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Returning to work after claiming benefits: What help is available?

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Returning to work after claiming benefits isn’t always easy

If you’re thinking of going back to work after claiming benefits it can be a confusing time financially. Whether you’re a lone parent or in a relationship, it can be hard to work out exactly what you’ll be entitled to and if you’ll be better off. This guide provides useful information on what help is available.

If you’ve been on benefits for a while, work might seem like a scary prospect, especially if you’ve got dependent children to support. There’s the thought that some of your benefits will simply stop and how will you manage until your first pay day. However, you might be entitled to claim more than you think.

Tax Credits

There are two types of tax credits that you could be entitled to claim if you’re a working parent. Child Tax Credits are available to those who have at least one dependent child living with them. This can also be claimed by those out of work.

Working Tax Credits are based on how many hours you’re paid for and can be claimed by those in employment and the self-employed. You may be entitled to some form of Working Tax Credits if you’re a single parent and work at least 16 hours a week or you’re a couple and work at least 24 hours a week between you (one person must work at least 16 hours).

Help with childcare

If you pay for childcare while you’re working, you may be able to claim some of the costs for this back. To do so you need to be using a registered or approved form of childcare, including nurseries, childminders and out of school clubs. There are different guidelines for what’s classed as approved in different parts of the UK. For example, in England nurseries and childminders must be Ofsted registered. If you qualify you could get help with up to 70% of the costs, up to a maximum of £175 a week for one child and £300 a week for two or more.

Back to work after claiming benefitsEveryone has different circumstances

The amount you’ll receive will depend on a number of factors, including how many children you have, whether you’re in a relationship, how much you earn, if you pay for childcare and if you have children will disabilities. As a guideline, to claim any rate of tax credits if you have one child you need to have an income under £26,000 and for those with two children it’s under £32,000.

Job Grant

The Job Grant is a one off tax free payment for those returning to work who’ve been in receipt of certain benefits. This will apply to you if you’ve been receiving Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support continuously for more than six months.

You need to be returning to work for at least 16 hours if you’re a single parent and 24 hours if you’re a couple and the job must last for at least five weeks. The grant will automatically be paid if you qualify. For lone parents and couples with children you’ll receive one payment of £250.

Return to Work Credit

This additional benefit is paid to those who’ve been off work due to a health condition or disability, as well as lone parents with a dependent child under the age of seven. As a lone parent you must have been claiming Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance for at least 13 weeks and be working a minimum of 16 hours a week. As long as you meet certain criteria, you’ll receive a payment of £40 a week for a maximum of 52 weeks.

Housing Benefit

Many people presume that this will stop once you return to work. However those on low incomes may continue to receive some support towards their housing costs. If you’ve been receiving income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support for at least 26 weeks continuously before you start work then your housing benefit payments will continue for four weeks. After this if your wages are below certain levels you may still be entitled to some benefit.

Get advice

If you’re in any doubt about what financial help you’ll be entitled to once you return to work, you should speak with a Jobcentre Plus advisor. They are more than happy to help with the change in your circumstances and will be able to support you into your new employment.






About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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