During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of Britons relying on Universal Credit for support has increased.
More people than ever are now relying on universal credit to help feed their families and pay their bills – but for many it’s just not enough and people are struggling.
If you have universal credit, there are ways to increase the assistance you get, especially if you are looking for a job.
Three work coaches from across the country – Claire Davies, Stephen Tanfield and Amy Milner – gathered to discuss must-have tips for job seekers as the economy reopens.
Here’s what they told the Mirror.
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- Ask your work coach for advice on your CV
âYour CV is so important. This is the first thing employers will see about you, so it is essential that it shows your best qualities and the skills that you have in your record, âsaid Claire.
âIt’s really important that you have the structure well established, clearly emphasizing that you have what this employer is looking for. “
Stephen adds, âFor many clients, polishing their resume and cover letter writing is one of the first things I do. And once that’s sorted out, they tend to find it a lot easier to get interviews.
- Request practical interviews
Amy says, âInterviews can be nerve-racking. Some of the clients I have worked with came in with very low self-confidence and really struggled to express the skills and experience they have when under pressure.
âWe can suggest lots of tips on techniques for staying calm and focused, and we’ll do practice sessions where we go over the types of questions to expect. It’s about feeling comfortable and confident.
âIf you don’t yet have the skills to land the job you’re looking for, we can help,â explains Claire.
âThere is so much training available to build skills in all kinds of areas, usually designed for people to complete around other commitments like childcare or part-time work. “
Amy adds, âPeople don’t realize how much is actually available. There is so much out there, but it’s a matter of finding it.
âThis is where we come in: the jobcentre is the perfect hub to find relevant courses and opportunities for people who want to improve their skills. “
- Up to 50% discount on train and bus travel
âThis is one of the lesser known benefits of universal credit, but it can be very useful when you go to the job center or for a job interview,â says Stephen.
âApplicants may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus travel discount card if they have applied for 3 to 9 months (aged 18 to 24) or 3 to 12 months (over 25).
Claire adds: âThe card can be used for any trip, allowing you to benefit from a 50pc reduction on selected tickets. Just talk to your work coach to see how you can claim yours.
âThis one is so, so important,â Stephen says. âI think a lot of people think they can’t work because they have kids to look after all day. Of course, it’s hard work in and of itself, but we have support available for working parents.
âWe can reimburse parents who work on the Universal Credit for over Â£ 13,000 in childcare costs, up to 85% of your overall childcare costs.
âProspective parents can also get a one-time payment of Â£ 500 towards childcare costs through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
âAll of this has made a huge difference to a lot of the people I have worked with and really showed them that childcare doesn’t have to be an impossible barrier at work. “
âSaving is such an important habit to make, and there is never a bad time to start,â says Claire.
âA lot of people haven’t heard of Help to Save, but it’s a really great program.
âEssentially, customers can set aside Â£ 1 to Â£ 50 per month, and after two years of savings the government will give you 50 pence for every Â£ 1 saved. It’s a great incentive to get yourself into a really important habit. You can find out more at gov.uk.
- Support at the start of the works
âWe can always help you once you’ve got an interview or a job,â says Amy.
âThe Flexible Support Fund has been a real help for some of my clients,â adds Stephen. âIt can pay for things people need to cross the line, like travel expenses or a new uniform. “
“Talk to your work coach to see if you can get help through the Flexible Support Fund – for example Claire from Grimsby was able to get money to pay for new clothes for her upkeep as part of the of his journey to become a bus driver, which was his dream job.