This is the time of year when many sixth form college students are finishing A level or equivalent exams. Many will be planning to go on to study at university or other higher education colleges in September.
Usually the parent/carer continues to receive both Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (if entitled) right up to the end of August ie through the summer months.
However, the rules under Universal Credit are different and mean that many families getting Universal Credit will be worse off than their 'legacy benefit' claiming counterparts.
Parent/carer receives Universal Credit
Where a parent/carer receives Universal Credit, then a Child Element is included when their UC award is assessed for each dependent child/young person living with them (subject to a two child limit for some - more info here).
There is no provision to continue to include the Child Element or (if applicable) the Disabled Child Element in the UC assessment over the summer from when a young person finishes college/school and is going on into advanced education.
Entitlement to these elements ends from the start of the parent's/carer's Monthly Assessment Period which includes the last day of the young person's course or their last exam. So, for example, if a young person's last exam was on 20th June, their parent's/carer's Universal Credit award could be less than they expect on the next UC payday after this!
Compare this to the 'legacy benefit' system where Child Tax Credit continues until the end of August - a family in a similar situation but on legacy benefits could receive approximately £800 Child Tax Credit over this period (or more if they are entitled to a Disabled Child Element for the young person).
NOTE: Child Benefit will continue to be paid until 3rd September, as long as the young person does not start work of 24 hours per week or more, or claim benefit in their own right.
So what can the family do?
We assume the UC rules are assuming that the young person will support themselves by working during the summer months;and if not working but looking for work, the young person would make a claim for Universal Credit in their own right.
If the young person does make a claim for UC be aware that:
- The parent's/carer's Child Benefit would then stop.
- The young person's UC would be subject to the 7 waiting days.
- Most young people will to be entitled to £344.00 a month.
- They would have to sign a claimant commitment that is likely to require them to spend 35 hours a week, every week, looking for work - otherwise they would be sanctioned and would lose their whole UC award for a period of time.
- Their UC award would come to an end from the beginning of the Monthly Assessment Period (MAP) in which they start full time advanced education (unless they are one of the few students who can claim UC -click here).
Assuming the young person is not sanctioned, most young people would receive £503.54 UC in total over the summer months (but their parent/carer would lose approximately £200 in Child Benefit).
What if the young person wanted to claim UC but lives in a 'Live'/Gateway area and fails the 'gateway conditions'?
Then, as they are classed as still in education ie a student, they are unable to claim Income-Based JSA,would only be able to claim Income-Related ESA if they were getting Personal Independence Payment, and would only be able to claim Income Support if they were a lone parent. So it would appear that there is no support available to the parent/carer via UC but the young person is unable to claim anything in their own right either.