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Benefits for young people

The rules for claiming benefits can be different if you're a young person. This page explains which benefits you're eligible to apply for. Whether or not your claim will be accepted will depend on your circumstances.

Getting help claiming benefits

To make sure you're claiming everything you're entitled to, go and see an adviser at a Citizens Advice Bureau or welfare rights agency. They can help you work out what you can claim and help you fill in the application forms if necessary. They can also help you deal with the benefit agencies if there are any problems with your claim. Use the Advice Services Directory to find an agency in your area.

Can I claim housing benefit?

Yes, although it is unlikely that you'll get enough money to cover all your rent. You will probably have to make up the difference from your own money.

If you are single, under 35 and rent from a private landlord, you will normally only be entitled to enough housing benefit to cover the average cost of a single room in a shared house in your area. This is the case even if you have a place of your own. This rule is known as a shared room rate.

There are exceptions to this rule - the page on housing benefit for under 35s explains these in more detail.

Universal credit and housing costs for 18 to 21 year olds

If you are under 22 and make a new claim for universal credit, in a full digital service area, you might not get help towards paying your rent.

You will still get help with your rent if you:

  • are already claiming universal credit housing cost or housing benefit
  • claim universal credit in a live service area
  • are working at least 16 hours per week.

If you are a new claimant in a full digital area, you can still get help with your rent if you:

  • claim as a couple
  • have a dependant child
  • were in care when you were 16 or 17
  • are in receipt of the daily living component of PIP or the middle/high component of DLA.

If you are affected by this change you should make an application for a community care grant via the Scottish welfare fund.

Can I claim jobseeker's allowance?

No, you probably won't be able to claim jobseeker's allowance (JSA) if you are 16 or 17 years old.

You may be entitled to claim JSA if:

  • no-one else is able to provide support
  • you are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • you are disabled
  • you are responsible for a child.

Can I claim income support?

Yes, you can claim income support if:

  • you are 16 or over, and
  • you are on a low income, and
  • you work for no more than 16 hours a week.

And:

  • you are a lone parent, or
  • you are sick or disabled, or
  • you are a carer, or
  • you are responsible for a child, or
  • you are still at school and estranged from your family.

However, certain restrictions apply. Go to the page on income support to find out more.

Can I claim tax credits?

If you are aged 16-25, you can claim working tax credit if you work for at least 16 hours a week and:

  • you are responsible for a child, or
  • you have a disability that makes it hard for you to get a job.

If you are responsible for bringing up a child, you can also claim child tax credits. You can find out more about tax credits here.

Can I apply for loans or grants from the social fund?

If you're over 16, you may be able to get a:

What if I'm still at school?

If you're still at school, you may be eligible for a 16 to 19 bursary (a grant to help you when studying) from your school or college. Check Gov.uk's 16-19 bursary fund information.

You could also be eligible for a weekly payment of £30 through the Education Maintenance Allowance.

You may also be eligible to claim income support on top of the education maintenance allowance if you are living away from home and are estranged from your family. In these circumstances you will also be eligible to receive housing benefit if you need to pay rent. Your income while at school is a complicated area so talk to an adviser to find out what you're entitled to.

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