Universal Credit in North Kensington: the details explained

Universal Credit rolls out to North Kensington Jobcentre Plus on Wednesday 12th December – anyone in the area making a new claim for benefits or experiencing a change in circumstances will be asked to make a claim for Universal Credit.

Since the fire at Grenfell Tower last year, the Department for Work & Pensions has worked closely with community groups, local residents, and the local authority to handle all benefit claim cases as sensitively as possible.

The decision was made to move the roll-out of Universal Credit in North Kensington from July 2017 to December 2018 – those coping with such a devastating event should not be asked to take on additional tasks.

Jobcentre staff delivered support on the ground to people affected, easing work-search requirements and making significant immediate payments to many affected, including £500 in emergency cash and £5,000 for each household made permanently homeless. Staff worked tirelessly to get support to those affected and reassure locals who were concerned about ongoing support.

In preparation for the roll-out, the DWP has created a range of special provisions for people living in North Kensington, to make sure the community continues to receive support as it recovers from the tragedy.

Targeted support from experienced jobcentre work coaches is already available in the area. These specially-trained teams work closely with residents, local authorities, and Citizens Advice to ensure residents affected by Grenfell get the support they need.

A work coach dedicated to supporting residents affected by Grenfell and in receipt of benefits will be available, as well as a housing officer in the jobcentre on an ongoing basis to address any housing issues residents might face. All work coaches at the jobcentre have received additional mental health training.

Dedicated activity programmes and courses are available at The Curve Community Centre, set up following the Grenfell Tower fire. These courses include IT, employability, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Bespoke courses and workshops to support the well-being of residents are also available.

People currently receiving legacy benefits in the area will continue to receive benefits as usual, and won’t need to make a claim for Universal Credit unless their circumstances change. Advances of up to 100 per cent are available from day one for those with an eligible claim who need urgent support.

Our staff are trained to support residents throughout the claims process. We’d encourage anyone who needs extra help or information to come and talk to their work coach or visit www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk for more information.

North Kensington Jobcentre Plus: 308-312 Quayside House, Kensal Road, W10 5BE

The Curve Community Centre: 10 Bard Road, London, W10 6TP. Phone: 020 7221 9836

Universal Credit: 0800 328 9344

New benefit claims: 0800 055 6688

Existing benefit claims: 0800 169 0310

Make a jobcentre appointment: 0800 328 9344


Thinking of starting a new career in midlife?

Finding a new job later in life can seem daunting – but it can also be an exciting opportunity. Although in the past it was normal to stay in one career your whole life, now things have changed, and it’s common to frequently move around and switch between careers.

For anyone, this can be challenging, but you shouldn’t let this put you off taking the mid-life career change leap. It’s the perfect time to find a career you’re passionate about, and use the skills you’ve already developed in a new area.

Check out our top tips for starting a new career later in life.

It’s important that you know more about the industry you hope to enter before you make the move, so consider volunteering, an apprenticeship or moonlighting.

The valuable experience you gain will be helpful if you are writing applications and interviewing for jobs completely unlike anything you’ve done before.

While it’s likely you’ll have lots of experience from over the years, focus on your most current examples.

This will help the interviewer find connections between your skills and their organisation, as well as give them a better understanding of what you can bring to the team.

When you’re looking for a new job, find out about their pension scheme too. Most employers have to offer you one, and when you pay in, your boss pays in too. It can be a great way of continuing to grow your pension income before retirement.

Your State Pension is based on your own National Insurance record, so the amount everyone gets can be different. The full rate of the new State Pension is currently £159.55 a week (rising to £164.35 from 9th April 2018), but yours may be either more or less than this. Find out how much you could get here, and remember that a new job later in life can be a great opportunity to build on the foundations of the State Pension so you can have the retirement you want.

More and more recruiters are looking at applicants’ social media accounts during the recruitment process. Keep your profiles professional and updated – don’t be afraid to share examples of your work.

A strong social media presence will show that you have technical experience, a network and marketing skills.

If you’ve got limited experience, or need to refresh your skills, consider taking a course. Not only will you meet people in, or entering the industry, but you will also gain new skills and develop existing ones.

This will be even more helpful if you are re-entering a fast paced sector, or starting in an industry you don’t know much about.

Chances are you might be more confident or experienced, require less training and have a stronger network than other candidates.

Lots of employers say that one of the reasons they value their older workers is because they make excellent mentors to their junior colleagues.


Access to Work: what’s changing?

An Access to Work grant can pay for advice and practical support for someone with a disability, health or mental health condition to help them start work, stay in employment, or move into self-employment and build a business.

It can include workplace adaptations, assistive technology, transport, and interpreters.

If you have a disability or health condition and need support to stay in or start work, you could be eligible. You could be entitled to support if you’re:

  • Over 16 and resident in Great Britain;
  • Disabled or have a health condition that affects your ability to work;
  • About to start a paid job, or have a job offer (including self-employment);
  • About to start a work trial, internship, traineeship, or some work experience;
  • An apprentice with a mental health condition.

As of April 2018, the cap will not rise to £43,100 in line with 1.5 times average earnings. Instead the cap will rise to £57,200, double average earnings, and will be uprated annually on that basis.

The number of disabled people in work has increased by around 600,000 in the last four years, and we’re committed to increasing this number further. Increasing the cap will mean hundreds of disabled employees benefit from extra support that can help them progress in work.

Increasing the limit people can receive each year will make sure more disabled people, particularly the deaf community, can benefit from the grant and achieve their career aspirations.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work.

Your pension explained: the basics

A pension is a tax-efficient way to help you save money for retirement. You save a little of your income regularly while you work, and then use this money later in life when you want to work less or when you retire as an extra income.

If you pay into a workplace pension through your job, then your employer will almost certainly be making contributions towards your pension savings too.

The State Pension is a regular income paid to you by the UK Government once you have reached State Pension age. It makes sure that everyone has a foundation for their retirement income, and is funded through National Insurance contributions, which you and your employer pay throughout your time in work. What you receive depends on your National Insurance record rather than any previous earnings, and the new full State Pension is £159.55 per week. You can check your National Insurance record and when you’re due to get your State Pension online by using the ‘Check your State Pension’ service on GOV.UK.

A workplace or private pension scheme helps you top up that income and access extra money in retirement.

There are various different types of pension schemes. Some are run by employers; others you can set up for yourself. Saving into one scheme doesn’t stop you from saving into another or using other tax-efficient savings plans like ISAs.

If you’ve got a workplace pension, it’s one of these two types:

A defined contribution (DC) pension means that you build up a ‘pot’ of money that your pension provider invests and manages for you. When you reach retirement there’s then a variety of ways you can convert this pension pot into a steady, inflation-linked retirement income, including ways which provide for dependents when you die. The income you might get depends on various factors including the amount you and your employer pay in, the investment performance of the fund, and your retirement choices.

A defined benefit (DB) pension means the amount you’re paid is based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you earned. Your employer commits to pay out a secure, specific income for life which is usually linked to inflation so it doesn’t lose value over time. You and your employer both contribute, and your employer will usually continue to pay a proportion of your pension to your spouse, civil partner, or dependants when you die.

Both kinds of pension scheme usually have features which allow you to withdraw a lump sum when you reach retirement age, and both usually allow you to make withdrawals early if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness before reaching retirement age.

With a defined contribution pension, your pension provider will invest and manage your pension pot for you, with the aim of growing it over the years before you retire. Your pension pot will usually be invested in a variety of things including stocks and shares. Many pension providers allow you some choice in how your pension pot is invested, and a key benefit of defined contribution schemes is you can check how much is in your pot at any time.

If you’re a member of a defined benefit pension scheme, you’re not responsible for any investment decisions. Although your employer or their pension provider will invest the money, your final pension is not dependent only on the value of those investments. Your scheme promises you a specific income in retirement, and your employer has to pay out that amount.

4 truths about high employment

As we continue the trend of a record number of vacancies and large numbers of people in work, we’re looking at what creates high employment. Read our four truths about employment to find out.

Full-time work is driving employment


The majority of job growth comes from full-time work – accounting for over 75% of the rise in employment since 2010. A recent ONS survey showed that only around 6% of all contracts were based on zero-hours.

A rise in professional occupations


Since 2010, around 70% of the rise in employment has been in managerial, professional and associate professional occupations, which on average pay a higher wage. 

UK nationals make up nearly 9 in 10 of all people in work


The number of British nationals in work is up by 2 million since 2010, making up nearly 9 in 10 of all people in work.

Only one in seven are self-employed


Self-employment only accounts for around one worker in every seven, and the majority of those in self-employment enjoy the flexibility that comes with it.

There are now 818,000 vacancies available at any one time – up by over 350,000 since 2010.  This is just a snapshot – as current vacancies are filled, new ones are being reported all the time.

So while it is good news that we have more people setting up in business for themselves, there are also jobs out there for people who’d prefer to be employees.

If you’re currently looking for a job, visit your nearest Jobcentre Plus, where specially-trained work coaches will help you on your way.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch

Looking for a new job?

Looking for a new job can be daunting – but there are lots of simple ways to make the process easier.

It’s important to make yourself stand out from the crowd when applying for a job – Julie’s top tips will give you the best possible chance in the job hunt.

1. Make sure you're looking in the right placeGraphic of a screen with lines across

You can look for jobs online, in newspapers, through recruitment agencies, and in Jobcentre Plus centres across the country. Friends and family may also know of opportunities near you.

2. Write a great CV

It’s really important to have a good CV. When writing yours, think about the skills you’ve learnt from previous jobs, or what you’ve learnt in school or college. You should also make sure you tailor your CV depending on the job you’re applying for.

If you don’t have much work experience, you can still show you have the skills employers look for through hobbies, education, or other interests. This will help you show that you can communicate well with other people, work well in a team, or other skills. If you’re worried about including your age, leave it off! There’s no requirement to put your age on your CV.

3. Take your search online

LinkedIn has a big recruitment section, but have you got an account? It’s free, and a great way to show your experience and personality to potential employers.

You should also check out Universal Jobmatch, one of the biggest free job sites in Europe. It’s open to everyone – you just need to create account.

4. Use your covering leter to sell yourself

Some companies will ask for a covering letter when you apply and this is your opportunity to explain why you’re right for the job. It’s worth getting someone to check it for you to find any spelling or grammar mistakes – it’s not enough to rely on a computer spellcheck. Check out the National Careers Service website for advice on templates and what to include.

5. Make sure you're ready for interviews

If you get an interview, research the organisation to see what work they’re currently doing and to find out their latest news. Demonstrating you have an understanding of the organisation and their industry will help set you apart from other interviewees.

Dressing smartly, being on time, and asking at least one question about the role you’ve applied for are also good ways to impress in an interview.

 If you’re unemployed and need help getting ready for the world of work, visit your nearest Jobcentre Plus, where specially-trained work coaches will help you on your way.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch.

Support for Mortgage Interest: what you need to know

Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) pays towards the interest on someone’s home and helps protect homeowners from repossession if they need it. This year, SMI is being reformed to make it more sustainable and fairer to the taxpayer who funds it, while continuing to help people stay in their homes.

If someone receives taxpayer-funded help towards their mortgage, it’s reasonable to expect the money to be paid back if there is available equity when the property is later sold and its value has increased.

SMI is now a loan, which is only repayable when the property is sold or transferred, using sale proceeds after the outstanding mortgage and other charges are paid off. If there is not enough equity after these payments are made, then the remaining loan will be written off.

Calendar graphic with text saying April 2018

The change happened on 6 April 2018.

Everyone affected is being written to and telephoned about the SMI loan. Anyone previously receiving SMI will be offered a Support for Mortgage Interest loan and can continue to receive payments on their mortgage interest.

If you haven’t yet received a letter or a phone call about SMI loans, please call 0800 731 0469 if you’re over State Pension age, or 0800 169 0310 if you’re of working age.

Vulnerable people who lack mental capacity and need someone to act on their behalf are being given extra support and time.

3. What should I do if I need help? Image of phone

If you received prior to 6 April SMI, you will have received a letter from DWP with an information booklet about SMI loans and details of Serco’s information support calls.

For further information, contact the Money Advice Service on 0800 138 7777 or visit their website.

What support can you get with your housing costs?

Did you know that we provide a wide range of housing support?

From Universal Credit payments to Alternative Payment Arrangements, there is a whole range of help available and here are just some of the things that you could receive.

1. Universal Credit

You may be eligible for Universal Credit if you're on a low income or if you're out of work.

Universal Credit (UC) is a payment to help with your living costs, including rent payments. It’s usually paid monthly, but can be paid more frequently depending on circumstances.

Whether you can claim UC depends on where you live and your circumstances. Check out if you’re eligible for UC.

2. Transition to Universal Credit Housing payment

The transition gives two weeks' extra payment to bridge the gap.

From April 2018, if you’re already claiming for Housing Benefit and are moving on to UC, you will receive an extra two weeks’ support with your rent, when you first claim, bridging the gap before it settles into a regular monthly payment cycle.

3. Alternative Payment Arrangement

Usually, under UC, payments to help with your rent will be paid directly to you and not to your landlord. However if you’re currently behind with your rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

Depending on your circumstances, you could get an APA to:

    •  get your rent paid directly to your landlord
    •  get paid more frequently than once a month
    •  receive split payments, if you’re part of a couple


  • Speak with your work coach about applying for an APA. If you’re in social housing, your landlord may also be able to support you with the application.


  • 4. Help with housing costs from your councilYour local council may also be able to help with certain aspects of your housing costs. You may be able to get a reduction in your Council Tax or you may be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your Universal Credit payment isn’t enough to pay your rent.
  • From April, if you’re a new Universal Credit claimant and living in temporary accommodation, you will be able to claim Housing Benefit directly from your council to support with these costs.

What help can you get with your family finances?

We all want the best for our kids and to give them the right start in life. It’s good for children to see their mum or dad going out to work, but it can be tough for parents to balance their responsibilities and afford the cost of child care. Take a look at just some of the support you might be eligible for.

I'm a mum looking for work - what help can I get?

Personalised work coach supportIf you are looking to move back into work, a Jobcentre Plus work coach can offer you personalised support to find a job that works for you and fits in with your childcare responsibilities. Going back to work doesn’t mean giving up all your benefits. Some benefits may carry on, and others may be available once you’re working.

I have a three - year - old child - how can you help me?

Double free childcare for 3 and 4 year oldsIf you are already in work, and you have a 3 or 4-year-old, you are likely be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare – that’s double what you could claim last year. Check out the full eligibility requirements to see if you can claim.

My son is 9, I'm in work and getting Universal Credit - is there more support I can get?

More help with childcareMums and dads who are in work and getting Universal Credit can claim up to 85% of their childcare costs back for children up to the age of 12 – for families with two children that could be worth up to £13,000 a year.

I'm a mum looking to increase my hours - how can you help me?

Your payment adjusts

Universal Credit provides the support that’s right for you. You’re not restricted by the number of hours you can work, allowing you to take on short contracts, helping to build up experience, without having to worry about your claim.

Visit Childcare Choices to find out more about childcare support available for working parents.

6 ways to boost your online job hunt

Are you looking for a new career this New Year but need a way to revitalise your search?

Check out our top 6 tips to boost your online job hunt and make this your year for finding a new job.

You probably made the first step to creating your LinkedIn profile a long time ago but haven’t updated it since.

Make sure all your work experience is up to date and think about updating your picture to give it a fresh look.

Ask a friend to look over it and make sure it reads well.

Is there a particular company or role you’re always had your eye on? Most companies have an option to sign up for email alerts to their jobs.

Make sure you don’t miss out for applying for that dream role by signing up.

Many local Jobcentres post the latest job openings on their social media networks.

Be the first to know about what’s coming up by following their profiles.

Remember that a potential employer may well look you up online once they see your application.

Make sure what they see is professional by deleting or making private any posts you can which don’t show you in a favourable light.

Networking doesn’t only have to be done in person, you can do it just as easily online too.

Connect with friends and former colleagues on social networks like LinkedIn and don’t be afraid to send them a message if you think they could help you with your career goals.

Once you’ve found what you want to apply for, do thorough research of the company online.

Look at their website and across their social media networks to discover what they’re looking for and how you can highlight your skills.

Want more information?

For more help and advice on job interview preparation Jobcentre work coaches are on hand to provide support.