Universal Credit: Is there a limit on how many hours you can work?

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Universal Credit claims have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic. Around 5.5 million people are now claiming benefits in Britain which is an uplift of around 81 percent. But are there any limits for how many hours a week you can work while claiming this benefit payment?

What is Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a payment given those eligible persons to help with their living costs and which is only received by those on a low income or out of work.

This payment is a single benefit which is replacing six former benefit payments known as legacy benefits.

These legacy benefits are:

  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit.

Who is eligible for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is intended as an essential payment for those on a low income or out of work completely.

In addition, you may be able to claim Universal Credit if you are:

  • Aged 18 or over
  • Under State Pension age
  • Holders of £16,000 or less in savings between you and your partner
  • Living in the UK.

You can find out more about eligibility for Universal Credit here.

Is there a limit on how many hours you can work while claiming Universal Credit?

You can work as many hours as you wish while claiming Universal Credit.

There are no limits in terms of working hours like there are with other existing benefits such as Income Support or Working Tax Credits.

You are entitled to the work allowance if you have dependent children or cannot work due to an illness or disability.

If you are employed, how much Universal Credit you get will depend on your earnings.

Your Universal Credit payment will reduce gradually as you earn more for instance, for every £1 you earn your payment reduces by 63p.

You can use this benefits calculator to see how increasing or decreasing your working hours or starting a new job may impact what you receive.

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If you are in paid employment, you might also be entitled to a Universal Credit work allowance.

The Universal Credit work allowance is the monetary amount you are allowed to earn before your Universal Credit payment is impacted.

Your work allowance will be lower if you get help with housing costs.

If you get help with housing costs your monthly work allowance is £292.

If you do not get help with housing costs your monthly work allowance is £512.

What counts as income for Universal Credit?

Some income, called unearned income which you do not receive from working can be deducted from your maximum award.

Unearned income that will be taken off your Universal Credit payment includes:

  • New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • New-style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Pension Income
  • Some benefits that aren’t replaced by Universal Credit.

Unearned income which will not be taken off your Universal Credit payment includes:

  • Child Benefit
  • Maintenance payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Income from boarders and lodgers.

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