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What financial support for apprentices is there?

We briefly mentioned some of the benefits you’re entitled to as an apprentice in our guide to apprenticeship wages but here we will go a little further into what an apprentice gets as part of their employment.  

Can I claim benefits while doing an apprenticeship? 

Apprentices are entitled to claim benefits, but the amount will depend on your individual circumstances. There are different benefits available, such as universal credit to support low earners, but you will need to check criteria and eligibility before applying. There is a guide called How Benefits Work from the Government, which is helpful for further advice, including a list of reputable online benefit calculators that you can use. 

Am I eligible to claim tax or universal credits?  

The previous tax credits system of working tax credit (WTC) and child tax credit (CTC) was replaced by universal credit (UC), which aims to support people on low income and those who cannot work. 

Apprentices are eligible for UC, but can only claim UC while on a recognised apprenticeship,  meaning you must: 

  • Have a named training provider 
  • Be working towards a recognised qualification 
  • Be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for an apprentice.

To get more information on eligibility for UC, head to https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit/eligibility

There is also a section on HMRC for how to calculate tax credits.  

Some applicants for UC must meet certain limits on their working hours to be eligible, but this is different for an apprentice. If you are getting UC you will be asked to agree a claimant commitment, which is connected to how many hours you are doing as part of your apprenticeship. 

If your apprenticeship is for more than 30 hours a week, you shouldn’t be asked to do any work-related activity. This means you won’t need to look for more work other than what you do as part of your apprenticeship. If your apprenticeship is for less than 30 hours a week and you aren’t in any of the groups that can work fewer hours, you might be asked to do work- related activity. 

The groups that are allowed to work fewer hours are those with a disability, illness, or childcare commitments.

Do I have to pay council tax while doing an apprenticeship?  

Some students are exempt from paying council tax, but this does not stretch to apprentices. However, if your household is made up of only apprentices or trainees, you can apply for a 50% discount on council tax. You can apply here for a council tax discount

Am I eligible for funding?  

Apprenticeship funding has undergone some changes since the outbreak of COVID-19. The Government announced these changes and provided a supporting document, which you can read in full here

Apprentices are paid a wage while they study and are entitled to certain discounts and benefits, but typically, ‘funding’ for an apprenticeship relates to an employer of one, not the apprentice themselves. This allows an employer to take on apprentices and support them accordingly.  

However, there may be grants or funding you can apply for locally or through private funders, so ask your college or local Jobcentre about opportunities that are available.   

Click here to see apprenticeship grants available from CITB for employers.

Apprentice living away from home allowance 

Alongside a salary, some employers offer other benefits including a relocation allowance if you have to move to complete your apprenticeship. However, this will be unique to your apprenticeship and you should discuss it prior to any agreement on taking the position with that employer. 

There is no set allowance for living away from home in the UK (as there is in other countries like Australia), but you may be able to claim expenses for certain travel or items you purchase during your apprenticeship. Learn more about claiming tax relief for your job expenses.

As an apprentice what am I entitled to? 

Apprentices fall under something called the Working Time Regulations 1998 which means they get the same minimum entitlements as other employees. Let’s look at that in a little more detail. 

Travel to Train grant

The Travel to Train grant is available to all CITB-registered employers with apprentices in training on or after 1 April 2021 in England, Scotland and Wales.

The grant will reimburse 80% of accommodation costs for apprentices who attend colleges or training providers where overnight stays and travel to/from a hotel are required.

You can also apply for apprentice travel expenses where the cost exceeds £20 per week.

Find out more about the Travel to Train grant

Sick pay 

Apprentices are entitled to receive sick pay. This can be an amount set by your employer, but cannot be lower than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is £95.85 per week. 

Holiday entitlement and pay 

Apprentices have the same rights as other employees for taking holiday. You are entitled to a minimum of 20 days paid leave each year, plus bank holidays. 

Overtime payments 

Overtime is something that must be agreed in a contract before an employee starts work, as there is no legal obligation for an employer to pay for extra hours. There are also no minimum statutory levels of overtime pay.

Auto enrolment pension 

The Government’s auto enrolment pension scheme only applies to workers aged 22 or over. Apprenticeships can begin at age 16, so if you’re earning £10,000 or more (in tax year 2023-24), you can still opt-in and benefit from extra money from your employer. 

Thinking of becoming an apprentice? 

Not sure what an apprenticeship in construction might look like? Here’s everything you need to know

Thinking of applying for an apprenticeship in the construction industry but not sure how? We have all the information you need. 

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