Accepting a job when you claim benefits
If you claim benefits, always tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you start a new job. You should also contact your local council if you claim Housing Benefit.
The benefits you can claim in work depend on how much you’re earning and if you are:
- claiming Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance, Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit
- in a couple and living together
- a single parent (if you’re on Jobseeker's Allowance)
- on Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Find out what you can claim when you start work.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
There's a limit to how much you can work and how much you can earn while you're claiming ESA.
If you are working under 16 hours and earning less than £131.50 per week, this may be classified as 'permitted work'. Your benefits will not change but you do need to tell Jobcentre Plus what you're doing.
More on permitted work
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
You can carry on claiming PIP and DLA when you start work. It does not matter how much money you have because PIP and DLA are meant to meet some of the extra costs of being disabled. You are assessed to see how much help you need.
It's important to make sure your job description does not contradict your PIP assessments. It could trigger a re-assessment. Talk to your manager if your job description suggests you can do more than you can.
If you are on Universal Credit
The DWP calculates the maximum amount of Universal Credit by adding together a standard list of allowances and elements. These are the basic amounts which the law says you need to live on.
As your earnings rise, your Universal Credit reduces at a constant rate once you earn more than your work allowance.
So, for each £10 you earn above your work allowance, you keep £3.70 and your Universal Credit reduces by £6.30. In other words, for each £10 you earn above your work allowance, you will be better off by £3.70.
The rules for Universal Credit are different if you’re self-employed.
How to work out if you are eligible for a work allowance.
Use a benefits calculator to work out what you’re entitled to.
Self-employment and benefits
You might be able to stay on Housing Benefit when you start working.
If you are on Housing Benefit, first check the benefits calculator, but you should contact your local authority. You will need to give them your wage slips.
Zero-hour contracts and unpredictable work
If you claim ESA
If you work more than 16 hours or earn more than £131.50 per week, your ESA claim will stop. You will not be able to re-claim ESA. You will be moved onto Universal Credit. The outcome of your most recent Work Capability Assessment should still apply.
If you claim Universal Credit
It will be at least 5 weeks before you get your first payment. You can get an advance but you will need to repay this over 12 months.
Zero hour contracts and unpredictable work can affect other income-related benefits, like Housing Benefit. You will need to provide pay slips so that the council can work out your average wage.
Last reviewed by Scope on: 04/04/2018