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Off benefits back to work - have you done this? How did you survive initially?

(6 Posts)
GoingToCalifornia Tue 09-Dec-14 17:59:12

I'm being interviewed this week for a job which is offering very flexible school hours.
At this point I don't know which days/hours they will offer.

I have been out of work for 7 years since raising my children alone.
The youngest started school last year and the other is in Year 3 juniors. Both schools have excellent breakfast/afterschool clubs starting from 8am and finishing at 6pm so childcare is available.

But from what I've read, in order to retain Child Tax Credit and a small amount of housing benefit, I should only work 16 hours a week. Their totally absent father contributes the minimum £2.50 a week per child (whilst he pretends not to be working cash in hand), so I receive JobSeekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit.

I had a Jobcentre lone parent advisor for a while but whilst she could do 'back to work' calculation for me, it wasn't useful as it didn't take into account childcare costs and it didn't know how much if any housing benefit help I'd still get, or if Working Tax Credit was applicable, or anything, basically other than juxtaposing how much take home (before tax, again not useful without knowing how much tax is took off) a full time minimum wage job compared to staying on benefits. I would be £19.50 a week better off in a full time job, however, it didn't take into account the above, so ...

If my employer doesn't offer government childcare vouchers, how on earth will I afford £73.50 a week childcare?

Would I still get bank holidays off if only part time?

Which days would be best to work?

I have also asked in CAB but I was seen first by what looked to be a18 year old and later by someone else, but both of them just looked up answers on their intranet and still couldn't tell me anything definite. I'm beginning to think I'm just supposed to jump in at the deep end, stop my benefits totally, then hope there's enough to pay the rent, bills and food when my first wage comes in (they pay weekly).

I haven't had a weekly wage since I was very young. Should I be worried about this? If they pay weekly fifties that mean it's an unusual kind of contract?

This is all assuming I get the job, but it's probably a given unless I turn up to interview with two heads, as they have a high staff turnover, minimum wage, and the nature of the job is highly stressful. I've worked in this environment before and my experience is that a company this flexible on working hours are desperate to hang onto staff so they offer such attractive bait.

I am absolutely terrified of childcare costs and how I'll cover them (in 10 days time the kids are off school for two weeks. So if they offer me a job this week, I'll have to cover that childcare cost before I even have my first week's wages..)
I'm also concerned at the inevitable amount of time taken off work when my children will be poorly. How would I afford to live when I have to regularly take off a day here or a week there for their sickness??

Are you entitled to sick pay when part time?

There just isn't anywhere online I've found that can properly answer these very basic questions that all lone parents trying to get back into work will have. Nowhere. Not Gingerbread, government websites, Mumsnet, other forums, CAB,...

Has anyone been my situation, or could kindly take a little while of their time to help answer some of my questions? I know it's just a forum, but these are significant questions that will change my life and you would be genuinely helping someone more than you can know flowers

I'm probably going to put this on Chat board too for the traffic and Lone Parents board too.

crapcrapcrapcrap Tue 09-Dec-14 18:05:35

I'm not able to help myself but I've always found the tax credits helpline very good and helpful (once you've waited half an hour in a queue!). Good luck - it must be a scary prospect but I am sure you can make it work smile

ExtraVolume Fri 12-Dec-14 18:24:36

I have just done this. Tax credits took all my details and said they can't tell me what I'm entitled to, wait for the letter (2-4 weeks). They will only take your details once you start work.

But phone 0800 028 6538 as they talked me through everything I should get- tax credits, housing benefit etc. You have to work minimum of 16 hours to get working tax credit and they pay 70% of your childcare, provided it is a registered agency.

Also the Lone Parent Advisor should be able to do a proper calculation for you but they do vary in how helpful they are.

Also try you can enter it all yourself.

gillybean2 Sun 14-Dec-14 09:26:06

I went back to work after a 6 year break - that was 10 years ago now!

As well as child tax credit, you should get WTC (working tax credit) if you work enough hours, and get help with child care if the care is ofstead registered.
Child care has a cap (can't recall what it is sorry), but they pay up to 70% and you pay the rest.
As your weekly costs will change in the holidays, you average out the costs for the year and they pay you that per week.
Will you use the same child care in the holidays as before and after school?

The entitled to website is very useful and you can go back and re-enter figures and see how working a few more hours, or paying more for child care etc would affect things.

If the place you are working is so desparate for staff could you not ask for school hours or term time only to reduce your child care costs?

Don't forget to factor in school dinner costs (I wasn't entitled to them as it's covered by the WTC) and your travel and other associated costs with having a job (clothing, lunch, socialising with work colleagues...)

Woodenheart Mon 15-Dec-14 17:55:56

How did the interview go OP?

fucketbanny Sat 20-Dec-14 23:59:52

another thing is the Extended payment period. if you have been on jsa/income support/ esa for 26 weeks or more continuously and go into work for 16+ hours that is expected to last 5+ weeks, you will get housing benefit paid at the same rate as you were getting before for 4 weeks after you jsa or other of the above benefits have ended. contact your housing benefit Team to make sure they realise you are entitled to it otherwise it May be overlooked

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