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What Is Income Support & Am I Eligible?

When and where a situation arises in which a person or persons cannot provide for themselves or their families, a social security benefit called Income Support may be provided by the government.

The benefit that you may be entitled to comes in various components:

  • money for you
  • money for your partner (where you live with one either as a married couple, civil partners, or as if you are married)
  • additional funds to cover expenses that are over and above those paid by others; might include, for example, when there are disabled people in the household
  • money to cover specific housing costs that are not already a part of Housing Benefit

Who Is Income Support For?

Income Support is designed specifically for those people who are not required to sign on for Jobseeker’s Allowance as unemployed. This includes:

  • lone parents with a child under the age of 5 who they care for
  • people acting as unpaid carers
  • people receiving statutory sick pay (SSP)
  • women that are pregnant
  • those on paternity leave
  • lone parents or single people who are providing foster care to a child under 16 years of age
  • lone parents or single people who are providing care to a child under 16 years of age before their adoption

To be eligible to receive Income Support, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • be aged between 16 and the age at which you are able to claim Pension Credit
  • not in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • reside in England, Scotland or Wales
  • have a low income
  • work fewer than 16 hours a week (or have a partner working no more than 24 hours per week)
  • not in full time education (although some exceptions do apply)
  • have less than £16,000 in savings

How Income Support Is Calculated

Income Support is designed to bring what you receive in the way of income into line with what the government deem to be a minimum amount required to live on. So the calculation is quite a simple one:

Income Support = government set minimum – any current income you receive

The benefit is made up of 3 parts:

  1. Personal allowances – meant for your general daily living expenses
  2. Premiums – for those who are disabled, carers, or whose partner is a pensioner
  3. Housing costs – these only apply to interest on mortgage payments and a small set of costs that Housing Benefit would not otherwise cater for

The government makes things more complicated by including or excluding certain things from your current level of income. They will look at:

  • your earnings from employment after you have paid National Insurance, income tax and 50% of any money paid into a pension scheme
  • any Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit that you receive
  • any other social security benefits that you receive
  • savings over £6,000 – for every £250 (or part) that you have in savings between £6,000 and £16,000 you will lose £1 in weekly Income Support
  • savings over £10,000 if you are a permanent resident of a care home (same calculation applies as above, but for savings between £10,000 and £16,000)
  • any other form of income you might receive

The following will not be considered as part of your current income:

  • the initial £5 of any earnings for single people
  • the initial £10 of any joint earnings you and your partner may receive
  • the initial £20 of any earnings for a lone parent or if you get the Disability Premium
  • payments from a child maintenance agreement
  • savings if the total amount is less than £6,000

How Much Income Support Will I Receive?

The amount that you receive will depend on your status and age. The following table lays out the current amounts as of 2014/15:

Your StatusYour AgeWeekly Entitlement
Single16 – 24£57.35
Lone parent16 – 17£57.35
Lone parent18+£72.40
CouplesBoth under 18£57.35
CouplesBoth under 18 (higher rate)£86.65
CouplesOne under 18, the other 18 – 24£57.35
CouplesOne under 18, the other 25+£72.40
CouplesOne under 18, one over (higher rate)£113.70
CouplesBoth 18+£113.70

The higher rates in two of the above cases may be given if either person in the couple is responsible for a child, or if both of you would be eligible for one of JSA, ESA, or indeed Income Support.

Payments are usually made fortnightly into a bank account. You can apply for Income Support by filling out this form from the Government or by phoning the Jobcentre Plus.