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Benefits and tax credits

Welfare benefits

Welfare benefits are payments made by the Government for living costs. They are a ‘safety net’ for people who can’t meet their own financial needs or because they have particular needs such as a disability.

Welfare benefits are either ‘means-tested’ or ‘non means-tested’ and, whereas student funding runs with the academic year, welfare benefits are generally altered with the tax year – 6 April to 5 April.

Some areas are moving towards Universal Credit, which will replace some of the benefits here. This information will be aded soon. Please contact the Money Advisor if you have any queries

Welfare benefits are administered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in England, Wales and Scotland, through Jobcentre Plus Offices, HMRC and the Disability and Carers Service, and through the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

Most full time students can't claim welfare benefits but there are important exceptions. See the welfare benefits section for more information.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax

Housing Benefit and Council Tax are administered by your local council in England, Wales and Scotland. Check the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland website for details of how to apply for Housing Benefit in Northern Ireland.

From April 2013 every council in England has it's own Council Tax Support or Council Tax Reduction scheme. This will replace Council Tax Benefit. This does not change exemptions, for example full time students. Scotland and Wales have different scheme that are national (rather than by Council) and shouldn't mean any changes to current claimants so long as your circumstances stay the same in 2015/16 tax year.

Tax credits and Child Benefit

Tax credits and Child Benefit are administered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). As with welfare benefits, tax credits and Child Benefit are altered with the tax year – 6 April to 5 April.

You’re not excluded from claiming Child Benefit or tax credits simply because you’re a full-time student.

Tax credit awards are assessed on your income in the previous tax year. This can lead to under or overpayments. So tell the HMRC immediately if your income changes or of any other relevant changes in your circumstances. Make a note of when you called and who you spoke to and keep copies of all correspondence.

Tax credit applications need to be renewed for each tax year delays can lead to payments being stopped.

Welfare benefits and tax credits are very complicated. It is as well to be aware that the Government offices which administer them may get the advice they give to, and calculations they do, for students wrong.

If you are an EEA or International Student there is detailed information on the UKCISA website about your position with regard to welfare benefits and tax credits.

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