The Work Programme

The Work Programme can help you prepare for, find and stay in work. If you're already working part-time, it could help you to increase your hours.


We will tailor a programme that suits your circumstances, whether you are long or short-term unemployed, a single parent, or have a health condition. It should meet your individual needs even if you change benefits or get a job.

Starting the Work Programme

If you have to take part in the Work Programme, Jobcentre Plus will write and ask you to attend an interview.

You may have to take part if you're getting either:

  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance.

Jobseeker's Allowance

If you're getting Jobseeker's Allowance, you may have to take part in the Work Programme after:

  • 9 months - if you're aged 18 to 24
  • 12 months - if you're aged 25 or over.

You may join the Work Programme earlier, if both you and your Jobcentre Plus adviser agree. If you’d like us to help you with your Work Programme, ask your adviser to contact us.

Employment and Support Allowance
If you're getting Employment and Support Allowance and are in the work-related activity group there are rules about taking part in the Work Programme. You may have to take part from 3 months before the date your doctor expects you to be fit for work.
There are some exceptions to this, like:

  • if you're a full time carer
  • if you're a lone parent with a child under five.

Volunteering to take part in the Work Programme
You can volunteer to join the Work Programme if you live in England. This doesn't apply in Scotland or Wales.

To volunteer, you must be getting one of these benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (and be in the support group)
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit.

Not everyone who volunteers to join the Work Programme will be able to. Depending on your circumstances, Jobcentre Plus may offer you different help instead. To find out more, speak to a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

What happens after you are referred to the Work Programme?

Once you are referred onto the Work Programme by Jobcentre Plus, you will receive a phone call from a Work Programme provider such as Papworth Trust, followed by a letter confirming the date, time and location of your first appointment.

At this appointment you will meet your Employment Adviser, who will:

  • find out more about you and your employment goals
  • tell you more about the programme
  • explain the support that is available
  • work out how we can help you

Papworth Trust (in partnership with Ingeus) provides support through the Work Programme in parts of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Northamptonshire.

Unfortunately we can’t guarantee who you will be referred to because selection is randomly allocated between all Work Programme providers in each area.

Support to stay in a job

We can support you and your employer to help you stay in a job.

Our free, independent support is tailored to your needs, and can provide:

  • a back to work plan to help you return to work after time off
  • information about funding for specialist equipment, such as aids and adaptations
  • regular contact and reviews for as long as you need
  • confidence building and emotional support
  • job shadowing and mentoring to help you overcome difficulties.

To find out more, please call us on 0300 333 6535 or email contact.centre@papworthtrust.org.uk