Universal Credit

Employment and Support Allowance

Personal Independence Payment/Disability Living Allowance

Job Seekers' Allowance

Carers' Allowance

Housing Benefit

Child Benefit

Child Tax Credits

Income Support


Quick Guide – Benefits

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is the benefit that has replaced most means-tested or 'legacy' benefits, such as Income Support, tax credits, Housing Benefit, and income-related Job Seekers' Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance. 

  • There are a few circumstances where you may still be able to claim for the benefits listed above but these are not common and you should seek advice first. 

  • You may be able to make a claim if you are responsible for a child, are long-term unwell or have a disability, or have other caring responsbilities. 

  • Most student income is taken into account for calculating the amount of UC you are entitled to.

For more information from us on Universal Credit, visit our page dedicated to it here or check out this factsheet from the Child Poverty Action Group Scotland who we work closely with in providing accurate benefits advice. 

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 

ESA is a benefit for people who are assessed as having limited capability for work because of their health or disability. There are two types of ESA: income-based and contributions-based

  • As a part-time student, if you have limited capability to work you may be able to claim income-related ESA or contributions-based ESA depending on your circumstances.

  • Only full-time students in receipt of DLA or PIP (see below) can claim ESA or, in some circumstances, if you have made sufficient national insurance contributions in the previous tax year. 


Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance (PIP/DLA)  

DLA is a benefit paid to disabled people who have mobility difficulties or personal care needs. Most people can no longer make a new claim for DLA and will apply for PIP instead. You can make a claim for DLA for a child under the age of 16 if you look after them as or as if you were a parent.

  • DLA is not means tested, so full and part-time students are eligible to apply. 

  • Students currently in receipt of DLA were mostly transferred to PIP by the end of 2017. 

  • You cannot make a new application for DLA as an adult. If you have not received it previously, you should apply for PIP.

PIP is a relatively new benefit which replaces DLA for people of working age. It is for people who need help with daily living or have mobility issues. 

  • PIP is non means tested, so full and part-time students are eligible to apply.


Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)   

JSA provides financial support to people of working age who are not working over 16 hours and are looking for work.

  • Part-time students can claim if they are available for work - usually you are expected to be able to take up full-time work so you may have to prove that you can fit this in around your studies. 

  • Full-time students cannot normally claim. 

  • You may be able to claim if you are a lone parent or a member of a couple who are both full-time students looking after a child and wish to claim over the summer holidays.

Carer's Allowance (CA)

Carer’s Allowance is to help you look after someone with substantial caring needs. You must spend at least 35 hours a week caring for them.

  • Part-time students (studying no more than 21 hours a week) are eligible to apply for Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and that person receives a qualifying benefit such as PIP daily living component. 

  • Full-time students cannot claim Carer’s Allowance in any circumstances, even during holidays.


Housing Benefit (HB)

Housing Benefit is for help with your rent and is administered by your local authority. Most people can't make new claims for HB and housing costs will be factored into Universal Credit claims. If you already have a claim for HB, you may be able to continue to claim this while you study. 

HB is means tested, so the amount you would get depends on your grant, loan, or other income. There are limits to the rent covered by HB – these are determined by the local housing allowance. 

  • Part-time students are eligible to claim HB.

  • Most full-time students are not eligible to claim HB. Exceptions to this are students on Income Support, income-related JSA, income-related ESA, or if you are a lone parent, a student couple with a child, or in receipt in DLA or PIP. There are some other circumstances where you may be able to claim but these are rare and you should speak to an adviser for advice.


Child Benefit (CB)

Child Benefit is a universal benefit for anyone who is responsible for a child or qualifying young person. 

  • Full-time and part-time students can claim.


Child Tax Credits (CTC)

Child Tax Credit is aid to families with children, but the amount you get depends on your income. It is no longer possible to make a new claim for CTC. If you are already receiving tax credits then it may be possible to continue to claim, but otherwise you will need to make a claim for Universal Credit. 

  • Both full and part-time students are eligible to claim if eligible. 

  • Those responsible for a child as a lone parent or as a member of a couple may have entitlement if they have an active or recent claim. 


Income Support (IS)

Income Support provides support for those students who are not expected to ‘sign on’ as available for work (see JSA). It is no longer possible to make new claims for IS, but if you are already in receipt of it then you may be able to continue to claim if you study part-time (and in some circumstances as a full-time student) if you meet the other eligibility criteria. The amount you get is affected by student loans, bursaries, and other income.

  • Part-time students are eligible to claim IS if they are a lone parent with a child under 5, in receipt of Carer's Allowance, or in some other special circumstances.

  • Most other full-time students are not eligible to claim IS, however, you may be eligible to claim IS in the summer vacation if you are a lone parent with a child under 5. 

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