Universal Credit (UC) for 19 year olds in full-time, non-advanced education | CPAG

Universal Credit (UC) for 19 year olds in full-time, non-advanced education

11 September 2019

Harrison v SSWP

This case is a challenge to the UC rules that prevent certain 19 year olds that are in full-time, non-advanced education from being included in their parents’ claim, while they are also prevented from claiming UC in their own right.

CPAG is representing a mother, MH, who claimed UC in April 2018, after being forced to give up work due to illness and family circumstances. Her son and daughter, then aged 19 and 18 respectively, were included in her claim. Both were in full-time, non-advanced education. However, the UC award for August/ September 2018 contained only one child element. This was because MH’s son had turned 19 in June 2018 and under UC , from the September after his 19th birthday, he was no longer classed as a child or young person that could be included in a UC claim. MH’s son tried to claim UC in his own name, as a single person, but the claim was refused because he was in full time education.

For both child benefit and child tax credit, a child or qualifying young person includes a person who is in full-time, non-advanced education until they turn 20. Regulation 5 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, however, uses a different definition of qualifying young person so that a person in full-time, non-advanced education is only a qualifying young person until 1st September following their 19th birthday.

CPAG is challenging this change in the definition of a qualifying young person on the following grounds:

The policy discriminates against young people who are unable to finish their full-time non advanced education before the September immediately following their 19th birthday and their parents

The parent of a young person who turns 19 shortly before 1st September in their final year of full-time, non-advanced education is not entitled to receive any child element in UC on behalf of that young person for the remainder of his/her secondary education compared to a parent of a young person who turns 19 shortly after 1st September in their final year of school. In the former situation the parent and young person are left in the inenviable position of trying to continue the secondary education without the benefit of subsistence support to meet the young person’s basic living needs or of leaving school altogether so that the young person being able to claim UC in their own name. Such a difference in treatment lacks any rational basis and is therefore discriminatory, not least when the same young person remains a qualifying young person for the purpose of child benefit until he/she is 20.

In MH’s case, CPAG is challenging the relevant provisions in the UC regulations by the statutory appeals process and the case is currently waiting to be listed in the First tier Tribunal. However, CPAG is still looking for other cases where a young person and his family have been affected by the more restrictive definition of qualifying young person in UC. Please send any suitable cases to the test cases inbox.