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Extra money for people in work
If you are working, you may still be able to get benefits or tax credits if you are on a low income. It does not matter whether you are working for someone else or self-employed. The benefits you can get depend on your circumstances, your earnings and other money you have coming in, and on how many hours you work each week. There are different benefits for people who work less than 16 hours a week and for people who work 16 hours or more.
This information is mainly for people who work at least 16 hours a week. There is also information about help if you work less than 16 hours, and if you get certain benefits and then start work or increase your hours or wages.
Working out how many hours you work
If you have more than one job, you should add the hours from both jobs together. If the number of hours you work changes from week to week, your benefit will depend on your average hours. (see under heading Help when you start work ).
If you are not sure how the hours you work will be treated for benefit purposes, you should consult an experienced adviser - for example, at a Citizens’ Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB .
If you work fewer than 16 hours
If you work fewer than 16 hours a week, you may be able to claim Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance. However, if you have a partner who lives with you and works 24 hours a week or more, you will not be able to claim these benefits. Your partner may be able to claim Working Tax Credit instead (see under heading Working Tax Credit ). This applies whether your partner is lesbian, gay or heterosexual and whether you are married, in a civil partnership or just living together.
You could also be entitled to some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to help with the costs of rent and Council Tax. If you have children, you can claim Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit. You can get these benefits whether or not you do any work. You may also be able to get help such as free prescriptions, free school meals, help with the costs of a new baby or help with funeral costs, depending on the benefits or tax credits you get and your income.
If you work 16 hours or more a week
If you work 16 hours or more a week, you may be entitled to Working Tax Credit (see under heading Working Tax Credit ). This will depend on your circumstances and how much money you have coming in. You may also be entitled to other benefits, for example, if you are on a low income you could get some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to help with rent and Council Tax. If you have children, you can claim Child Benefit and you may also be entitled to some Child Tax Credit. You do not have to be working to get Child Tax Credit, but your earnings will affect the amount you get. You may also be entitled to other help such as free prescriptions, help with the costs of a new baby or help with funeral costs (see also under heading Other help while you are on Working Tax Credit ).
Working Tax Credit
You can get Working Tax Credit if you or your partner are working enough hours a week and your income is low enough. You don't need to have children to qualify.
You must be living in the UK. If you are from abroad, you may have difficulty claiming Working Tax Credit depending on your immigration status.
Who can get Working Tax Credit
The number of hours a week you have to work to be able to get Working Tax Credit depends on your circumstances.
If you're single or in a couple, and have no children, you can qualify if:
- you are 25 or over and you work at least 30 hours a week, or
- you are 16 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and you are disabled and you get a qualifying benefit, or
- you are 60 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week.
If you're single and have at least one child, you can qualify if:
If you're in a couple and you are responsible for a child or young person, you can qualify if:
- you are 16 or over and you or your partner works at least 16 hours a week and the two of you work at least 24 hours a week between you in total. For example, you can meet this condition if you work 16 hours a week and your partner works 8 hours a week. If only one of you works, that person must work at least 24 hours, or
- you are 16 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and you are disabled and you get a qualifying benefit
- you are 16 or over and you work at least 16 hours a week and your partner is a hospital in-patient or entitled to Carer's Allowance or in prison or gets certain disability benefits
- you are 60 or over and work at least 16 hours a week.
There is an online questionnaire you can use to find out if you might qualify for WTC. Go to the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk .
Working Tax Credit if you are responsible for a child
If you are responsible for a child or young person, you can get Working Tax Credit provided you work at least 16 hours a week if you're single, or at least 24 hours between you if you're in a couple, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week. Some couples with children may qualify without working for 24 hours between them, provided one of them works 16 hours – see above. Your income also needs to be low enough. A child is someone under 16, and a young person is someone who is 16, 17, 18 or 19 and still in full-time education up to A level or equivalent, or on certain approved training courses. You are responsible for a child or young person if they normally live with you or you have main responsibility for their care. You cannot usually get Working Tax Credit if your child is in local authority care.
You may be able to get Working Tax Credit for a short period after your child is 16 or leaves school, depending on when their birthday is and what they do on leaving school.
If you are on maternity leave, paternity leave or adoption leave and you normally work 16 hours or more, you can claim Working Tax Credit before you go back to work, as long as you are responsible for a child. If it is your first baby and you are not responsible for any other children, you will have to wait until the child is born, or comes to live with you before you can claim.
Working Tax Credit if you are disabled
You can get Working Tax Credit if you are disabled provided:
- you work at least 16 hours a week and
- your income is low enough and
- you get certain benefits because of your disability and
- your disability puts you at a disadvantage in getting a job. HM Revenue and Customs may ask you to give them the name of a healthcare professional who can confirm how your disability affects your chances of finding work. This might be a doctor, occupational therapist or a community nurse.
The qualifying benefits include Incapacity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Statutory Sick Pay, a war pension with constant attendance allowance, occupational sick pay or Income Support or National Insurance credits awarded because you have been unable to work. There are rules about how long you have to have been getting some of these benefits before you claim Working Tax Credit. Some of these benefits stop once you are working, and some carry on.
If you are disabled and you are not sure whether you qualify for Working Tax Credit, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB .
Your income and Working Tax Credits
Even if you meet the work conditions, you will only get Working Tax Credit if you have a low enough income. Your income for tax credits is assessed on an annual basis. Whether or not you get Working Tax Credit, and how much you get, depends on your income and your circumstances. Not all your income will be taken into account (for example, maintenance and child support, most Statutory Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Pay and all Maternity Allowance paid to you is ignored). Usually, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will use your income for the previous tax year to work out what you are due. You should report major changes in your income to HMRC, otherwise you may be overpaid or underpaid tax credit.
For more information, in England, Wales and Scotland, about overpayment of tax credits, see Overpayment of tax credits, in Benefits fact sheets .
How much Working Tax Credit will you get
The maximum Working Tax Credit you can get is calculated by adding together different elements which are based on your circumstances.
There is a basic element which is included for anyone who is entitled to Working Tax Credit.
There is a second adult element if you are claiming as a member of a couple although there are some circumstances where a couple will not get this. You have to claim as a couple if you live with a partner. This includes a partner of the opposite or same sex.
There is a lone parent element if you are a lone parent.
There is a 30 hour elemen t if you work at least 30 hours a week (or if you are claiming as a couple with a child and you jointly work at least 30 hours).
There is a disability element if you are disabled, get certain benefits and you work at least 16 hours a week. You can also get a disability element if your partner qualifies for it or two disability elements if you both qualify.
There is a severe disability element if you get the highest rate care component of Disability Living Allowance, the enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, the higher rate of Attendance Allowance, or Armed Forces Independence Payment. You will get two severe disability elements if you and your partner both qualify.
You may also be able to get a childcare element. This is equivalent to up to 70% of childcare costs provided by a registered childminder, out-of-school club or another approved provider. There is a limit on the maximum eligible weekly childcare cost which means that the most this element can be is 70% of the maximum.
Rates of Working Tax Credit