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Extra help when entering work

Extended benefit payments

Support for parents

Help for disabled people

Other financial support

Developing skills and experience

Employment on Trial

Wales only schemes

Northern Ireland only schemes


Extended benefit payments

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

If you move from benefits into work, or extend your hours to 16 or more per week, you may be entitled to four weeks run on of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support at its previous level if:

- the work is expected to last for at least five weeks;

- neither you nor your partner has claimed a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support extension in the last 26 weeks:

- you (or your partner if you have one) were claiming one of the benefits below before work started or hours increased:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Contributions-related Employment & Support Allowance.

After the 4 week extension period expires Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support will be based on your new income.

How to claim

- You (or your partner) must be about to return to work or have just started work of more than 16 hours per week

- When you close your out of work benefit claim with Jobcentre Plus the extended payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support should be arranged automatically

- You must confirm that you have been claiming benefits for the previous 26 weeks and that the work is expected to last for at least five weeks

- During this four weeks you can give details of your expected earnings to your local council who can process your  Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claim with your in-work details.

Mortgage Interest Run On

If you are a home owner on income-based benefits you can claim support for mortgage interest. This can be extended for four weeks when you move into work in the same way as Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support.

You must have been receiving one of the following benefits with mortgage interest included for at least 26 weeks:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit.

How to claim

- When you close your claim for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment Support Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit with Jobcentre Plus the four week mortgage interest run-on should be arranged automatically.

Support for Parents

Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits

An award of Working Tax Credit (not Child Tax Credit) can include an amount towards the cost of childcare with a registered childminder or nursery. This can also include childcare costs such as summer school and after-school clubs.

The amount is 70% of the actual childcare costs up to £175 for one child and up to £300 for two or more children (so an amount up to £122.50 or £210 can be included in the Working Tax Credit award).

An amount towards childcare can be included for

  • A lone parent working 16 hours or more a week
  • A couple if they both work 16 hours or more a week
  • A couple if one partner is working 16 hours or more a week and the other partner is incapacitated, in hospital, entitled to Carer’s Allowance or in prison.

Childcare Vouchers

If a person cannot get an amount towards childcare included in their Working Tax Credit they may should ask their employer if they run a childcare voucher scheme. The employee receives a voucher towards childcare in return for a reduction in their pre tax salary. This allows them to purchase childcare without paying tax and national insurance on that amount and can save up to 30% of childcare costs.

Note that accepting a cut in pay that drops a person’s salary below the national insurance lower earnings limit may affect future entitlement to benefits such as Maternity Allowance and State Retirement Pension.

Not all childcare provision is payable by vouchers so parents will need to ensure that their childcare provider is happy with this arrangement.

Most people would be better off receiving help with the cost of childcare through Working Tax Credit if they qualify, but the calculator can illustrate what the better option might be for someone based on their circumstances.

Early Years Learning

There are free ‘early learning’ classes (for example, a school-attached nursery) available for all 3 or 4 year olds (starting from the term following the child's third birthday).

Depending on your circumstances this is either at least 38 weeks a year for 15 hours a week (to be spread over at least three days) or 1,140 hours per year (average of 30 hours per week) which you can choose when you want to take.

Families with a low income may also get free classes for 2 year olds.

Help for disabled people

Jobcentre Plus provides advice to disabled clients on finding work, job retention and financial grants are available through the Access to Work scheme.

Access to Work

If you have a physical or mental health condition or disability which affects your ability to work you may be entitled to financial support for costs such as travel to work and reasonable workplace adjustments through the Access to Work scheme.

There is further information about Access to Work here:, or this easy ready guide may be helpful.

You’ll be offered support based on your needs but help could include the below:

  • Travel costs if public transport can’t be used
  • A support worker or interpreter
  • Workplace adjustments which are not considered standard equipment
  • Disability awareness training for people you work with

How to claim

Apply online or call the Access to Work helpline Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on 0800 121 7479 (textphone 0800 121 7579, Relay UK 18001 then 0800 121 7479).

Other financial support available

Jobcentre Plus advisers' discretionary fund

Personal advisers at Jobcentre Plus offices may have access to a discretionary fund to help certain groups of people in exceptional circumstances. Payments can be made, for example, to buy a new suit to attend an interview or to help pay initial childcare and travel costs.

To be eligible a person must be on a New Deal scheme or entitled to certain benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Carer’s Allowance.

In-Work Emergency Discretion Fund

If a lone parent in work has an unexpected financial problem that could stop them carrying on with their job they can apply to the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund.

A person must be:

  • A lone parent working for at least 16 hours a week
  • Their job must be expected to last for at least 26 weeks and
  • They must have been in the job for less than 26 weeks.

The Jobcentre Plus personal adviser can award up to £300 from the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund. Ask your local Jobcentre Plus office for more details.

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card

You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card to help with your fares during the first few months of commuting to a new job if you're claiming one of the following:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit, if you're aged between 18-24 and have been unemployed for 3-9 months
  • Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit, if you're aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for 3-12 months
  • Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, from 3 months into your claim if you are working with an adviser on returning to employment

You won't be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you're participating in the Work Programme.

Card holders are entitled to a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.

When you have a Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card you can get:

  • Half adult-rate pay as you go fares
  • Child-rate 7 Day, Monthly or longer period (up to three months) Travelcard, or Bus & Tram Passes
  • Jobcentre Plus discounts are not available on transport for london cash fares.

How do I apply?

To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card, you'll need to go to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

To have the Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card, you'll need an Oyster card which you've registered at a Tube station, Oyster Ticket Stop or Visitor or Travel Information Centre. You can then ask the staff to add your discount entitlement onto your Oyster card.

Developing skills and experience

The Work Programme

The work programme lasts for 2 years and is delivered by third party ‘providers’ rather than the jobcentre. Their aim is to help you prepare for, find and stay in work. They should tailor their service to your personal needs and circumstances. You may be asked to do activities to improve your skills such as: doing a training course, helping you with your CV, going to jobsearch workshops, or having a work placement in the community.

For most people this is mandatory and you will be referred to the Work Programme by your work coach at the jobcentre after a certain period of time but you may be able to join the Work Programme before this voluntarily, depending on your individual circumstances. If you do decide to join the Work Programme voluntarily, once you start you must continue to take part. If you do not, your benefit will be sanctioned unless you have good reason for why you didn’t do so. 

Whilst you are on the Work Programme, you will not be eligible for the other schemes mentioned in this section. You should discuss your options with your work coach. 

Skills Conditionality

In England, Scotland or Wales, the skills you need to start work will be assessed and if lacking certain skills is the main thing stopping you getting a job, you will be referred to a skills assessment or training. In England, if it is not clear what skills you need to help you find work you’ll be referred for an in-depth skills assessment with the National Careers Service which will involve up to 3 meetings. 

If your work coach tells you that you are expected to take up this support, this becomes a condition for receiving benefit. You must speak to your work coach if you want to do a training course which isn’t through Skills Conditionality.

Sector-based work academy

You may be able to attend a sector-based work academy if you live in England or Scotland. It is intended to help you develop the skills and behaviours employers are looking for in new employees. A sector-based work academy offers training and work experience in a particular job type (what is on offer will vary locally).

If you are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance a sector-based work academy is open to you from day 1 of your claim, as long as you don’t need basic training in English or Maths. You can decide whether or not to take part, but once you've agreed to join you must complete certain parts of the scheme. It lasts for up to 6 weeks and at the end, you'll either get a job interview or help with the employer's application process. 

If you are offered a job, your work coach may require you to accept it. If you do not accept the job, it is called ‘refusal of employment’ and you will be sanctioned unless you have a good reason. You should speak to your work coach to find out more information.


Traineeships are only available in England and offer the opportunity to focus on the work related skills needed to enter and progress in the workplace. They are designed to help young people aged 16 to 24 who don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience. This can include work preparation, English and maths and a work experience placement, designed to fit an individual's needs (this will vary locally). A traineeship can last up to 6 months, however, on average most opportunities last around 15 weeks. You do not have to take part in this opportunity, your benefit will not be affected if you don't do this.

If you are offered a job during or after your traineeship, your work coach may require you to accept it. If you do not accept the job, it is called ‘refusal of employment’ and you will be sanctioned unless you have a good reason. You should speak to your work coach to find out more information.

Work experience

You may be able to volunteer to do a work experience opportunity, you do not have to do this. This is designed for 18-24 year olds from week 13 of a Jobseeker's Allowance claim but you may be able to take part sooner or if you are older based on individual circumstances and your work coach's agreement. Work experience usually lasts for 2 to 8 weeks, and you'll be expected to do 25 to 30 hours a week (unless you have agreed restrictions on your availability to work).

If the host employer offers you an apprenticeship (which is a job with an accompanying skills development programme), and you accept, you can do up to 4 extra weeks of work experience while the paperwork for your apprenticeship is completed. You'll keep getting benefit until your apprenticeship starts. 

You can either look for work experience directly, or your work coach may contact local employers to see if they're interested in offering work experience. If you find something yourself, you must always speak to your work coach before starting because the Jobcentre needs to ensure the employer is suitable. Ask your work coach for a leaflet you can hand to employers if you are contacting them yourself.

New Enterprise Allowance

The New Enterprise Allowance programme is intended to help unemployed people start a business through business mentoring and a weekly allowance. Anyone can join from day 1 of their claim to Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit, unless:

  • you're on the Work Programme
  • you have or have had a sanction because you left your last job voluntarily or were dismissed for misconduct. If so, you can't join until you have claimed benefit for 13 weeks, or
  • you stopped running your own business in the 3 months before benefit. You can't join until you have claimed for 13 weeks, and your business idea must be demonstrably different from your previous business.

If your work coach thinks you're right for the New Enterprise Allowance scheme and you wish to proceed, then they will send you to the mentoring provider to receive guidance and support from a volunteer business mentor for up to 8 weeks as you develop your business plan.

Once you're accepted onto the scheme, you will need to meet these conditions:

  • go to all meetings with mentor / mentoring provider organisation, where you've been given at least 24 hours notice
  • do things each week to develop the business proposal, and
  • tell Jobcentre Plus within 2 working days if the business idea is no longer being pursued and/or the mentoring relationship ends.

If you don’t meet these conditions your benefit will be sanctioned unless you have good reason for why you didn’t do so. You will not be sanctioned if you change your mind before you start the scheme or give 2 day's notice of your decision to leave the scheme during the process.

After showing that you have a viable business with potential for growth, you will be able to access financial support and a further 6 months of support from your mentor. 

The financial support consists of a weekly allowance paid at £65 a week for the first 13 weeks and £33 a week for a further 13 weeks will be available. If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance you will have to end your claim and start trading before you can access this support. 

There is also the chance to apply for a loan of up to £1,000 to help with business start-up costs.

Employment on trial scheme

Employment on Trial allows a person who has not worked at all for at least 13 weeks to start a job and if it doesn't work out they can leave the job and start claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance without this affecting their benefit (unless they have been sacked or have left due to misconduct). They must have worked more than 16 hours a week for between 4 and 12 weeks before leaving the job.


ReAct II

In Wales only, ReAct II provides assistance to individuals who:

  • have become unemployed in the last six months as a result of redundancy, are currently unemployed, and who have not been in continuous employment for 6 weeks or more since being made redundant; or
  • are currently under notice of redundancy; and
  • have not undertaken any publicly funded training since being made redundant, including the work-based learning suite of programmes.

Available financial support includes:

  • 100 per cent of training costs to acquire new skills (up to a maximum of ÙŸ,500);
  • help with the cost of special equipment to remove barriers to training;
  • help towards the cost of travelling to training courses;
  • overnight accommodation costs, where appropriate;
  • a contribution towards childcare costs whilst training (subject to limits and conditions.

Applicants must have their training needs assessed by Careers Wales. See or phone 0800 100 900 for more information.


Return to Work Credit

In Northern Ireland only, a person who has been off work due to ill health may be entitled to a Return to Work Credit of £40 per week for up to 12 months when they come off benefit and start work of 16 hours a week or more. This is tax free and does not affect the amount of tax credits or Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support the client is entitled to.

A person can claim Return to Work Credit if they meet all of the following criteria:

- They have started or are about to start work for at least 16 hours a week, and the job is expected to last at least 5 weeks

- They must have been receiving one of the following benefits for 13 or more weeks without a break

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support on the basis of disability
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance)

- The client must earn less than £15,000 per year (£288.46 per week)

- The client must apply for Return to Work credit within 5 weeks of starting the new job.

If the person claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support as a lone parent immediately before starting work they will not qualify.

For more information see

Job Grant

Available in Northern Ireland only, Job Grant is a work related payment you may get when you or your partner move directly from benefit into work of at least 16 hours a week. You might also be eligible if you have increased the hours you work in an existing job or have a combination of jobs. The work must be expected to last for at least five weeks and you must notify the Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office within 21 days of starting.

You must also have been claiming one or a combination of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks immediately prior to moving into work:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance  
  • Income Support  
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit  
  • Severe Disablement Allowance  
  • Benefit based Training Allowance payments where the allowance is based on Jobseeker's Allowance (Contributory), Jobseeker's Allowance (Income Based), Income Support, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance