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1:07pm Thursday 13th January 2011 in Advice
Since my divorce three years ago I’ve been on income support and bringing up my two children alone. The youngest is coming up to her seventh birthday and I’ve had a letter telling me I will no longer be able to get income support and will have to look for work. I’m really worried as I haven’t worked for a few years now and don’t know how I could fit a job round my children, even if I could get one. Can you help?
The benefit rules have recently changed so that if you are a single parent who currently gets Income Support and your youngest child has turned seven, you will now have to move to Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) if you are able to work.
The Department of Work and Pensions should write to you eight weeks before your child is due to turn seven, inviting you to an interview to apply for JSA.
However, there are some protections built into the new rules to take account of the particular difficulties lone parents are likely to face in juggling work with the needs of their children.
You will only be expected to be available for work during your children’s normal school hours. And you may be able to refuse work if you cannot find suitable childcare or the childcare costs would be too high.
If you cannot work because you are sick or disabled, you may be able to switch to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). If you get Carer's Allowance or look after a child who gets Disability Living Allowance, you may continue to get Income Support.
If you need support to start applying for jobs, JobCentre Plus offers a range of services to help you get back into work. For more information contact your local JobCentre Plus office. Go to: www.direct.gov.uk.
For more information about Jobseeker's Allowance, see Benefits for people looking for work on the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk
If you are still worried, a CAB adviser can give you free, confidential, impartial and independent advice on your situation, For contact details of your nearest CAB please visit www.adviceguide.org.uk