Students and benefits ebulletin - March 2021 | CPAG

Students and benefits ebulletin - March 2021

Date: 
15 June 2021

Hello and welcome to the March 2021 edition of CPAG in Scotland's students and benefits e-bulletin, keeping you up-to-date with changes to benefits and tax credits which are relevant to students.

In this issue:

  • Students and benefits online training courses
  • Universal credit - update on who can claim
  • Claiming benefits when a course ends
  • Winter covid funds
  • Brexit and student funding for EU nationals

Students and benefits online training courses

We are delivering online training courses via zoom on benefits for students in May and June 2021:

Students and benefits - the basics on 26 May

As the name suggests this is a basic level course, and is a brief overview of which students may be eligible for which benefits. No prior benefit knowledge is necessary.

Students and benefits – an update on 9 June

Make sure you know how recent benefit changes are likely to affect students. This experienced level course is for advisers with a good working knowledge of the benefits and tax credits systems as they apply to students, and mainly updates advisers on changes, rather than on existing rules.

Remember that we can also deliver online training via zoom for you and your colleagues ‘in-house’ for up to 15 staff members from your organisation/partner organisations. This includes the courses above, and other students and benefits courses such as ‘introduction to benefits for student advisers’, and ‘universal credit and students’. For more information go to Full programme of online training courses in Scotland | CPAG

Universal credit - update on who can claim

Until recently those with a ‘severe disability premium’ in a legacy benefit were able to make new claims for other legacy benefits, and were not allowed to claim universal credit (UC). From 27 January 2021 this exception no longer applies. If a new claim for a means-tested benefit is necessary for someone of working age, this can only be a claim for UC. The only remaining exception is that those in ‘temporary accommodation’ or ‘specified accommodation’ will need to claim housing benefit for help with the rent.

A better-off calculation is advisable before claiming UC, as, for example, sometimes students are better off remaining on child tax credit than claiming UC.

Remember advisers can phone CPAG in Scotland's advice line for advisers and frontline staff on 0141 552 0552 if you want to check what benefits a student can claim, or if you have any other questions about social security benefits. The advice line is available Monday –Thursday 10am – 4pm and Fridays 10am - 12 noon. You can also email your enquiries to [email protected]

Claiming benefits when a course ends

When you finish a full-time course you no longer count as a student for benefit purposes, and can therefore claim benefits in the same way as anyone else. The date you can claim from is usually the day after the last day of the final academic year of your course.

You must usually claim UC rather than legacy benefits, but if you already get legacy benefits you can stay on them.

Claim online at gov.uk/apply-universal-credit. An ‘assessment period’ of one month follows the date of claim, and payment is usually made a week later. This means it is usually at least five weeks from claiming UC to being paid. If you are in hardship while waiting for your first UC payment you can ask for a short-term advance. However, note that this is repayable from your UC award.

Student income is not counted as income in the ‘assessment period’ in which your course ends. This means students eligible for UC whose UC stopped because income was too high can reclaim in the last month of their course, when student income is ignored.

Example

Jackie’s course ends on 4 June 2021. She is a parent with a six-year-old child, but did not get UC during the course because her student income was too high. She claims UC on Monday 10 May. She is eligible for UC because she is a parent. Her first assessment period runs from 10 May to 9 June. Her student loan is not taken into account as income in this assessment period, as this is the assessment period in which her course ends. Her first payment is made on 16 June, and she receives her maximum UC amount on this date as no student income is counted.

Note that if you live in ‘specified’ supported or temporary (eg, homeless) accommodation you must claim HB for help with rent. You may need to claim this together with UC for your living costs.

Now that you are no longer a full-time student you may be liable for council tax, but if you have a low income you should claim council tax reduction from the local authority to reduce your bill.

Winter Covid funds

Extra funds were announced at the end of January 2021 for both college and university students in hardship. The Winter Covid funds are administered in a similar way to discretionary funds, but eligibility has been widened to support more students. For example, part-time students, international/EU students and nursing and midwifery students can all apply to the Winter Covid fund. Guidance has been issued for the fund for higher education and further education students. Apply to your college or university.

Brexit and student funding for EU nationals

Now that the UK has left the EU, rules for student funding for EU students has changed. Students from the EU in the UK before 31/12/20, and who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme and meet certain other residence conditions will have ‘home’ fee status. EU students coming to the UK from 1/1/21 will generally have to pay international fees. See Brexit - SAAS - Education in Scotland for more information.