While apprenticeship is considered as full-time education, there are very specific criteria that need to be met so as to satisfy the DWP that the claimant is a “qualifying person”. Through this article, we will mainly explore whether an individual claiming universal credit can continue doing so if they are on an apprenticeship. Additionally, we will also explore the duties and responsibilities of apprentices in terms of taxes and benefits.

Can I Claim Universal Credit On An Apprenticeship?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit on an apprenticeship if it is considered to be a “recognised apprenticeship”. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, apprentices can claim Universal Credit if they fulfil the below criteria:

  • they have a named training provider 
  • they are working towards a recognised qualification or vocational training
  • they are entitled to the national minimum wage

There are no upper or lower limits to the number of hours that an apprentice must work in order to claim Universal Credit. However, as part of your Claimant Commitment for Universal Credit claim, you must be involved in work-related activity if your earnings are not above the Conditionality Earnings Threshold (CET). In the case of an apprenticeship, this amounts to 30 hours a week multiplied by the applicable minimum wage rate.

In case you are working for more than 30 hours per week during your apprenticeship, you will not be asked to undertake any work-related activity with regard to your Universal Credit claim.

If you have childcare or caring responsibilities of a family member, a personal illness or disability that restricts you from working 30 hours during your apprenticeship, you will be exempted from work-related activity for your Universal Credit claim.

In addition to gaining work skills, as an apprentice, you will also be able to earn a wage, get holiday pay and get training specific to your area of work. Generally, apprenticeships take between 1 to 5 years for completion; depending on the nature and area of work.

Apprentices are entitled to paid holidays and working time regulations as full-time employees. However, under UK law, anyone under the age of 18 must not be asked to work for more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.

How Much Do Apprentices Get Paid?

As per recent figures (April 2022), the national minimum wages in the UK are categorised on the basis of age as follows:

AgeNMW Rate
Apprentice£4.81
Under 18£4.81
18-20£6.83
21-22£9.18
23 and above£9.80

Apprentices can claim the national minimum wage if they are at least 19 years of age or more than 19 years old and in the first year of their apprenticeship.

The earnings that apprentices are paid include payments for the normal working hours stated in their employment contract or apprenticeship agreement, any training that is essentially part of their apprenticeship and lasts a minimum of 20% of their normal working hours, as well as additional study time for English and Mathematics qualifications (if they are part of the work that you will perform during the apprenticeship).

Do Apprentices Have To Pay Tax?

Yes, apprentices pay taxes on their income in the same way as full-time employees. Incomes above the minimum cap are taxed at an incremental rate of 20 per cent to 45 per cent depending on whether an individual belongs to the basic, higher or additional tax rate band. Below are details of these bands:

  • 0 per cent income tax when income is up to £12,570
  • 20 per cent income tax when income is between £12,571 and £50,270 
  • 40 per cent income tax when income is between £50,271 and £150,000 
  • 45 per cent income tax when income is above £150,001

Do Apprentices Have To Pay National Insurance?

Yes, apprentices have to pay National Insurance if they earn more than £184 per week (applicable rates for 2021-222). As per UK law, individuals earning between £184 and £967 are charged at 12 per cent for their National Insurance Contributions (NIC) while those earning more than £967 per week will be charged an additional 2 per cent.

However, if you are an apprentice with earnings more than the lower earnings limit which amounts to £120 per week or £520 per month (applicable for 2021-22) and lesser than the primary threshold which amounts to £184 per week or £797 per month (applicable for 2021-22), your NIC record will be credited. This means that while you are not required to pay NIC, it will appear that you have made the contributions. NIC credits may help you in the long term to earn you contributory benefits or state pension.

Do Apprentices Have To Pay Council Tax?

Anyone under the age of 18 and under specific apprenticeship schemes becomes eligible for council tax exemption if they live alone. However, you will need to provide the following from your employer:

  • Your earnings will not be more than £195 per week
  • The training that you receive as part of the apprenticeship will lead to a qualification which is accredited by a body which is recognised by the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation or the Scottish Vocational Education Council,

However, if you share your home with family, as an apprentice, you will be considered as disregarded for council tax. You will still need to apply to your local council for an exemption or discount.

Can Apprentices Claim Working Tax Credits?

According to the HM Revenue and Customs, apprentices can claim working tax credits under the following conditions:

  • the apprentice can provide proof of employment such as a contract of employment 
  • the apprentice is part of an apprenticeship scheme where the payments they receive are classed as earnings and not reimbursement of expenses (earnings are subject to income tax and National Insurance contributions while reimbursement of expenses is not)

However, if an apprentice’s earnings are classified as non-taxable training allowance or a tax-exempt discretionary allowance, their apprenticeship working hours will not be counted as remunerative work and they will not be able to claim tax credits.

In general, to be able to qualify for working tax credits, an individual should be able to fulfil the below criteria:

  • if they are 25 years of age, they should be in remunerative work for a minimum of 30 hours each week
  • if they are 16 years old, they should be working a minimum of 16 hours per week 
  • if they are 60 years old, they should be and working a minimum of 16 hours per wee
  • anyone with a physical or mental disability due to which they are unable to get a job

Is An Apprenticeship Full Time Education?

Yes, an apprenticeship counts as full-time education if you are able to work for at least 30 hours per week under the apprenticeship national minimum wage. If working hours are to be reduced due to the nature of execution of work and the individual’s circumstances, it can only be reduced to 16 hours to be counted as an apprenticeship. 

In this case, the duration of the apprenticeship period must be extended. This means that a two-year apprenticeship that requires you to work for 16 hours per week, may need to be extended to a three-year duration to make up for missing essential hours.

According to UK law, you must be in full-time education until the age of 18 years. However, the government requires you to either work as an apprentice or spend at least 20 hours per week for volunteer work alongside training or studying.

If you are 16 years or older, living in England and not enrolled in full education, you can be an apprentice.

Can My Mum Claim Child Benefit If I Am On An Apprenticeship?

Yes, your mum can get Child Benefit if you are on an apprenticeship only if you are is eligible to be considered as a “qualifying your person”. This means that you should be:

  • aged between 16 and 19 years and either in full-time non-advanced education or approved training; or
  • aged either 16 or 17 years and registered for further education, work or training with a local authority support service, careers service, Connexions or similar organisation. She should not be in full-time non-advanced education or approved training.

Full-time non-advanced education includes the following educational courses:

  • GCSEs, A levels, iGCSEs, Pre-U and International Baccalaureate
  • NVQ level 1, 2 or 3
  • BTEC National Diploma, National Certificate and 1st Diploma
  • SVQ level 1, 2 or 3
  • Traineeships (in England only)
  • Scottish Group Awards
  • National 4 and 5 (in Scotland only)

To be considered in approved training, you should not have an employment contract for your apprenticeship. Approved training should be unpaid and can include:

  • Foundation Apprenticeships or Traineeships in Wales
  • Employability Fund programmes in Scotland
  • PEACE IV Children and Young People 2.1, Training for Success, or Skills for Life and Work in Northern Ireland

Conclusion:

From this detailed discussion, we may conclude that while apprentices can claim Universal Credit, it is essential that they have a named training provider, they are working towards a recognised qualification or vocational training and they are entitled to the national minimum wage. In case you are working for more than 30 hours per week during your apprenticeship, you will not be asked to undertake any work-related activity with regard to your Universal Credit claim.

FAQs: Can I Claim Universal Credit On An Apprenticeship?

Can you claim benefits if you are doing an apprenticeship?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you are doing an apprenticeship. Your eligibility for specific benefits will depend on your circumstances. If you are above 18 years of age you can use the government’s online benefits calculator to check your eligibility.

Is An Apprenticeship Full Time Education?

Yes, an apprenticeship counts as full-time education if you are able to work for at least 30 hours per week under the apprenticeship national minimum wage. 

Do Apprentices Have To Pay Tax?

Yes, apprentices pay taxes on their income in the same way as full-time employees. Incomes above the minimum cap are taxed at an incremental rate of 20 per cent to 45 per cent depending on whether an individual belongs to the basic, higher or additional tax rate band. 

Is an apprenticeship considered full-time education for universal credit?

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, if an apprentice can provide a named training provider, they are working towards a recognised qualification or vocational training and are entitled to the national minimum wage, they can claim Universal Credit.

What level of education is an apprenticeship?

Since an apprenticeship is a combination of study and work, there are different levels. While some apprenticeships are equal to a Bachelor’s, some may qualify for a Master’s.

References:

Apprenticeships | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

Apprentices: Work-related Requirements under Universal Credit – Turn2us

Child Benefit for young people aged 16 or over

What Benefits Are Apprentices Entitled To? (Find Out Here) | Go Construct

Does an Apprenticeship Count as Full-Time Education? – Employing

Become an apprentice – GOV.UK

Apprenticeships | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

How Much Will you be Taxed as an Apprentice?

What is a working tax credit?

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