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Benefit changes for households who have a child leaving home to study

Date posted:
1st January 2021
young girl leaving home
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Summer months see many sixth form or college students finishing their A levels or equivalent exams. Many students will be planning to go on to study at university or other higher education colleges in September.

Usually, under Legacy Benefit rules the parent or carer of said child continues to receive both Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit (if entitled) right up until the end of August. However, the rules under Universal Credit are different from Legacy Benefit rules. To avoid any confusion, we have given a full breakdown of everything you may need to be aware of if you claim Universal Credit and have a child leaving college this summer.

If you (a parent) receive Universal Credit, a Child Element is included when your Universal Credit award is assessed for each dependent (child or young person) living with them (subject to a two-child limit for some). The Child Element, or if applicable the Disabled Child Element in the Universal Credit assessment will end from the date the young person finishes college, or school if they enter into full-time employment. From this date onwards, the parent’s or carer’s Monthly Assessment Period, which includes the last day of the young person’s course or their last exam. For example, the child or young person’s last exam may be the 20th June, therefore the assessment period will begin from the 1st June, causing the child element to end for this young person from 1st June!

It should be noted that Child Benefit will continue to be paid until 3rd September if the young person does not start paid work of 24 hours or more per week or claim benefit in their own right.

What Should I Do Next?

The advice we would provide to families who are struggling with this change to their finances would be: if the child or the young person struggles to find employment of more than 24 hours of paid work per week after they graduate college, then they should make a claim for Universal Credit themselves, but parent/carers child benefit would then stop.

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