State Benefits and Tax Credits
Will I qualify for any State Benefits when the baby’s born?
There are a number of State Benefits that you may qualify for depending on your circumstances, including:
|Child Benefit||Sure Start Maternity Grant|
|Child Tax Credits||Statutory Maternity Pay|
|Income Support||Maternity Allowance|
|Housing Benefit||Council Tax Exemption|
You may also wish to view our our separate section on Benefits which gives more detailed information about certain benefits, such as Income Support and Housing Benefit
Child Benefit is a weekly sum payable to parents in respect of each child, from the date the child is born. Award of Child Benefit is not currently means-tested, though this is expected to change. See the HMRC website for information on eligibility, rates and how to apply or contact the Child Benefit Helpline on 0845 302 1444.
Child Tax Credits are awarded to parents in respect of each child, from the date the child is born. Award of Tax Credits is means-tested based on household income. Student income is disregarded therefore lone parents will normally receive the maximum if not working. Your partner’s income, if applicable, will be taken into account. For information on eligibility, rates and how to apply, see the HMRC website, or contact the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900.
Income Support is a benefit payable to people who are not required to be available for work, for example because of childcare responsibilities. Full time students will normally only be considered for Income Support if they are a lone parent and their youngest child is below a certain age. The age criteria has changed recently. It will depend on when you started your course whether you are eligible: the age of the youngest child you are caring for must either be under 16, under 10 or under 7. Your local Job Centre Plus can advise, or contact a Student Finance Adviser for assistant.
Income Support is a means-tested benefit, which therefore takes into a account much of your student funding although the following is disregarded:
Special Support Grant
Parent's Learning Allowance
Student Loan - approximately the first £690
Earned income - the first £20 per week
In most cases you won’t receive Income Support alongside student funding because your student funding, plus your Tax Credits, is usually greater than any Income Support you may otherwise have been entitled to, even when applying these disregards.
However, if you are a lone parent you are likely to qualify during the summer vacation unless you will be working which, depending on the hours you work and rate of pay, could prevent a successful claim.
When and how do I apply for Income Support?
Contact your local Job Centre Plus to make an application. If applying for the summer, do so during the last week of term. Do not delay as they will not normally consider back-dated claims.
Housing Benefit offers assistance towards the cost of rent (not mortgage) and is administered by your local council. It cannot be claimed if you are paying rent to a close relative, such as your parents.
Full-time students can only receive Housing Benefit in certain circumstances, including:
- In receipt of certain benefits, including Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability Living Allowance;
- Lone parent of child under 16, or under 20 in full-time non-advanced education (.eg. 6th form college);
- Student couples (both in full-time education) with responsibility for a child;
- Student’s partner – if your partner is not a student but is on a low income they can make a claim for both of you;
- Disabled students.
Housing Benefit is a means-tested benefit, which therefore takes into account much of your student funding although the following is disregarded:
- Special Support Grant
- Parents' Learning Allowance
- Student Loan - approximately the first £690
- Child Benefit
When and how do I apply for Housing Benefit?
Contact your local council to make an application. You should submit your application as soon as you meet the qualifying criteria - do not delay as they will not normally consider back-dated claims. You can request the form in advance and the council will date stamp it – normally you will be assessed from the date on the form providing you return it within four weeks of that date – check this when you request the form.
Most lone parents, and many families with very low income including student couples, qualify for Housing Benefit even when receiving student loans etc. during term time. You are therefore advised to apply at the start of your course or as soon as your first child is born.
If you are not awarded the maximum Housing Benefit during term time you may qualify for more during the long summer vacation, and should therefore apply to be reassessed at the end of the term before the vacation.
If you are on a low income, in receipt of certain benefits or Tax Credits, you may qualify for this £500 one-off payment. See full information on the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
If you were working before your baby was born, providing you meet certain criteria connected to length of work and average pay, you may be able to receive Statutory Maternity Pay
If you are employed but NOT eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, you may instead be eligible for Maternity Allowance; eligibility is connected to how much you were earning during a certain period before the birth of your baby.
You are exempt from paying council tax as long as you haven’t left your course. During periods of suspense you may need to request a council tax exemption letter from the University’s Academic Registry (email: email@example.com) to prove this to the Council.
If you live with a partner they will still have to pay council tax but will get 25% discount (if there are no other adults in the household) and can apply for Council Tax Benefit if on a low income – apply on the same form as Housing Benefit (see above). More detailed information on council tax rules, including how to apply for Council Tax Benefit, can be obtained form your local council. Further information is also on our website.