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Going Back to Work – Benefits and Help.

Going back to work after a long time can be intimidating

If you are thinking of going back to work it can be a nervous and intimidating time. It is made even worse if you are worried that the money you earn will not be enough to survive on and you are concerned that some or all of your benefits will stop entirely. This is not true and not only that but you may find yourself eligible to other benefits that you are not currently getting such as Working Tax Credits. Other benefits may reduce, depending on your new financial circumstances, but you may not lose them altogether. The government is bringing in new reforms to make it much easier for people to work and earn without losing all of their benefits until they are in a financial position to be able to do without them.

Benefits you can claim whilst working

The most obvious of these benefits is the previously mentioned Working Tax Credits. Tax Credits are benefits that top up your income if you are working and not receiving high pay and they can help out with your children if you get Child Tax Credits. You do not need to be working to get Child Tax Credits, just have children, but you need to be working to be eligible for Working Tax Credits. If you have children and qualify for Working Tax Credits you can also get help towards any childcare costs you have to pay. The name Tax Credits is a bit misleading as it makes you believe that this is some kind of credit towards or taken from the tax you have to pay. This is not the case it is a top up benefit of actual money you will receive every week to help you survive.

If you currently get Housing Benefit and are worried that you may lose this if you start to work there is little need to be concerned. If your income is low then you will get both Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit at a rate relevant to the amount of income you will be earning. This means that you will still be able to afford your rent and council tax even if your wages are low. All of this is dependent upon several factors, you could get both of these benefits if you are on a low wage and your rent is below the government limit.

If you have been claiming income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or income related Employment and Support Allowance for 26 weeks before you start your new job you may be entitled to either Extended Payment of Housing or Council Tax Benefits or Mortgage Interest Run On depending upon what type of benefit you get before you start work. Other factors that influence your eligibility to Housing and Council Tax benefits include what your wages are and the number of hours that you work so be sure to get proof of this information to your benefit office as soon as you have it.

If you have been away from work and on some kind on incapacity benefit for 13 weeks before you start the new job (this is 13 continuous weeks), you will not be earning any more than £288.46 every week which is £1250 every month and you are working 16 hours a week or more you could be entitled to a Return to Work Credit. This is a £40 a week top up benefit for people who are returning to work after an accident or illness or with a disability. You can get this benefit for an entire year but only if the new job is expected to last at least for five weeks, meets the previous criteria and your job will begin within the qualifying time after receiving the relevant benefit. This means that the job has to start in the five week period after you get the benefit; it also has to meet the government minimum wage level. There may be other relevant criteria for getting this top up benefit; it is worth chatting to your benefit advisor for more information.

Other help could also be entitled to

There is even the possibility of getting a one of lump sum payment called a Job Grant when you start your new job. You will get this grant automatically if you fit in with the eligibility criteria, there is no need to apply for it; you just need to tell your local Jobcentre Plus that you are beginning a job. In order to get this benefit you need to have been claiming Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, Jobseekers Allowance or Severe Disablement Allowance for more than 6 months concurrently before you start work. The hours you will be working need to be over 16 hours a week to qualify for this benefit.

There are lots of other ways that you can get help for returning to employment, especially if you are still at the stage of looking for work. The Jobcentre Plus will offer services that help with compiling a CV, looking and applying for jobs, finding out about training possibilities and introduction to work clubs and other organisations that help people find a job. Some Jobcentres even have discretionary funds to help people with travel expenses to and from interviews and they will have free telephones for you to call about job vacancies you have seen. As well as the jobs that they advertise they will most likely have the jobs sections of both local and national newspapers and access to on-line job seeking services.

Once you get back into work

If you have been on either Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance prior to getting your new paid employment there are services available to help you sort out your benefit allowances with the minimum amount of time and fuss. In and Out of Work is a Jobcentre Plus scheme that gives people receiving either one of the above benefits the option to tell their Jobseeker Plus advisor about their new employment and the advisor will make sure that all other benefit agencies know about it. Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Tax Credits will then automatically work out your new benefit entitlements for you without you having to submit multiple changes of circumstance reports.

Once you are established in your work you will need to report the changes of circumstance yourself. This change could be more or less hours, overtime, bonuses or even a change of job and you should let the relevant departments know about the changes as soon as possible. If your claim to Jobseekers Allowance or income Support has ended within 26 weeks of the change of circumstances there may be a quicker way of claiming them again if you stop work. As long as your circumstances have not changed from the last time you claimed the benefit you can just call the Jobcentre Plus line on 0800 0556688 between 8am and 6pm from Monday to Friday to start the claim process again. It will be a shorter process than a brand new claim as they will already have most of your details on file.