Work for your benefit schemes
Mandatory Work Activity Scheme
This is an employment scheme for people claiming jobseeker's allowance who are aged 18 or over. It's aimed at people who need extra support to look for jobs and to gain work-related skills. Jobcentre Plus can decide whether you must take part.
The scheme is intended to provide work or work-related activity for up to 30 hours a week over a four-week period to help you improve your chances of getting work. To be on the scheme, you have to be available for and actively seeking work, and you have to enter into a jobseeker's agreement.
If you are required to take part in the scheme, but you don't without a very good reason, you will be sanctioned. This means your Jobseeker's Allowance will be reduced or stopped for a certain period. However, you may be able to challenge a decision to sanction you.
For more information about how to challenge a benefit decision, see Problems with benefits and tax credits.
The Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme
The Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme is a 'work for your benefit' scheme for people claiming jobseeker's allowance. Jobcentre Plus can decide whether you take part. It aims to help you find employed or self-employed work. The scheme may include work-related activities, such as work experience or looking for work.
The Work Programme and New Enterprise Allowance are part of this scheme. Other new government initiatives to help people find work will also be part of the scheme when they are introduced. These are:
- Skills Conditionality
- Service Academies
- the Work Programme.
Unless you have a good reason, if you fail to take part in the Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme your jobseeker's allowance may be stopped or cut. This may also happen if you don't join one of the government initiatives that are part of the scheme.
You may be able to challenge a decision to stop or cut your benefit.
The Work Programme
What is the Work Programme
The Work Programme is part of the Employment Skills and Enterprise Scheme. It aims to get people claiming certain benefits into sustained work. There are several schemes around the UK run by different organisations for Jobcentre Plus. The organisations are paid by their results. The more people they help to find work, the more they are paid.
Organisations running the Work Programme have to offer a minimum level of service. However, they are free to set the rules of their own schemes based on local economic and employment conditions. This means the rules for qualifying to take part in the Work Programme can vary from area to area.
Who has to take part in the Work Programme
You will have to take part in the Work Programme if you belong to any of the following groups of people:
- you are aged 18-24 and have claimed jobseeker's allowance for nine months
- you are aged 25 or over and have claimed jobseeker's allowance for 12 months
- you are seriously disadvantaged in the labour market, for example because a disability has made it hard to find work. When you qualify and whether you can choose to take part will depend on which area you live in and what your circumstances are
- you have recently claimed incapacity benefit, after claiming jobseeker's allowance for three months
- you are claiming income-related employment and support allowance, are in the work-related activity group, and are expected to be fit for work within three months.
Who can choose to take part in the Work Programme
You can volunteer to take part in the Work Programme at any time if you belong to one of the following groups of people:
- you are claiming employment and support allowance but are not required to take part
- you get pension credit
- in England, you get income support or incapacity benefit.
Complaints about the Work Programme
The organisation that runs the Work Programme must have a complaints procedure and tell you what it is. If you make a complaint and the organisation can't sort it out, you can refer your complaint to the Independent Case Examiner. They deal with unresolved complaints on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Citizens Advice Bureau