What is Income Support?

Income Support is available to residents of the United Kingdom who have no income or are on a low income. You must be between the ages of 16 and the Pension Credit qualifying age, work less than 16 hours per week (your partner must work less than 24 hours per week) and have a valid reason why you cannot actively seek work. If you are able to actively seek work, you are more likely to receive Jobseekers Allowance. The reasons you may not be able to actively seek work include if you are pregnant, a carer, a lone parent with a child under 5 or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled.

You must have less than £16,000 in savings and your partner’s income and savings will also be taken into account. Additionally, if you and your partner are both claiming benefit, only one of you may receive Income Support. As Income Support is means tested, any savings over £6000 affect how much Income Support can be received.

A claimant may be able to get Income Support while still in full time secondary education (including A Levels) from age 16 up to the age of 19 if they are; not living with or being supported by their parents or someone acting as a parent, are looking after their own child, or are a refugee learning English. They can further qualify under the above criteria up to the age of 21 if they are orphaned or estranged from their parents and enrolled in education.

The weekly personal allowances for single people (as of April 2015) are £57.90 for ages 16-24, and £73.10 for ages 25 and over. If you are applying as a couple, and are both over the age of 18, you can receive up to £114.85 per week. Payments are usually made every two weeks into a bank account. Income Support can also help pay towards mortgage interest costs for home-owners if they qualify.

On October 27, 2008, Income Support claimed on the grounds of sickness or disability was replaced by Employment and Support Allowance or ESA for new claimants from that date.

In some areas of the UK, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit instead of Income Support. Universal Credit is being rolled out across the country with the long term aim of eventually replacing Income Support and various other benefits entirely. To find out if you are in a Universal Credit area, you will need to get in touch with your local Jobcentre Plus.


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