Apprentices are usually on a low income as they only get paid the National Minimum Wage rate. This is why we aim to explore through this blog post whether you can claim welfare benefits while you are doing an apprenticeship. Additionally, we will discuss the eligibility criteria and application process for relevant benefits in detail.

Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Doing An Apprenticeship?

Yes, you can claim benefits if you are doing an apprenticeship. If you are in a recognised apprenticeship, you can claim Universal Credit, your income will not be considered for a means test and your Housing Benefit will not decrease.

Apprentices who are claiming Universal Credit and need help with clothing or equipment related to their workplace can find additional support through the Jobcentre Plus Flexible

Support fund.

If you live in a house that is occupied only by apprentices, you may be able to claim Council Tax Reduction and a 50% discount on your annual bill.

Apprentices with young children may be able to claim 30 hours of free childcare if they live in England, the child is 3-4 years old and is in approved childcare. To be eligible, apprentices should earn the National Minimum Wage.

However, if someone is in an apprenticeship program, they will not be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

If an apprentice is faced with a learning disability, they can request “reasonable adjustments” at work so that they may be able to complete their apprenticeship with additional support. Apprentices with an SEN (Special Education Needs) status will find it easier to find support such as flexibility in English and Maths qualifications required to complete their apprenticeship.

In addition to welfare benefits, being an apprentice entitles you to the following from your employer:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • Holiday entitlement and pay
  • Overtime payments
  • Auto-enrolment pension

How Do You Claim Universal Credit If You Are An Apprentice?

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.

To claim Universal Credit, you can apply online or call on the Universal Credit helpline at 0800 328 5644.

If this is the first time that you are applying for Universal Credit, you can seek the help of trained advisers to guide you through the application process. You can contact Citizens Advice for support; whether you are in England (tel:08001448444), Wales (tel:08000241220) or Scotland (tel:08000232581).

How Do You Claim Working Tax Credits If You Are An Apprentice?

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 a 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.

You can apply for WTC by calling the HMRC on the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) tax credits helpline at 0345 300 3900. Since Tax Credits are being replaced with Universal Credit among other legacy benefits, you may have to apply for Universal Credit instead.

Can My Parents Get Child Benefit If I Am An Apprentice?

Yes, one of your parents can continue getting their Child Benefit payments in the same way as before you started your apprenticeship. However, you must be considered as a “qualifying person” and fulfil the below criteria:

  • Aged between 16 and 19 years and either in full-time non-advanced education or approved training.
  • 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. 

If you need further guidance, you can call the Child Benefit helpline at 0300 200 3100.

Do You Have To Pay Tax If You Are An Apprentice?

Yes, you have to pay tax if you are an apprentice in the same way as full-time employees. Incomes above the minimum cap are taxed at an incremental rate of 20% to 45% depending on whether an individual belongs to the basic, higher or additional tax rate band. Below are details of these bands:

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

As an apprentice, you will also be expected to make National Insurance contributions if you earn more than £184 per week (applicable rates for 2021-222). As per UK law, individuals earning between £184 and £967 are charged 12% for their National Insurance Contributions (NIC) while those earning more than £967 per week will be charged an additional 2%.

Conclusion:

The above discussion helps to draw the conclusion that as long as an apprentice meets the eligibility criteria for each benefit they may be able to claim benefits (or continue with previously claimed ones) even during their apprenticeships. However, once a change in circumstances occurs, they are required to update the DWP regarding this change as it may affect their benefit claim.

FAQs: Can You Claim Benefits If You Are Doing An 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% to 45% depending on whether an individual belongs to the basic, higher or additional tax rate band. 

Can you do an apprenticeship and get PIP?

Yes, you can do an apprenticeship and get PIP. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a non-means-tested benefit. This is why your income through an apprenticeship program will not affect your benefit claim.

Does a child working affect housing benefit?

If your child of 16 or 17 years of age starts working, their income will not affect the housing benefit claim that you receive. Once they are adults, their incomes may be taken into consideration for a means test and your claim will only be affected if your household income is above a certain threshold.

Can you get Universal Credit if you live with your parents?

Yes, you can get Universal Credit if you live with your parents. In fact, when someone is 16 years old, they start receiving their UC payments directly. However, if you live with your parents, you may find a reduced amount of the housing element in your benefits claim as you are sharing your house with other family members.

At what age does Child Tax Credit stop?

Child Tax Credit is applicable to families with children younger than or above 17 years of age. Once a child turns 18 and becomes an adult, payments with regard to Child Tax Credit are automatically stopped by the DWP.

References:

Can apprentices claim benefits? – Turn2us

Apprenticeships | Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

Benefits and Financial Help for Apprentices | Go Construct

Can You Claim Benefits if You’re Doing an Apprenticeship

The Essential Guide to Apprenticeship Support – GOV.UK