Benefits and Earning

Not many young people are entitled to benefits, but there are other ways of earning extra money
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Benefits are payments made by the government to support people who may need some extra help. To get benefits, you need to check you are eligible and make a claim. There are different benefits available to people depending on their circumstances.

Age is very important:

  • If you are aged 18+ you are an adult and can receive benefits
  • If you are aged 16-17 you are a child: your parents or carers are responsible for your care (there are some exceptions).
  • If you are under 16 you are a child: your parents or carers are responsible for your care.

Responsible for your care means that your parents or carers should provide you with a home, food, and other necessities. If your parents need extra help to do this, they may apply for benefits, to help you.

Benefits are complicated, but there are good guides online, and advisers at your local Citizen Advice Bureau or Job Centre Plus can help you.

Instant Expert: Everything about benefits from the benefits pages

Benefits for young people aged 16-17

Young people aged 16-17 are almost always not eligible for benefits. Your parents may receive benefits to support you, as long as you remain in full-time education.

If you are aged 16-17 you have the right to free full time education, and to live with your parents or carers. If for any reason you have to leave home and you are under 18, then you need to tell the Local Authority and the police. They will provide support, or find a local organisation that can help you with your situation.

If you are unable to live with your parents, then you may be able to claim benefits, depending on your situation. You will need to be in full time education.

If you are a young parent aged 16-17 you may be eligible for benefits which are designed to keep you and your baby healthy. Find out more.

Care to learn

Care to Learn is a benefit especially for young people who are parents. It supports them to stay in learning by making payments towards childcare costs. You must be:

  • A parent, or expecting a child
  • Aged under 20 at the start of your course

How else can I get money?

Young people, like grown ups, often worry about money: making it, saving it, and having enough to spend on everything they need.

Pocket money

On average, young people aged between 5 and 16 receive £9.70 a week for pocket money (Money Advice Service 2017), but this is much lower for younger children, and for older children, many parents and carers are boost pocket money in return for chores, good behaviour, or success at school or other activities. But it always depends on how much money there is in the household.

Pocket money is usually separate to money you need (necessities) for example for travel, clothes, food and study. When you are younger, parents and carers provide the things you need (for example, by going shopping with you). As you grow older and more independent, they move towards providing money and letting you make your own choices.

If you don't have enough for necessities, then you need to talk to your parents or carers. If they can't give you more, they may be able to claim benefits.

Extra money

Most young people do bits of work to earn extra money. This can be holiday or part time jobs (like paper rounds), odd jobs for friends or family, or even starting your own small business.

  • Casual work - Some jobs can be done before you are 16 (like baby-sitting or paper rounds) but for most you will need to be either over 16 (shop work, waitressing) or over 18 (bar work, factory work).
  • Odd Jobs - Mostly done for friends and family, this includes things like gardening, washing cars, caring for pets, house-sitting and doing chores.

Working alongside study is a great way to get experience, as well as money! This will be useful when you are starting your career.

Crucial: There are rules about how many hours you can work, and what sort of work you can do at different ages.

Whatever kind of work you do to earn money as a young person, you need to make sure that it is safe and fits around your learning. Always discuss opportunities with your parents or carers and your learning provider, if necessary.

Instant Expert: Find out more about saving in a bank account and how spending on credit cards works.

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