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The Work Programme - A Guide

If your disabled the Work Programme can help you prepare for, find and stay in work.
If you are already working part-time, it could help you to increase your hours

What is the Work Programme?

The Work Programme is delivered for Jobcentre Plus by specialist organisations, called ‘providers’.

Your provider will give you all the support you need to find and stay in work, even if:

  • you change benefits
  • you get a job

The Work Programme may include you taking part in activities to help you find work like:

  • work experience
  • training and further support

The support you get will be tailored to your individual needs and circumstances. Your involvement in the
Work Programme will last up to two years.

A Jobcentre Plus adviser will explain:

  • what to expect when you join the Work Programme
  • what will happen when you start


When you must take part in the Work Programme

If you have to take part in the Work Programme, Jobcentre Plus will write and ask you to attend an interview.

You may have to take part if you’re getting either:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

JSA and the Work Programme

If you’re getting JSA, you may have to take part in the Work Programme after:

  • nine months - if you’re aged 18 to 24
  • 12 months - if you’re 25 or over

You may join the Work Programme earlier, if both you and your Jobcentre Plus adviser agree.

ESA and the Work Programme

If you’re getting ESA and are in the work-related activity group you may have to take part in the Work Programme.
There are some exceptions to this, like if you’re a:

  • full-time carer
  • lone parent with a child under five

Volunteering to take part in the Work Programme

If you don’t have to take part, you can volunteer to join the Work Programme.

To volunteer, you must be getting:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

If you live in England you can also volunteer if you’re getting Incapacity Benefit or Income Support.
This doesn’t apply if you live in Scotland or Wales.

Not everyone who volunteers to join the Work Programme will be able to. Depending on your circumstances,
Jobcentre Plus may offer you different help instead.

To find out more, speak to a Jobcentre Plus adviser.



Youth Contract - extra help for 18 to 24 year olds

It can be really difficult to find employers who will recruit people with little or no experience
- and that’s where the Youth Contract can help you.

You should talk to your Jobcentre Plus adviser about your circumstances.
You may be offered a range of options, including:

  • help to negotiate a voluntary work experience placement
  • a careers interview with the National Careers Service (in England)
  • opportunities to learn while you earn
  • a cash incentive for employers to give you a job via the Work Programme
  • additional tailored support from your Jobcentre Plus adviser

Ask your Jobcentre Plus adviser what the Youth Contact can do to help you get skills,
experience training or a job.

Information for Employers, Suppliers and Stakeholders

Find out more information about the Work Programme using the following links.

More useful links



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