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Benefits for young people

The rules for claiming benefits can be different if you're under 18. 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

Working out which benefits to claim can be very complicated, and this page only provides a basic overview of your rights. 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.

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 eduction college. Directgov has more information on bursary.

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.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444*
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

*Our advice line is free to call from landlines and all six of the main UK mobile networks, Virgin, Orange, 3, T-mobile, Vodafone and O2, but charges may apply from any other network

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