It can be difficult to keep up to date with the continual changes to the benefits system; however, most benefits are not paid to young people under 18.
There are some exceptions:
- disabled children and young people
- children and young people who are ill
- care leavers
- young carers*
- young people with a dependent child.
* In April 2022, Wales began running a three-year pilot of Universal Basic Income involving about 250 care leavers.
Young people under 18 are not usually eligible for Universal Credit except in certain circumstances. For example, if they are expecting a baby or are responsible for a child or are living apart from their parents and are not in care. Disabled young people and young carers can also apply. Helpline: 0800 328 5644 (Welsh language: 0800 328 1744).
Child Benefit is payable to those who are responsible for bringing up a child who is under 16 – or under 20 if they are still in education or training.
Young parents can usually claim Child Benefit if they are under 18, but if they live with an adult there may also be the option of that adult claiming. Get advice from the Child Benefit helpline: 0300 200 3100 (Welsh language: 0300 200 1900)
Note, two people can’t get Child Benefit for the same child.
Housing Benefit is one of the benefits which has mostly been replaced by Universal Credit for recent claimants.
There is no automatic entitlement to the housing element of Universal Credit for young people aged 18 to 21 - you must meet certain rules.
Disabled children and young people, those with a long-term health condition or terminally ill children may be eligible for non means-tested benefits to help with everyday costs.
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is payable to children from three months to 16 years who need extra help with daily living tasks or getting about.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is replacing DLA for disabled people over 16.
Young carers aged 16 and 17 who are not in full-time education and are not earning over a certain amount each week may be eligible to claim Carer’s Allowance.
If a young person is caring for a family member always check first because their application for Carer’s Allowance might affect the looked-after person’s own benefits. Helpline: 0345 608 4321
No fixed address
Benefits cannot be refused because a young person has no permanent or temporary address. Payment is generally through a bank, building society, credit union or post office account nowadays.
Delays in benefits
If a young person is experiencing financial hardship as a result of benefit delays they could be eligible for emergency financial help.
MoneyHelper is a great website for all things money-related, including benefits.
Turn2Us provides information about benefits for young people in different circumstances, including a benefits calculator.
Gingerbread’s teenage benefits’ calculator helps young single parents work out which benefits they are eligible for.
Entitledto also has a free calculator so you can check someone is not missing out on their benefits.
Citizens Advice has online help to assist with benefits applications: