Link: Department for Employment and Learning Banner_DPCF_Lone_Parents_Support

The information shown on this page has been compiled from two leaflets published by the Department for Employment and Learning.  The leaflets discuss two aspects of support available for lone parents: ‘The Work Preparation for Lone Parents Programme’ and the ‘Return to Work Credit’. Donegall Pass Community Forum has a small number of the leaflets available at its offices.  For further information, you should freephone 0800 353530 or contact the JobCentre at 1st Floor, Conor Building, 107 Great Victoria Street, Belfast. BT2 7AG. ‘Phone: (028) 9054 5432.

Do you need support to prepare you for work? - Work Preparation can help.

The Work Preparation for Lone Parents Programme is an important part of the ‘Pathways to work for Lone Parents’ initiative, which has been introduced to help Lone Parents back to work.

If you receive Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance - and are a Lone Parent - the Work Preparation Programme can help you to develop your work skills and self-confidence.

The Work Preparation for Lone Parents Programme is flexible and designed to meet your individual needs.  It aims to identify and overcome any barriers to work that you may have.  You will be given one-to-one support during work placement(s) and receive professional advice and guidance to help you to find a suitable job.

Work Preparation can help you...

  • Build up your confidence.
  • Identify and assess your abilities to find a suitable job.
  • Find out what kind of work you are suited to.
  • Explore new skills or update old ones.
  • Try out your readiness for work - in a real working environment.
  • Mix and work with others.

Where and when is it available?

The programme is presently being tested, from April 2007, in four areas of Northern Ireland. The pilot areas are Shaftesbury Square, Knockbreda, Lisburn and Limavady Jobs & Benefits office areas.

How do I join the programme?

You can join the programme through a Personal Advisor in one of the Jobs & Benefits offices listed.  The Personal Advisor will tell you all about the programme and you can both agree whether or not it would be appropriate for you.

What about my benefits?

You will be able to stay on your existing benefits - as long as you continue to meet eligibility criteria.  Advice regarding benefits and your participation on the programme is available from your Personal Advisor.

How long will the programme last?

This will depend on your individual needs - and what you have agreed with your Personal Advisor. The programme is flexible and will be completed within 12 weeks. Your Personal Advisor will keep in touch with you while you are on the programme - to support you and find out how you are progressing towards your work goal.

How is the programme delivered?

Through local providers approved by the Department for Employment and Learning who have the skills and expertise to meet your needs. Your Personal Advisor will discuss the detail of the programme with you.

Do you need financial help to return to work? - Return to work credit can help.

The Return to work Credit provides financial support - available in those Jobs & Benefits offices that are part of the ‘Pathways to Work for Lone Parents’ Pilot.

We (Department for Employment and Learning) will pay the Return to work Credit during your first year of work. See below to find out if you can claim.

How much can I claim?

The Return to Work Credit is a tax-free payment of £40.00 per week - paid directly to you on top of your wages for 52 weeks - if you work for 16 hours, or more, and earn less than £15,000 per year.

Will the Return to Work Credit affect any other benefits or credits I am claiming?

.  The Return to Work Credit will not affect any amount you are paid for Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit or Carer’s Allowance. The amount you pay for Income Tax or National Insurance Contributions will also not be affected.

How do I know if I can claim the Return to Work Credit?

If you live in a ‘Pathways to Work for Lone Parents’ Pilot area and can answer “Yes” to all five questions below, you can claim the Return to Work Credit.

  • Have you been claiming one of the following for 52 weeks or more?

- Income Support

- Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Will you be working 16 hours or more per week?
  • Do you expect your personal annual salary, before deductions (or income from trading) to be £15,000 per year or less?
  • Do you expect your job to last more than five weeks?
  • Are you starting work or have you started work in the past five weeks?

I have answered “Yes” to all the questions.  How do I claim the Return to Work Credit?

You can get an application form from your local Jobs & Benefits office.  It will be able to check that you qualify.  Your Personal Advisor can also give you more information and help complete the form with you.

How do I get the Return to Work Credit?

You can claim from the date that you start work or become self-employed. You must claim within five weeks from the date that you start work and claim again after 26 weeks. Your local Jobs & Benefits office will pay the credit to you each week.  It will pay it directly into your bank or building society account.

What if I stop working while I’m claiming Return to Work Credit?

If you stop working while you are receiving the Return to Work Credit, you must let your local Jobs & Benefits office know immediately.  The credit stops when you stop work.

What if I change my job in that time?

You can continue to claim the Return to Work Credit if you change your employer as long as:

  • Your annual salary is £15,000 or less;
  • You do not claim benefit between jobs; and
  • Any break between jobs is less than 5 weeks.

As well as the Return to Work Credit, there is also a range of other options available to help you.  Your Personal Advisor will discuss this with you.
Quick Links:

Link: Gingerbread NI - Training for Lone Parents
Link to 'New Deal for Lone Parents' - Department for Employment and Learning
Link to EURES - Northern Ireland page
Link to: LIFE nationwide network of care centres, website
Link to: A Working Mum (UK) website - Advice & Tips for the Busy Working Mum...
Click here to go to Lifeline page