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Benefits if I start a Ph.D.?

(19 Posts)
ChipInTheSugar Wed 28-Dec-16 09:24:21

I'm currently working p/t (due to young dc) but thinking of applying for a funded Ph.D. Does anyone know what would happen re my housing benefit if I left work to do this? Would it be considered as making myself unemployed?

Evergreen17 Wed 28-Dec-16 09:34:14

I dont think you get housing benefits if you get a grant for a PhD do you?
Since you will be a student

GreenGoblin0 Wed 28-Dec-16 10:11:34

full time students who are lone parents can claim HB depending on income.

www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-guides/Full-time-students-and-benefits/Can-full-time-students-get-help-with-housing-costs#guide-content

Leatherboundanddown Wed 28-Dec-16 12:47:47

In my city my stipend was too high (14k) to be still entitled to any housing benefit at all as they take the whole lot as income.

You would still be entitled to child tax credits. Not working tax unless you work 16 hours a week. Do you have childcare costs?

ChipInTheSugar Wed 28-Dec-16 18:28:52

There may be childcare costs - unsure of what hours would be expected as yet.

Thanks for that link smile

ChipInTheSugar Wed 28-Dec-16 18:30:49

That looks promising actually - I will give them a ring tomorrow to see whether giving up work will penalise me.

GreenGoblin0 Wed 28-Dec-16 19:06:17

they won't treat you as intentionally unemployed but the benefits you will be entitled to will depend on your stipend income.

Leatherboundanddown Wed 28-Dec-16 22:47:54

You won't be penalised for going back to education. You will be better off financially if you keep your job as tax credits completely disregard the stipend income as it is not taxable.

ChipInTheSugar Thu 29-Dec-16 10:28:10

Carrying on working wouldn't be feasible - I would be expected to take a certain amount of responsibility within the department too.

The stipend/maintenance grant/payment is slightly more than my current p/t, t/t salary - I'll give Housing and T/C a call and see if they can give me predicted figures; although in the past they would only do that for changes that had already happened confused

Leatherboundanddown Thu 29-Dec-16 14:13:37

Using the online calculators is usually better. I have never known anyone at a council or hmrc know anything about PhD funding so I doubt you will get a straight answer. One thing to bear in mind is that under universal credit you will be much worse off, so if they have started that in your area it could be bad news. Tax credits disregard the income entirely so your income would be zero. Therefore you would get maximum child tax credits but no working tax credits at all, therefore no contribution to childcare costs. Universal credit count every penny of grants and bursaries as income.

ChipInTheSugar Fri 30-Dec-16 11:26:25

Not on UC here (yet!). So frustrating that I can't find a straight answer from anyone. Would the uni's student finance dept be able to help, I wonder?

Leatherboundanddown Fri 30-Dec-16 11:39:30

I very much doubt it. The three depts I dealt with were all useless. You need to do your own research online and save all the docs you find. That is what I did and clipped them into an evernote file for future reference. You can read all the official tax credits policy paperwork online you just have to search.

As a general rule without working 16 hours you will get :

Max child tax credits for the amount of children you have, child benefit, full council tax exemption (check your local authority website to see if they allow you this in writing up year or just year 1&2, mine allow for whole PhD if registered full time) and housing benefit. Your HB depends on your rent cost, bedroom allowance etc.

If your children are very young you may also be entitled to income support. I am afraid I have no experience of this however I know a friend who was a lone parent as an undergraduate did get it. If you get that there are also healthy start vouchers that are worth I think £3.10 per week.

It is so frustrating that nobody knows answers about this and can properly tell you but the truth is not that many single parents manage to do PhDs with small children so they don't come across it very often.

I started mine earlier this year so spent the whole of 2015 stressing about your questions!

ChipInTheSugar Fri 30-Dec-16 15:06:51

Thank you Leather - just don't want to go through all the stress of interviews etc if the finances don't work out!

Leatherboundanddown Fri 30-Dec-16 15:26:58

I was honest in my interview about my situation and said, look I am telling you now I will need to work 16 hrs per week to make ends meet or otherwise I can't do this. They said that officially I am not meant to work more than 8 per week but have no formal mechanism of checking up on me so just do what you have to do. It is hard but worth it I think.

Leatherboundanddown Fri 30-Dec-16 15:31:49

One more thing I forgot to mention is that your children will be entitled to pupil premium funding and included in this is free school meals. Depends how old they are of course whether this will help you or not.

GreenGoblin0 Fri 30-Dec-16 15:38:01

which uni is it? most but not all will have benefits advisors who can do a calculation for you.

ChipInTheSugar Fri 30-Dec-16 15:38:06

Ah yes, already have PP in place due to other circumstances, but it doesn't include FSM. Do you have to do any work within the uni department? Or are you working independently?

Leatherboundanddown Fri 30-Dec-16 15:39:49

My job is completely independent from the uni, in the city I live in. In year 2 I will take on some teaching and reduce my part time hours per week accordingly.

Leatherboundanddown Fri 30-Dec-16 15:41:10

If your income is under 16k the children should get FSM due to claiming child tax credits but not WTC.

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