Benefit rules amended to give young people more choice

Families of 16- to 19-year-olds in unpaid work-based training will be entitled to child benefit and child tax credit for the first time from April, under new rules published last week.

The new regulations are part of the government’s package of improved support for this age group, announced in the 2005 Budget. This also includes an extension of the Educational Maintenance Allowance to those on unpaid training courses, and new activity agreements and allowances in certain areas to support and encourage disengaged 16- and 17-year-olds.

The change means that families whose children are in unpaid work-based training will now have access to the same support as families with young people in full-time education.

This support will also be extended to cover young people until they finish their course, up to the age of 20, rather than stopping on their nineteenth birthday. This is intended to take account of interruptions to compulsory education, often at an early age as a result of childhood illnesses or time in care.

“These changes are an important step towards ensuring that all young people reach the age of 19 ready for higher education or skilled employment, regardless of their background,” said Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo welcoming the new regulations.

“Removing the differences in the financial support for full-time education and work-based unwaged training will allow young people a genuine choice as to the most appropriate learning route for them, reflecting their needs and aspirations, rather than basing their decision on the amount of financial support available.”

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