About the Department for Work and Pensions
[box]You can phone the DWP on 0843 557 4607[/box]
The Department for Work and Pensions (often shortened to DWP) is a division of the Government responsible for managing welfare, pensions and child maintenance. As the UK’s largest public service department, the DWP administers the State Pension as well as a range of disability, ill health and unemployment benefits to over 22 million claimants.
The DWP is made up of four smaller operating agencies. The Job Centre Plus, which issues working age benefits, for example Job Seekers Allowance, as well as deciding which claimants get Employment and Support Allowance following a work capability assessment. Then there is the Pension Service, which pays out the basic State Pension as well as Pension Credit, and is responsible for overseeing the recent pension reform. The Disability Carers service provides financial support to disabled people and their carers. Lastly, there is the Child Maintenance Group which oversees child support schemes, operating both the Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service.
The DWP was formed back in 2001 as the result of a merger between the Department of Social Security, Employment Service and certain parts of the Department for Education and Employment. It’s initial role was to create the Job Centre Plus and the Pensions Service. The department has offices in Leeds, London, Blackpool, Newcastle, Sheffield and Warrington.
Searching for jobs with the DWP
The Job Centre Plus, a division of DWP has a job searching tool which people looking for work can use to find a role for them. It is called Universal Job Match. You can use the service to search and apply for jobs across Great Britain and abroad. If you are claiming Job Seekers Allowance, this service is most likely what you will have to use to show that you have been applying for work.
To search for a role, you must create a Government Gateway ID. Doing this allows you to save job searches, upload your CV, set up job alerts to your email address and keep track of previous applications. You can also build a profile detailing which skills and industries you want to be matched for jobs with- meaning that you find a job that is suitable for you, rather than applying for anything and everything. You can also save up to five cover letters on your account, making the process of applying for jobs within the same industry much easier. Lastly, keeping record of applications makes it much easier to discuss your job search with your job centre adviser.
How to calculate your State Pension
There is a tool on the Government website which allows you to calculate approximately how much State Pension you are entitled to receive. It gives you an estimate of your basic State Pension and information about the new pension reforms and how they affect you if you reach the pension age on or after the 6th April 2016. It will not be able to calculate any additional state pension. In order for the tool to calculate, it will ask you how many years you worked and paid National Insurance or claimed certain benefits. This is otherwise known as your years of National Insurance contributions that will go towards your state pension. To help the tool work accurately, you should count tax years from 6th April to the 5th April and be sure not to count any years twice. You should also not count the current tax year. It is also advised that you don’t take what the tool says and use it to make financial decisions that could affect your future, as it is only an estimate and doesn’t take into account circumstances.
How to estimate which benefits you are entitled to
The Government website has an independent benefits calculator tool which you can use to find out what benefits you could get and how to go about claiming them. The tool is free to use and completely anonymous- it has replaced the former Benefits Adviser service. There are two calculators: ‘entitledto’ for information on income related benefits such as tax credits and Council Tax reductions and ‘Turn2us’ for information on other income related benefits such as Universal Credit. To use the service, you will need several points of information to hand, for example: the amount of savings you have, yourself and your partners income, any existing benefits and pensions, council tax bill and information about your outgoings i.e. rent or mortgage payments. If you are under 18, you cannot use the calculator and they will not provide accurate results if you are: a student, prisoner, not a British/Irish citizen, on strike, living in a residential care home or living outside the UK.
For more help with any queries relating to your benefits, pension payments or job searches then please phone the DWP.