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Income support rules

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Please see here for up to date advice and information.

If you are receiving income support you will be required to attend meetings at the jobcentre or to undertake activity specified by Jobcentre Plus. The requirements vary depending on the age of your child. See below for a quick guide to the rules.

How does it work?

If you’re a single parent and your youngest child is aged one or two

You will be asked to go to the jobcentre for work-focused interviews if your child is one or over. 

This is usually a minimum of twice a year if your youngest child is aged one or two.

Your adviser can ask you to attend more regularly if they think it would be appropriate.

Remember, you you will not be expected to look for work or be in work before your youngest child is five.

If you’re a single parent and your youngest child is aged three or four

Single parents with children aged three and four are expected attend work focussed interviews. They are also required to prepare for work by taking part in 'work related activity', but remember that you will not be expected to look for work or be in work before your youngest child is five. 

Your adviser could ask you to take part in ‘work related activity’ once your child is three years old or older. This could mean asking you to attend courses or doing other tasks to improve your chances of moving into work, such as updating your CV or completing training in specific skills.

The activity should be agreed between you and your adviser and written down in an ‘action plan’ so you are clear about what you are expected to do.

Any ‘work related activity’ you are asked to take part in must be reasonable, improve your chances of moving into work, and take into account your individual circumstances. The jobcentre should cover any childcare costs or travel costs that you might need to take part in the course or other activity.

What happens if I don’t think it’s reasonable?

If you think you’ve been asked to do something that is unreasonable, you should ask that the jobcentre reconsider what they are asking you to do, and it should be looked at by a different adviser.

 Can I be sanctioned for not taking part in work-related activity or missing a work-focused interview?

Yes you can, but if there is a good reason why you couldn’t do it, you shouldn’t be sanctioned. 

Your income support can be reduced by 20 per cent if you don’t show the jobcentre that you had good cause for not attending the interview or taking part in the activity. 

For more information on sanctions see our factsheet Sanctions, and for more about income support see our factsheet Claiming income support and other benefits

Page updated: 14/03/16