Benefits for those on a low income

IMPORTANT FACTS- 16-19 Bursary Scheme

What is it?

A bursary to help with education-related costs if you’re aged 16-19 and are studying at school or college or on a training course (including unpaid apprenticeships) in England. It can be used to buy clothing, books, equipment, transport and lunch on study and training days. 

Those who will get a bursary

Students most in need will be eligible to receive a vulnerable student bursary of up to £1,200 a year. This group includes:

  • people in care
  • care leavers
  • people claiming income support
  • disabled young people who receive Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance
  • those who have been receiving free school meals (FSM)

The exact amount will depend on personal circumstances and benefits.

The bursary is in addition to a living allowance (may be same as benefits entitlement) so that those leaving care will have somewhere to live while studying.

Those who might get a bursary

Other students facing genuine financial difficulties may be awarded a bursary at the discretion of their school, college or training provider. Unlike the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), schools, colleges and training providers will be responsible for awarding bursaries to students. They decide when and how much money will be paid, and will set conditions that students should meet to receive a bursary, linked, for example, behaviour or attendance. Michael Gove said that every student receiving FSM should receive £800 from the bursary fund. In reality areas with a high proportion of students with FSM are offering a lot less e.g. a borough in South London are giving students £243. 

16-19 Bursary Fund replaces EMA in England, which is closed to new applicants. 

IMPORTANT FACTS- Income Support 

Income Support is extra money to help people on a low income. It’s for people who don’t have to sign on as unemployed. Whether you qualify or not and how much you get depends on your circumstances.

To be eligible, all of the following must apply to the claimant:

  • aged between age 16 and the age they can get Pension Credit
  • have a low income
  • work less than 16 hours a week
  • aren’t in full-time study (but there are some exceptions)
  • don’t get Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance
  • don’t have savings above £16,000
  • live in Great Britain

You may get Income Support if you are one of the following:

  • a lone parent
  • on parental or paternity leave
  • a carer
  • a refugee learning English who arrived less than a year ago

Young people in relevant education may also get Income Support. Generally this means full-time education up to A-level or Scottish Certificate of Education (Higher level). This might apply if you:

  • are a lone parent
  • don’t live with a parent or someone acting as a parent
  • are at serious risk of abuse or violence
  • are a refugee learning English

You can get Income Support as well as some other benefits. Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

Only one person in a family can claim Income Support at any one time. There are several types of premiums (extra amounts) you may get based on your and your partner’s circumstances. Contact Jobcentre Plus to find out more.

You can still claim Income Support if you are sleeping rough or living in a hostel.

How much

The standard amounts for 16 – 24 year olds is £58.90 a week and £74.35 for those aged 25 or older. However if you are in a couple, have children or other circumstances apply the amount is likely to be different.

Income Support is paid into a bank account.


Income Support will be incorporated into Universal Credit, and considered when calculating your Benefit Cap. 

IMPORTANT FACTS- Budgeting Loans 

  • If you’re on a low income and need help with certain important costs, you may be able to get an interest-free Budgeting Loan from the Social Fund that you pay back.
  • You’re eligible for a budgeting loan if if you or your partner have been claiming or getting payment for at least one income-related benefit for at least 26 weeks.
  • Budgeting loans are to help pay for key items of furniture, clothing, advance rent and other key costs related to the home, travelling expenses and debt repayments.
  • They are between £100 and £812 and final amount depends on whether you are single or in a couple, ability to repay the loan and savings.
  • Repayment is taken out of benefits or another method is agreed. They do not count as income.
16-19 Bursary Scheme equals to £1,200 a year.
Standard amount for Income Support for 16 – 24 year olds is £58.90 a week and £74.35 for those aged 25 or older.
You can apply to borrow  between £100 and £812 as a Budgeting Loan.
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