-off cash payments:

Pregnancy and Baby Payment (£600, or £300 for a second or subsequent child) You can apply for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment from 24 weeks pregnant up to the day your baby is 6 months old.

Early Learning Payment (£250).You can apply from your child's second birthday up to the day your child is 3 years 6 months old.

School Age Payment (£250 - available from 3rd June 2019).

The application details are online here. You can apply online or get help to apply by phoning 0800 182 2222.

 

 

Funeral Support Payment (Social Security Scotland)

The Funeral Support Payment is a one off payment from Social Security Scotland to help people on low income benefits with a contribution towards the cost of a funeral.

This replaces the Department for Work and Pension’s Funeral Expenses Payment in Scotland. If you have already claimed the DWP benefit, you cannot make an additional claim for this new benefit.

To be able to make a claim, the claimant or their partner must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit

Applications for the Funeral Support Payment are accepted from the date of death, up until six months after the funeral has taken place. This means that anyone who meets the eligibility for the Funeral Support Payment and has already paid for a funeral within the last 6 months will be able to apply retrospectively, as long as they haven’t already received a Funeral Expenses Payment from DWP. So if you only qualify for one of these gateway benefits during summer break out with term time, you may still apply in retrospect providing it is within the 6 month window.

As well as being on one of the qualifying benefits, the applicant (or their partner) MUST also meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant must have the nearest relationship to the person who has died. (This is determined by the family hierarchy lists from the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Act 2016.)
  • The applicant must be responsible for the payment of the funeral
  • The applicant must live in Scotland
  • The person who has died must have lived in the UK at the time of death
  • The funeral must take place in the UK, or in some cases in a member state of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

An eligibility checker is included at the beginning of the online form and on page two of the paper application form so you can ensure you do meet the criteria before applying.

What you will get:

Funeral Support Payment is a part-payment and will cover some, but likely not all, of the funeral costs. This is dependent on individual preference of funeral choices and varying fees for services across Scotland. If eligible, the amount the applicant will receive will depend on what they have claimed and what funds were left by the person who died.

Funeral Support Payment can cover:

  • Burial and cremation costs (these costs do vary throughout the country so the government has published reasonable local costs they will pay - )
  • Flat rate for any other expenses - £700 for the majority of applications and £120 if the person who died had made provision for their funeral through a funeral plan
  • Some travel costs, document costs and medical costs

Other key points to note:

Only 1 person per funeral can make a claim.

The death must be registered before making the claim and if you have a funeral director in place, giving consent for them to speak to Social Security Scotland will make the process easier and more efficient

Payments can be made directly to the claimant or to the chosen funeral director.

The payment is a contribution towards the cost of the funeral the applicant is arranging/has arranged and the decision on what they use this money for is up to them. In most cases, it will cover the burial or cremation costs and help towards other funeral costs such as funeral director’s fees, a coffin or flowers

The funds are non-repayable and are not a loan, however, if the person who died left financial assets this will be recovered from their estate

Decisions are reached quickly and applicants should have their decision within 10 working days of the application and relevant supporting documents being received by Social Security Scotland

To make an application:

Call freephone on 0800 182 2222 to complete the application over the phone or to request a paper application form. Or go to mygov.scot/funeral-support-payment

 

 

 

Further sources of information & help

Further information

Dumfries and Galloway Council - information on benefits for those living in this council area

North Lanarkshire Council - information on benefits for those living in this council area

South Lanarkshire Council - benefits and money advice for those living in this council area

North Ayrshire Council - information on benefits for those living in this council area

South Ayrshire Council - information on benefits for those living in this council area

Renfrewshire Council - benefits and debt advice for those living in this council area

Glasgow City Council - information on benefits for those living in this council area

Single Parents - a website for single parents with advice on a number of topics, ranging from money and benefits to domestic violence and illness.

Turn 2 Us - advice on the pending benefits changes and a timetable showing when they are likely to take effect.

Advice Renfrewshire - a one-stop-shop website bringing together all the support services in the area on one page.

Shelter Scotland - Specialist advice on Housing, Money & Debt, and Welfare Benefits 

Citizens Advice Scotland – Specialist advice on Housing, Money & Debt, and Welfare Benefits

Last updated: 23/08/2017