What is permitted work?

Permitted work can help you get the confidence needed to get back to work

If you have a spinal cord injury, are considering returning to work, and in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) then permitted work may be an option for you. Earnings from permitted work also do not affect your housing benefit and most council tax support schemes.

Permitted work is a government initiative to encourage and support disabled people who are trying to get back into work. It’s permitted work if both of the following apply:

• you earn up to £131.50 a week
• you work less than 16 hours a week

You can do supported permitted work (where you’re supervised to some degree) and earn up to £131.50 a week if it is:

• part of a treatment programme – in a hospital or similar setting
• supervised by someone from a local council or voluntary organisation whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people

There is now no limit on how many weeks you can carry out ‘permitted’ or ‘supported permitted’ work. You don’t need a letter or any agreement from your doctor, but you should tell the office that deals with your benefit claim as it has to be agreed by them. They will then decide whether the role you have applied for is suitable.

To start the process, fill in the PW1 form, which is available to download online, to tell the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that you want to start working.

Am I able to do Permitted Work whilst receiving Universal Credit?

Universal Credit (UC) is a new means-tested benefit administered by the DWP. Eventually all working age people in receipt of means tested benefits will be migrated over to UC.

There is no permitted work rule in UC, but you may be able to access work allowance if you have a limited capability for work due to your spinal cord injury. More information is available online to find out if you qualify.

If you do fit the criteria, the monthly work allowance is:

£507 for those who are not paid housing benefits
£287 for those who are paid housing benefits

If the money you earn falls within your work allowance, it does not affect the amount of UC paid. For any earnings above the work allowance, UC is reduced by 63p per £1.

As the rules for benefits and work are complex, it is always a good idea to request a benefits check before making decisions about working and claiming benefits.

Aspire’s Welfare Benefits Advice Service offers free advice and support to people with a spinal cord injury. Call 020 8420 6711 or email their team to find out more.

What are the benefits of Permitted Work?

Taking that first step back into work after a spinal cord injury is always difficult, so this is a great way for you to determine your own capability for work. It also helps you learn new skills, build up your confidence and add to your CV.

You have the security of not losing your benefits too, while creating better employment opportunities for the future. Furthermore, work brings a sense of purpose, a social network, stimulation and is proven to bring enormous health benefits, both physical and psychological.

Need to talk about permitted work or universal credit? Contact Back Up or Aspire.