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Income Support is an income-related means-tested 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. The claimant must be between 16-59, inclusive, must work fewer than 16 hours a week, and must have a reason why they are not actively seeking work (on grounds of illness, disability, caring for children, or someone who is ill).


Lone parents

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


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

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

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

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


On 27 October 2008, 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 then 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 2009/10 are shown in the table below. The rates for couples can be found on the Jobcentre's web site [1].

Weekly allowance Amount
aged 16-24 £50.95
aged 25 or over £64.30


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

Over 60

Claimants reaching the age of 60, or with an older partner who is 60 before them, can apply for Pension Credit, to replace their Income Support payments. They should contact The Pension Service from four months before their or their partners 60th birthday.


A refusal to grant Income Support may be appealed to the Social Security Appeal Tribunal.

See also




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