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 Gov.uk benefits pages
Young people aged 16-17
If you are aged 16-17 you have the right to free full time education, and to live with your parents or carers. Your parents may receive benefits to support you, as long as you remain in full-time education.
If you are unable to live with your parents, then you can sometimes claim benefits, depending on your situation. You will need to be in full time education.
Crucial: If for any reason you have to leave home, and you are under 18, then you need to tell your Local Authority and the police. They will help you with your situation.
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.
On average, young people aged between 5 and 16 receive £11.20 a week for pocket money (Childwise 2018). But this is much lower for younger children, and some children receive no pocket money at all. For older children, many parents and carers are happy to 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.
Money for necessities
Pocket money is separate to money for necessities like clothes, food, warmth and travel to your place of learning. 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.
Crucial: When parents or carers do not provide a child with necessary things like clothes, food, attention, medical care and somewhere warm and safe to live then this is abuse, even if they are trying to do the right thing. Find out more about neglect and abuse.
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.