UNIVERSAL CREDIT Q&A: Can I get the Job Support Scheme and benefits?

IF you're worried about how the Job Support Scheme will affect your income, our welfare expert looks at whether you can get benefits at the same time.

The furlough scheme, which has supported more than 9million workers, is coming to an end on October 31.

It will be replaced by the Job Support Scheme from November 1, covering up to two thirds of wages for workers who can do at least a third of their usual hours.

But if you're not able to work full-time, you may wonder how this will affect your income, Universal Credit and what other help is available.

In the latest instalment of our Universal Credit Q&A, Nichola Salvato, who has four years experience in welfare rights, answers a question from one worried reader.   

The Sun's Make Universal Credit Work campaign has been calling for changes to the controversial benefit to help struggling households.

Do you have a question? Email [email protected]

Dear Nichola,

I work in a small village restaurant and bar. It has been offering mainly takeaways during lockdown and has only recently reopened for dine-in customers.

I have been furloughed since March. I was really hoping the scheme would be extended – but now the Job Support Scheme has been announced.

I was due to go back to work at the end of October but with business at the restaurant being so slow I’m scared they are going to lose my job.

I don’t think my employer will be able to afford to have me back on full time hours. What help can I get? Can I get JSS and Universal Credit? Grateful for any advice.

Franny, via email

Nichola replies: Dear Franny, S.

So sorry to hear about your worries.

The new Job Support Scheme will start on November 1 and it’s aimed at preventing a rush of job losses when furlough ends on October 31.

The new scheme aims to support employers and employees where there is still a viable job but not enough business to justify bringing furloughed staff back to work full time, or on their previously contracted hours.

To be eligible employees must return to work for at least 33% of their normal hours.

You would be paid as normal for the hours that you do work, and the government and your employer would each pay 33% of your pay for the hours that you don’t work.

So you would get 66% of your pay for hours that you are contracted to do but not doing, and full pay for the hours that you do work.

That means overall you would earn 77% of your normal wage, but work 33% of your normal hours.

The hours you work can be flexible as long as it’s a minimum of 33% of your usual hours and your hours could vary each week.

There is a cap on the government’s contribution of £697 per month.

The scheme is also subject to change, so the government may decide to increase the minimum hours you have to work in order to be eligible.

The idea of a viable job means that your place of work needs to be currently operating, if the business is closed completely you won’t be able to benefit from the scheme, even if the business hopes to reopen in the future.

The Sun has gone into more detail about what counts as a viable scheme.

In addition to the Job Support Scheme, the government has also pledged to pay employers £1,000 per employee that is kept on until at least January.

If your employers feel that their business is viable and you could continue in your job on a part time basis, if they haven’t already suggested this scheme to you it may be worth mentioning it to them.

You’ll be glad to hear that the Job Support Scheme can be claimed at the same time as Universal Credit.

It may however affect your payments. When you work the amount of Universal Credit you get will gradually reduce as you earn more.

This is different if you get the Jobseeker’s Allowance as this stops if you work more than 16 hours per week.

For more information on this visit the gov.uk website.

I really hope you manage to keep your job and wish you the very best.

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