Money at the end of your course
If you are finishing your course this summer, you may be considering claiming social security until you find employment or start a new course.
If you are:
- Graduating this summer, or
- Otherwise finishing your course; and
- Don’t have any full or part-time work arranged; and
- Are not going to be working or living abroad, or
- Don’t have a summer placement lined up, or
- Don’t have volunteer work arranged
Then you might be considering claiming social security (also known as benefits) to tide you over until you find employment or start a further course of study. Please note this is only a quick guide — if you need more information please contact the Advice Centre.
What can I claim?
For most students at the end of their course it is likely that you will have to claim Universal Credit. Universal Credit has now replaced all new claims for income-based benefits in the UK. Examples of these (also known as “legacy benefits”) are Income Support, Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment & Support Allowance, Child and Working Tax Credits, and also Housing Benefit.
While previously if you were looking for work you would claim Jobseekers’ Allowance, or alternately if you were unable to work for health reasons you would claim Employment & Support Allowance, you now would therefore claim Universal Credit instead.
New Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance claims can still be made, however to claim these would require an applicant to have paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2 to 3 years. Full-time students will not typically have enough NI contributions to apply for these.
As Universal Credit is also replacing Income Support, Child and Working Tax Credits, and Housing Benefit, no new claims can be made for any of these (aside from a small exemption in relation to claimants receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment). However, if you are already receiving any of those legacy benefits we would recommend you get a benefit check to ensure you will not be worse off by claiming Universal Credit.
A final important point to note is that Universal Credit does not include an element for Council Tax Reduction, therefore you will have to apply separately to your local council authority for help with council tax costs.
When can I claim?
Universal Credit is paid monthly in arrears (although in Scotland, you can request that it is paid twice a month). You can put in your claim from the day after the last day of your course. As the current term ended on 29 May 2020, you can therefore claim from 30 May.
However if you have an underlying claim (for example you have children but your student finance is too high to receive any UC during the academic year), then you can claim the in the final month of your course. This is because Universal Credit does not take into consideration student finance paid in last month of your studies (for example, for courses ending on 29 May 2020 you could make a claim for Universal Credit from 30 April 2020).
From the date you apply for Universal Credit there will be a five week wait before your first payment, however you will be allowed to apply for an “advance payment” to cover this period. This advance will be repaid via a deduction from your ongoing award.
Council Tax Reduction, or any other eligible benefit that students are excluded from, such as Carers Allowance, can be applied for from the day after the last day of the course. For example, as the end of Semester Two for most undergraduate courses is Friday 29 May, a claim for benefits can be made from Saturday 30 May onwards.
Covid-19: Once a Universal Credit claim has been made, the DWP are not currently holding interviews in person until at least 19 June 2020, and claimants will not be sanctioned if they are unable to fulfil their claimant commitment due to Covid-19. You will be given further details on this as part of your application: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/your-responsibilities
Please note, if you are a student on the summer break of an ongoing course, Universal Credit has the potential to leave student significantly worse off when returning after the summer. We therefore recommend you read over our page here: https://www.glasgowstudent.net/advice/money/benefit-claims-summer/
How much would I get?
Universal Credit is paid monthly. The basic rate for someone aged 18 to 24 years and single, is £342.72 per month and £409.89 per month for someone 25 or older. (Please note these rates are subject to change). As Universal Credit is income-based, if you have any other money coming in (or savings above £6000), this will affect what you receive. If you have a partner, then the basic rate payable is higher, but your partner’s income would also be taken into account in the calculation.
An additional amount may be payable if you live in rented accommodation, if you have children, a partner, or any health conditions. As mentioned above the reason for this is Universal Credit replaces a lot of other benefits such as Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, and Employment & Support Allowance. Importantly, as was the case with Housing Benefit, all of your rent may not necessarily be covered.
Where can I find out more?
For more information about Universal Credit, and how to claim it using the online system, please see the website at https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
Also, for more information, please see the Child Poverty Action Group factsheet at: http://www.cpag.org.uk/universal-credit-factsheet
If you are from the EEA, most benefits will require you to have a ‘right to reside’. If you are unsure about what this means once you have finished your course, then please see the benefits factsheet for European students at http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/benefits-and-tax-credits-european-students
If you are from out with the EEA, and you have a student visa, or in any other category in which you have the condition, ‘no recourse to public funds’ stamped in your passport or on your Biometric Residence Permit) then it is unlikely you will be able to claim most social security – always get advice before trying to make a claim.
This information is meant to serve only as a quick guide, so if you have any questions or are unsure of your eligibility for benefits or how to claim them, please contact the SRC Advice Centre for more information.