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?
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
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.
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!
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.
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.