Frequently asked questions
Q: I want to work. Where can I find help?
At the moment there are two ways of getting help to find work. The first is through the Government funded employment programmes. The Work Programme is the Government's big new programme and it is aimed at people who are unemployed or on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It is designed to support people who might have health problems or a disability and you can find out who delivers it in your area here.
Work Choice is designed for people with more severe disabilities. You must be referred through the Disability Employment Advisor (DEA) at your local jobcentre. You can find out who delivers it in your area here.
You can find details of organisations that offer locally funded support here. You may need to be eligible for social care support to get support from some of these services, particularly those that are managed by local authorities. Your Disability Employment Advisor should be able to guide you to the right support.
Q: Can I work part time without losing my welfare benefits?
You can work for up to 12 months through the permitted work scheme. You are allowed to work for up to 16 hours per week and earn up to 16 times the national minimum hourly wage per week, currently £94.88 (correct at 1 June 2011). You must declare this work to your jobcentre using Form PW1 and money will be taken off your welfare benefits if you earn more than the maximum allowed. If you are disabled, you can continue to work after 12 months if you receive support from a specialist organisation like a supported employment service. This is called supported permitted work.
Social Firms UK has produced a guide to permitted work but it is a complicated area and we recommend that you seek expert advice before starting any work. Generally you will still get your housing benefit as long as you don't claim Income Support.
Q: I'm worried about my welfare benefits reassessment. What can I do?
Talk to someone who can guide you therough the process. The Government is reassessing most people's entitlement to Incapacity Benefit as part of their move to Employment and Support Allowance. You can find out when you're likely to be reassessed by asking at your jobcentre. A lot of people who have been reassessed as 'fit for work' have appealed against the decision. You stand a much better chance of appealing successfully if you have someone to represent and advise you at the appeal. Contact your local welfare rights office, Citizens Advice or speak to your support workers to find out where you can get help.
Q: Do I have to declare a disability at my interview for a job?
The new Equality Act means that you shouldn't be asked any questions about your health or disability unless you are going to be offered the job. We would always advise people to be honest with employers so that you are covered by the Equality Act. Remember as well to let the company know before your interview if you have any particular requirements because of a disability.