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Income Support - Help for People on Low Income - A Guide

Extra financial support is given by Income Support to help people who don't have enough to live on.
Universal Credit (UL) is replacing Income Support in phases from April 2013.

You qualify if don't have to sign on as unemployed and don't qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. Applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

See also:
Universal Credit - A Guide
Benefit Rates

Reassessment of claims:

Income Support is being Phased out. Between October 2010 and Spring 2014 people who receive Income Support, on the grounds of illness or disability will be assessed for Employment and Support Allowance.

People who are capable of work will move onto Jobseeker’s Allowance where they satisfy the conditions of entitlement for that benefit.

People who need more support while they prepare for work will get that help on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Those people who are most disabled or terminally ill will not be expected to look for work and will get the extra support they need on ESA.

The change will not affect: people who are already being paid Employment and Support Allowance and people who reach state pension age before 6 April 2014.

Who can get Income Support

It's for people who all the following apply to:

  • are between age 16 and the age they can get Pension Credithave a low incomework less than 16 hours a weekaren't in full-time study (but there are some exceptions)don't get Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowancedon't have savings above £16,000
  • live in Great Britain

You may get Income Support if you are one of the following:

  • a lone parenton parental or paternity leavea carer
  • a refugee learning English who arrived less than a year ago

Young people in relevant education may also get Income Support. Generally this means full-time education up to GCE A-level or Scottish Certificate of Education (Higher level). This might apply if you:

  • are a lone parent don't live with a parent or someone acting as a parentare at serious risk of abuse or violence
  • are a refugee learning English

You can get Income Support as well as some other benefits.Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Pension Credit

If you or your partner have a low income and have reached the minimum qualifying age, you may be entitled to Pension Credit.Pension Credit tops up your weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level.The minimum age you can get Pension Credit is rising in stages for men and women between April 2010 and 2020, from 60 to 65. It's linked to the changes to women's State Pension age.

Families and Income Support

You can claim Income Support for yourself and your partner.Jobcentre Plus will treat you as a couple if you live with:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • someone as if they were your husband, wife or civil partner

Jobcentre Plus call this other person your partner.Income Support is no longer paid for children if you're making a new claim. To get money for children, you must now claim Child Tax Credit instead.Only one person in a family can claim Income Support at any one time. There are several types of premiums (extra amounts) you may get based on your and your partner's circumstances. Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Lone parents and Income Support

There are changes to Income Support that may affect your entitlement if you're receiving it because you're a lone parent.

Working and Income Support

You can claim Income Support if you work less than 16 hours a week. But Jobcentre Plus will take into account some of the amount you earn when they assess your claim for benefit. The amount they ignore will depend on your circumstances.You may also get Income Support if you're a disabled worker who earns less than someone in the same job without the same disability. Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.



Parental leave and Income Support

If you take unpaid parental leave, or paternity leave (paid or unpaid), you may get Income Support. You must meet all other conditions for getting Income Support, and be entitled to one of the following benefits:

  • Working Tax CreditHousing BenefitCouncil Tax Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit (at a higher rate than the family element)

If you're not entitled to one of the benefits listed above and you take unpaid parental leave, you may still be able get Income Support.Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Volunteering and Income Support

You can volunteer as long as you meet the conditions for getting Income Support.If you volunteer, you must tell Jobcentre Plus. They will ask you to fill in a form.As a volunteer, you may be paid some of your expenses, like travel costs for example. These aren't normally counted as income. You'll need to keep receipts for any payments you get, to prove these are for expenses only.

How to claim Income Support and how much you can get

Claiming by telephone or textphone

You can also claim by telephone or textphone. An adviser at the contact centre will go though the application with you and fill in the form. You will not have to fill in any forms yourself.
Lines are open Monday to Friday, from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.
Telephone: 0800 055 6688 Textphone: 0800 023 4888
You can also make your claim in Welsh.Telephone: 0800 012 1888
During the call Jobcentre Plus will ask you to provide information including:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your bank account details
  • details about your rent or mortgagedetails of your past or present employer
  • details of other income and savings

Downloading a claim form

You can download a claim form to fill in and complete on screen.

Alternatively you can download a claim form that you can print out and complete with a pen.

How much you can get

The amount of Income Support you can get is made up of three different parts:



How Income Support is paid

Jobcentre Plus pay benefits straight into your account. This is the best way to get your benefit because you can choose how and when to take your money out of your account. Your account can be with a bank, building society or the Post Office.

Where you live

You can still claim Income Support if you're:

  • sleeping roughliving in a hostel
  • living in a care home

Young people who are being looked after by a local authority can't get Income Support.When you claim Income Support you must be in Great Britain and normally live here. If you have moved here to make a settled home, that counts as living here.You must not be under immigration control. There are some exceptions to these rules. Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Changes in your life

Tell Jobcentre Plus straight away if something changes that may affect your Income Support.
For example, tell Jobcentre Plus if you or your partner do any of the following:

  • move home, (or other people move into or leave your home)
  • change the account Jobcentre Plus pay benefits into
  • change your income – including maintenance and part-time earnings
  • work more or fewer hours
  • become ill
  • have to stay in hospital
  • get more or less of other benefits

If you're not sure whether to tell Jobcentre Plus about a change, do it anyway. If you don't, you could lose out on money you should get. Or you could be paid too much, and have to repay it.

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