Moving From Benefits To Work: A Guide

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If you are thinking of moving from benefits to work, it can be difficult to know where to start. The Job Centre can provide support and guidance for those looking to make the move, as well as giving help to parents and carers. They’ll also provide support once you begin working. This guide will talk you through the process of moving from benefits to work.

Searching for a job

Work programme

This programme offers support, training and advice for up to two years to help people find and stay in work. You may have to join the work programme if you have been receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance for more than three months, or you get Employment and Support Allowance and you are in the work-related activity group. If you are to attend, the Job Centre Plus will write to you, inviting you to an interview. If you are still on the programme after two years, you will have to attend an assessment interview at the Job Centre. This will help you plan and prepare for work.

Help finding specific types of work Jobcentre-plus-

Work academies offer training and work experience for six weeks in a particular industry or area of work. Most academies will also offer you a guaranteed interview for an apprenticeship or job. They’re available for people who receive JSA or ESA to attend.

Work clubs

Anyone who is unemployed can join a work club. They are run by local organisations, such as employers and community groups and will give you the chance to share knowledge, experiences and tips to help find work.

Work experience/volunteering

Speak to your local Jobcentre to find out about opportunities that can improve your chances of finding work, such as volunteering, work trials or work experience. You may also be eligible to receive help with the cost of childcare and travel.

Work experience

If you are between the ages of 16 and 24 and receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance, you can get a work experience opportunity through the Job Centre Plus. The placements will last between 2-8 weeks and you will usually work between 25-30 hours a week.

Work Together (volunteering)

Through the Work Together programme, you can volunteer for a local organisation. Your work coach will help you find an opportunity.

Work trials ISS_4780_07902

A work trial will give you the chance to try out a job and keep getting benefits. It can last up to 30 working days and you may be offered a job at the end of it. The trial is voluntary and your benefits won’t be affected if you finish early or turn down the job if you are offered it. The Job Centre can arrange a trial for you, or you can ask them how to go about doing it yourself.

Starting your own business

Your work coach will tell you about how to start your own business. You could also receive New Enterprise Allowance if you are over 18 and you can show that your business idea could work. You will need to be getting one of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (or your partner does)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (or your partner does)
  • Income support if you are a single parent, or sick/disabled.

You will be allocated a business adviser who will provide advice and support on starting out as self employed, setting up your business and beginning to trade. Once you have made a business plan and it has been approved, you can get a weekly allowance worth up to £1, 274 over the course of 26 weeks and a loan to help with start up costs. If you have a disability, mental health condition and you’re getting New Enterprise Allowance, you could get extra support through an Access to Work grant.

Support for parents and carers

Your work coach will be able to tell you about the support that you can get to help you combine work with looking after children or caring responsibilities.

If you are a carer, Work Preparation Support for carers will provide help and support for you to move into work, including access to training and advice on job hunting and applications. You may also be able to get help with the cost of replacement care whilst you take part in interviews and training.

Assistance with specific problems

Extra help is available through the European social fund, as well as your local Job Centre Plus. You can apply to the European social fund if you have multiple problems as a family, such as:

  • Nobody working/history of unemployment in the family.
  • Problems with drugs/alcohol.
  • Problems with parenting/ financial management skills.
  • Antisocial behaviour. Family-Size-Planning
  • Health conditions.

You may also be able to get extra support if you have drug or alcohol problems which are stopping you working. Your work coach can tell you about the help that is available from specialist drugs or alcohol treatment facilities in your area and refer you to their services- this help is available to anyone who is getting benefits.

Support when you begin work

When you go back to work, you don’t necessarily have to give up all of your benefits. Contact the Job Centre if you receive JSA or ESA and have found a job, as they will help the transition and make sure that you still get the benefits you are entitled to, such as tax credits. You don’t need to fill in any forms, but make sure that you have details of your income, savings and rent payments to hand.

If you need help with housing, you could get a Mortgage Interest Run On or an extended payment of Housing Benefit to help fill the gap until your first working payday. These payments can provide help for up to four weeks.