Government run employment schemes

If you are out-of-work, you may be required to go on a government employment scheme. However they can also prove useful if you are looking to develop your skills.

Compulsory schemes

If you are receiving Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), you'll be expected to develop a Jobseeker's Agreement with your Jobcentre Plus personal advisor.  After 13 weeks, you may be required to go on a job scheme. Failure to do so could mean you lose some of your benefit. Your benefit could also be cut if you agree to a scheme and then fail to complete it.

Training schemes

If you are aged between 16 and 18, there are a variety of schemes that you may be able to go on. If you are under 18, it's unlikely you'll be entitled to benefits without completing one of these schemes.

  • Apprenticeship programmes
  • National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) training in England
  • Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Scotland
  • Entry to employment (e2e) in England
  • Get Ready for Work Programme in Scotland
  • preparatory training
  • the right to time off for study or training
  • Skillseekers in Scotland

These schemes, known as Work Based Learning, allow you to gain qualifications while in employment. The programmes vary in length, and can be full-time or part-time. The only stipulation is that you should be able to receive a NVQ level 2 (or equivalent) qualification during your scheme.

New Deal

If you are aged 18-24 and have been claiming JSA for at least six months, you'll be required to participate in the New Deal scheme. You may be able to get involved early, depending on your circumstances.

Firstly, you'll be expected to enter the Gateway for one to four months. This usually involves having to go on two-week Gateway to Work course, as well as a period of intensive help and support in finding work.

If, as a result, you don't get work, you'll be required to undertake one of four options:

  • You could be employed by a New Deal employer, who will receive a subsidy for taking you on. You will come off benefit and should be paid a wage and given training. The subsidy lasts for six months but you may be kept on after this.
  • You could go into full-time education and/or training for up to twelve months. You will receive an allowance equivalent to your JSA.
  • You might be placed with the 'environment task force' or with a voluntary sector organisation. You will receive either a wage or an allowance equivalent to your JSA and will be given training.
  • In some circumstances you might be supported to undertake self-employment.

If you don't attend the Gateway to Work or refuse to take up one of the options offered, you could see your benefits being withheld.

If you are on a work trial, you'll continue to receive your usual benefit as well as up to £10 a day for travel and £3 a day for a lunchtime meal.

Work trials

If you are on the New Deal scheme, you can take part in a work trial where they are available. This allows you to work in a particular job for up to 30 days while remaining on benefits, and allows an employer to try working with someone who has been unemployed before deciding whether to take them on permanently.  Therefore a work trial has to be a full-time job and lead to a permanent role that will last at least six months.

If you are on a work trial, you'll continue to receive your usual benefit as well as up to £10 a day for travel and £3 a day for a lunchtime meal.

At the end of your work trial, you may be offered the job. If you turn it down, you won't have your benefits penalised. If you aren't offered a job, your Jobcentre Plus personal advisor may ask for feedback from your employer to help you continue with your search for work.

New Deal for Partners

If you are aged 18-24, you don't have children but your partner has been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (or similar benefit) for six months or more, you could attend the New Deal scheme voluntarily.

Although your benefit is not affected if you don't attend the scheme, you may be required to register as a couple claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. If that is the case you'll both could be required to undertake the New Deal scheme.

New Deal for Lone Parents

If you are claiming Income Support and have a child under school-leaving age, you'll be invited into a Jobcentre Plus office and given help on finding work, training and childcare. If you are not working, or working less than 16 hours a week, but not claiming benefits, you can also take part on request.

Your benefit won't be affected if you decide not to follow the advice you were given.

New Deal for Disabled People

You can also undertake New Deal if you are on benefits due to a disability. This is a voluntary scheme, but advisors can help you find suitable vacancies. You'll also have access to a national network of Job Brokers who work specifically to help disabled people find work.