Benefits for Students in Scotland Handbook
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Child Poverty Action Group works on behalf of the 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 2017




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 27 7




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

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Typeset by David Lewis XML Associates Ltd

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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, Welfare Rights Co-ordinator 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 and Anne Ketley for proofreading the text and compiling the index.

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




Online Handbook and further training, information and advice

CPAG, with Scottish government funding, continues to make this Handbook available free online at, and provides training, advice and information to advisers in Scotland on benefits for people who are studying or thinking of studying. Please contact Angela Toal on 0141 552 8361, or see for details of the support we offer. If you are an adviser and have a specific query on benefits and students, contact our advice line on 0141 552 0552 between 10am and 4pm Monday to Thursday or between 10am and 12 noon on Fridays, or email


Please send any comments, corrections or suggestions for inclusion in the next edition to CPAG in Scotland, Unit 9, Ladywell, 94 Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UW; email:



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
SDA severe disablement allowance
SMP statutory maternity pay
SPP statutory paternity pay
SSP statutory sick pay
SSPP statutory shared parental pay
SVQ Scottish Vocational Qualification
UC  universal credit 
WTC working tax credit

Means-tested benefit rates 2017/18
Income support and income-based jobseeker's allowance
Personal allowances £pw
Single Under 25 57.90
25 or over 73.10
Lone parent Under 18 57.90
18 or over 73.10
Couple Both under 18 (maximum) 87.50
  One 18 or over (maximum) 114.85 
Both 18 or over 114.85
Carer 34.95
Disability Single 32.55
Couple 46.40
Enhanced disability Single 15.90
Couple 22.85
Severe disability  One qualifies 62.45
   Two qualify 124.90
Pensioner Single (jobseeker's allowance only) 86.25
  Couple 128.40
Pension credit
Standard minimum guarantee Single 159.35
Couple 243.25
Severe disability addition One qualifies 62.45
Two qualify 124.90
Carer addition 34.95
Savings credit threshold Single 137.35
Couple 218.42
 Income-related employment and support allowance
Assessment phase
Main phase
Personal allowances

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 34.95 34.95
Severe disability (one qualifies)  62.45 62.45
Severe disability (two qualify)  124.90  124.90 
Enhanced disability
Single 15.90 15.90
Couple 22.85 22.85
Single, usual rate 86.25 57.20

Single, support group



Couple, usual rate 128.40 99.35
Couple, support group 91.85
Work-related activity (some claims only) 29.05
Support 36.55
Housing benefit
Personal allowances
Single Under 25 57.90
  Under 25 (on main phase ESA)  73.10 
25 or over 73.10
Lone parent Under 18 57.90
  Under 18 (on main phase ESA)  73.10 
18 or over 73.10
Couple Both under 18 87.50
  Both under 18 (claimant on main phase ESA)  114.85 
One or both 18 or over 114.85
Children Under 20 66.90
Over qualifying age for pension credit  Single under 65 159.35
Single 65 or over 172.55
Couple both under 65 243.25
Couple one or both 65 or over 258.15
Family (only pre-1 May 2016 claims with a child already in the family) Ordinary rate 17.45
Some lone parents 22.20
Carer 34.95
Disability Single 32.55
Couple 46.40
Disabled child 60.90
Severe disability One qualifies 62.45
Two qualify 124.90
Enhanced disability Single 15.90
Couple 22.85
  Child  24.78 
Work-related activity (some claims only)   29.05
Support 36.55


Universal credit
Standard allowance £pm
Single Under 25 251.77
25 or over 317.82
Couple 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 372.30
Limited capability for work (some claims only) 126.11
Limited capability for work-related activity 318.76
Carer 151.89
Childcare costs One child up to £646.35
Two or more children up to £1,108.04
Percentage of childcare costs covered 85%

Non-means-tested benefit rates 2017/18


Attendance allowance
Higher rate 83.10
Lower rate 55.65
Bereavement benefits
Bereavement payment (lump sum) 2,000
Bereavement allowance (maximum) 113.70
Bereavement support payment (maximum lump sum) 3,500
Bereavement support payment (maximum monthly rate) 350
Carer's allowance 62.70
Child benefit
Only/eldest child 20.70
Other child(ren) 13.70
Disability living allowance
Care component
Highest 83.10
Middle 55.65
Lowest 22.00
Mobility component
Higher 58.00
Lower 22.00
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 36.55
Guardian's allowance 16.70
Incapacity benefit (short-term)
Lower rate 80.25
Higher rate 95.00
Incapacity benefit (long-term) 106.40
Age addition (under 35) 11.25
Age addition (35–44) 6.25
Jobseeker's allowance (contribution-based)
Under 25 57.90
25 or over 73.10
Maternity allowance
Standard rate 140.98
Variable rate 90% of earnings
Personal independence payment
Daily living component
Enhanced rate 83.10
Standard rate 55.65
Mobility component
Enhanced rate 58.00 
Standard rate 22.00 
Retirement pensions 
State pension 159.55 
Category A 122.30 
Statutory adoption pay 140.98
Statutory maternity pay
Standard rate 140.98
Variable rate 90% of earnings
Statutory paternity pay 140.98
Statutory shared parental pay 140.98
Statutory sick pay 89.35



Tax credit rates 2017/18
Child tax credit    £ per day £ per year
Family element (some claims only)  1.50 545
Child element  7.62 2,780
Disability element  8.70 3,175
Severe disability element  3.54 1,290
Working tax credit    
Basic element  5.37 1,960
Couple element  5.51 2,010
Lone parent element  5.51 2,010
30-hour element  2.22 810
Disability element  8.22 3,000
Severe disability element  3.54 1,290
Childcare element Eligible childcare costs to a weekly maximum of:  
One child   70% of £175
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 August 2017 and is intended to be used for the academic year 2017/18. Rates of grants and loans used are those for the 2017/18 academic year. Benefit and tax credit rates used are those from April 2017.

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


Most full-time students are excluded from benefits, mainly those benefits where entitlement relies on a means test. There is one definition of 'full-time student' used for most means-tested benefits – ie, income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance and housing benefit. Other definitions are used for universal credit, carer's allowance and for council tax. Some students, however, can claim means-tested benefits despite being classed as full time. If you are excluded from one benefit, do not therefore assume that you are excluded from all of them. Who counts as a 'full-time student' is explained in detail in the relevant chapters.

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