ESA and limited work while on it


Just want to check something. I am on ESA in the support group and have been for about 15 months. Obviously I haven’t been working during this time.

I have however just had a request through from my old freelance agent to do some work for a client remotely at my home. If I accept this how would this affect my current claim for ESA. The work would probably take a week or two to complete.

The rate would be £18 per hour, so would roughly be say £600-£700 per week before tax. It would also be paid through the PAYE system.

I wouldn’t normally consider any work as mobility, fatique and pain issues but seeing as I do this at home on my computer choosing my own hours / breaks etc it has become more interesting prospect. Should it just be a complete thanks for the offer but it isn’t worth it given the amount of hassle I would have from the DWP.

I am not really wanting to ring DWP to check this incase they say “oh you are thinking of doing a weeks work therefore you shouldn’t be in the support group” type thing.

Thanks for any advice you could give on this everyone

Hi Badger,

Citizens Advice has some useful information on their website regarding working whilst claiming ESA, below is a relevant extract of information -

"Although Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is usually paid to people who are too ill or disabled to work, you may be able to get it even if you are doing certain types of work. Examples include working as a councillor, being a carer and doing work known as permitted work. Permitted work is work that can be done without affecting entitlement to ESA. The rules about permitted work are complicated but it is usually work of less than 16 hours a week where your earnings are no more than a certain amount.

For more information about permitted work, go to the GOV.UK website at"

I would have thought that if you worked DWP would want to get you in for a work capability assessment, but I would contact your local CAB and they should be able to provide you with some relevant advice

Good luck


Thanks JC, thats what I thought about the work capability assessment. This week the fatique isn’t so bad hence why it wasn’t a instant no but last week I struggled most days and who knows what next week will bring.

My gut is saying it isn’t worth it rocking the boat for a nice little one off payment and then back to not being able to work but having to fight for my current ESA to continue

I wouldn’t think a couple of weeks work is worth possibly being taken out of the support group. And I would think that your ESA claim would stop the minute you get some work and you’d then have to reclaim, going through the work capability assessment all over again. And if you’ve managed to do some work, they’d surely put you in the work group.

Personally I wouldn’t risk it.


Totally agree with Sue. There is no way this would be classed as permitted work - it’s too much money and too many hours. You would be putting your position in the support group in the toilet. There is no way you can say on the one hand that you are so unfit for work and unlikely to ever work again and on the other that you are going to do 30 + hours for a couple of weeks. The fact that you would be doing it at home and picking your own hours would cut no mustard I’m afraid. A week is a week and if you can do 30 hours work in a week you will be chucked off ESA altogether let alone out of the support group!

A support group placement is a precious thing, it will only get harder in the future to qualify, it’s just not worth sticking your head over the parapet. I can understand the temptation, not for the money but for the interest, stimulation and the fact that somebody recognises your worth.

One of the worst things you can do with any benefit is come off for a while. It totally messes up the system. There is a scheme where you can try to go back to work but resume your benefit if you find that after all you are not well enough but this does not exist for the support group. If you are in the support group it is pretty much accepted that there will be no improvement in your health that will allow a trial period back to work.

My advice would be to say thanks but no thanks.


I agree with Jane

I tried a few hours and they tried to say I was fit for work.My health worsened so I stayed on ESA and PIP.

Leave well alone.


The only thing I can suggest is:

Check out the “permitted work” thing very carefully.
Ask the client if you can do it on a consultancy basis, submitting invoices.
Spread the work (ie the invoices) out over a number of weeks so that you never exceed the hours/money in each week.
And - if it must be done in two weeks full-time, forget it.


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Thanks for all the replies everyone. I turned the work down in the end as you say it just isn’t worth it with what could happen.

Yeah it all had to be done in two weeks, it was retouching a load of fashion images on photoshop for a look book before the print deadline. Hopefully they will get someone in who can do a good job for them