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Young people and benefits

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only

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 - where to get advice.

For more information about Jobseeker’s Allowance, see Check if you can get JSA.

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 and some disabled young people 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 - where to get advice.

For more information about Income Support, see Income Support.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is a benefit for people on a low income to help them pay their rent.

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 and you rent from a private landlord is restricted.

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

Help with Council Tax

Council Tax Reduction is for people on a low income to help them pay their council tax. Council Tax Reduction can be claimed only by people aged 18 or over.

For more information about Council Tax Reduction, see What is Council Tax Reduction

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.

Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Welfare Fund helps people on a low income who are in crisis or who need help to live independently in the community.

As a young person, you may be able to get a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund if you experience an emergency or a disaster and you don’t have any resources of your own to pay for what you need. You may be able to get a community care grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund if you want help to set up home after a period of time in care or to prevent you having to go into care. You will usually need to be getting Income Support, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, in order to be able to get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund, although in exceptional circumstances the local authority may still give you a grant even if you are not getting one of these benefits.

For more information, see The Scottish Welfare Fund

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 Working and child tax credits.

Problems claiming benefits

If you have been refused benefit and 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 office decisions, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.

It's against the law for you to be treated unfairly because of your race, sex or disability when the benefit office decides 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 things like your sexuality, your religion or if you've got HIV. 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 - where to get advice.

Information in other languages

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has translated information about benefits into certain community languages. For more information, go to the DWP website at www.dwp.gov.uk. To ask for printed or audio copies of any DWP leaflet in your language, you should contact your local benefit office.

Further information and advice for young people

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