Your guide to benefits
Find out what you can and cannot claim.
Benefits are a complex area. There are many benefits, and all of them have different eligibility criteria. This page provides some general information about benefits for young people but for help with your individual situation it’s a good idea to get advice. Your Connexions adviser or the Citizens Advice Bureau can advise you.
Benefits and young people
- If you’re under 18, or still in full-time education, benefits are not usually available to you personally because it’s expected that you will be supported by your parents.
- However benefits may sometimes be available to young people aged 16–17 under certain circumstances.
- If you’re under 16 you have no legal right to benefits. An adult may be able to claim on your behalf or claim benefits that include money for your keep. If you are forced to leave home, contact social and health care.
Benefits for 16-17 year olds
If you are an unemployed 16 or 17 year old you may be able to get income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) for a short period in special circumstances, such as the following:
- You are forced to live away from your parents
- You will suffer severe hardship if you do not get JSA
- You are part of a couple who has responsibility for a child.
Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
To claim JSA you should first register for work and training at your local Early Intervention Hub. They will arrange an appointment at Jobcentre Plus for you and complete a form which you will need to take to your appointment. They can also provide support, if needed, in making your claim.
If you are studying, you may be able to get Income Support (IS) during your course if you are a lone parent, sick or disabled, or registered blind.
If you are studying up to A level or equivalent, you may be eligible for IS if you are unable to work because you are caring for someone.
If you are still at school you may be able to get IS if you are:
- looking after your own child
- an orphan and nobody is looking after you
- unlikely to be able to work because of a severe disability
- separated from your parents for reasons that cannot be avoided and nobody is looking after you in their place.
If you leave care at 16 or 17 you will not get benefits unless you are disabled or a lone parent. Arrange with social and health care and your Leaving Care Personal Adviser to get your weekly allowance. The amount you receive will not fall below the benefit rate. If you are disabled or a lone parent you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance or Income Support.
Social and health care may also fund things such as support in training or work, travel to activities, higher education, family contact, cultural and spiritual needs, leisure activities and costs associated with special needs. Funding is based on a full assessment of your needs and written into your Pathway Plan. To find out more ask your social worker or Leaving Care Personal Adviser.
Grants and loans
You may qualify for a Severe Hardship Payment or a Community Care Grant from the Social Fund to pay for essential items that you need to live independently, such as a cooker, a bed, clothing and so on. Contact Jobcentre Plus.
There are other benefits that you may be able to claim, particularly if you are:
- sick, ill, injured or disabled
- earning less than a certain amount
- looking after a child, are pregnant or a young parent
- looking after an adult who needs care
- in learning or education.