Certain individuals may be able to claim more benefits (due to their personal circumstances or disabilities) as compared to working the minimum amount of 16 hours per week. Through this article, we will analyse whether benefits claimants are financially better off working for 16 hours or more. Additionally, we will also discuss the criteria for low income for benefits claims as well as the benefits available to those who are able to work for less than 16 hours.

Is It Worth Working 16 Hours A Week?

If you are claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance or Income Support, you should be working for 16 hours or less. If you have a partner, they can work up to 24 hours per week without affecting your benefits claim.

However, if you fall into any of the below categories, you can claim benefits and continue working for 16 hours or more:

  • Carers
  • Disabled people on a low income (due to disability)
  • Foster parents
  • Local Councillors 
  • People on certain training schemes
  • People living in residential care or a nursing home
  • Self-employed childminders
  • Share fishermen
  • Special occupations (such as. lifeboatmen, part-time firemen, Territorial Army, Volunteer Reserves and coastguards)
  • Volunteers

If you work for 16 hours or more per week, you may be able to claim a Working Tax Credit instead of Income Support. In this case, you must fulfil the below conditions:

  • work for 16 hours per week if you are single and responsible for a child or
  • have one partner work for at least 16 hours and both partners work for a combined amount of 24 hours per week if you are married and responsible for a child
  • work for 16 hours per week to qualify for the disability element of Working Tax Credit or are above 60 years of age

Can I Work 16 Hours And Claim Job Seekers’ Allowance?

Those seeking job seekers allowance must be able to fulfil the following criteria:

  • aged 18 years or above
  • under state pension age
  • currently unemployed or working for less than 16 hours per week
  • previously held a job
  • available for and looking for work
  • have employment rights in the UK
  • previously paid National Insurance (in the recent 2 to 3 years)
  • currently not in full-time education
  • do not have an illness or disability that prevents being employed
  • live in England, Scotland or Wales

Should the above criteria be fulfilled, candidates will be able to claim JSA for 6 months; after which they will be advised by their work coach with regards to employment options.

It must be noted that the claimant’s or their partner’s savings do not disqualify them from receiving JSA.

Once their JSA application is approved, candidates may expect payments on a fortnightly basis as per the bank account details shared during their claim. Applicants under the age of 25 may receive £59.20 per week while older candidates may expect £74.70 as JSA. It should be noted that people who are either unemployed or working for less than 16 hours per week, may be entitled to Universal Credit in addition to their JSA claim. 

Can I Work 16 Hours And Claim Carer’s Allowance?

During 2021-2022, the weekly amount for the carer’s allowance is set at £67.60. You may be able to claim this amount if you are able to fulfil the below conditions:

  • You spend a minimum of 35 hours per week caring for someone
  • You are above 16 years of age 
  • You are not in full-time education 
  • You earn less than or equal to £128 per week (after tax, national insurance and expenses)

Additionally, the person that you are caring for must be on either of the following benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Disability Living Allowance 
  • Personal Independence Payment 

While the carer’s allowance is below the threshold for income tax deduction; however, when combined with other sources of income of an individual and crossing the personal allowance limit of £12,750, the amount you receive as carer’s allowance is taxable.

It must be noted that if someone’s weekly take-home income is more than £128, they will no longer be eligible for a carer’s allowance. If you are already claiming state pension, you may not be able to qualify for a carer’s allowance.

On the other hand, being eligible for a carer’s allowance will increase the amount you receive via pension credit.

However, if you spend 20 hours or less taking care of someone, you will no longer be eligible for a carer’s allowance. Instead, you will be able to claim the carer’s credits. This is a national insurance credit that helps in filling gaps in your national insurance payments.

Can I Work 16 Hours And Claim Universal Credit?

The number of hours an individual works do not have an impact on the claim for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a state benefit for UK citizens above the age of 18 and below state pension age. It aims to provide financial assistance to individuals who are either out of work or on a low income. It is a monthly payment that claimants receive to help them to cover living costs.

To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

What Is Classed As Low Income?

Households in the UK are classified as being on low income if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median net disposable income earned. As per recent data gathered and analysed by the Department for Work and Pensions People in low-income households – GOV.UK a household with a couple having no children would be considered to be in low income if their annual household income is less than £17,100 BHC (before housing costs) and £14,800 AHC (after housing costs). 

According to a DWP report titled Households below average income: an analysis of the income distribution FYE 1995 to FYE 2020 median income for the term 2019-2020 has been taken as £547 per week. This value serves as the basis for measurement of which income bands fall within the median range and which exceed it. 60 per cent of the median income mark falls at £328 during the last fiscal. This means that any household with a combined income of less than £328 is considered to be on low income.

Can I Get Council Tax Reduction On Low Income?

Yes, you can get a council tax reduction on your bill if you are on low income. If an individual is earning 60 per cent below the median income threshold, they become eligible for a council tax reduction on their bill. However, they must contact their local council office to apply for council tax reduction and share relevant details regarding their income and circumstances. The council will then proceed with their application to decide the percentage of discount that will be applicable. 

You may be low on income but if you jointly hold capital with someone, you will be considered as half owner of it. For instance, if someone has joint ownership of an asset or they share joint savings account with someone (other than their partner), they will be considered as half owner of the total amount of saving in that account.

How Many People Are Claiming Out of Work Benefits In The UK?

The covid-19 pandemic brought with certain ripple effects of lockdowns and business closures. The past couple of years have witnessed a significant increase in the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits. According to statistics shared by BBC, around 2.6 million people were seeking Job Seeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit in April 2021. It does not mean that all of these claimants are completely out of work; it just happens that the pandemic has led to a rise in many individuals cutting short their working hours by working part-time and that has led to low incomes.

Conclusion:

While some benefits may get reduced due to an increase in the number of hours that claimants work per week; however, in certain cases claimants may be able to continue working as a carer or foster parent and yet continue to claim the same amount of benefits. On the other hand, not all benefits depend on whether or not the claimant is working a certain number of hours and rather take into account whether or not the claimant is on low income.  

FAQs: Is It Worth Working 16 Hours A Week?

What benefits can I claim doing 16 hours a week?

If you are working for 16 hours or more per week, you can claim Working Tax Credit or Carer’s Allowance. Claimants of Income Support may need to transfer to a Working Tax Credit claim if they increase their working hours from less than 16 hours per week to 16 hours or more.

Can you get Universal Credit if you work 16 hours a week?

The amount you receive in the form of a Universal Credit claim depend on son certain personal circumstances as well as your income and savings. Universal Credit is not linked to the number of hours that someone works.

How much working tax credit will I get for 16 hours?

If you work for 16 hours or more, you will be able to claim £122.50 per week if you have one child in childcare or up to £210 in case of two or more children.

Can a single person claim Working Tax Credit?

Yes, a single person can claim Working Tax Credit. However, you must work for 16 hours per week if you are single and responsible for a child.

What is classed as low income?

Households in the UK are classified as being on low income if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median net disposable income earned. Since 60 per cent of the median income mark fell at £328 during 2019-2020, this means that any household with a combined income of less than £328 would be considered to be on low-income during that time.

References:

Income Support and working 16 hours a week or more

If you’re working – Gingerbread

How are benefits affected by hours worked? – Turn2us

How are benefits affected by hours worked? – Turn2us

Working Tax Credit – GOV.UK

Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Carer’s Allowance: Effect on other benefits – GOV.UK

Universal Credit: Report a change of circumstances – GOV.UK

Will I lose out on benefits if I leave my job voluntarily

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