Benefits Expert: ‘I have been classed as homeless’

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Q I am 18 and pregnant. At present I receive Income Support of £105 a fortnight.

I will be finishing a college course in December and my baby is due in February.

I am desperately looking for a house as I have been classed as homeless. Could you tell me all the benefits I will be entitled to?

Worried Teenager (by Email).

A Unless you have recently been in work you will not be eligible for a continuing allowance paid specifically because you are pregnant.

However, you will be able to continue receiving Income Support.

Young people who are in full-time non-advanced education like you cannot usually get Income Support.

However, there are exceptions for certain people such as those who are unable to live with their parents.

So I assume this applies to you. You will be able to continue claiming Income Support on this basis at £53.45 a week while you continue at college.

From the eleventh week before your baby is born you will be eligible for Income Support because of pregnancy at the same rate.

When you become a lone parent you will be able to claim Income Support at the rate of £67.50 a week.

When your baby is born you will also be eligible for Child Benefit of £20.30 a week.

While you are receiving Income Support as a lone parent you will be entitled to Child Tax Credit at the maximum rate of £60 a week approx.

If you are on Income Support you will be able to claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500 from Job Centre Plus between 11 weeks before the baby is born and within three months after.

While you are on Income Support you will be eligible for maximum Housing Benefit to help with any rent you have to pay plus full Council Tax Benefit.

How much rent help you get depends upon the circumstances.

If you rent social housing from the council or a housing association your Housing Benefit will most likely meet the cost of your full rent (excluding water charges).

If you rent from a private landlord there are limits to how much help you can get.

While you are treated as a single person under 25 the maximum help you could receive in Housing Benefit in Sunderland would most likely be £44 a week at current rates.

This is based upon the rent payable for shared accommodation.

Once you become a lone parent, however, you could receive help with your rent of up to £100 a week at current rates.