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16 and 17-year-olds
Income Support when not employed or training
Although most under 18s do not have the right to benefit, some
young people can claim depending upon their circumstances. But some
16 and 17-year-olds can claim Income Support and do not have to sign on for
work or training.
Income Support is payable from a claimant’s 16th birthday if
they are in any of the following circumstances:
- a single parent with a child under five;
- single foster parent with a child under 16;
- a person looking after a child younger than 16
while his/her parents/guardians are temporarily away or
- a person receiving Carer's Allowance for caring for someone in
receipt of Attendance Allowance or the high/middle rate
care components of Disability Living Allowance;
- a pregnant person who is within 11 weeks of the expected date
of confinement or had a baby in the last 15 weeks;
- a qualifying young person who is on a Work Based Learning for
Young People course;
- a refugee learning English for at least 15 hours a week and who
has been in the UK for a year or less. Income Support is payable
for up to 9 months.
How to claim
A claimant should phone the Jobcentre Plus Centre to apply on
telephone number 0800 0556688.
Passport to other benefits
If a claimant gets Income Support, their partner and any
dependent children qualify for:
- free school meals;
- free Health Benefits (free prescriptions, dental, optical
- free travel to hospital for NHS treatment.
They may also be able to get a Community Care Grant or a Budgeting
Loan to get a lump sum for something that cannot be met from
their weekly Income Support. Young people, who may otherwise be
classed as students and therefore be barred from Housing
Benefit, may qualify for it if they qualify for Income
Employment and Support Allowance
Once a young disabled person reaches 16, they can claim income
maintenance benefits in their own right, even though they may still
be at school.
If previously someone acted as an agent or appointee for
benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, the need for an
appointee will be reviewed once the young person reaches 16 years
Who can claim?
This is a benefit paid to people aged 16 or older who cannot
work because of a mental or physical disability. The rules are:
- you have to be aged 16 but under 20 and
- you must be present and resident in Great Britain;
- ESA can be claimed if you are in relevant education and
under 20 and you study less than 21 hours a week
or you study over 21 hours a week and the course
that you do is one that a person of your age without you disability
would not do.
ESA has two components:
Contributory allowance - This allowance replaces Incapacity
Benefit and is linked to a client's National Insurance record
Income Related Allowance - This is a means tested component of
ESA and is designed to provide for basic living expenses and
housing costs for a client and their partner.
1st 13 weeks (assessment phase)
During the first 13 weeks ESA is paid at a lower rate whilst the
Jobcentre carries out a 'work capability assessment'. This
assessment will determine whether ESA can be paid and whether a
client joins the 'support group' or the 'work related activity
group' from week 14, know as the Main Phase.
Work Capability Assessment is used to determine
entitlement to ESA. There are three parts to this test.
- Limited capability for work test - This is a test that looks at
physical and mental health functions. If this test is passed
then a client can remain on ESA. If they fail it they will be
advised to claim Jobseekers Allowance.
- Limited capability for work-related activity test - This test
determines whether a client is placed in the 'support group' or the
'work related activity group'. The group that a client is
based in will determine the level or ESA paid and the
responsibility that they will need to meet to retain the
- Work focused health-related assessment – If a client is
placed in the ‘work related activity group’ they will be required
to take part in a ‘Work focused health related
assessment’. This assessment collects additional information
about the things that a client can do despite their medical
condition i.e. aids and adaptations that could support a move back
Week 14 + (Main Phase)
After the initial assessment phase clients will join either the
'work related activity group'.
The work related activity group
Clients in this group must adhere to strict work related
conditions in order to continue to receive the full rate of
ESA. This includes a series of six work-focused
The support group
Clients in this group do not have to undertake work related
activities and will receive a higher level of ESA.
How do you claim?
To claim, telephone the Jobcentre Plus claim line on
0800 055 6688.
Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
16 and 17-year-olds are only entitled to Jobseekers Allowance if
- living away from their parents or another person acting in
place of their parents or
- couples with children or
- those released from custody.
They must register for work and training with the careers
service or Connexions service and must satisfy the basic
rules of entitlement i.e.:
- available for work;
- actively seeking work;
- have entered into a Jobseekers agreement;
- are not working 16 hours week or more;
- capable of work;
- not in full-time education;
- a resident in Great Britain.
If a claimant does not fit into one of these categories, they
may still be able to get JSA for a short period, if they will
suffer hardship if it is not paid. This is called Severe Hardship
Direction and is usually paid for eight weeks.
Sanctions will be placed where young people refuse offers of
work or training or leave training without good cause. They must
phone the Jobcentre Plus Call Centre on 0845 608
- Most under-18s not in education can only get money if they
undertake training or get a job.
- Training programmes come under a variety of names like 'Modern
Apprenticeships', 'Lifeskills', 'National Traineeships' or
'Work-based Training for Young People'.
- All under-18s are guaranteed a training place.
- Contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 or
National Career Service Helpline on 080 800
Benefits for 16 and 17 year olds leaflet
Download the Benefits for 16 and
17 year olds leaflet (pdf 89KB).
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