Income Support is an income-related benefit in the United Kingdom for people who are on a low income. Claimants of Income Support may be entitled to certain other benefits, for example, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and help with health costs. A person with savings 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 state pension age, work fewer than 16 hours a week, and have a reason why they are not actively seeking work (on grounds of illness, disability, caring for children, or someone who is ill).
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 will not be affected. New claims for Income Support will be transferred to ESA.
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.
The weekly personal allowances for single people for 2012/13 are shown in the table below.
|aged 25 or over||£71.00||£112.55|
To this basic amount may be added amounts for:
- carer premium
- disabled child premium (obsolete - no new entitlements)
- enhanced disability premium
- family premium (obsolete - no new entitlements)
- severe disability premium
A qualifying person may get one of these premiums (the greatest which is applicable):
- family premium lone parent rate (obsolete - no new entitlements)
- disability premium
- pensioner premium
Existing income from benefits or other sources is compared with the assessed weekly allowance. If income is less than the allowance a payment of Income Support is made to bring income up to the amount of the allowance.
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:
- Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance
- long-term Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- the disability element or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
- war pensioner's mobility supplement
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Personal Independence Payment
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
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
Pensioner premium applies if the claimant or partner is the qualifying age for Pension Credit or over.
Severe disability premium applies if all of the following conditions are met:
- The claimant gets the care component of Disability Living Allowance (middle or higher rate), Attendance Allowance, the daily living component of the Personal Independence Payment or armed forces independence payment
- lives alone (there are exceptions to this rule)
- no one claims Carer's Allowance for looking after them
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.
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 Social Security Appeal Tribunal.
- Social Fund (UK)
- Supplemental Security Income, a similar programme offered by the United States Social Security Administration
- Welfare state
- Colombino, U. (2009). Evaluating alternative basic income mechanisms: a simulation for European countries, Discussion Papers 578, Research Department of Statistics Norway.