In her early twenties, Jane is studying on a distance-learning degree course with the University of London. To help support herself while she gains her qualification, she works as a self-employed tutor for school children. The Summer holidays are the best time to earn money from this, so when a couple of her clients decided that they wouldn’t need her help over the Summer last year, Jane found that what had seemed to be a steady source of income now left her with a shortfall.
Deciding to search for other work, Jane contacted her local Job Centre to apply for Job Seeker’s Allowance. Although students are not normally eligible for this benefit, Jane thought that without a formal learning agreement and no contact hours her status should be classed on the eight hours of work she had a week and not her education. However, at the Job Centre she was told that she was still classed as a student and would therefore not be able to claim.
Stuck in a loop of being re-directed to and from the Job Centre’s website and urgently needing to pay the rent, Jane took money out of her savings accounts while she continued to try to prove her eligibility. After looking on the Citizen’s Advice bureau’s website for clarification on her situation and visiting her local council offices with no success, Jane was finding her situation “very stressful” and says that she felt too worried to eat.
Feeling “desperate”, Jane came across the Turn2us website while trying to find clarification on the legislation about her specific situation. Jane says that the website had some test cases of unusual situations like hers and explained which benefits she should be able to claim. She says that it is a “really good website that actually has helped me… it’s got the information there, and… it goes into a lot more detail than a lot of the other websites and calculators do”. Reaffirming her initial understanding that she was eligible for benefits left Jane feeling empowered to re-contact the council and re-apply. Combined with help from her local MP, who wrote a letter to the council on her behalf, she persuaded the council to reassess her claim.
Two months after using the Turn2us website, Jane started receiving Jobseeker's Allowance. As she works part-time, she only receives a reduced amount of £38 a week, but nonetheless Jane says it’s “made a massive start”. Knowing that she has some support while she searches for jobs means that she is feeling “a lot more upbeat”. She says, “I’m relieved… I’ve actually got some light at the end of the tunnel”. Without the money she now receives from Jobseeker's Allowance, Jane says she would have been “kicked out of my house”, but thanks to Turn2us, her situation is “a lot more positive”.