I’m thinking about going back to work now my 4-year-old is starting school but I’m worried about how it’ll affect my benefits. Will I lose everything I earn?
Penny says: Hi Chantelle, it’s always an emotional time when the little ones start school, makes you realise just how quickly they grow up. If you are bringing up children on your own, under the old benefits you would be on income support until they reach their fifth birthday if you don’t currently work or work less than sixteen hours per week.
You should be getting Income Support, Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit (if you rent your home). At the fifth birthday you would be invited to move onto Jobseekers Allowance and start looking for work, but you would still get Child Tax Credits, Child Benefit, Council Tax Support and Housing Benefit alongside. You will also be able to claim help with childcare costs.
However, you might be on Universal Credit, or be in an area where a change in circumstances such as the fifth birthday of a youngest child will trigger the need for you to make a new claim and move over to Universal Credit, (Which replaces 6 old means tested benefits – IS, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credit, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance and Income Related Employment and Support Allowance).
The government has promised that no one should be worse off in work, so best thing is to get a ‘better off’ calculation done once you have a job in mind. You can either do this yourself online – Turn2Us.org.uk or entitledto.com or you can contact the Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline on 0808 802 0925 for some tailored advice. But remember when deciding whether you are better off in work you need to think about other costs of working such as travel, uniforms, lunches etc.