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Young people and benefits

About this information

In this information, child means someone aged under 14 and young person means someone aged 14 or over but under 18. Parent means someone with parental responsibility.

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Jobseeker’s Allowance

Jobseeker's Allowance is a benefit for people who are unemployed but capable of work.

You can usually claim Jobseeker's Allowance only if you are 18 or over. However, 16 and 17-year-olds who are unemployed and not in full-time education may, in some circumstances, be able to claim.

To find out if you can claim Jobseeker's Allowance, you should consult an experienced adviser - for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

For more information about Jobseeker’s Allowance, see Benefits for people looking for work.

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Income Support

Income Support is a benefit for people on a low income to help them pay for their day-to-day living costs.

You can usually claim Income Support only if you are 18 or over. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may get Income Support if you:-

  • have a child or are pregnant
  • are on certain kinds of training course.

Being entitled to Income Support will also depend on whether you are still at school or live with your parents. 16 or 17 year olds who have been in care cannot usually get Income Support, but there are exceptions. Lone parents who have been in care can get the benefit.

If you are 16 or 17 and want advice about claiming benefits, or you are 16 or 17 and have been in care, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

For more information about Income Support, see Help for people on a low income – Income Support.

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Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland)

Housing Benefit is a benefit for people on a low income to help them pay their rent. Council Tax Reduction (Rate Relief in Northern Ireland) is a scheme for people on a low income to help them pay their council tax (or rates in Northern Ireland).

There is nothing to stop a young person claiming Housing Benefit, but the amount you can get if you are a single person aged under 35 with no children is restricted.

For more information, see Help with your rent – Housing Benefit.

In England and Wales, Council Tax Reduction can be claimed only by people aged 18 or over.

For more information about Council Tax Reduction in England and Wales, see Council tax reduction - what you need to know.

For more information about Rate Relief in Northern Ireland, see Help with your Rates.

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Disability benefits

If you are a young person with a disability, there are a number of different benefits and tax credits you may be able to claim. Usually, your parents would claim the benefit on your behalf.

For more information, see Benefits for people who are sick or disabled.

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Social Fund and welfare assistance schemes

The Social Fund helps people on a low income pay for one-off expenses which they would not otherwise be able to afford.

From 1 April 2013, you can no longer get a crisis loan to help with emergency costs, but you may be able to get help from a welfare assistance scheme.

If you are receiving Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you may also be able to get a budgeting loan.

If you live in Northern Ireland, there are different rules about what help you can get.

For more information, see Help for people on a low income - The Social Fund and other welfare assistance schemes.

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Tax credits

As a young person aged 16 or more, you can claim tax credits. Tax credits are means-tested and depend on your income. To get Working Tax Credit, you have to be responsible for a child, work at least 16 hours a week if you're single, or 24 hours a week between you and your partner if you're in a couple (with one of you working at least 16 hours a week) and be on a low income. You may also be able to get Working Tax Credit if you're disabled and work at least 16 hours a week.

If you are 16 or over you can get Child Tax Credit if you are responsible for a child under the age of 16. If you are under 16 yourself and responsible for a child, you cannot claim Child Tax Credit in your own right. However, your parents or someone who is responsible for you can include you in their own claim.

If you are 20 or under you can be included in a claim for Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit by your parent or a person who has responsibility for you, depending on your circumstances.

For more information about tax credits and how to claim them, see Benefits for families and children.

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Problems claiming benefits

If you have been refused benefit and you think you should get it, or if you think the amount you have been awarded is wrong, you can challenge the decision. You should do this within one month of the decision.

For more information about challenging benefit decisions, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

It's against the law for you to be treated unfairly because of your race, sex, sexuality, religion or disability when the benefit office decide about your benefit claim. Also, government agencies such as those which pay benefits and tax credits have policies which say that they will not discriminate against you because of other things, for example, your age. If you feel that you've been discriminated against, you can make a complaint about this.

If you are not happy with a benefit office decision, you can also consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.

Further information and advice for young people

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Citizens Advice

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