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STUDENTS AND BENEFITS EBULLETIN JUNE 2018

Hello and welcome to the June 2018 edition of CPAG in Scotland's students and benefits e-bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with changes to benefits and tax credits which are relevant to students.

In this issue:

Student handbook online update

The online version of the Benefits for Students in Scotland handbook 2017/18 has been updated and is available at www.onlinepublications.cpag.org.uk (use the + key at the left of the page to open the book and navigate to the different chapters). The new edition for 2018/19 will be available in Autumn 2018. Find out how to pre-order your copy at www.shop.cpag.org.uk/benefits-for-students-in-scotland-handbook-20182019

Students and benefits factsheets

A new student and benefits factsheet has been added to our website on universal credit for lone parent students. In addition, the following student and benefits factsheets have recently been updated at www.cpag.org.uk/content/students-and-benefits-project-0:

  • universal credit and students
  • students and tax credits
  • benefits and tax credits for lone parents students
  • benefits and tax credits for European students

The factsheets can be downloaded and handed out to students, or used for reference.

Universal credit update

Universal credit (UC) has now been rolled out fully in the following areas:

Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Falkirk, Fife, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian. Moray and Aberdeenshire are the last to become full service areas on 27 June 2018, before a summer break. The remaining local authorities are due to roll-out between September and December 2018.

It is not possible to make a new claim for ‘legacy benefits’ (jobseeker's allowance, income support, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit or working tax credit) in a UC full service area. There is an exception currently if you have three or more children and have not yet claimed UC. In this case you can still make a new claim for child tax credit and other legacy benefits.

CPAG are continuing to hear of cases where student income is calculated wrongly, or students were wrongly advised about whether or not they can stay on universal credit. Please contact CPAG in Scotland's advice line if you have any enquiries from students on universal credit, and want advice about their eligibility for and/or their amount of universal credit;

Phone 0141 552 0552
Monday to Thursday, 10am - 4pm, Friday 10am - 12 noon

If you are finding it difficult to get through to the advice line, we recommend calling between 12 and 2, when the phones are often less busy.

Email advice@cpagscotland.org.uk

We reply to 80 per cent of email enquiries within three working days. If you have not had a reply within 10 working days, please contact us to check that your enquiry has been received.

Claiming benefit in the summer vacation

This section applies if you are on a course that has a summer vacation, ie, a course that lasts more than one academic year. If your course has ended and you are doing another course after the summer, you are not a student in between courses – in this case, see the March e-bulletin item ‘Claiming benefits when a course ends.'

Full-time students in higher education may, in some circumstances, be able to claim social security benefits over the summer vacation between years of the course. If you are doing a course which is longer than one year, the rules say that you still count as a student and can only claim benefits in exceptional circumstances.

What can you claim?

(Note: If you live in a universal credit (UC) ‘full service’ area, see below. If you do not, see this section.) The circumstances in which you can claim benefits between years of a course are:

  • you are a lone parent with a child under 5, whose income support (IS) stopped during the academic year because of student loan income. You can reclaim IS from the end of June, and throughout July and August. During this period your student loan does not count as income. 
  • you are a lone parent whose youngest child is aged 5 or over. You can claim jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) in the summer vacation. You must be available for and actively seeking work. If, exceptionally, you are also a carer for someone with a disability, or you are in the last 11 weeks of pregnancy, you can claim income support over the summer instead of JSA.
  • you are a member of a couple, both of you are full-time students, and you have a child. You can claim JSA in the summer vacation. One of you must be available for and actively seeking work. If, exceptionally, one of you is also a carer for someone with a disability, or in the last 11 weeks of pregnancy, you can claim income support over the summer instead of JSA.
  • you are a disabled student whose income-related ESA stopped during the academic year because of student loan income. You can reclaim ESA from the end of June, and throughout July and August, as during this period your student loan does not count as income. Note: only full-time students who get personal independence payment (PIP) or DLA are eligible for income-related ESA.
  • you are a student with a non-student partner who has no, or very low, income. From the end of June, when the student loan no longer counts as income, your partner can claim income-based JSA. Your partner would have to be available for and actively seeking work. Alternatively, if your partner is disabled they may be able to claim income-related ESA.  Or if they are a carer for someone with a disability they may be able to claim income support.

Note that if you are a student in any of the above groups you should also be able to get housing benefit (HB), if you have rent to pay. Although you may get some HB throughout the academic year, you will get more in the summer vacation because your loan does not count as income.

If you, or you and your partner, already get IS, income-related ESA or income-based JSA throughout the academic year, but at a reduced rate because of student loan income, you should get more in July and August when the student loan is ignored.

All of the above examples come with a very big caution: if you live in a universal credit (UC) ‘full service’ area, you must claim UC instead of the benefits outlined above. If this is the case you can get UC between years of your course if you are a parent student, although depending on the age of your children you may have to look for work in order to get the full amount of UC paid to you. You can also get UC if you are a student who is ill/disabled and gets DLA or PIP, or if you are a student with a partner who is not a student. Note:  if you are in a UC ‘full service’ area, you have three or more children and you have not yet claimed UC, you cannot make a new claim for UC but instead can make a new claim for child tax credit and other legacy benefits.

When can you claim?

The student loan counts as income for HB, IS, income-related ESA and income-based JSA until the last day of the last benefit week in June. A benefit week means a period of seven days ending with the day determined by the last two digits of your national insurance number (NINO), as is shown in the following table.

NINO               Pay day           

00 - 19             Monday          

20 - 39             Tuesday          

40 - 59             Wednesday    

60 - 79             Thursday        

80 - 99             Friday

For example for IS if your NINO ends 65 your benefit week runs Friday to Thursday. Your loan counts as income until Thursday 28 June, and is ignored from Friday 29 June.

For HB a benefit week always runs Monday to Sunday, so your loan counts as income until Sunday 24 June and is ignored from Monday 25 June. 

UC works differently – the loan is ignored in the month in which your summer vacation starts (Universal Credit Regulations 2013 regulation 68). So as long as you claim UC less than a month before your long vacation starts, the loan is ignored. For example if your vacation starts on 22 June and you claim UC on 15 June, as your vacation starts in that month after you claim the loan is ignored. Remember however you can only make a new claim for UC between years of your course if you live in a ‘full service’ area AND if you are a student who is eligible for UC. If your course continues after the summer, remember your loan is taken into account from the ‘month’ (UC assessment period) in which your course starts.

Council tax for young care leavers

Young care leavers are exempt from council tax from 1 April 2018. The Council Tax (Discounts) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2018 SI No. 39 and The Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2018 SI No. 45 introduce this new category of person who is exempt from council tax, or has a council tax discount.

The new category applies to a care leaver, defined as someone

  • aged at least 18 and not yet reached 26;
  • ‘looked after’ at their 16th birthday or subsequently; and
  • is no longer ‘looked after’.

Note: ‘looked after’ refers to someone who is looked after under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 or the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.

This may have an impact on the council tax (CT) bill. For example, if a care leaver lives with just one other person, and that person is not exempt, a 25% discount is applied to the CT bill. A dwelling is exempt from council tax if it is occupied by a care leaver alone, or living with other care leavers, or jointly occupied by only students and care leavers (or other exempt groups).

Student funding announcement

A ministerial statement was issued on 12 June regarding the recent independent review of student support. The government has committed to increasing the level of support for care-experienced students in 2018/19 to £8,100 per year. They also propose further changes for the academic year 2019/20. Read more at https://news.gov.scot/speeches-and-briefings/ministerial-statement-student-support-review

Training

We have a number of courses on benefits for Students, from introductory level through to experienced. Visit the Training section of the website for more info or to book.

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