Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook
Part 1: Benefits and tax credits
Chapter 5: Health benefits
2. Who is eligible
Exempt groups
Healthy Start food vouche...
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Healthy Start food vouchers and vitamins

You can get free vitamins under the Healthy Start scheme if you are pregnant, regardless of your income/benefits.Footnote 

When you have your baby, you continue to get free vitamins while you have a child aged under four if you (and/or your partner) get: 

UC, and your recent or current earnings are less than £408 a month;

IS, income-based JSA or income-related ESA; or

CTC (but not WTC, except during the four-week run-on) and have an income for tax credit purposes of £16,190 or less.

You can get food vouchers if you are aged under 18 and pregnant. You do not have to get any of the above benefits. If you are aged 18 or over and pregnant, or you have a child aged under four, you can get food vouchers if you get one of the above benefits (and meet any earnings limits).

Low income scheme

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for help under the low income scheme, even if you do not qualify on other grounds.

Under the low income scheme, your income is worked out in almost the same way as for an IS assessment and compared with your needs in the form of premiums and allowances, as in IS but with certain housing costs added.

Step one: capital

You do not qualify if your capital is over £16,000. If capital is between £6,000.01 and £16,000, add £1 to your income for every £250, or part of £250, between these limits.

Step two: work out your requirements

This is an amount for basic weekly needs. See Chapter 7 for details of how to qualify for each premium. Your requirements are made up of:

personal allowances

single person aged under 25 £57.90
single person aged under 25, entitled to an ESA component or incapable of work for 28 weeks since 27 October 2008  £73.10
single person aged 25 or over £73.10
single person aged 60 or over £163.00
lone parent aged under 60 £73.10
lone parent aged 60 or over £163.00
couple both aged under 60 £114.85
couple one or both aged 60 or over £248.80
premiums carer (as for IS); disability (as for IS, except that this is included after 28 weeks of incapacity for work, rather than 52 weeks). You also get a disability premium if you (or your partner) are under 60 and get ESA with a work-related activity or support component, or have been getting ESA for at least 28 weeks, or have had limited capability for work for at least 28 weeks since 27 October 2008. The amount of the disability premium increases to £37.65 if you are single or a lone parent and get ESA with the support component, get the disability living allowance middle or highest rate care component or get the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment, and have been incapable of work for 28 weeks since 27 October 2008; enhanced disability for an adult (as for IS) and also if you (or your partner) are under 60 and get ESA with a support component; severe disability (as for IS); weekly rent less any housing benefit (HB) and non-dependant deductions; weekly council tax, if you are liable, less any council tax reduction; mortgage interest, endowment payments and capital repayments on your home, as well as on loans to adapt a home for a disabled person, deducting any non-dependant deductions; amounts for children. If you have children, you are likely to be exempt from charges through getting a qualifying benefit like IS, JSA or CTC (see Cross reference). If you get CTC but are not exempt from charges, your children are not included in the low income assessment.
Step three: work out your weekly income
Income is calculated in a very similar way as it is for IS. Your income is taken into account, as well as the income of your partner. Information about how your income is calculated and how student income is treated is in Chapter 19.
Step four: deduct weekly income from requirements

If your income is less than your requirements or no more than £4.40 (half the cost of an English prescription) higher, you are entitled to maximum help with health benefits. If your income is more than £4.40 higher than your needs, you might get partial help. 

You are expected to contribute your 'excess income' (the amount by which your income exceeds your needs) towards hospital fares, and can get help with the rest of the costs up to the maximum amount allowed. You are expected to contribute twice your excess income towards help with glasses or contact lenses and three times your excess income towards help with dental charges.Footnote


Madhu is a second-year undergraduate aged 20. She has a student loan of £5,750 and a young students' bursary of £1,875. She is single, has no children and pays £65 rent a week. She gets no HB. Under the low income scheme, her requirements are £122.90 (£57.90 personal allowance, plus £65 rent). Her income from her student loan is £97.25 (see Cross reference). Her income is below her requirements so she is entitled to free NHS dental treatment and vouchers for glasses.


Lewis is 26 and is a second-year undergraduate. He needs dental treatment costing £90. His weekly income for health benefits is £116.48 student loan, plus £50 earnings, making a total of £166.48 (see Cross reference). His needs are £73.10 personal allowance plus £75 weekly rent, a total of £148.10. His excess income is £18.38. He must contribute £55.14 (three times his excess income) to his dental treatment. The other £34.86 is paid for him under the low income scheme.

3. Claiming health benefits

If you are exempt from charges because you are a student under 19, you are under 18 or because you get a qualifying benefit, you should fill in the form when you go for treatment.

If you need to claim on low income grounds and do not get a qualifying benefit, you should claim in advance on Form HC1. You can get this from surgeries, hospitals, opticians, pharmacies and Jobcentre Plus offices, or you can download a form from the NHS Business Services Authority website at You must provide details of your student loan, grant or bursary, and include a copy of your award letter.

If you have already paid for treatment, claim a refund on Form HC5 within three months.

4. Challenging a decision
If you are claiming under the low income scheme, you can ask for a formal review of the decision on your claim by writing to the NHS Business Services Authority, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6SN, or online at
Chapter 6: Housing benefit

This chapter covers:

1. What is housing benefit (below)

2. Who is eligible (Cross reference)

3. Basic rules (Cross reference)

4. Amount of benefit (Cross reference)

5. Claiming housing benefit (Cross reference)

6. Challenging a decision (Cross reference)

7. Other benefits and tax credits (Cross reference)

Basic facts

– Housing benefit (HB) helps with your rent.

– It is administered by local authorities.

– Full-time students are eligible if they are on a non-advanced course and are under 21 (or are 21 and turned 21 on their course).

– Other full-time students can claim if they get income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance or income-related employment and support allowance, or if they are a lone parent, disabled or over the qualifying age for pension credit.

– Couples with a child can claim throughout the year, whether one or both are students.

– There are limits to the rent covered by HB.

– HB is means tested and the amount you get depends on your grant, loan and other income.


1. What is housing benefit

Housing benefit (HB) helps with your rent. Most full-time students cannot claim, but part-time students can. You can get help with rent in private accommodation, but not if you live with your parents. There are limits to the level of rent that HB covers. HB is means tested, so your grant, loan and other income affect the amount you get.

Note: you cannot usually make a new claim for HB if you are in a universal credit (UC) 'full service' area (see Cross reference) (all areas in Scotland are expected to be full service by the end of 2018) unless:

you have three or more children and are not already getting UC (Note: this exception may end from February 2019); or

you live in 'specified accommodation' or 'temporary accommodation'. This includes certain types of supported, refuge, hostel and homeless accommodation (you may still need to claim UC as well for your living costs).

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