Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 5: Disabled children at residential school
This chapter covers:
1. Child benefit and guardian’s allowance (below)
2. Means-tested benefits (below)
3. Non-means-tested benefits ()
4. Tax credits ()
5. Other help ()
This chapter explains what happens to benefits and tax credits if your child lives away from home in a residential school because s/he has a disability and the cost is met by public funds. It explains whether or not benefits and tax credits are paid while your child is away from home and what happens when s/he comes home for a temporary period – eg, at the weekends or holidays.
In this chapter, the term 'away at school’ is used for when your child is staying at a residential school because of her/his disability.
When your child is away at school, your child benefit (and guardian’s allowance if you get it) continues to be paid.
If your child does not count as 'looked after' by the local authority, s/he should still be included in your universal credit (UC) claim if her/his absence from home is temporary. However, s/he is no longer included in the claim if the stay away from home is expected to last for more than six months, or has lasted for more than six months. There is no rule 'linking' two or more periods of absence from home and, therefore, arguably, even a brief stay at home followed by a return to residential school could start a new temporary period of absence. While the child is still included in your UC claim, you continue to get the child element and any disabled child element, even if disability living allowance (DLA) care component or personal independence allowance (PIP) daily living component has stopped (see ). Your work allowance (see ) is calculated taking into account that you have a dependent child. If your UC includes the carer element, it stops when you no longer have 'regular and substantial' caring responsibilities for your child (see ). If you receive help with childcare costs in your UC, this may change if you are no longer paying for childcare because your child is away at school.
If your child is away at school and counts as 'looked after' by the local authority, s/he is no longer included in your UC claim. This means that any child element you receive for her/him stops. If you are in rented accommodation, the housing costs element is calculated as if the child is still living with you for the first six months of absence from home. If your UC includes the carer element, it stops when you no longer have 'regular and substantial' caring responsibilities for your child (see ). If the child element has stopped and you have no other dependent children, your work allowance (see ) is calculated taking into account that you have no dependent children. Any help with childcare costs for the child in your UC stops.
Note: if the only reason you are exempt from the benefit cap (see ) is because a child for whom you are responsible is entitled to DLA (or PIP), this exemption ends if the child no longer counts as part of your household (either because s/he counts as ‘looked after’, or because s/he has been away for more than six months).
Your income support (IS) or income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA) may still include amounts for your child (child personal allowances and premiums). This is only the case if you have been claiming IS/income-based JSA including amounts for a child since before 6 April 2004 and have not claimed child tax credit (CTC). See for more details.
How your benefit is affected depends on whether or not your child counts as 'looked after' by the local authority. Ask the social work department of your local authority if you are not sure whether your child is looked after.
If your child is not looked after by the local authority and her/his absence is treated as temporary, s/he continues to be part of your household for IS/income-based JSA. 'Temporary' means that the absence is unlikely to exceed 52 weeks or, in exceptional circumstances, unlikely to substantially exceed 52 weeks. See below if the absence is not temporary.
However, the amount of IS/income-based JSA may change because of the impact on premiums (part of your 'applicable amount' – see ).
If your IS/income-based JSA does not include amounts for children (ie, you get CTC instead), the amount you get may be affected if you get a carer premium. If you are claiming IS as a carer, you are no longer able to do so from eight weeks after your carer's allowance (CA) stops (see ).
If your IS/income-based JSA still includes amounts for children (ie, you have been getting IS/JSA since before April 2004 and have not claimed CTC), the amount may change because of the impact on premiums (carer premium, disabled child premium and enhanced disability premium).
The carer premium stops eight weeks after your CA stops (see ).
If you get CA again (see ), the carer premium should start again and continue while you are getting CA and for eight weeks after it stops again.
If your child is away at school, the disabled child premium stops when the child’s DLA care component or PIP daily living component stops (see ), unless there is another basis for getting it – ie, if your child is still getting DLA or PIP mobility component or is severely sight impaired or blind. The enhanced disability premium stops when the DLA care component or PIP daily living component stops.
If your child’s DLA/PIP starts being paid again (eg, when s/he comes home for a weekend or a holiday – see ), the disability and enhanced disability premium should be paid for the days you are entitled to them.
If you are still receiving amounts for your child(ren) in your IS, you may be better off claiming CTC instead. Seek advice to help you decide what to do.
IS Reg 16(1) and (2) IS Regs
JSA Reg 78(1) and (2) JSA Regs
IS Sch 2 para 14ZA(2) and (4) IS Regs
JSA Sch 1 para 17 (3) JSA Regs
If the absence is not temporary
If the absence is not temporary, your child does not count as part of your household for IS/income-based JSA. If you still receive amounts for the child in your IS/income-based JSA, these stop. In this situation, you should claim CTC instead, as you can continue to get CTC while your child is away at school even if the arrangement is for a prolonged period.
If you are a lone parent and do not have another dependent child living with you, you no longer claim IS as a lone parent.
How your IS/income-based JSA is affected depends on whether or not you still get amounts in your IS/income-based JSA for your child. Normally, your IS/income-based JSA does not include amounts for children – you get CTC instead. In this case, if your child goes to a residential school, your IS/JSA may be affected in two situations. If you get a carer premium, it stops eight weeks after your CA stops (see ). If you are getting IS because you are a carer, from eight weeks after your CA stops you can no longer claim IS on that basis. If you are a lone parent and do not have another dependent child aged under five living with you, as soon as your child is away at school, you can no longer claim IS as a lone parent.
If your IS/income-based JSA does still include amounts for children (ie, you have been getting IS/JSA since before 6 April 2004 and have not claimed CTC – see ), your entitlement to the personal allowance for the child and any disability or enhanced disability premium stops as soon as your child is away at school. If you do not have another dependent child at home, your family premium also stops. Any carer premium, or your continued eligibility for IS as a carer or lone parent, is affected in the same way as described above (see ).
If you are in this situation, you should seek advice about claiming CTC instead, as you can continue to get CTC while your child is away at school (see ).
There are no amounts in employment and support allowance (ESA) or in pension credit (PC) for dependent children and, therefore, your ESA or PC is not normally affected if your child is away at school. The exception is if you are entitled to CA and this stops. The carer premium (part of your income-related ESA applicable amount) or carer addition (part of PC) stops eight weeks after your entitlement to CA ends.
If you get CA again (see ), the carer premium/addition should start again and continue while you are getting CA, and for eight weeks after it stops again.
ESA Sch 4 para 8(2) ESA Regs
PC Sch 1 para 4(3) SPC Regs
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© Child Poverty Action Group