We provide expert advice, practical support and campaign for single parents
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See our factsheet on
benefits and tax credits for ill-health or disability.
Organisation: Jobcentre Plus
Details: To claim welfare benefits including jobseekers allowance and employment and support allowance.
Phone: Telephone: 0800 055 6688 - claim line ; 0800 012 1888 - Claim line Welsh language
● Work clubs
● Enterprise clubs
● New enterprise allowance
● Work together
● Work experience
● Sector-based work academies
● Work choice for disabled parents.
There are three compulsory schemes. If you are referred to one of these schemes you must take part or your benefit can be stopped.
● Skills conditionality
● The Work Programme
● Help to Work.
The Work Programme lasts up to two years, or less if you find a job. The programme is run by private organisations that provide various activities and training including: help with your CV, interview skills, confidence building, training and work experience.
Participation is compulsory if you are claiming jobseeker’s allowance and are referred by Jobcentre Plus. Participation is also compulsory for some claimants of employment and support allowance in the work-related activity group.
If you are over 25 you will usually be referred to the programme after you have been receiving jobseeker’s allowance for 12 months.
You could be referred earlier if you’re aged 18 to 24.
Your benefit can be stopped or reduced if you do not take part. See the information on sanctions below.
This scheme is for people who have been through the work programme and come out without finding a job. If you’re claiming jobseekers allowance your work coach at Jobcentre Plus can decide that you will have to do one of the following:
- Go to the jobcentre every day
- Accept intensive support from Jobcentre Plus.
Your work coach at the jobcentre will decide which of the three options is the most appropriate, and should discuss with you what issues you face when trying to move into work. For example, if you don’t have any work experience, Jobcentre Plus can decide that a community work placement would be most appropriate, as this would give you the opportunity to do some volunteer work. If the jobcentre decides that motivation is the issue, they may decide that attending the jobcentre daily would be the best option.
Participation is compulsory. Your benefit can be stopped if you don’t take part and you haven’t given a good reason.
Available to all unemployed people.
New enterprise allowance
Jobseeker’s allowance, employment
and support allowance, income support or universal credit.
Available to all unemployed people
looking for work.
You must be aged 16 to 24 and
claiming jobseeker’s allowance. Your work coach can also suggest work
experience if you are over 24.
Sector based work academies
You must be over 18 and claiming
jobseeker’s allowance, or claiming employment and support allowance and in
the work-related activity group.
(for disabled parents)
Eligibility criteria apply, but you
do not need to be claiming benefits.
Jobseeker’s allowance, or employment
and support allowance and are in the work-related activity group.
Help to Work
For those who have completed the
Jobseeker’s allowance, employment
and support allowance or income support.
Both (see above)
● Refuse to take part in a compulsory scheme
● Do not fully participate in a compulsory scheme
● Join a voluntary scheme and don’t fully take part.
For more information see our factsheet sanctions.
Organisation: Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline
Details: Free information on a range of issues including maintenance, benefits, tax credits, debt, employment, education, legal rights and holidays. Open Mondays 10am to 6pm, Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 10am to 4pm and Wednesdays 10am-1pm and 5pm to 7pm
Phone: Freephone 0808 802 0925
Organisation: Gov.uk website
Details: For government information on a wide range of issues such as welfare benefits and education.
● Working tax credit or universal credit. The amount you receive depends on your income. You can also get help with childcare costs.
● Help with housing costs. If you received benefits for at least 26 weeks before starting work you can qualify for an extra four weeks of housing benefit, or help with mortgage interest. You may also be entitled to housing benefit after you start work. This depends on your income.
● Flexible support fund. Ask your Jobcentre Plus adviser about this fund. It helps cover costs such as travel or buying work clothes. The fund is limited and it is up to Jobcentre Plus to decide if you qualify for it.
For more information see our factsheet on benefits and tax credits if you work 16 hours a week or more.
Find out what your total household
income and extra expenses will be once you start work.
Gingerbread helpline; Jobcentre Plus
Organise childcare if you need it.
Find out what is available in your
area by contacting your local Family Information Service.
If deductions were made from your
benefits to pay your bills directly, you will need to make new arrangements.
The amount of the repayments may go up.
If you need help managing debts or
negotiating with organisations that you owe money to, contact one of the
organisations listed at the end of this factsheet.
If you are repaying a social fund loan
you will need to make new arrangements for repayment, for example, by
standing order. The amount of the repayments normally stays the same.
Contact Jobcentre Plus, or one of
the debt advice organisations listed at the end of this factsheet if you need
help with other debts.
If you are repaying an overpayment
from your benefits, or tax credits, you will need to make alternative
arrangements to pay these back.
Speak to Jobcentre Plus for
benefits, HMRC for tax credits, or your local council if it is for housing benefit
or council tax benefit.
Find out if you can claim working
tax credit, including help with childcare costs. Claim child tax credit at
the same time if you are not already receiving it.
Contact the HMRC Tax Credit
Helpline. You can also check how much you are entitled to by calling the
Check if you will be entitled to housing
benefit and a council tax reduction. If you were already receiving either of
these benefits, tell your local council within a month that you are starting
Contact your local council to make a
claim. You can call the Gingerbread helpline to find out how much you may be
Check if you are entitled to free
prescriptions, sight tests, vouchers for glasses and fares to hospital. You
qualify if you receive:
- Child tax credit; or
- Child tax credit and working tax credit; or
- A disability or severe disability element of working tax credit; and
- Your household income is below £15,276 a year.
If you do not automatically qualify
but are on a low income, you may still be entitled to help with some of these
costs – claim on form HC1 available from Jobcentre Plus offices.
Organisation: Child Maintenance Options
Details: Information about your options for arranging child maintenance, and making a family-based arrangement.
Phone: 0800 988 0988
Organisation: Citizens Advice
Details: Information and advice on a wide range of issues including benefits, employment, debt, housing and consumer rights.
Phone: England: 03444 111 444; Wales: 03444 77 20 20
Organisation: Family and Childcare Trust
Details: Web search facility to find your local Family Information Service, which provides details of local childcare facilities.
Organisation: Family Information Services
Details: To find your local Family Information Service, which can advise on childcare available in your area. You can also look in your telephone directory or contact your local authority to find out about the service in your area.
Organisation: National Debtline
Details: Free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems.
Phone: 0808 808 4000
Organisation: One Parent Families Scotland Lone Parent Helpline
Details: Run by our partner organisation, the Lone Parent Helpline provides confidential advice and information for single parents in Scotland.
Phone: 0808 801 0323
Organisation: Tax Credit Helpline
Details: Offers information and advice on applications/ renewals for child tax credit and working tax credit.
Phone: 0345 300 3900; Textphone: 0345 300 3909
Organisation: Working Families
Details: Advice on benefits and employment law.
Phone: 0300 012 0312
Using Jobcentre Plus moving into work schemes
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Gingerbread, the charity for single parent families, is registered in England and Wales as a company limited by guarantee, no. 402748, and a registered charity, no. 230750
© Gingerbread 2016