Job Grants

The many forms of financial support and income protection that are offered in the United Kingdom are intended to preserve the dignity and basic rights of citizens. Ultimately, though, the intention of the system is always to provide temporary support so that you can find an appropriate and profitable job.

To encourage this, and to smooth the transition from receiving benefits to being employed, there is a one-off, tax-free grant called the Job Grant. This is awarded to people who are moving into employment, or whose employment status will change in a way that will disqualify them from benefits. The grant also applies to situations where your partner's changing work situation will affect your benefits.

Whether you'll need money to refresh your wardrobe so that it's more appropriate to your new position, carry you through the gap to a monthly income, or any other changes in your cost of living that'll probably be part of the change in lifestyle – if you meet the criteria, you should receive a Job Grant.

Qualifying for a job grant

Since the grant is to compensate for the loss of a benefit, the first criterion is that you need to have been receiving one. Benefits which qualify include the Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, and Severe Disablement Allowance. If you receive a Jobcentre Plus or New Deal Allowance based on any of these benefits, or an Employment Zone payment that's based on a Jobseeker's Allowance; you also qualify.

Importantly, you need to have been receiving one of these qualifying benefits for at least 26 weeks immediately prior to entering your new job. Any period of time where you weren't eligible for one of these benefits for any reason won't be counted towards that 26 week qualifying period. You're obligated to inform Jobcntre Plus of your changed status within 21 days of starting work.

You should also be aware that if you've been signing as unemployed, or sending in medical evidence, only to receive your National Insurance contributions, you won't get a Job Grant.

Other important criteria for eligibility concern the nature of the the job you're taking on. Since it needs to change your benefit status, it needs to be work of at least 16 hours a week. This could also be a permanent increase in your shift allocations rather than a new job. Equally, if your partner starts to work at least 24 hours a week, your benefits would also stop – so you'd qualify for the Job Grant. The grant would also apply if you or your partner took on another job that would combine with the existing one to disqualify you from your benefits. This doesn't apply to temporary changes in status. The changed work status must be expected to last for at least 5 weeks.

A Job Grant is an entirely discretionary payment – meaning that you aren't automatically entitled to it if you meet the qualification requirements. Unlike most other benefits, payments and grants, this means that you have very little leave to appeal if your application is rejected. The decision is made at Jobcentre Plus level, and your only possible route to remedying a decision that's gone against you is to make a written request to Jobcentre Plus to reconsider the decision. This is not a hopeless cause, as they would most likely follow a standardised “best practice” approach and ensure that it's a different person who reviews the reasons given for refusing your claim.

Financial considerations

The value of a Job Grant is dependant on your personal situation. Single people and couples without children can receive £100, while lone parents and couples with children can be awarded £250.

If you do qualify for a Job Grant, you'll be awarded it automatically at the time your benefit claim gets closed. It'll be paid to you in exactly the same way that your benefits were normally paid to you.

As we've mentioned previously, Job Grants are tax-free discretionary grants, so when you receive one it won't have any impact on tax credits or other specific benefits that relate to that. You probably also immediately qualify for the Extended Council Tax Benefit and the Extended Housing Benefit. These would give you 4 weeks of help with paying your council tax and rent respectively.

If your new work situation hasn't significantly improved your financial situation, you may still qualify for continued support with these aspects in the form of an in-work Council Tax Benefit and an in-work Housing Benefit. You won't even need to file a new claim; your situation will automatically be assessed at the end of the 4 weeks.