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Benefits if I work less than 16 hours a week

Published 26 March 2016 by

If you only work a few hours a week, it’s likely that your income will be fairly low and this can make it difficult to budget for all of your bills and anything else you have to pay. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you’re claiming any extra money you’re able to, as this can make it easier to afford your financial commitments.

You’re more likely to be entitled to a wider range of benefits and tax credits if you work less than 16 hours a week so let’s go through everything you could claim.

Working more hours? See what you could be entitled to if you work over 16 hours.

Income Support

Income Support can provide extra help towards the cost of living if you’re on a low income. It’s paid at a standard rate of £57.90 a week if you’re aged 16-24 and £73.10 if you’re 25 or over. However, you could be entitled to more depending on your circumstances, such as if you’re a single parent or if you’re disabled.

To qualify for Income Support, you have to work less than 16 hours a week and if you have a partner, they must be working 24 hours a week or fewer. You usually won’t qualify if you’re already receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or if you have more than £16,000 in savings.

Jobseeker's Allowance

If you’re currently seeking further work, even if you’re working part-time already, you may instead be able to claim JSA. This is designed to support you while you’re looking for a job and you’ll usually have to attend a meeting at a Jobcentre Plus office to talk about how you’ve been searching for further employment.

Like Income Support, you’ll have to work less than 16 hours a week but you must be available to work more. You could claim up to up to £57.90 a week in Contribution-based JSA if you’re between 16 and 24 or up to £73.10 if you’re 25 or over. How much you get will depend on whether you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions but you could be eligible for Income-based JSA based on how much you’re paid or how long you’ve been claiming Contribution-based JSA for – try using a benefits calculator to see if you qualify for this.

Employment and Support Allowance

Although Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is designed to give financial assistance if you’re unable to work due to illness or disability, you are allowed to do ‘permitted work’ and still claim the benefit. You’ll have to work for less than 16 hours a week and you can only earn up to £107.50 a week, for 52 weeks or less – it’s best to speak to the DWP before you do this.

You’ll be eligible to claim the assessment rate of ESA for up to 13 weeks – this will be either up to £57.90 a week if you’re under 25 or up to £73.10 a week if you’re 25 or over. After this time, if you’re entitled to ESA, you’ll either be able to receive up to £102.15 a week for work-related activity ESA – where you’ll have to go to regular interviews to improve your skills – or up to £109.30 a week for support ESA if you don’t need to go to interviews because your illness or disability severely what you’ll be able to do.

Child Tax Credit

You’ll be able to claim Child Tax Credit to help with the cost of raising children that you’re responsible for, as long as you’re over 16 and the child you’re responsible for is under 16. You can claim up to £3,325 if you have one child, up to £6,110 for two children or up to £8,890 for three or more children.

The rules surrounding tax credits and how much you can claim are complicated and it depends on how much you earn. To work it out, the Government has a handy tax credits calculator.

Child Benefit

The eligibility rules for Child Benefit are the same as they are for Child Tax Credit – you have to be over the age of 16 and the child you’re responsible for must be under 16. You’ll able to get £20.70 a week for your first child and £13.70 for any more children you have. Either you or your partner can claim Child Benefit, but not both of you.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit could help you if you’re struggling to manage the cost of your rent, whether this is from a private landlord or through social or council housing. How much you get will depend on your individual circumstances and you may get your rent covered completely or just partially.

You can find out more about how to claim with our Housing Benefit blog.

Council Tax Reduction

You may also be eligible to get some help towards the cost of your Council Tax through Council Tax Reduction (CTR). This where the council will reduce the amount of council tax you pay, it’s not a benefit that’s paid to you. You could be excluded from claiming CTR if you have a large amount of savings or if you own a property – it’s best to get in touch with your local council to see what the CTR policy is in your area.

A lot of these benefits will soon be merged into Universal Credit – for more information about how you could manage your finances when this happens, check out our blog.