Right, let’s get one thing straight from the off. We’re not trying to force you into any job.
With the introduction of Universal Credit (UC) came an expectation from the government that, depending on your circumstances, you may be expected to find work (or work more hours). This is something you need to be aware of so you can make the right choices for you and your family.
Everybody on UC has to sign a claimant commitment, which is an agreement between you and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on what you will do to find work in return for the money you receive. It’s absolutely crucial that you explain your circumstances in as much detail as possible to the Jobcentre as this will determine exactly what your claimant commitment looks like and will make sure that it’s shaped properly for you. Their expectations of you have got to be realistic and you’ll only get this by being completely honest with them.
For example, you need to make sure they understand about things like your childcare and travel arrangements. If you’ve got really young children, it’s unlikely you’ll be looking to work full-time – and if your children are school-age what would you do around school holidays?
Thinking about travel – you will be expected to look for a job that’s up to 90 minutes away from home. How would that work for you? If you drive, think about petrol costs and wear and tear on your car. If you rely on public transport, how much would the bus or train cost, and how far from your home (or the kids' school) are the bus or train stations?
Whatever your circumstances, when completing your claimant commitment, the key is to be honest and not to over-commit yourself.
We’re human too
You might think that we don’t really understand what it’s like and that it’s easy for us to sit here giving out advice on things we don’t know much about. But, believe it or not, a lot of us face (or have faced) similar challenges around childcare and travel when thinking about going to work.
We know how hard it is – the vast majority of our employment coaches, money advisors and neighbourhood coaches have to juggle family and work life. Anybody with children will tell you how tough it is to work through all the potential barriers back into work but, as you can see from Zoe’s Facebook post, being in a job that you enjoy makes it all worthwhile.(Zoe is one of our employment coaches).
We know it’s hard – but think of the benefits. What could you do with the extra money you receive from working? It could be something as simple as being able to buy a couple of ice-creams on a sunny day, or you may be able to afford to take the children away on holiday.
Nobody likes being told what to do
Yes, there are expectations set out by the government but that shouldn’t be the driving factor in you looking for work. Nobody likes being told what to do and the DWP telling you to find a job is hardly motivational. We want you to see the benefits of working, and we want you to understand that there’s a choice in the type of work you do.
If you take a job, just because you have to – what are the chances of it working out long-term? Would you be happy? Our aim is to make sure that when you do find work, it will be in something that you enjoy and get paid the right money to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, there’s the very real chance that you’ll yo-yo between work and benefits which can be disruptive and make managing your money tricky.
Whether it be your neighbourhood coach, money advisor or employment coach that you’re working with, it’s about helping you to see a different way of life, a different future for yourself and your children. It’s about offering choices – we want you to find the right job for you.
Don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world we would all wait around for our dream job to come along but that doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes you do have to take a job to get you on the road to better things, but we can guide you and get you where you want to be.
There are so many options out there, but sometimes it takes talking to someone to realise what opportunities await you.
If you need help to overcome your barriers back into work, or simply want to talk to someone about your aspirations please give your neighbourhood coach a call.