Introduction to welfare rights


This five-day course gives you a thorough introduction to means-tested benefits, universal credit and tax credits. It is essential for anyone starting off as a welfare rights adviser and those who need an understanding of the benefits system. The emphasis is on looking at issues affecting entitlement and practising benefit calculations through case studies and using the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook.

A complimentary copy of CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook and a certificate is awarded to those completing all five days of the course.

The course covers:

Day one

Benefits overview

This day gives you an overview of the benefits and tax credits system and a look at how the system is changing as universal credit is introduced. You will practice problem solving using the Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook. It includes a description of means-tested and non-means-tested benefits and tax credits, explains how benefits work together and outlines how claims are made.

Day two

Working age benefits – eligibility

This day looks at who is eligible for the working age benefits: income support, jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance. Through case studies, exercises and presentation, there is plenty of opportunity to explore the eligibility rules in detail. It gives an outline of the claims process for benefits including the employment and support allowance medical assessment.

Day three

Working age benefits – amounts

This day gives you the skills you need to be able to work out how much income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment and support allowance someone is entitled to. You will learn about the allowances, premiums and components that make up these benefits, and how income and capital affect entitlement. Much of the learning is through practical examples and case studies.

Day four

Housing costs and tax credits

This day covers help with housing costs. You will learn why housing benefit may not cover all of the rent and how to work out entitlement. This day will also give you the skills to check tax credit payments, looking at who is eligible for child tax credit and working tax credit, how to claim and how decisions are made.

Day five

Universal credit

This day gives you the skills you need to advise on universal credit as it begins to roll out. Using case studies and examples, you will learn about who is eligible, about the elements that make up an award, how to claim and how universal credit is paid.

We give priority to those booking all five days. But you can book single days if there are places available two weeks before the course. To book individual days, or any combination of the above days, please email

This course does not deal with non-means-tested benefits except to give an understanding of the structure of the system. We recommend the companion introductory courses Introduction to benefits for disabled people and Introduction to benefits for ill health.