Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
This chapter covers:
1. Introduction (below)
2. Attendance allowance ()
3. Carer's allowance ()
4. Child benefit ()
5. Council tax reduction ()
6. Disability living allowance ()
7. Employment and support allowance ()
8. Guardian's allowance ()
9. Health benefits ()
10. Housing benefit ()
11. Income support ()
12. Jobseeker's allowance ()
13. Pension credit ()
14. Personal independence payment ()
15. The Scottish Welfare Fund ()
16. The social fund ()
17. Statutory adoption pay ()
18. Tax credits ()
19. Universal credit ()
This chapter gives an outline of the basic conditions of entitlement for the main benefits and tax credits which may be relevant to the situations covered in this Handbook. Other chapters look at how benefits and tax credits are affected when a child comes to live with you, goes to live elsewhere or leaves local authority care.
To check your entitlement, first use the chapter covering the circumstances that apply to you. This explains the specific rules that apply to benefits and tax credits in your circumstances. Then use this chapter for an outline of the general conditions of entitlement that apply to everyone. If you need more details, see CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. Chapter 2 explains how to claim benefits and tax credits, how to challenge a decision if you disagree with it and how to make a complaint.
In the future, the rules on some benefits (eg, disability benefits and carer's allowance) are likely to be different as responsibility for them is devolved to the Scottish parliamant.
There is a 'cap' on the total amount of benefits and tax credits you can receive, although some claimants are exempt. If the total amount of your benefit is capped, the cap is applied by either reducing the amount of your housing benefit (HB) or by reducing the amount of your universal credit (UC). The cap does not apply to people who have reached the qualifying age for state pension credit (see ) and there are a number of other situations in which it does not apply – eg, if you or someone in your household gets a disability benefit, or if you or your partner get carer's allowance or guardian's allowance.
If you are getting HB, the cap is set at £257.69 (£296.35 if in Greater London) a week for single people with no dependent children and £384.62 (£442.31 if in Greater London) a week for couples and lone parents.
If you are getting UC, the cap is set at £1,116.66 (£1,284.16 if in Greater London) a month for single people with no children and £1,666.66 a month (£1,916.66 in Greater London) a month for couples and lone parents.
Note: the High Court has held that the benefit cap unlawfully discriminates against lone parents with children under two. See CPAG's Welfare Rights Bulletin for updates.
Attendance allowance (AA) is a benefit for people aged 65 or over who have care needs because of a disability. AA is not means tested and you do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get it.
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of AA.
You qualify for AA if you:
are aged 65 or over when you first claim. People aged between 16 and 64 may be able to claim personal independence payment (see ) and children aged under 16 may be able to claim disability living allowance (DLA – see ); and
satisfy certain UK residence and presence conditions and are not a 'person subject to immigration control'. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details; and
satisfy the disability test (see ); and
have satisfied the disability test for the last six months (unless you are terminally ill).
You get either a lower or a higher rate of AA. The disability conditions for the lower rate are the same as for the middle rate care component of DLA (see ). The conditions for the higher rate are the same as for the highest rate care component of DLA (see ).
Carer’s allowance (CA) is a benefit for people who spend at least 35 hours a week looking after a disabled adult or disabled child. You do not have to have paid any national insurance contributions to get CA.
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of CA.
CA is being devolved to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish government has indicated that, from summer 2018, it intends to increase the level of CA to the same level as jobseeker's allowance (JSA).
You qualify for CA if you:
are aged at least 16; and
are caring for a person receiving either the highest or the middle rate care component of disability living allowance (DLA), either rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP), either rate of attendance allowance (AA), armed forces independence payment or constant attendance allowance with an industrial injury benefit or war pension; and
are providing care that is regular and substantial (at least 35 hours a week); and
are not gainfully employed. This means your earnings must be no more than £116 a week; and
are not a full-time student; and
are not a 'person subject to immigration control' and you satisfy the residence conditions. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
Your entitlement to CA depends on the person for whom you care continuing to get her/his disability benefit. If her/his benefit stops, your benefit should also stop. To avoid being overpaid, make sure you tell the Carer’s Allowance Unit (see Appendix 1) if the disabled person’s AA, PIP or DLA stops being paid, or if you are no longer providing care for 35 hours or more a week.
If you are caring for a disabled adult, it is not always financially prudent to claim CA. Although it may mean more money for you, it could result in the person for whom you care losing some income support (IS), income-based JSA, income-related employment and support allowance (ESA), pension credit (PC), housing benefit (HB) or council tax reduction (CTR). S/he may be getting a severe disability premium/addition included in these benefits. S/he cannot continue to get this premium if you get CA for her/him. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
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