Income Support

Last updated: 21 Dec 2021
Income Support has been abolished and replaced with Universal Credit. This means you can no longer make a new claim for Income Support and will be told to claim Universal Credit instead. The rest of this article is only relevant if you have an existing Income Support claim

Income Support is a benefit for people who are not working (or only working a few hours a week) and are not expected to look for work because of their circumstances.

To get Income Support you must be someone who does not have to be available for work. You must also not be working (or treated as working) 16 hours or more, and meet conditions about your income and savings. There are several groups of people who do not have to be available for work. The main groups of parents and carers who can claim Income Support if they meet the other conditions are:

  • Lone parents with a child under 5.
  • Single foster carers. This would apply if you are fostering a child under 16 through a local authority or a voluntary organization, and you do not live with a partner.
  • Someone temporarily caring for a child by themselves. This would apply if you are responsible for a child under 16 who is living with you, and the child’s parent or person who usually looks after him is ill or temporarily out of the UK.
  • Someone who is on parental leave
  • Some people who are on paternity leave. 
  • Someone who is looking after their partner or child while they are temporarily ill. Your partner or child must live with you. 
  • Someone who cares for a disabled child or adult.
  • Pregnant women and women who have given birth in the last 15 weeks.
  • Someone getting Statutory Sick Pay (NB you are not treated as working whilst on Statutory Sick Pay for Income Support, but you are treated as working for Working Tax Credit, so you may have too much income to get Income Support).

You must already be getting Income Support to claim Income Support in ALL of the above cases, otherwise you will need to check if you can claim Universal Credit instead. 

If you are already getting Income Support but have a change of circumstances which means you no longer qualify, you will have to check if you can claim Universal Credit instead. 


This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.

We cannot provide advice on employment rights in Northern Ireland as the law is different. You can visit the Labour Relations Agency or call their helpline Workplace Information Service on 03300 555 300.