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BENEFITS EXPERT: Will my apprenticeship affect mam’s money?

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I am 17 and have recently started an apprenticeship for which I am paid £224 a month. I work five days a week from 08.30am to 3.30pm.

Someone has told my mother that this means she will lose the benefits she receives for me.

Mam is a single parent who works 16 hours a week for £7.85 an hour. She receives Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, plus Child Benefit for my brother and me. Will she be losing money?

It looks like your gain is your mother’s loss! Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit can only be paid in respect of a young person over the age of 16 who is either in full-time non-advanced education or in approved ‘unwaged’ training.

It would appear that, as an apprentice, your training would be regarded as ‘waged’.

If this is so you should be paid at the National Minimum Wage for an apprentice which is £2.73 an hour, rising to £3.30 from 1st October.

On the basis of the information you have provided it seems that your mother has been receiving Child Benefit of £34.40 a week in respect of you and your brother.

I would also estimate that she has been receiving Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit totalling about £193 a week which takes account of you and your brother.

If your mother is no longer entitled to Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit in respect of you, which I am afraid, appears to be the case, she will lose £13.70 a week in Child Benefit and about £54 a week in Tax Credits.

An apprentice may claim Working Tax Credit, but someone in your situation would have to be working at least 30 hours a week to be eligible.

But it appears that your weekly working hours in your apprenticeship, taking account of lunch breaks, are less than this.

I recently read in your column that people of 60 and over who were working could claim Working Tax Credit. My husband is 68 and still works 40 hours a week. I am 62 and work 35 hours a week. Would we be eligible?

To qualify for Working Tax Credit a person must work a certain number of hours and have annual taxable income below a certain level.

For people aged 60 plus this means 16 hours a week, instead of the usual 30. In the case of couples, both partners’ incomes are taken into account,

A couple in your situation would be working enough hours to claim, but would only qualify if their combined taxable incomes, including pensions, were under £18,000 a year.