Income Support explained
Income Support is for people who aren’t able to work because of major commitments, such as being a carer. So if you look after someone full-time, here's what you need to know.
What is Income Support?
Income Support is a benefit for people on a low income to help cover the cost of day-to-day living. It only covers people who have commitments preventing them from working full-time, such as lone parents, people caring for others, or some young people in training.
If you don’t fit into one of these categories, you’ll have to claim another benefit, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you’re available for work, or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re too ill to work.
How do I know if I can claim?
There are many factors affecting whether you can claim Income Support – prepare to be confused. Experienced advisors at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or Jobcentre Plus will be able to take you through the process, but let’s try to break it down.
To be eligible for Income Support you have to prove your circumstances prevent you from full-time work. This could mean:
- You’re a lone parent under the age of 18
- A lone parent of any age bringing up a child under the age of five
- You receive a Carer’s Allowance, or regularly care for someone disabled
- You’re looking after a child under 16 while the person who usually looks after them is away or unwell
- You’re incapable of work because you’re pregnant, or are due to have your baby in 11 weeks, or had a baby in the last 15 weeks (some pregnant women might be able to claim ESA instead)
- You are getting Statutory Sick Pay
Most 16 and 17 year-olds can’t claim Income Support, but you might be eligible if you’ve had a child or are pregnant, or you’re on certain types of training course.
18 and over
If you’re 18 and over and want to claim, you need to be able to show that:
- You work less than 16 hours a week
- You have a low income
- You’re not in full-time study (although there are some exceptions to this rule, and part-time students may be able to claim)
- You don’t get JSA or ESA
- You have savings below £16,000
How much money will I get?
The calculation can be complicated. The basic amount is currently £57.90 a week for a single person under 25, and £73.10 for someone over 25. This amount can be increased in certain situations; such as if you’re a lone parent, a carer, suffer from certain disabilities, or have a mortgage.
Any income you have is taken off the basic amount, as well as an assumed income from any savings you have over £6000. You get paid the difference.
You can get an estimate of how much you might get using this benefits calculator.
How do I claim income support?
If it looks like you might be entitled, you can make a claim by calling 0800 055 6688 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. You might also be able to get money for up to three months before you made your claim if you have an acceptable reason for not claiming earlier. The Jobcentre will only accept certain reasons, such as you being given the wrong information by the Jobcentre, or having language difficulties that prevented you from claiming.
What if I live with my partner?
If you live with your partner only one of you can claim Income Support. Anyone you live with in a romantic relationship counts as a partner. It’s worth being honest about your situation to avoid prosecution for fraud.
Claiming as a couple means that your partner’s income and capital will be taken into account as well as yours, so if your partner works for 24 hours or more per week, you won’t be able to make a claim.
Income Support and changes to the benefits system
Income Support (along with some other benefits) is gradually being replaced by a benefit called Universal credit. This change is happening slowly – it’s expected that the process will be complete by 2022, though you could be affected now or earlier depending on your circumstances and the area in which you live.
Under Universal Credit, there’ll be a stronger emphasis on seeking work in return for getting benefit (although this will still depend on your circumstances). To find out more, see our Universal Credit article.
Where can I go for help with Income Support?
Getting benefits is often a frustrating process. But there are lots of places you can go for help:
- Citizen’s Advice knows all about the benefits system and can help you understand your rights. You can visit your local bureau to get face-to-face advice and support. You must remember to bring along details of your benefits and general financial situation.
- This benefits calculator from Turn2us shows you how much benefit you should be getting – many people don’t realise how much they’re entitled to.
- If you want to challenge a decision about your benefit, you can appeal.
Unfortunately we are unable to offer benefits advice at The Mix, but we can give emotional support and guide you to the best places for expert advice if you give us a call on 0808 808 4994
Remember to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change – for example, if you get a pay rise, new job or get married. If you don’t you could face a £50 fine, as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See GOV.UK for more information.
By Danny Sherwood
Updated on 12-Dec-2017
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