Q. I am 20 and for a while I’ve been wanting to move out of my parents’ house and into a privately-rented property.
I have a zero-hours contract and will be doing as many hours as I can. Will I be able to claim any benefits?
A. There isn’t a vast amount of help for young people under the benefits system.
The amount of housing assistance that you could get is capped under the Local Housing Allowance rates.
For single people under 35 years old this rate is £57.34 per week in Hartlepool and £60 per week in Newcastle and Tyneside.
These figures are how much housing assistance a person under 35 would receive if they had no income from wages or certain benefits.
However, under Universal Credit, 18-21 year olds no longer have an automatic entitlement to a housing element.
This means that you wouldn’t get any help with your rent unless you were earning the equivalent of National Minimum Wage for 16 hours per week (£89.60 per week) or were responsible for children or were disabled.
Although you may meet the criteria to be entitled to the housing element, in practice, 16 hours per week at minimum wage is likely to be too high for Universal Credit to be paid.
If you are living alone then you would be entitled to a 25% discount on your Council Tax bill and would be entitled to some Council Tax Reduction from your Local Authority.
Q. I would like to start claiming Carer’s Allowance for looking after my mum, but I am on Contributions Based Employment and Support Allowance and have heard that I can’t claim both, is that correct.
A. Both Carer’s Allowance and Contributions Based Employment and Support Allowance are overlapping benefits meaning that you can only be paid one of them at any one time.
Employment and Support Allowance is usually the higher benefit, so you would continue to claim that.
If you qualify for Carer’s Allowance then you should still make an application by phoning 0345 608 4321 or online at www.gov.uk.
Your Carer’s Allowance claim would be refused, but you would be classed as having an underlying entitlement and would may receive an increase in your Income Related Employment and Support Allowance and Housing and Council Tax Reduction.