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Permitted work on benefits

Permitted work is work or volunteering you may do when claiming benefits. These can include: 

Your earnings do not affect benefits that are not means-tested, such as:

Warning Get permission

You do not need a doctor's permission to do permitted work, but you must tell Jobcentre Plus.

Download a pdf of the Permitted Work form (GOV.UK)

Send this to the Jobcentre Plus office that deals with your benefit. They will tell you if the work you want to do meets the permitted work conditions.

Permitted work lower limit

This allows you to earn up to £20 a week for an unlimited period. Any earnings over £20 will be deducted from your Income Support.

Permitted work higher limit

This allows you to earn up to £143 a week, after tax and National Insurance deductions, without affecting your benefit. The work must be for less than 16 hours a week. It can be for an unlimited period.

Supported permitted work

This is work where you have a supervisor from:

  • a public body or local authority
  • a voluntary or community group which provides or finds work for disabled people

It can also be work which is part of a treatment programme.

Supported permitted work has no restriction on the hours you work. It can be for an unlimited period. You can earn up to £143 a week after tax and National Insurance deductions without affecting your benefit, if you are getting ESA or National Insurance credits because of incapacity for work.

Permitted work and Universal Credit

There is no ‘permitted work’ under Universal Credit. Instead you will be encouraged to do some work, even if only for a few hours a week, if you can manage it. There is no time limit to how many weeks you can work. It may be possible for some of your earnings to be disregarded if you have a work allowance added when your Universal Credit is calculated.

Permitted work and Housing Benefit

If you’re getting ESA, Incapacity Benefit or SDA, any earnings from permitted work are disregarded in the Housing Benefit calculation. 

If you are getting Income Support, up to £20 of permitted work earnings may be disregarded. Permitted work can include paid employment or self-employment.

Income tax for self-employed people (HMRC)

Other allowed work

You can do the following kinds of work:

  • care of a relative or domestic tasks in your own home
  • work as a councillor. If you receive a councillor’s allowance that pays more than the weekly limit, excluding expenses, the excess will be deducted.
  • any activity in an emergency to protect another person or to prevent serious damage to property or livestock
  • duties as an appeal tribunal disability member for 1 day or 2 half days a week
  • self-employed work for up to 26 weeks with help from a DWP self-employment provider
  • fostering a child or providing respite care to someone who is not normally a member of your household. A health body, voluntary organisation or local authority can pay you if you are on ESA.
  • a DWP-approved unpaid work trial or work placement
  • work which is regarded as trivial or negligible

Last reviewed by Scope on: 19/04/2021

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