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Maybe you were thinking of changing your career for a while now, or perhaps it never even crossed your mind. Either way, COVID-19 is leading a lot of people out of the path they were on.
If you are looking to get back to work, want to work more hours, or learn a new skill to change your career entirely, it'd be helpful to have some form of safety-net. And moving into employment or extending your hours doesn't always mean giving up benefits.
There are several schemes that will smooth out the transition for you, so you can confidently show up at your next interview. We have compiled a list of the ones you should definitely know about.
Types of job seeker allowances and financial support:
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Turn2us Supporting Individuals and Families
- JobCentre Plus
- Adult Learning Grant
- Higher Education Grants
First of all, if you're currently without a job or working less than 16 hours a week, and are looking for work, the Jobseeker's Allowance might be for you. There's an income-based Jobseeker's Allowance which is means-tested and a contributory Allowance which is not means-tested.
You might be eligible to claim the Jobseeker's Allowance if:
- If you are older than 18 and under State Pension age and
- not in full-time employment, (or working less than 16 hours a week)
- have made enough national insurance contributions
- and are capable of working and are looking for a job
Some 16 and 17-year-olds can also get Jobseeker's Allowance, so make sure to check what your specific situation means for any monetary help.
If you are over the age of 18, under the Pension Credit age and are on a low income — or completely out of work, you might be able to claim Universal Credit. This is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income. It replaces six existing means-tested legacy benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Housing Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Working Tax Credit.
The Universal Credit is paid on a monthly basis (twice-monthly in Scotland). How much money you'll receive is determined in two steps. First, the Department for Work and Pensions calculates what it thinks you need to live on, based on your household's circumstances. Then, it takes away some income you have coming in.
Again, some 16-year-olds in some limited circumstances can claim this too, so always check your situation.
Turn2us Supporting Individuals and Families.
Chances are you're missing out on financial help available to you through grants. With all that is available, it's hard to keep track and figure out what you can apply for. Turn2us is a national charity helping people when times get tough. And not only by providing financial support through their own grants:
- Turn2us Elizabeth Finn Fund — Giving direct grants to those with a professional background
- Turn2us Edinburgh Trust — Providing support for people who have experienced a life-changing event in the past 12 months.
- Turn2us Response Fund — Offering financial assistance and support specifically for people in need who are living in the City of Edinburgh.
Grant search tool
There are numerous government grants available, which is great, but that also means a quick Google search can overwhelm you with information that is already outdated, hard to understand, or simply wrong. To give you a nudge in the right direction, we collected and checked the following options below for you.
To get a quick overview of grants you are possibly eligible for, they created a handy search tool for grants. This will help with the first round of weeding out grants that are not for you. If you're not looking at grants, you can also use their free and easy-to-use Benefits Calculator to find out if you're missing out on.
It's not just money you'll need while searching or studying for your new job. That's where the JobCentre comes in. With support that will help you create a better CV, pointing you in the direction of training possibilities and providing other useful services, they'll help you increase your chances for a successful next application.
Learning and upskilling
Has working less, working remotely or not at all has made you realise you were long overdue for a change of scenery anyway? You could use the free time you have now to learn a new skill, for a new career. Get back to studying — from courses to entire degrees — and jump into new opportunities that have arisen since you've left school.
While knowledge is the most valuable thing you can have, it is also one of the most expensive ones to obtain. Luckily, there's also financial support for those pursuing a new career, but having to study first.
Adult Learning Grant
The government offers the Adult Learning Grant (ALG) to help you pay the costs of courses, or expenses related to them. This grant is specifically for learners looking to achieve higher levels of qualification. Funding is not for Equivalent Level Qualifications: the new qualification must prove progress.
You can get to £30 per week, depending on your specific financial circumstances of your household. The grant also only applies to full-time training courses. You may be ineligible if you are already receiving other benefits such as Income Support.
Higher Education Grants
If you do want to switch things up entirely and leave your field, higher education might be your next station. The government can provide support in the form of maintenance grants and Student Loans. Note that grants don't have to be paid back while loans do.
The Higher Education Grants are intended to help with your living expenses, while the Student Loans are meant to defray both your living expenses and your tuition costs at the institution of learning you attend.
Need more tips about managing money during COVID-19?
While applying for new jobs or studying, make sure you take all the possible measures to keep your expenses in check. We've collected a list of 6 financial tips to keep your finances in check, so make sure to check that out.