What benefits can I claim while working?


Financial Guidance

Update: please see our more recent blogs on applying for Universal Credit and how to manage UC payments

If you’re in work but you’re on a low income, you still might struggle to make ends meet. For example, if you’re on a zero-hours contract, it can be difficult to afford all of your bills every month. If this is you, you’ll definitely want to get all of the money you can.

But if you’re in work, can you still claim benefits? Yes, you certainly can claim some benefits – depending on how many hours you work in a week. Let’s take a look what you could get.

These benefits all apply for the 2016-17 tax year – after this, amounts could change.

Benefits you can get

There are different benefits for people in work. What you can claim will depend on whether you work less than 16 hours in a week or more than 16 hours a week.

If you work less than 16 hours a week, you could get Income Support or Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA). But if your partner works more than 24 hours a week, you can’t get these benefits. Income Support is £57.90 a week if you’re 16-24 or £73.10 if you’re 25 or over. JSA is up to £57.90 a week for 16-24 year-olds or up to £73.10 a week for over-25s.

And you might also be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill or disabled. You can work up to 16 hours a week and still claim ESA.

For the first 13 weeks of claiming ESA, you’ll get the assessment rate – this is up to £57.90 a week for under-25s or up to £73.10 a week for people aged 25 and over. After this, you could get up to £102.15 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group or up to £109.30 a week if you’re in the support group.

If you work 16 hours a week or more, you could claim Working Tax Credit. The basic amount for Working Tax Credit is currently up to £1,960 a year. But if you have kids, you could also get up to £122.50 extra per week per child or £210 extra for two or more children.

Benefits you might be able to get

You could also get Housing Benefit if you need help with your rent and your savings are worth less than £16,000. How much you’ll get will depend on the size of your house and the number of people living in it.

For example, if you live in a three bedroom house, you could get up to £354.46. But if you’re a council or social tenant and you have a spare bedroom, the bedroom tax could mean you lose out. And remember, if you live alone, you could get a 25% Single Person Council Tax Discount.

If you’ve got kids, you can claim Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. You’ll get the basic ‘family amount’ of Child Tax Credit – this is up to £545 a year, depending on what you earn. And on top of this, you could get up to £2,780 a year. From April 2017, the rules are changing – you can’t get the family element if you’re a new applicant and you can only get Child Tax Credit for your first two children.

You can get £20.70 Child Benefit a week for your first child and £13.70 per additional child. You can get this up until your child’s 16th birthday or until they’re 20 if they stay in education.

Universal Credit will replace Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment and Support Allowance and Income Support over the next year. If you’re making a new claim, you’ll have to apply for this instead, depending on where you live. And if you’re thinking of taking on more hours and you claim Universal Credit, you could be in look – the Universal Credit ‘taper rate’ will fall to 63p from next April.

It can be difficult to make sure you’re getting all of the benefits you qualify for. It’s a good idea to check what you could claim with a benefits calculator.

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