Income Support

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Income Support is an income-related benefit in the United Kingdom for some people who are on a low income. Claimants of Income Support may be entitled to certain other benefits, for example, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit, Carer's Allowance, Child Tax Credit and help with health costs. A person with capital over £16,000 cannot get Income Support, and savings over £6,000 affect how much Income Support can be received. Claimants must be between 16 and Pension Credit age,[1] work fewer than 16 hours a week, and have a reason why they are not actively seeking work (caring for a child under 5 years old or someone who receives a specified disability benefit).

Lone parents

Claimants can receive income support if they are a lone parent and responsible for a child under five who is a member of their household. A claimant is considered responsible for a child in any week if receiving child benefit for the child. However, if a claimant arranges for their child benefit to be paid to someone else, for example, an ex-partner, the claimant will still be treated as receiving the child benefit.


If the claimant is at school or in higher education, the claimant may be able to get Income Support if they are:

  • Looking after the claimant's own child
  • An orphan and nobody is looking after the claimant
  • Unlikely to be able to get a job because of a severe disability.
  • Not living with the claimant's parents or being supported by them
  • Not in touch with the claimant's parents
  • Separated from the claimant's parents for reasons that cannot be avoided and nobody is looking after the claimant.

If the claimant is aged 18 to 24 and is attending an unwaged Work Based Learning Programme (England) or Skillseekers (Scotland) course, the claimant may be able to get Income Support.

If the claimant is aged 16 or 17, the claimant may get Income Support only if in one of the categories of persons who can get Income Support whilst studying.


On 27 October 2008, the Employment and Support Allowance replaced Income Support claimed on grounds of sickness or disability. Claims for Income Support made before that date were transferred to ESA [2].

Prior to this, claimants could be entitled to Income Support if they were unable to work due to sickness and had no or reduced entitlement to Incapacity Benefit. Normally, a claim for both benefits was made and the amount of Incapacity Benefit due was calculated according to the claimant's past National Insurance contributions. If too few contributions had been made for the full rate of Incapacity Benefit to be paid, Income Support may have been paid to top up the amount the claimant received to Income Support rates.

Parental Leave

You may be able to get Income Support when on unpaid statutory parental leave if, when you were working, you were getting any of the following.[3]

  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit


The weekly personal allowances for 2016/17 are shown in the table below.[4]

Weekly allowance Amount
Single aged 16–24 £57.90
Single aged 25 or over £73.10
Lone parent aged 16–17 £57.90
Lone parent aged 18 or over £73.10
Couple both under 18 £57.90
Couple both under 18 – Higher rate £87.50
Couple one under 18, other 18–24 £57.90
Couple one under 18, other 25 or over £73.10
Couple one under 18, one over – Higher rate £114.85
Both 18 or over £114.85

Higher rates are set for eligible couples where either one of the couple is responsible for a child, or if each member of a couple is eligible for one of the following benefits if they weren't a couple:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance

To this basic amount may be added amounts for qualifying claimants:[5]

  • carer premium
  • disability premium
  • enhanced disability premium
  • severe disability premium
  • pensioner premium
  • family premium (obsolete - no new entitlements)
  • family premium lone parent rate (obsolete - no new entitlements)
  • disabled child premium (obsolete - no new entitlements)

Existing income from benefits or other sources may be taken into account and deducted from any Income Support entitlement awarded to a claimant.[6]


The carer premium applies if a person is entitled to Carer's allowance, even if are not actually paid it because they receive another benefit. This premium is payable for each person who qualifies.

Disability premium is applicable to people getting one of the following qualifying benefits:

Or if the claimant has been incapable of work or entitled to Statutory sick pay during the qualifying period of 52 weeks (or 28 weeks if you are terminally ill) and is still incapable of work, or is registered as blind, or taken off that register in the past 28 weeks

Enhanced disability premium applies if the claimant or partner is in the Employment and Support Allowance support group or is under the qualifying age for Pension Credit and receiving the high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, the Personal Independence Payment enhanced rate of the daily living component or Armed Forces Independence Payment

There are limited circumstances when the pensioner premium would apply. It is only paid when the claimant is below Pension Credit age and their partner reaches that age first, but decides not to claim that benefit. Since Pension Credit has features that make it more attractive than Income Support (in particular the way savings are treated) this is unlikely to occur frequently.[7]

Severe disability premium applies if all of the following conditions are met:


For home-owners with a mortgage, Income Support may, depending on various qualifying conditions, help pay towards mortgage interest costs. There can be a waiting period of thirteen to thirty-nine weeks.

Older people

Claimants reaching the retirement age of women, or with an older partner who is that age, may apply for Pension Credit to replace their Income Support payments. They should contact The Pension Service four months before that time.


A refusal to grant Income Support may be appealed to the First-tier Tribunal. This should be done working one month of the date of any decision under dispute. If the appellant has good cause, this deadline can be extended a further 12 months (making a total of 13 months from the date of decision).

See also


  1. ^ "Income Support - GOV.UK". Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  2. ^ "Incapacity to ESA: transfer and reassessment".
  3. ^ "Income Support Contact Number".
  4. ^ "Income Support - GOV.UK". Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  5. ^ "Disability premiums - GOV.UK". Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Income support (IS)". Disability Rights Guide. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
  7. ^ Disability Rights Handbook.

Further reading

  • Colombino, U. (2009). Evaluating alternative basic income mechanisms: a simulation for European countries, Discussion Papers 578, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
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