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Making your money go further


Into work

The idea of moving into work can be daunting, but there’s plenty of information available! We’ve put together a guide to help you find the transition from being unemployed to working as smooth as possible.

Looking for work

looking for workWhen you’re looking for a new job, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Training – If you feel like you could do with a few more skills to add to your CV, or you want to get a job that requires a special qualification, training can be a good starting point. There are many organisations that offer training, including:
  • Learn Direct (who will provide free courses if you’re on means-tested benefits)
  • City of Bristol College
  • Ready for Work
  • Prospects (who provide resources and advice to those sent to them by the Job Centre)
  • Workers Educational Association (who deliver free courses if you’re on means-tested benefits, with courses ranging from GCSE maths, IT skills, ESOL and jewellery making)
  • Work Clubs – Work clubs give support on CV writing and interviews and there are a number throughout Bristol although they are not always well advertised. These include those run by the National Careers Service and Ways to Work. You can check at your local library to see if they host any clubs.
  • Apprenticeships – Apprenticeships can help you gain experience in a particular field you’d like to work in. Details of local apprenticeship opportunities can be found through the City of Bristol College or Bristol City Council websites.
  • Volunteering – Volunteering is a great way to update your skills and boost your CV. Volunteer Bristol advertises lots of local opportunities, and we offer the chance to volunteer with us at Pennywise!
  • Flexible Support Fund (FSF) – The Flexible Support Fund can help you to move from claiming Universal Credit into work by offering training, as well as helping to cover costs of services like childcare, travel, or necessary items such as suitable clothes for an interview.

Once you’ve found a job…

start a new jobCongratulations, you’ve done the hardest part! Now you need to focus on making a secure budget that will keep your money spinning out until your first payday. Check out our budgeting resource for ideas on how.

You’ll also need to let the benefits teams know as soon as possible so you don’t get an overpayment you’ll have to pay back. Once you start work, you might be entitled to an extra four weeks of Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. Call the Council on 0117 922 2300 if you want to discuss this with them.

Benefit Contact Info.
JSA 0345 608 8545
ESA 0345 608 8545
Income Support 0345 608 8545
Carer’s Allowance 0345 608 4321
Or click here.
Tax Credits 0345 300 3900
Housing Benefit 0117 922 2300
Or click here.
Council Tax Reduction 0117 922 2300
Or click here.

You might still be able to claim Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Tax Credits and even Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, while you are working, depending on your circumstances.

You might also be able to claim Working Tax Credit which can boost your income and also help with childcare costs.
You can do a benefit calculation or contact us so a mentor can help you check you’re getting everything you’re entitled to.

Travel costs

travel to workTravel costs can be a big part of your budget if your new job isn’t within walking distance. There are lots of options in Bristol that are cheaper than hopping in your car.

Wheels to Work
This organisation helps people who are looking for work, or who have very recently found employment. They can help with:

Car sharing
Have a look at Travel West. They have links to several different car sharing databases so you may well find someone to share with, whether you want a lift or someone to share your car.


City Car Club
This is a different way to share a vehicle and could cost you much less that the price of a taxi. You can hire a car from the scheme for an hour or a day, and can pick up the vehicle in various places around the city. To find out more click here.


Bristol Bike Project
If you’re looking to cycle to work, the Bristol Bike Project offers affordable second-hand bikes, bike repairs, workshops and an ‘Earn Your Own Bike’ scheme for marginalised people.
Click here for more details.


Julian House Bike Workshop
Julian House Bike Workshop uses bikes to tackle issues including long-term unemployment, providing affordable bikes to buy, repairs and workshops, including how to build your own bike.
Click here for more details.


For more information on travel, see our travel advice resource.

Out of work

Finding yourself unemployed can be stressful but try not to worry. There are several benefits that you might be able to claim while you look for work.

Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)

If you can show that you’re looking for work, and that you’ve paid enough National Insurance contributions (which are usually taken out of your wages automatically), you’ll be able to claim JSA for up to six months. Once this period is over, or if you haven’t paid enough NI contributions, your entitlement depends on your household income and savings. Your local JobCentre will be able to advise you on this.
You can start a claim by clicking here.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction
If you’re on a low income or claiming benefits then you may be able to get help to pay your rent and council tax. You’ll need to contact the council directly to make a claim on 0117 922 2300.

Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit
If you have children then you should be entitled to Child Benefit. You can claim here or by calling 0300 200 3100.

You can claim Child Tax Credits if you’re responsible for qualifying children, regardless of if you’re working or not.
The amount paid depends on the number of children you have and your household income. You can claim by phoning 0345 300 3900 or by clicking here.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
money calculatorIf you have a long term health problem, you may be able to claim PIP. PIP won’t affect any other benefits you get and you can claim whether you work or not. You should see a specialist benefits adviser before you complete the form to make sure it’s completed properly and you’ll also need to have a face to face assessment once your form has been processed. Start a claim by phoning 0800 917 2222.

Universal Credit
Universal Credit is a new working-age benefit that could replace certain benefits like the ones below if you’re on a low income or out of work.

  • JSA
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • ESA
  • Income Support

You can apply if you:

  • are a new claimant
  • are between 18 and 60 and 6 months
  • are single
  • don’t have dependent children
  • don’t have a disability or long-term illness

Universal Credit will be paid out to you in a single payment, so instead of receiving all your different benefits, this will be one monthly payment.
This means that rent will no longer automatically be paid to your landlord as it was with Housing Benefits and you’ll be responsible for paying your rent on time. The safest and easiest way to do this is to set up a Direct Debit from your bank account.

If you’re applying for Universal Credit, it might be a good idea to do so in your local Job Centre, where you’ll have free access to a computer and an advisor will be able to help you.

To fill in the Universal Credit application form or to find out more about how it will affect you, click here.