Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
11. Income support
Income support (IS) provides basic financial support for some people aged under the qualifying age for pension credit (PC – see ) who are not expected to 'sign on' as available for work – eg, lone parents with a child under a certain age and people caring for a disabled person. IS is a means-tested benefit, so any income and savings you have may affect how much IS you get or whether you are entitled. You do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get IS.
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of IS.
IS is being replaced by universal credit (UC) and eventually claimants who are on IS will be transferred to UC.
If you are not in the UC system, you qualify for IS if: you are at least 16 and under the qualifying age for PC (see ); and you fit into one of the groups of people who can claim IS (see ); and you are not working for 16 hours or more a week; and your partner, if you have one, is not working for 24 hours or more a week; and you are not studying full time (there are some exceptions to this rule); and you are not entitled to jobseeker's allowance (JSA); and you are not entitled to employment and support allowance (ESA) and your partner, if you have one, is not entitled to income-related ESA; and your partner, if you have one, is not entitled to income-based JSA or PC; and you are present in Great Britain, satisfy the ’habitual residence test', including having the 'right to reside', and are not a 'person subject to immigration control'. (You can sometimes be paid IS for the first four or eight weeks you are outside Britain.) These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook; and you have no more than £16,000 capital; and your income is less than the set amount the law says you need to live on (known as your 'applicable amount' – see ).
You can claim IS if:you are a carer and you get carer's allowance (CA – see ), or you are looking after someone who is getting attendance allowance (AA - see ), either rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP - see ), or the middle or highest rate care component of disability living allowance (DLA – see ), or you are looking after someone who has claimed these benefits in the last 26 weeks and is waiting for a decision; you are a lone parent (see below); you are on statutory sick pay (SSP); you are looking after your partner or child because s/he is temporarily ill; you are looking after a child whose parent is temporarily ill or away; you are fostering a child aged under 16 through the local authority (or an agency on behalf of the local authority) and you do not have a partner; you are a kinship carer of a looked-after child aged under 16 and you do not have a partner (this is sometimes called an 'approved kinship carer'); you are not a member of a couple and a child aged under 16 has been placed with you for adoption;
you are expecting a child in less than 11 weeks, you had a baby in the last 15 weeks, or you are incapable of work because of your pregnancy. Some young people in full-time, non-advanced education can also claim IS – eg, young people who are orphaned or estranged from their parents.
There are some additional groups of people who can claim IS. For more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
If you are a member of a couple, one of you must claim IS for both of you. Your joint income and capital is taken into account.
You count as a lone parent for IS if you have a dependent child aged under five. You do not have to be the child's parent. Once your youngest or only child turns five, you cannot claim IS on this basis.
The amount of IS you get depends on your circumstances and on the circumstances of your partner, if you have one. The amount also depends on your income and capital. Go through the following steps to work out the amount of IS to which you are entitled.
If your capital is over £16,000, you cannot get IS. Some kinds of capital are ignored. For details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
This is an amount for basic weekly needs. It is made up of personal allowances (see below), premiums (see ) and housing costs (see ). On 6 April 2004, personal allowances and premiums for children were abolished for all new IS claims and for anyone claiming child tax credit (CTC). Amounts for children are paid through CTC and child benefit instead. If you were getting IS with amounts for children included before 6 April 2004, your IS continues to include these until you claim CTC.
If a child becomes part of your family for the first time or returns to the family, you cannot get IS personal allowances and premiums for that child unless you already get these for another child in the family. See for details of child personal allowances and premiums.
Your personal allowance is made up of a personal allowance at either the single, lone parent or couple rate, depending on your situation.
|Circumstances||£ per week||Conditions|
|Under 25||57.90||No special conditions.|
|25 or over||73.10||No special conditions.|
|Under 18||57.90||No special conditions.|
|18 or over||73.10||No special conditions.|
|Both aged 16/17 (lower rate)||57.90||For couples who cannot get a higher rate (see below).|
|Both aged 16/17 (higher rate)||87.50||
You get the higher rate if:
|– you or your partner are responsible for a child; or|
|– you and your partner would be eligible to claim IS or income-related ESA if you were single; or|
– your partner is eligible for income-based JSA or entitled to severe hardship payments of JSA.
|One aged 16/17 (certain cases)||114.85||Your partner is under 18 and is eligible for IS or income-related ESA, or would be if s/he were single, or s/he is eligible for income-based JSA or entitled to severe hardship payments of JSA.|
|One aged 16/17, one 18–24||57.90||If the rate above does not apply.|
|One aged 16/17, one 25 or over||73.10||If the rate above does not apply.|
|Both aged 18 or over||114.85||No special conditions.|
Whether or not you qualify for premiums depends on your circumstances. You can qualify for either:
disability premium of £33.55 (£47.80 for a couple); or
pensioner premium of £133.95 for couples.
In addition, you may qualify for: carer premium of £36.00; and/or enhanced disability premium of £16.40 (£23.55 for a couple); and/or severe disability premium of £64.30.
You get a carer premium if you or your partner are entitled to CA (see ). If you are entitled to CA but not paid it because it overlaps with another benefit (eg, ESA), you still qualify for a carer premium. You get two carer premiums if both you and your partner qualify.
You get a disability premium if you or your partner get: DLA; AA; PIP; long-term incapacity benefit; severe disability allowance; working tax credit with a disabled worker or severe disability element; war pensioner’s mobility supplement; armed forces independence payment; constant attendance allowance; exceptionally severe disablement allowance.
You also qualify if:
you are certified as severely sight impaired or blind or have stopped being certified within the last 28 weeks; or you have been entitled to SSP for a continuous period of 196 days and you are terminally ill (breaks in entitlement of up to eight weeks are ignored); oryou have claimed IS on the grounds of incapacity for at least 364 days.
If you are the IS claimant and you have a partner, you get disability premium if s/he gets any of the qualifying benefits or is blind.
You get an enhanced disability premium if you get the highest rate DLA care component or the enhanced rate of PIP daily living component. It is paid at the rate of £16.40 if you qualify and are single or a lone parent, or £23.55 if you have a partner and one or both of you qualifies.
People who have reached the qualifying age for PC claim PC rather than IS. However, you get a pensioner premium if you are claiming IS and you have a partner who has reached the qualifying age for PC (see ).
The severe disability premium is for severely disabled people who live alone, or can be treated as living alone. You qualify for this premium if you get the middle or highest rate care component of DLA, the daily living component of PIP or either rate of AA and no one gets CA for looking after you. You will not get it if you live with another person aged 18 or over (eg, a friend or parent), unless s/he is separately liable for rent, you only share a bathroom or hallway, or in some other circumstances. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
If you have a partner, you do not qualify unless s/he also qualifies in her/his own right or is certified as severely sight impaired or blind. If you both qualify, you get two premiums.
If you own your own home, IS can help with certain service charges. The rules about who can get help with housing costs and when help starts are explained in CPAG's Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.
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© Child Poverty Action Group