The rules concerning payments for young people who remain in full time non advanced education are very different and less generous under Universal Credit as they are under Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit.
Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit for 19 year old dependants
The rules for Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit state that if a young person is undertaking a course of full time non advanced education (essentially below degree level – ie A levels, BTECs or up to level 3 NVQ) AND they have enrolled on the course before their 19th birthday, then both Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit may be paid until the day before their 20th birthday – this is worth up to £2,780.00 a year Child Tax Credit (higher if the young person is disabled) and up to £1,076.40 Child Benefit.
The rules for Child Benefit remain the same BUT the rules for receipt of the child element of Universal Credit are very different.
Universal Credit for 19 year old dependants
If you have a dependent young person who is still in full time education at the age of 19 then the Universal Credit elements for that child – both the basic and any disabled element, will cease from the 1st September following their 19th birthday – this could effectively mean that the families of some young people, depending on their date of birth, will miss out on almost a year’s worth of Universal Credit child element, compared to a claimant who is still in receipt of Child Tax Credit.
This change is most likely to impact on certain categories of young people and their families for example
- young people who are migrants from either the EEA or outside Europe (refugees for example) who start education at a later date due to their age when they arrived, language issues or trauma that they have suffered
- severely disabled young people who may still in specialist education after their 19th
There is a risk that this change in Government policy will lead to:
- An increase in young people leaving before they have completed their education due to lack of financial support
- A potential increase in homelessness if parents cease to receive the amount of child element for their dependent and cannot afford to keep them
This is an issue where the rules appear to be discriminating against certain groups on grounds of race and/or disability and where there is a potential for a Judicial Review challenge.