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Income Support

Income Support helps people who do not have enough to live on. It is only available for certain groups of people.

1. What is Income Support?

Income Support helps people who do not have enough to live on. It is only available for certain groups of people who do not get Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance and are not in full time employment. 

Income Support is being replaced by Universal Credit. Please go to the ‘Can I get Income Support?’ page in this guide for information on who can still claim Income Support.

If you qualify for Income Support, the actual amount you get depends on your circumstances.

Income support is a means-tested benefit which means entitlement is based on your income and savings and other capital, which will be looked at to see if they are low enough for you to qualify.

Income Support can be paid on its own if you have no other income or can top up other benefits or part-time earnings to the basic amount the law says you need to live on.

You do not have to have paid national insurance contributions to qualify for Income Support.

You can’t claim Income Support if you are claiming Universal Credit

Applies to: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

Age rules: You must usually be 18 or over but under Pension Credit age. Some 16 and 17 year olds can get Income Support though - see our section for Young People

Type of benefit: Means tested

Taxable: No (in most instances)

Administered by: Department for Work and Pensions - Jobcentre Plus

Updated: January 2021

2. Can I get Income Support?

Income Support or Universal Credit?

Income Support is being replaced by Universal Credit. Most people are no longer able to make new claims for Income Support. 

If you or your partner are receiving a 'legacy benefit' such as Child Tax Credit or Housing Benefit, you will lose these if you make a claim for Universal Credit. 

The government began moving people from legacy benefits onto Universal Credit in May 2022 and aims to finish moving everyone over by the end of 2024.

Can I get Income Support?

You can still get Income Support if you are on Income Support at present and continue to meet the qualifying conditions, unless you claim Universal Credit.

The qualifying conditions are:

You and your partner (if you have one) must not be in full-time employment (this is 16 or more hours per week for you and 24 or more hours for your partner). You must also fall into at least one of the following categories:

If you are not able to work due to illness or disability and are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you will have to claim income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit instead of Income Support.

If you are currently getting Income Support because of illness or disability, you will be reassessed at some point to see if you qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead. Read more about the ESA reassessment process.

If you have savings or capital over £16,000, you will not be able to get Income Support.

You can find out whether you can still get Income Support by using our Benefits Calculator or by seeking advice. You can find an advice agency in your area by using our Find-an-Adviser tool. Read more about Universal Credit on our website.

Reviewed: May 22

3. How much Income Support will I get?

It is complicated to work out how much Income Support you might get. Your income from different sources is added up and compared against what the government considers your needs are. Your needs will depend on your family circumstances, for example:

  • How old you are
  • If you live alone or in a couple
  • Whether you or your dependants are disabled
  • If you are caring for someone
  • If you or your partner have savings over £6,000
  • Any earnings you or your partner may have
  • If you have a mortgage.

Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to find out how much Income Support you may be entitled to as the amount can vary from one person to another.

Benefit Cap

Income Support is included in the Benefit Cap which limits the total amount in some benefits that working-age people can receive. See our Benefit Cap information page for more details.

How will I be paid Income Support?

Income Support will be paid directly into your Bank, Building Society or Post Office account or through the Payment Exception Service if you are unable to open or manage one of these or a similar account.

You can choose to be paid weekly in advance, or every 4 or 13 weeks in arrears.

Income Support and other benefits

Income Support is not taken into account as income when calculating other benefits and tax credits.

If you get Income Support and are eligible for Housing Benefit, you are automatically entitled to get the maximum Housing Benefit for your circumstances.

Cold Weather Payment

If you get Income Support, you may also qualify for a Cold Weather Payment.

You do not need to make a claim as the payment will be made automatically for each qualifying period of cold weather. See our Cold Weather Payment guide for further details.

4. How do I claim Income Support?

You cannot make new claims for Income Support.

5. How do I challenge an Income Support decision?

If you disagree with the decision made on your Income Support claim, for example due to incorrect information being used, you can ask for it to be looked at again, if you still disagree you can appeal.

The time limits are strict, you will usually be given one month to dispute a decision, so it is important to seek advice and act quickly.

Further information on Challenges and complaints