By Meike Beckford, Previous Lead Director
Benefits that are affected
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
“Permitted work” is allowed up to:
• £140 per week and under 16 hours
• £140 per week for any hours for “supported permitted work”. This applies if you are supported by an organisation (like a Local Authority) that supports disabled people to work.
You may also be eligible for Access to Work funding if you are doing permitted work.
Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) and Incapacity Benefit follow the same rules for permitted work as ESA.
This also follows the same rules as ESA for permitted work.
Your benefits will be reduced once you earn over £20 per week. For every £1 you earn over £20 you will lose £1 of your benefits.
There will not be any limits to the number of hours you can work, but the amount of Universal Credit you get will reduce as you work more:
• £292 per month (if you get housing costs with UC)
• £512 per month (if you do not get housing costs in UC)
Above this amount you will lose 63p of Universal Credit for every £1 extra you earn. This will be taken off automatically.
The amount you work does not affect your housing benefit, but your income and savings do affect it. Permitted work earnings usually don’t count as income (only the first £20 if you get Income Support).
If you keep ESA or Income Support, you are likely to keep Housing Benefit, but you should check.
You must tell Jobcentre Plus and the Local Council before volunteering or starting work, even if it is permitted.
Working Over 16 Hours
If you work over 16 hours per week you must tell the Jobcentre Plus and Local Council.
You will stop receiving Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance.
You may be able to claim other benefits and support including:
• Working tax credits
• Universal Credit
• Access to work: www.gov.uk/access-to-work
Working tax credits
* These are being replaced by Universal Credit.*
If you already have a tax credits claim, you will usually work:
• at least 30 hours
• at least 16 hours if you are disabled, over 60 and/or have children
How much you can get in tax credits and how much you can earn from work depends on your circumstances, for example if you are disabled, or have children or a partner.
Voluntary work will not affect your benefits. It does not count towards your hours of “permitted work” under ESA.
You can only be paid reasonable expenses (like a bus fare).
• Current benefits: www.gov.uk/browse/benefits
o Universal Credit and work: www.gov.uk/universal-credit/how-your-earnings-affect-your-payments
o ESA and work: www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance/eligibility
• Support on finding work if you are disabled: www.gov.uk/looking-for-work-if-disabled
• Help with moving from benefits to work: www.gov.uk/moving-from-benefits-to-work
• Find out what benefits you should be getting: www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
• Disability Rights UK guide to working on benefits: www.disabilityrightsuk.org/work-people-living-disability-or-health-conditions
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Disclaimer – We have tried to ensure that the information in this document is
accurate. We will not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience arising
as a consequence of any use of information – we always recommend you check with
the DWP or your local Job Centre Plus.
Version 6: February 2021.
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