If you are unemployed, or work less than 16 hours a week, you should be entitled to either Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support.
If you are a disabled young person you may be entitled to Disability Living Allowance depending on whether you require any care and how mobile you are.
If your situation changes
If there is a change in your circumstances you should inform the Jobcentre Plus straight away, no matter what benefits you are claiming. This includes stuff like:
- Finding work (whether it’s paid voluntary)
- If you have to spend some time in hospital
- If you are going abroad for a holiday or to look for work
The chances are that your benefits won’t be affected, but they might be later if it becomes apparent at a later date that the changes happened and you didn’t tell anyone.
If you are in any doubt about where you stand with regard to benefits, you should contact your local Job Centre Plus or Connexions Centre if you are under 18.
Here’s an overview of some of the options that might be available to you:-
Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
You can’t usually claim JSA until you are 18. There are a few exceptions to this rule however and if you are 16 or 17, you might be able to claim JSA for a short period of time. The reasons for younger people getting JSA include:
- If you’ve been forced to live away from your parents.
- If you’ll suffer severe hardship if you don’t get JSA.
- If you’re part of a couple responsible for a child.
To claim Job Seekers Allowance you must be able to demonstrate that all of the following conditions apply to you:
- That you are out of work or working less than 16 hours a week.
- That you are capable of working.
- That you are available for work and that you are actively seeking work.
If you don’t qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance under the normal rules, you may still get reduced payments under ‘hardship provision’.
You’ll have to prove that someone in your family will suffer if you don’t get Jobseeker’s Allowance. It may be a few weeks before payments begin, unless you’re in a vulnerable group.
If you can’t be available for full-time work and don’t have enough money to live on, you may be able to get Income Support benefit. Whether you qualify or not and how much you get depends on your circumstances.
You may be able to claim Income Support if you’re over 16 and any of the following apply:
- You’re a lone parent.
- You’re registered sick or disabled.
- You’re a student and either a lone parent or disabled.
- You’re caring for someone who’s sick or elderly.
and both of the following apply:
- You don’t have savings of £8,000 or more.
- You’re not working, or work on average less than 16 hours a week.
If you’re entitled to Income Support, you automatically qualify for:
- Free dental care.
- Free prescriptions.
- Free school meals.
- Housing Benefit.
- Council Tax Benefit.
Child Benefit is a regular payment made to anyone bringing up children. It’s paid for each child that qualifies and isn’t affected by your income or savings.
Effect on benefits
Although Child Benefit isn’t ‘means tested’ (based on how much money you have), it can affect other benefits that you get, including:
- Income Support.
- Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- Pension Credit.
- Housing / Council Tax Credit.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
DLA is a benefit you may get if you need help with personal care or have walking difficulties because you’re physically or mentally disabled.
You can get Disability Living Allowance whether or not you work and it isn’t usually affected by any savings or income you may have.
Also, if you start to get Disability Living Allowance, it might increase the amount of other benefits you’re entitled to, such as Income Support and Housing or Council Tax Benefit.
Disability Living Allowance has two parts called ‘components’. Some people will be entitled to get just one component; others may get both. The components are:
- A care component – if you need help looking after yourself or supervision to keep safe.
- A mobility component – if you can’t walk or need help getting around.
The care component and mobility component are paid at different rates depending on how your disability affects you.
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit to help people who look after a disabled person.
You don’t have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
You can claim Carer’s Allowance if you’re aged 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for the same relative, friend or neighbour.
The Independent Living Fund
If you are over 16 you can make a claim for Independent Living Fund, which is designed to help you to live independently at home rather than in residential care, if you are a disabled young person.
You can use payments from the Fund to employ people to give you personal and domestic care in your home.
NEET (not in education, employment or training)
If you have been NEET (not in education, employment or training) for 12 months and are claiming for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) you will, from October 2009, be fast tracked to the Flexible New Deal.
Who can help?
The Directgov website has a whole range of information on a number of different benefits. To find out more about them, and to learn whether you may be entitled, visit the site here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/BenefitsTaxCreditsAndOtherSupport/index.htm
The CBA (Citizens Advice Bureau) can give you advice on a wide range of subjects including what benefits you are eligible for. Check the phone book for your local office or visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk/