What if I start work?

What if I start work?

A Universal Credit claim does not end just because someone starts work.

Universal Credit can be paid to top up earnings.

So, you may still be able to receive Universal Credit payments when you start work if your earnings are not too high. That amount will depend on your circumstances.

You need to report the fact that you have started work to the DWP so that:

  • You get the right amount of Universal Credit each month.
  • Your Claimant Commitment can be changed.
  • You don’t get sanctioned.

IMPORTANT: Even if you have started work and this stops or reduces your requirements to look for work, you must still have your Claimant Commitment changed and accept the revised commitment within 7 days.

How earnings affect your Universal Credit

Any earnings – or income from self-employment – that you receive during an Assessment Period will be taken into account when your Universal Credit award is assessed.

So usually the Universal Credit you receive at the end of that Assessment Period will be less than when you weren’t working.

It might be that your earnings are high enough to take you off Universal Credit completely for that month.

But not all your earnings will be taken into account.

See How income affects an award for more information.

Do I need to tell DWP how much I earn each month?

If you are paid by PAYE you don’t need to tell the DWP how much you have earned as this happens automatically – your employer reports everyone’s earnings to HMRC, and HMRC send the information directly to the DWP.

If you’re not paid by PAYE eg because you work for a very small organisation, or if you are self-employed, you will need to report your earnings and expenses every month.

Starting self-employment

If you (or your partner) have started self-employment you / they may need to attend an interview at the JobCentre where the adviser will explain how claiming Universal Credit works whilst self-employed.

You will need to report your income and expenses every month – at the end of your Assessment Period.

To ensure your Universal Credit award runs smoothly it is best to talk to a Benefits Adviser who can explain what you will need to do and what issues to watch out for.

See What if I am self-employed for more information.


What if I have childcare costs?

You may be able to get extra help in your Universal Credit towards costs of childcare that you need to pay because you’re working. If you need to pay childcare upfront you can request a Flexible Support Fund Payment to help.
See Help with childcare costs for more information.