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How to become a Welfare Rights Officer/Worker

welfare rights officer/worker careers

What does a Welfare Rights Officer/Worker do?

Welfare rights officers, often known in the voluntary sector as advice workers, provide information and advice on a wide range of topics, including social security and disability benefits, housing issues, and debt management. The work can be stressful and frustrating but is also very rewarding.

Posts are likely to involve working with clients face-to-face, over the telephone and by letter or email.

Welfare rights officers may work as generalists, advising on any welfare benefit issue; alternatively they specialise, focusing on the issues facing a particular group of people, such as those with mental health problems, HIV, or the elderly.

Most welfare rights officers will be involved with some or all of the following:

  • explaining eligibility criteria for a range of benefits
  • researching and writing reports
  • helping people complete benefit applications
  • writing letters for people
  • advocating/representing clients at tribunal or review board
  • keeping confidential records
  • visiting people in their home if they are unable to travel to the office
  • working with voluntary and statutory organisations on behalf of clients.

What's the working environment like working as a Welfare Rights Officer/Worker?

Most welfare rights officers work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with occasional evening or weekend meetings or tribunals. There are often opportunities for part-time work and job-sharing.

Welfare rights officers are mainly based in advice centres open to the public, however, some local travel is involved and a car or driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Welfare Rights Officer/Worker?

To be a welfare rights officer, you should:

  • have a working knowledge of the benefits system
  • be able to interpret and explain clearly social security legislation to clients
  • be able to communicate clearly and effectively in speech and in writing, with clients, colleagues and outside agencies
  • be well organised and have the ability to work well in a team or individually
  • be able to set priorities and meet deadlines
  • be impartial and treat clients in a way which is non-judgemental and without bias.

Welfare Rights Officer/Worker Career Opportunities

Welfare rights officers work for independent advice centres, local authorities, health services, voluntary organisations, law centres, housing associations, and solicitors. Most opportunities are usually in large cities, often in the most deprived areas.

There are about 1,000 independent advice centres in the UK and over 500 Citizens Advice Bureaux. In addition there are about 140 DIAL UK (Disabilities Information and Advice) projects, and a number of other organisations that are part of the Law Centre Federation. Local authorities provide a welfare rights service and there are opportunities with national and local charities such as Shelter, Age Concern, Terrence Higgins Trust and the Scottish Low Pay Unit.

With experience it may be possible to move into supervisory and management posts. Some managers continue to do some direct work with the public. Welfare rights workers may also be able to move into more specialist advice work such as money advice.

Competition for posts is keen, and there are a limited number of paid posts. Short-term contracts are common.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Welfare Rights Officer/Worker that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

National Association of Citizens Advice Bureau (NACAB)
Myddelton House
115-123 Pentonville Road
London
N1 9LZ
Tel: 020 7833 2181
Volunteering Hotline: 0845 126 4264
www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS)
1st Floor
Spectrum House
2 Powderhall Road
Edinburgh
EH7 4GB
Tel: 0131 550 1000
www.cas.org.uk

Advice UK
12th Floor
New London Bridge House
25 London Bridge Street
London
SE1 9ST
Tel: 020 7407 4070
www.adviceuk.org.uk

Facts and Stats:

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  • Every year, civil servants are responsible for public spending of around £300bn
  • If every MP turned up at the chambers of the House of Commons at the same time, there would not be enough seats for them all to sit down

Courses to help you become a Welfare Rights Officer/Worker