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Can I get financial help if I go back to work?

This information applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

I am on Income Support and would like to go back to work, but I'm worried about being able to make ends meet if I come off benefits. Can I get any extra help towards living expenses?

If you work for 16 or more hours a week, you may be able to claim Working Tax Credit (WTC) to top up your earnings. If you work for less than 16 hours, you may be able to carry on claiming Income Support. If you have children, you may be able to get Child Tax Credit (CTC) if you are not already claiming it, and you may be able to get help with childcare costs included in Working Tax Credit.

Depending on how much you earn, you may still be able to claim some Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction on top of your earnings and tax credits. Depending how long you have been on Income Support, you may be able to get your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction paid at the same rate for the first four weeks of work.

If you are getting help with mortgage interest paid with your Income Support, you may be able to get this paid for the first four weeks that you are in work, or increase your hours. This is called the ‘mortgage interest run-on’. You must have been getting Income Support for at least 26 weeks.

If you were getting Income Support because you were ill or disabled, and you go back to work for at least 16 hours a week, you may be able to get Return to Work Credit. This is a non-taxable payment of £40 a week and it is paid for a maximum of 12 months if you are earning not more than £15,000 a year. You must have been getting certain benefits for 13 weeks or more before starting work. You must start work before 1 October 2013.

For more information about Working Tax Credit and help when you start a job, see Benefits and tax credits for people in work.


For more information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent - Housing Benefit.


For more information about Council Tax Reduction, see Help with your council tax – Council Tax Reduction.


For more information about Income Support, see Help for people on a low income – Income Support..


For more information about Return to Work Credit, see under heading Help when you start work in Benefits and tax credits for people in work.


For more information about help for particular groups of unemployed people, see Government employment schemes.

Other Frequently asked questions about benefits: