There's lots of financial support available to help you look for work, when you've just found a job or if you want to take up training.
While you're looking for work
Local authority support
Your local authority might be able to help you with some costs if they think it will help you find work. This might include buying clothes for interviews or paying for driving lessons. Contact your personal adviser to see what your local authority can offer you.
Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) a benefit paid to those who are not working (or working part time) but are actively seeking work. How much you’re entitled to depends on things like your age, income and savings. If you're 18-24 you could get up to £57.90 a week and if you're 25 or over up to £73.10. For more information go to GOV.UK.
Jobcentre Plus support for care leavers
Most care leavers up until age 21 will be able to claim Income Support and Housing Benefit if returning to full time, non-advanced education to make up for missed qualifications.
You can make a claim for benefits before leaving care at age 18 so you can get your benefit payments on time.
When you're in work
Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
Most people find that having a job makes them better off. All employers must pay the National Minimum Wage. This can change every year. From April 2017, employers must pay:
- £7.05 an hour for people aged 21 and over
- £5.60 an hour people aged 18 to 20
- £4.05 an hour for people aged 16 to 17
- £3.50 for apprentices under 19 and for apprentices who are 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship.
As of April 2017 the National Living Wage of £7.50 an hour will apply for adults aged 25 and over.
Many employers will pay more than the National Minimum Wage. Some employers have signed up to pay the Living Wage. Confusingly, this is different to the National Living Wage. The ‘real’ Living Wage is more money per hour and is based on how much people need to earn in order to live.
The current Living Wage amounts are:
- £8.45 (all parts of the UK, except London)
- £9.75 (London).
Visit www.livingwage.org.uk to find out about Living Wage employers.
You might be able to claim extra benefits when you are working, such as Working Tax Credit. Some benefits, for example Child Benefit, State Pension or bereavement benefits, can still be paid if you are working. Other benefits, such as Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, can be extended for up to four weeks after you go back to work.
You can claim Income Support if you have a low income and are working less than 16 hours a week. The amount you can get depends on your circumstances, but if you qualify and have no income you’ll get at least £57.90 a week. To claim Income Support you must:
- be between 16 and Pension Credit qualifying age
- be pregnant or a carer or a lone parent with a child under 5 or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled
- have no income or a low income and no more than £16,000 in savings (your partner’s income and savings will be taken into account)
- be working less than 16 hours a week (and your partner working no more than 24 hours a week).
You may also qualify for Income Support if you are in full-time education (excluding university) and are aged between 16 and 20.
There are independent benefits calculators which can help you find out what benefits you are entitled to (if you are aged 18 or over). They can also help you to understand how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.
To find out more visit GOV.UK.
If you are on benefits you might be able to get a budgeting loan to help with the cost of starting work. Ask your work coach at Jobcentre Plus or visit GOV.UK for more information.
Access to Work grant
If you have a disability or health condition that affects your ability to do a job or means you have extra work-related costs (for example, special computer equipment or travel costs because you can’t use public transport), then you might be eligible for this grant.
You must be 16 or over and either:
- unemployed and about to start a job or a work trial; or
- in a paid job or self-employed.
An Access to Work grant might also be available for some pre-employment activity such as traineeships, supported internships and some work experience but it is not available for voluntary work.
For more information on the Access to Work grant visit GOV.UK.
For you to take up training
The Prince’s Trust: Development Awards
The Prince's Trust offers Development Awards (which are UK wide) for 17-25 year olds who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week, or in education fewer than 14 hours a week.
These awards help to cover costs such as course fees, transport or equipment to help you achieve your plan to get into education, training or employment. There are rules about how the money can and can’t be spent.
For more information go to the Prince's Trust website.
The Care Leavers Foundation
The Care Leavers Foundation offers grants for training and enterprise for care leavers aged 21-29 who have no access to statutory support or other sources of funding.
For more information go to the Care Leavers Foundation website.
Deciding what career or job you want to do can be difficult, but there are lots of organisations and people who can help you with your decisions.
Looking for work
This section gives lots of hints and tips about how to find and apply for jobs. It also tells you where you can get help with job search and applications.
Work experience can help you decide what sort of job you may like, develop your skills and confidence, and give you something to put on your CV.
You don’t have to have a job and work for an employer - you could set up your own business and work for yourself.
There is lots of financial support available to help you look for work, once you find a job and if you want to do some training.