Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook
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Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook

Child Poverty Action Group works on behalf of the more than one in four children in the UK growing up in poverty. It does not have to be like this. We use our understanding of what causes poverty and the impact it has on children’s lives to campaign for policies that will prevent and solve poverty – for good. We provide training, advice and information to make sure hard-up families get the financial support they need. We also carry out high-profile legal work to establish and protect families’ rights. If you are not already supporting us, please consider making a donation, or ask for details of our membership schemes, training courses and publications.


Published by Child Poverty Action Group

30 Micawber Street

London N1 7TB

Tel: 020 7837 7979

© Child Poverty Action Group 2019




This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library.


ISBN: 978 1 910715 58 1



Child Poverty Action Group is a charity registered in England and Wales (registration number 294841) and in Scotland (registration number SC039339), and is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England (registration number 1993854). VAT number: 690 808117.

Cover design by Colorido Studios

Internal design by Devious Designs

Typeset by DLxml, a division of RefineCatch Limited, Bungay, Suffolk 

Content management system by Konnect Soft

Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

The author

Angela Toal is a welfare rights worker with CPAG in Scotland, working on its Benefits for Students Project.


First and foremost, many thanks to Judith Paterson, Head of Advice and Rights at CPAG in Scotland, who wrote the first few editions of this Handbook and continues to provide invaluable checking and advice. Many thanks also to Gwyneth King at CPAG in Scotland for checking this edition.

Grateful thanks are due to staff at the Student Awards Agency Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council for their time and expertise in checking and advising on this Handbook. Thanks too to all of those on the project advisory group for their support and encouragement throughout the year. 

Many thanks go to John Dickie and everyone else at CPAG in Scotland for their invaluable support and practical help.

Many thanks also to Alison Key for editing and managing the production of the book, Anne Ketley for compiling the index and Kathleen Armstrong for proofreading the text.

CPAG is grateful for the Scottish government's financial support towards this Handbook.



CA carer's allowance
CTC child tax credit
DLA disability living allowance
DWP Department for Work and Pensions
ESA employment and support allowance
FE further education
HB housing benefit
HE higher education
HMRC HM Revenue and Customs
HNC Higher National Certificate
HND Higher National Diploma
IB incapacity benefit
IS income support
JSA jobseeker's allowance
MA maternity allowance
NI national insurance
NQ National Qualifications
PC pension credit
PIP  personal independence payment 
SAAS Student Awards Agency Scotland
SAP statutory adoption pay
SMP statutory maternity pay
SPP statutory paternity pay
SSS Social Security Scotland
SSP statutory sick pay
SSPP statutory shared parental pay
SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification
UC  universal credit 
WTC working tax credit

Means-tested benefit rates 2019/20


Universal credit
Standard allowance £pm
Under 25  251.77
25 or over 317.82
Both under 25  395.20
One or both 25 or over 498.89
Eldest child 277.08
Second and each subsequent child who qualifies 231.67
Disabled child
  Lower rate  126.11
  Higher rate 392.08
Limited capability for work (some claims only) 126.11
Limited capability for work-related activity 336.20
Carer 160.20
Childcare costs
One child  up to £646.35
Two or more children up to £1,108.04
Percentage of childcare costs covered 85%


Income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance
Personal allowance
Single £pw
Under 25 57.90
25 or over 73.10
Lone parent
Under 18  57.90
18 or over 73.10
Both under 18 (maximum)  87.50
One 18 or over (maximum) 114.85 
Both 18 or over 114.85
Carer 36.85
   Single  34.35
   Couple 48.95
Enhanced disability
   Single  16.80
   Couple 24.10
Severe disability
 One qualifies  65.85
 Two qualify  131.70
Pensioner (couple) 140.40
Income-related employment and support allowance
Assessment phase
Main phase
Personal allowance

Under 25 57.90 73.10
25 or over 73.10 73.10
Lone parent
Under 18 57.90 73.10
18 or over 73.10 73.10
Both under 18 (maximum) 87.50 114.85
Both 18 or over 114.85 114.85
Carer 36.85 36.85
Severe disability
  One qualifies  65.85  65.85
  Two qualify 131.70  131.70 
Enhanced disability
    Single 16.80 16.80
    Couple 24.10 24.10
    Couple, usual rate 140.40 111.35
    Couple, support group 101.85
Work-related activity (some claims only) 29.05
Support 38.55
Housing benefit
Personal allowance
Under 25 57.90
Under 25 (on main phase employment and support allowance) 73.10 
25 or over 73.10
Lone parent
Under 18  57.90
Under 18 (on main phase employment and support allowance) 73.10 
18 or over 73.10
Both under 18 87.50
Both under 18 (claimant on main phase employment and support allowance) 114.85 
One or both 18 or over 114.85
Children (under 20) 66.90
Over pension age 
(and not on income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance or universal credit)
Single 181.00
Couple 270.60
Family (only pre-1 May 2016 claims with a child already in the family)
     Standard rate  17.45
     Some lone parents 22.20
Carer 36.85
     Single  34.35
     Couple 48.95
Disabled child 64.19
Severe disability
      One qualifies  65.85
      Two qualify 131.70
Enhanced disability
     Single  16.80
     Couple 24.10
     Child 26.04 
Work-related activity (some claims only) 29.05
Support 38.55

Non-means-tested benefit rates 2019/20


Attendance allowance
Higher rate 87.65
Lower rate 58.70
Bereavement benefits
Bereavement support payment (maximum lump sum) 3,500
Bereavement support payment (maximum monthly rate) 350
Carer's allowance 66.15
Child benefit
Only/eldest child 20.70
Other child(ren) 13.70
Disability living allowance
Care component
Highest 87.65
Middle 58.70
Lowest 23.20
Mobility component
Higher 61.20
Lower 23.20
Employment and support allowance (contributory)  
Assessment phase 
Basic allowance (under 25) 57.90

Basic allowance (25 or over)

Main phase
Basic allowance (16 or over) 73.10
Work-related activity component (some claims only) 29.05
Support component 38.55
Guardian's allowance 17.60
Jobseeker's allowance (contribution-based)
Under 25 57.90
25 or over 73.10
Maternity allowance
Standard rate 148.68
Variable rate 90% of earnings
Personal independence payment
Daily living component
Enhanced rate 87.65
Standard rate 58.70
Mobility component
Enhanced rate 61.20 
Standard rate 23.20 
Retirement pensions 
State pension 168.60 
Category A 129.20 
Statutory adoption pay 145.18
Statutory maternity pay
Standard rate 145.18
Variable rate 90% of earnings
Statutory paternity pay 148.68
Statutory shared parental pay 148.68
Statutory sick pay 94.25



Tax credit rates 2019/20
Child tax credit £ per day £ per year
Family element (some claims only)  1.49 545
Child element  7.60 2,780
Disabled child element  9.17 3,355
Severely disabled child element  3.72 1,360
Working tax credit  
Basic element  5.36 1,960
Couple element  5.50 2,010
Lone parent element  5.50 2,010
30-hour element  2.22 810
Disabled worker element  8.65 3,165
Severe disability element  3.73 1,365
Childcare element  
Eligible childcare costs to a weekly maximum of:   70% of £175
  One child    
  Two or more children   70% of £300
Income thresholds  
Working tax credit only or with child tax credit   6,420
Child tax credit only   16,105


How to use this Handbook

This Handbook is intended for students and those who advise students, or potential students, in Scotland about their entitlement to benefits and tax credits. It outlines the benefit and tax credit rules and focuses on issues relevant to students. It covers both further and higher education. For more detailed information on the rules, see CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

This Handbook covers rules affecting students studying in Scotland who are eligible for support through Scottish funding bodies such as the Student Awards Agency Scotland. It does not cover the rules for students getting support from England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or elsewhere outside Scotland.

Up to date

This Handbook was up to date on 1 July 2019 and is intended to be used for the academic year 2019/20. Rates of grants and loans used are those for the 2019/20 academic year. Benefit and tax credit rates used are those from April 2019.

Check CPAG's online version of this Handbook for updates in April 2020 at

Full-time students
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