Government employment schemes
If you're unemployed, you may be required to go on a government employment scheme like the Work Programme or your JSA may be taken away.
If you are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), you'll be expected to develop a Jobseeker's Agreement with your Jobcentre Plus personal advisor. After 13 weeks, you may be required to go on a job scheme. Failure to do so could mean you lose some of your benefit. Your benefit could also be cut if you agree to a scheme and then fail to complete it.
The Work Programme
The Work Programme is run by different organisations for Jobcentre plus. The organisations aim to prepare you for finding and staying in a job. What exactly the Work Programme entails will be different for different people as it aims to help you based on your own personal skills/experience. The organisations are paid by results which has been an issue of contention.
You'll have to take part if:
- You're aged between 18-24 and have claimed JSA for nine months
- You're claiming income-related Employment and Support Allowance, are in the work-related activity group, and can be fit for work in three months.
- You have recently claimed incapacity benefit, after claiming JSA for three months.
If you don't take part in the Work Programme your benefit could be cut or withdrawn completely.
Complaints against the Work Programme
Because the Work Programme delivery organisations are profit-driven, critics argue they're therefore more interested in getting you a job - any job - rather than a job that makes you happy.
If you feel strongly that what you've been asked to do is not going to help you get a long-term job, the organisation running your programme should have a complaints procedure, so don't be afraid to ask about it. If you can't work out the complaint between you, it will get referred to the Independent Case Examiner who works on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mandatory work activity scheme
If you're over 18 and your Jobcentre plus advisor thinks you need more work-related skills, they can put you on a mandatory work activity scheme. You'll have to take part in work-related activity for up to 30 hours a week over four weeks to improve your chances of getting a job. If you refuse to take part you can lose your benefit.
To challenge a benefit decision see here.
Some government schemes are voluntary. However, is your personal adviser feels you'll benefit from one, they may make attendance compulsory.
Training for work in Scotland
If you live in Scotland and you're 18 or over you can ask Jobcentre plus about this scheme. It aims to give the long term unemployed (jobless for more than 13 weeks) vocational training in a specific industry suited to potential employers in your area.
Steps to Employment in Wales
If you're unemployed and over 18, you're eligible for the Wales Steps to Employment programme. This works on two levels. Work Focused Learning helps you overcome learning problems and identify what type of work you want to do. Routeways to Work is an eight-week programme aiming to link you with a particular employer in a profession you're interested in.
Steps to work in Northern Ireland
Anyone over 18, unemployed, or working less than 16 hours a week, is eligible for this three-step programme to help you back into work.
Community jobs Scotland (CJS)
This helps 16-24 year olds to get a paid job in the voluntary sector. You need to have been unemployed for at least six months to be considered. All CJS jobs must be at least 25 hours a week and last for 26 weeks, or 39 weeks if you're 16 to 17. You will be paid the minimum wage or above.
These allow you to try out a new job while still receiving benefits. It also gives the employer a chance to double-check you're suitable. Work trials usually only last a few days.
If, at any point, either you or the employer doesn't think it's working, you can discontinue the trial without affecting your benefits. If you are offered the job at the end of the trial but decide you don't want it, this also won't affect your benefits.
Work based learning schemes
If you are aged between 16 and 18, there are a variety of training schemes that you may be able to go on to help you gain qualifications while in employment. If you are under 18, it's unlikely you'll be entitled to benefits without completing one of these schemes.
- Apprenticeship programmes
- National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) training in England
- Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Scotland
- Entry to employment (e2e) in England
- Get Ready for Work Programme in Scotland
- preparatory training
- the right to time off for study or training
- Skillseekers in Scotland
The programmes vary in length, and can be full-time or part-time. The only stipulation is that you should be able to receive a NVQ level 2 (or equivalent) qualification during your scheme.
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