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Working and benefits – FAQ's

When you start to think about returning to work whilst you are receiving benefits, it can be overwhelming.

When you start to think about returning to work whilst you are receiving benefits, it can be overwhelming at first and there’s a lot of information to take in as to how your current situation will be affected.

Here are three of the most frequently asked questions we receive from candidates we are working with, that could help you when considering your back to work journey.

Q: "How do I know if I’m better off in work after looking at travel and other expenses, like childcare?"

This all depends on what you are claiming, and what roles you are applying for. Our team can do better off in work calculations, to look at the type of salaries you are aiming for and consider your monthly expenses. This information would provide an estimated valuation to give you a rough idea of the financial position you would be in. We leave the decision up to you to make the choice if you are better off or not.

There is support out there for childcare when you are looking to return to work and if it’s a barrier we can often support with this, exploring and identifying your different options, helping identify any financial support and reviewing other ways at looking at childcare to make it less of a barrier to employment.

Travel is an inevitable cost incurred for most people getting to work. It’s best to look at your affordability, set yourself a radius of where you are willing to travel and see what jobs are available and the salaries. However – by doing this you may not find the job you want (limiting yourself to a certain radius) so you have to be mindful that travelling is something that would often be expected. If you are on benefits then you can access support travel to work for the first month with Job CentrePlus – after that, it would be up to you. You can also consider other routes that are more cost effective such as cycling to work, or walking if possible but the support offered helps you manage your return to work alongside incurring commuter costs.

Q: "Once I’m in work do my benefits stop before I get my first wage?"

This is dependent on an individual’s circumstances/benefits you are receiving (Universal Credit, Jobseekers Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Employment Support Allowance or Housing Benefit). It helps to talk to your work coach for clarification on how you have specifically affected or your Transitional Support Worker.

It can be a worry that when you start work, will your new earnings be enough to survive on, will you lose some or all of your benefits? It may be the case that you do not lose all your benefits or could be eligible for different benefits.
The government is bringing in new reforms to make it much easier for people to work and earn without losing all benefit support until they are in a more stable financial position. See a list of update reforms here. (Updated July 2018)

Q: "What do I need to do once I find a job?"

Once you are in work you will need to report the changes of circumstance yourself to the relevant benefit organisations. The changes you need to advise on could be; that you have started a job or when in work that your hours have changed, you have started receiving overtime and/or bonuses. You should let the relevant departments know about the changes as soon as possible.

You will have to advise both your local Council for Housing Benefit and JobCentre Plus for Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance & Personal Independence Payment. The full list of benefits and how to declare a change in circumstance can be found here. https://www.gov.uk/report-benefits-change-circumstances

We have helped 144 people find work since June 2017 who had previously been claiming benefits, 25% of which are still in work after 6 months.

If you are looking to return to work and are unsure where to start or need someone to one support with any of the queries above, our team will be happy to help.

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