Posted by Julia Roxan on 31 January 2017

I have been unemployed on benefits for nearly a year and now have a job offer but I am worried about how I am going to cope for the first month until I receive my first wage packet. Is there any help?

You may be able to get some help with the costs of starting work if you begin a new job, increase your hours or wages or go back to work after being sick or disabled.

Some kinds of help will depend on how long you have been unemployed, and some types of help are only for people on certain government schemes or training. If you want to find out what help you can get, you should ask at the Jobcentre.

When you start a new job, or increase your hours or wages, so that you come off certain out-of-work benefits, you may continue to get Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction paid at the same rate for the first four weeks of your new work arrangements. This extra benefit is known as ‘extended payments or extended reductions’.

To qualify you must have been getting one of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks before the change in your working circumstances: Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, or Incapacity Benefit.

You can also get an extended payment if these benefits have stopped because your partner got a new job or increased their hours or wages.

You must tell the Forest of Dean District Council about your new job or increase in hours or pay within four weeks of it starting. If you are on a low income and will still be entitled to some Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction in your new job, you can carry on getting the benefit.

If you are getting help with your mortgage interest, paid with your Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, you may be able to get this paid for the first four weeks that you are in work, or increase your hours. This is called the ‘mortgage interest run-on’. You must have been getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance for at least 26 weeks, and you (or your partner) must have taken up a job, or increased your hours, so that you are no longer entitled to these benefits.

You should let the Forest of Dean District Council or Jobcentre know that you are starting full-time work as soon as possible.