If you have Down’s syndrome and want to find work opportunities, register on to the WorkFit programme below.
Work means different things to different people. Some people want a paid job; some people want to do voluntary or unpaid work.
WorkFit staff will listen to your hopes and ambitions and can help to you to be more independent, get new skills, meet new people, earn money, and feel proud of yourself.
See below to find more information on your options.
Benefits and Work
Date: April 2019 | Information updated annually
Please see our website for up-to-date information: www.downs-syndrome.org.uk
If you have concerns, please ring the DSA’s Benefits Adviser: Helen Wild
Mon & Thurs 10am-4pm Tues & Weds 10am-12.30pm| Telephone: 0333 1212 300 firstname.lastname@example.org
This is intended as a brief guide for those currently in receipt of;
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)*
- Incapacity Benefit (IB)*
- Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)*
- Income Support (IS)*
- Universal credit (UC)
*Known as legacy benefits
Universal Credit, which has recently been introduced, replaces the working age means tested benefits listed above. It has different rules with no permitted work allowance (as the benefits listed above do) and it takes earnings into account. It is being rolled out nationwide but you may still be able to apply for ESA in some areas.
Eventually everyone on means tested ESA will be moved over to Universal Credit. There will be transitional protection for those moved onto UC by DWP (managed migration) which should ensure that existing claimants are not worse off moving from ESA to Universal Credit.
There are no permitted work rules under Universal Credit and therefore no restrictions on the hours that you can work.
Personal Independence payment
Personal Independence payment (PIP) is a tax free, non means tested benefit that can be paid to those of working age. It replaced DLA for people aged 16-65. Because it is not means tested, it can be paid regardless of income, savings or your national insurance contribution record.
You can get PIP even if you are working or studying. Receiving PIP can actually increase some of the other benefits you may be in receipt of as it attracts other premiums and allowances.
There are no limits on working hours as there are with Income Support or Working Tax Credit.
The work related requirements do not apply if you are found to have limited capability for work related activity.
You will receive a work allowance if you cannot full-time because of disability or illness. Once the threshold for your circumstances have been calculated, your UC will reduce by 63p for every £1 earned above this threshold
This work allowance allows people who have been assessed as having a “limited capability for work” to keep more of the money they earn before it affects their benefit.
- The ‘Higher Work Allowance’ allows earnings up to £503 per month. It applies to those who do not receive a housing cost element in their calculation
- The ‘Lower Work Allowance’ allows earnings up to £287 per month. It applies to those who receive a housing cost element in their Universal Credit (2019-20 rates)
Legacy benefits (see list above)
Generally speaking, if you undertake any work, whether paid or not, you are treated as being capable of work.
Some types of work are exempt under ESA, IB and SDA rules. This type of work is called Permitted Work.
Please contact DWP first to make sure the work can be classed as supported/permitted work.
Before you start any work, whether paid or unpaid, you should fill in a PW1 form and send it to the Job Centre Plus office that deals with your benefit.
DWP will decide if you meet the permitted work conditions. If you do any kind of work that doesn’t meet the conditions, you could lose your benefit.
If you are unable to let DWP know before you start work, you should fill in a PW1 and send it to the Job Centre Plus office that deals with your benefit as soon as possible after starting work. The quickest and easiest way to get a copy of thePW1 is to visit www.gov.uk and search for PW1. You can also call Job Centre Plus on 0800 169 0310.
Doing any kind of permitted work will not affect any Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you receive, however starting a job may suggest to the DWP that your care and mobility needs have changed so there is a chance they may view it as a ‘change of circumstances’ and review your award.
In actual fact you may require more help if you move into work.
There are three different kinds of permitted work.
- Permitted Work – lower limit
You are allowed to earn up to £20 per week before it affects your benefit (if you are on IS you need to qualify for the disability premium). There is no limit to how long you can do this work.
- Permitted Work – higher Limit
From April 2019, you are able to earn up to £131.50 weekly. This limit is usually increased each October. Hours that you can work are limited to less than 16.
If you have been placed in the Support Group of ESA or you claim Incapacity Benefit and are exempt from the Personal Capability Assessment (PCA), you are not limited with the length of time you are employed but you must keep your hours of work under16 per week.
- Earnings up to £131.50 from permitted work will not affect benefit payment for those receiving Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA).
- Earnings above £20 will affect those on IS and those receiving income support top ups with their Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)
- Supported Permitted Work
Supported permitted work is work carried out under the supervision of a person in a third sector or local authority organisation who arranges work opportunities for disabled people. The person finding the employment has to provide face to face or telephone support.
The WorkFit programme falls under the definition of Supported Permitted Work.
Earnings can be no more than £131.50 per week, however you are able to work more than 16 hours.
You can undertake Supported Permitted Work if you are receiving Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) without it affecting your benefit.
- earnings from supported permitted work will not affect your benefit payment of Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA) (as long as they remain below £131.50 per week)
- earnings above £20 will affect those on Income Support and those receiving income support top ups with their Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA).
Permitted work and Housing Benefit
If you receive Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)and receive housing benefit you can keep all of your permitted work earnings. The earnings are disregarded for housing benefit calculations.
The WorkFit programme falls under the definition of Supported Permitted Work. WorkFit develops roles/work opportunities for people who have Down’s syndrome. These opportunities can be volunteering, work experience placements, supported apprenticeships/internships and paid work.
It is always a good idea to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you intend to start any work. If you are starting work via the WorkFit programme you must inform the DWP. The DWP will then send out a PW1 form which needs to be completed and signed by the candidate. You can also get a form via the Gov website.
For supported permitted work, there is a section on the form which the DSA must sign to confirm that WorkFit developed the placement and will be supporting it. Please contact your WorkFit Employment Development Officer (EDO) or the WorkFit Administrator to have this completed.
In most cases, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will confirm they have received the form and that the work is classified as Supported Permitted work. Confirmation from DWP is not required before the candidate starts work.
For those who want to earn more or work more hours
For those doing permitted work intending to work for more than 16 hours in paid employment, or in those in supported permitted work earning over £131.50 per week, your ESA will have to stop. In most areas of the country you may have to claim Universal Credit (UC) instead. Check first before deciding what to do as Universal credit contains housing payments and if you are already in receipt of housing benefit you may be worse off.
If you receive Incapacity Benefit (IB) or Severe Disablement Allowance (SDA)you can do voluntary work for anyone other than a close relative. For those in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support (IS), you are allowed to do voluntary work for anyone other than a relative. There is no limit on the number of hours you can volunteer.
Under Universal Credit (UC), if you are required to look for work (many of our members won’t be required to because of the Work Capability Assessment) and you work as a volunteer, 50% of the hours spent doing voluntary work can offset the hours you are required to look for work. For example, someone doing voluntary work for 35 hours a week would be required to search for paid work for 17.5 hours per week.
Universal Credit (UC) also allows you to undertake voluntary work. If you have been found fit to work after the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and you volunteer you are still required to look for work but for reduced amount of hours for example, someone doing voluntary work for 25 hours per week would be required to spend 12.5 hours per week looking for work. As was the case with ESA, the vast majority of our members will be found to have limited capability for work related activity and so there will be no requirement to work or look for work anyway.
Access to Work (ATW) Scheme – help when you are in work:
This scheme provides advice to help overcome difficulties in the work place. It can also give grants toward any extra employment cost your employer may incur as a result of your disability. Go to www.gov.uk and search for access to work. There is an eligibility checker.
Please note the following points:
- It is only available to those in paid employment.
- You can apply for up to 100% of approved fares to work if you are unable to use public transport.
- You can also apply for financial support to cover the cost of a Job Coach to help you in the workplace.
- There is no limit on the number of hours a person must work to receive ATW.
- The grant is allocated for that particular support for a period of time. Minimum period is 1 year and the maximum period is 5 years. If that time has elapsed and there is still support needed, they would need to re-apply and re-assessed.
You can contact access to work at:
Telephone: 0800 121 7479
Textphone: 0800 121 7579
To be eligible for the ATW grant you must be:
- In paid employment or self-employment, or with a confirmed start date, and:
- have a disability or health condition which affects your ability to work
- be aged 16 or over
- live and work in England, Scotland or Wales
An application form will be completed over the phone or online. This can be done by a parent or carer with the person’s consent.
For people living in Northern Ireland, please visit https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/access-work-practical-help-work.
The following questions will be asked:
- Name of the candidate
- NI number
- Home address
- Disability description
- How much do they earn? (must be national minimum wage-you can find his on the HMRC website)
- What is their job?
- Who is their employer? (name and contact details)
- How many hours do they work?
- What support do they require?
- Whether the candidate’s benefits will continue through employment
The Job Centre Plus will send the form to the home address to be signed and will need to be sent back to the Job Centre Plus.
An ATW Advisor will be allocated within 24 hours. They will be in contact to go through the application and do an assessment either over the phone or at the place of work. At this stage you can ask the advisor how long the process will take.
After the assessment is completed the advisor will put forward the next steps.
As ATW is a grant it should not affect the means tested element on benefits.
Time period for the whole process is unknown and will vary with each individual case.
What to do if you are no longer working?
If the person can no longer work, there is a requirement to let DWP know. This will not affect their benefit if the work they have been doing is permitted work. However, if they receive Tax Credits you should inform their designated tax office (HMRC) that they are no longer working as they will have to claim Universal Credit (UC)instead. There are rules enabling the return to the existing benefit and rate if they reclaim ESA within 12 weeks or within 104 weeks and have had limited capability for work for more than 13 weeks. Universal Credit should be adjusted accordingly but you must tell them about the circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
My son has not yet claimed benefit in his own right and we are still getting Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit for him, he has a part time paid job at weekend, does this affect us?
Your child’s wage will not be taken into account when calculating your award of Tax Credits, their income is ignored.
My child claims ESA and has been put into the support group, does this mean s/he cannot work?
Your child can stay on ESA and undertake permitted work if they wish. They can earn up to £131.50 per week after tax and N.I. contributions.
As they have been placed in the support group they can do either;
Supported permitted work for as many hours as they want as long as earnings are no more than £131.50 per week or;
Permitted work with the higher limit for an unlimited period, as long as earnings are no more than £131.50 per week and working hours are under 16 per week.
My daughter claims ESA and has been put in the Work related activity group how will permitted work rules affect her?
Your daughter can stay on ESA and she has 2 options:
- Permitted Work – higher limit: She can earn up to £131.50 per week.
- Supported Permitted Work. This is supervised work that has been arranged by a public or local authority or a voluntary or community organisation providing or finding work for people with disabilities. Supported permitted work has no restrictions on the hours or weeks worked (so you can work over 16 hours) however you must not earn more than £131.50 per week.
My son still receives income support, is he able to earn £125.50 under the permitted work rules?
For those people receiving IS, the rules are different. He can only earn £20 per week before it affects his benefit (as long as he qualifies for the disability premium). Anything over £20 will be deducted from his benefit. He can work voluntarily for anyone other than a relative and there are no limits to the number of hours he can work. He is allowed permitted expenses such as travel to work, meals and equipment etc.
My daughter has been given the opportunity to increase her hours and as a result her wage will increase to £150 per week. She is currently on ESA.
Your daughter will earn too much for the permitted work rules and will have to claim Universal Credit.
Universal Credit is relatively new and replaces a number of income based working age benefits. It is a top up benefit providing extra income for low paid work. It can be paid to people with a disability as long as they are age 16 or over and they have a physical or mental disability that puts them at a disadvantage in getting a job. You qualify as disabled for Universal Credit if you receive DLA or PIP at any rate or component and you have been assessed as having a limited capability for work.