Q. My girlfriend has gone to stay near her family in Milton Keynes, as her mother had a fall and needed care.
She is renting a flat for three months and the intention was that she would move back and look for work up here when the tenancy ended. We have now found out that her mother has dementia and will need ongoing care ,and my girlfriend is not likely to be able to move back at the end of the three-month period. I am working in a job that I hate, so I’d happily leave to join her in Milton Keynes, but I am concerned that I wouldn’t be able to claim any benefits because I’d left my job voluntarily.
A. It is true that Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit can be sanctioned if you leave your job voluntarily. However, there are exceptions to this where a claim would not be sanctioned. These exceptions include where you leave your job because of caring, personal or domestic reasons, and also where you leave because your partner has taken up employment elsewhere. You should try to show that you sought alternatives to leaving your job, such as asking for a transfer to an office nearer your partner if this is possible. If your girlfriend is providing care for her mother then she may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance, and you could have a joint claim for Income Support. For Carer’s Allowance to be suitable, your girlfriend must be providing 35 hours of care each week and her mother must be claiming a disability benefit such as Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment (paying at least £57.30 per week for care/daily living). If you did decide to claim Income Support as a couple then your claim would not be sanctioned, as this only applies to Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit. You would have the option of claiming Income Support while awaiting for a Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance application to be made by your girlfriend’s mother if she is not already claiming one of those benefits.
Q. I am claiming Universal Credit and was looking for work, but I have just had a baby, born two months early. I haven’t been told what I need to do now, but I’m assuming that I don’t have to look for work at this time, right now.
A. If you are responsible for a child under one year old then you do not have to complete any work-related requirements. Once your child is a year old you will be expected to complete Work Focused Interviews only, but you will not have to complete any work searches or courses. This commitment is for you only. If you have a partner then they will have their own claimant commitment to accept and adhere to. It is always worth getting a benefit check when you have a child to ensure that you don’t miss out on any relevant grants or benefits.