What is Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in the UK?

Jobseeker’s Allowance IN UK

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a social security benefit provided in the UK as an unemployment benefit to the unemployed people of the UK who are actively seeking work. The objective of this system is to cover livelihood expenses of unemployed claimants.

In England, Wales and Scotland, JSA is governed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and in Northern Ireland it is administered by the Social Security Agency – an executive agency of the Department for Social Development. The age of the JSA claimants should be between 18 year and the State Pension age.

The two types of Jobseeker's Allowance are - contribution-based and income-based.
The claimants have to prove they are actively searching for job by applying in a Jobseeker’s Agreement form and attending a New Jobseeker interviews (NJI). They are also required to go to Job Centre once in every two weeks to certify that they are still seeking job. Jobseekers’ claims are managed by Jobseeker’s Allowance Payment System (JSAPS).

How it works

Before applying, do make it a point to find out through benefit calculators if you are entitled for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit. A candidate is entitled for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and can apply for it to get livelihood allowance when he/she is actively searching for work.

What one has to do?

  • Find our whether you are eligible or not
  • Then make a claim and visit local Jobcentre Plus office for an interview
  • Keep records of your agreements for future reference for JSA payments.

If the agreement is not kept then JSA payments will be discontinued.

The amount that you will get

You can get maximum amount but the entitled amount depends on your age, income and savings.
Benefits Calculator can help you find out how much JSA you are entitled to and what other benefits that will be affected.

Age Weekly JSA amount
Up to 24 up to £57.90
25 or over up to £73.10
Couples (both aged over 18) up to £114.85

Mode of getting paid

The payment is made once in two weeks. You usually get all your benefits, allowances and pensions paid into your building society, bank or credit union account.

What is the type of JSA you are entitled to?

The JSA that you get depends on your:

JSA based on National Insurance

The two forms of JSA that are based on your Class 1 National Insurance contributions are:

‘New style’ JSA

If you are living in Universal Credit full service area then you can apply for ‘new style’ JSA.

And if you live at some other place then you will be able to apply only if one of the below mentioned is true:

  • Universal Credit is already claimed by you
  • In the past 6 months, Universal Credit is already claimed but your payments were discontinued because of your incomes

Whatever amount you get paid in your ‘new style’ JSA, your partner’s earnings and savings will not be affected.
You will get ‘new style’ JSA automatically or at the time you get Universal Credit. You Universal Credit will be decreased by the amount you get for JSA if you get both ‘new style’ JSA and Universal Credit.

Contribution-based JSA

If you have contributed enough Class 1 National Insurance in the two tax years prior to the in progress benefit year, then you might get contribution-based JSA.
The year of benefit starts on the first Sunday of January.

For Example

The claims that you make on 20 February, 2018, will fall in the 2018 benefit year. Therefore, your claim will depend on your National Insurance contribution record for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 financial years.
You will be entitled for contribution-based JSA, even though you have a savings or your spouse/partner is working.
Your income and pension will be affected by the amount of contribution-based JSA you will receive. Contribution-based JSA is not given to citizens who have never worked.

Income-based JSA

The income-based JSA entitlement is based on the following:

  • If you are working less than 16 hours every week on an average
  • If you are married or have a civil partner (only one) who works less than 24 hours every week on an average
  • Both you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you

If you have never been in any job then you will be entitled only for income-based JSA. Both Income-based JSA and Universal Credit can not be claimed at the same time.

Eligibility

Benefits calculator can help you find our whether you are entitled for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Universal Credit. So before you apply for either of the claims do try to find out.
You will be entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if you:

  • are 18 years old and you don’t have a child (exceptions are there for candidate of 16 or 17 years. Contact Jobcentre Plus for advice
  • are not claiming State Pension
  • are not enrolled to a full time education
  • are residing in England, Wales or Scotland
  • are available for job
  • are seriously and actively searching for job
  • work less than 16 hours every week on an average
  • have a spouse/partner (only one), works for less than 24 hours every week on an average
  • have a recorded agreement that states you are actively looking for work (‘Claimant Commitment’)
  • are physically and mentally fit and not ailing from any illness or disability which can prevent you from taking a work

Candidates in the Age group of 18 to 19 years

If your parents are getting Child Benefit for you, usually you will not get JSA. If you have just discontinued or completed your education and your parents are receiving Child Benefits then also you will not be entitled for JSA. As an alternative, you may be entitled for Income Support.
If you are 18 years or above, and live with your partner who is 18 years or above, then you will be entitled to claim for JSA with your partner.

Students with Full-time education

Student’s With Full Time Education

If you are enrolled into full time education and studying for ‘A’ level or an equivalent qualification, you will not be entitled for JSA till the time you discontinue your education and your parents stop availing Child Benefit for you. The payment for Child Benefit is stopped on the last day of February, May, August or November (after stopping whichever month comes first).

Students enrolled into a degree-level qualification

All who has children may be entitled to claim for JSA during the summer vacations.

Students enrolled into Part-time Education

You might be entitled for JSA while you are enrolled into a part-time education (that also includes part-time Open University Courses) till you:

  • agree to do the job if it is offered to you
  • do are ready to do everything possible while seeking work, as you have agreed upon with your work coach

If you are new or have recently come back to the UK

You might be entitled for JSA if you can give evidence that you have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland or the Isle of Man for minimum 3 months prior to your claim and you are:

  • a UK national who has just come back to the country from abroad or
  • an EEA national who has full right to live in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man

Claiming or reclaiming

Generally, JSA can be claimed online. However, if you are not living in Universal Credit area and you want ‘new style’ JSA then apply for the claim by phone. It is advisable that you check your eligibility for JSA before you apply, as you may have to claim for Universal Credit.

More ways to make your claim for new style JSA

If you are living out side a ‘full service’ area and you have already claimed for ‘Universal Credit’ then contact on these numbers:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Once you have made your claim

Once you have made your claim, you will receive a phone call or text message within 2 working days to fix a JSA interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office. If you miss this interview then you won’t be allowed JSA.

Joint Claim with your partner

If you have a partner and do not have children to look after then you should make a joint claim with your partner. If you are unsure about making joint claim, contact Jobseeker Plus for advices.

Reclaim JSA (rapid reclaim)

If you have had JSA in the last 26 weeks then you can apply for quicker claims for JSA online. You will have to apply again which will not more than 20 minutes. Furthermore, to get JSA, you will have to attend an interview at a Jobcentre Plus office.

If you are unable to reclaim for a JSA online then contact Jobcentre Plus for advices.

Reclaiming new style JSA

You can reclaim for ‘new style’ JSA if it is discontinued for some reason if your:

  • Universal Credit stopped for any reason, not considering where you live, while you are living in a full service area.
  • Universal Credit ended in the last 6 months as your incomes increased and you live outside a full service area

If you are living in a Universal Credit ‘full service’ area, you should reclaim for JSA online.
If you have already claimed Universal Credit and living out side Universal Credit area then call:

Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Working as Share fishermen and volunteer development workers

Claim JSA in the month of January, if you are a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker. You can follow the instructions on making payments for Class 2 National Insurance. If you don’t do this or miss this by any chance then JSA may get delayed.

Disagreeing with a decision

You can ask for mandatory reconsideration and challenge a decision about your claims.

Making complaints

If you are not satisfied or not happy with the services provided by the Jobcentre Plus you can always make complains.

JSA interview

After you have applied for JSA, Jobcentre Plus will contact you to fix your interview.
Following you have to carry while you visit Jobcentre Plus for an interview:

  • your P45 (only if you have one)
  • one ‘primary’ identification document
  • 2 ‘secondary’ identification documents – one for address proof and other for date of birth proof.

Primary identification documents

Some of the documents that you have to carry are:

  • Current passport
  • Driving licence
  • Biometric residence permit
  • Certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen
  • Permanent residence card

Secondary identification documents

Documents to prove your date of birth:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate

Address proof includes a recent:

  • Bank statement
  • Council Tax bill
  • Utility bill

If you have provided any other information other than above, then you will have to carry documents in their support, so that making a decision on your claim can be easier for Jobcentre Plus.

Assistance while you attend JSA interview

Contact your Jobcentre Plus prior to your interview if you need any assistance due to disability or health issues. You will be allowed only if you have taken permission beforehand.

‘Claimant Commitment’ - an agreement to look for work

You will have to sign an agreement about the steps and approaches you will take to search for a work while you attend for JSA interview. This agreement is called a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
What will go in your Claimant Commitment will be decided by you and your work coach. This may include:

  • Steps you will take to seek a job - for example, drafting a CV or resume and registering with recruitment or employment agencies
  • Council Tax bill

The steps you agree to take will be based on your:

  • health
  • responsibilities you carry at home
  • amount if help you may require to get work or raise your earnings

If you are unable to do or do not do deliberately what you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment and you have no good reasons to give then your JSA claims may be terminated.

JSA claim

Once you have made your JSA claim, you will be helped by your work coach in planning your job search.
It will help:

  • you proving your work coach that you are serious and actively looking for a job
  • in keeping records of day to day activities

You will be instructed to take part in employment programme by your work coach, similar to Work Programme.

Visiting Jobcentre Plus office

Visiting Jobcentre Plus Office

Once in two weeks (or when asked) is the fixed time to visit your Jobcentre Plus (also called ‘signing on’) to report how you are searching for a job.

If will be required to present proof of job applications and interviews attended to your job coach to show your work you have been doing to look for job.

You might get 13 weeks break from job search if you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse. You will have to speak to your work coach for help.

What if circumstances change

Just in case your conditions or your job status changes, for example you get an employment or earning changes, you should inform your Jobcentre Plus. These circumstances can affect your claim amount.
If you have planned to volunteer at any place, though it does not affect JSA claims still it is advisable you report to your Jobcentre Plus before you start.

Claiming ‘new style JSA’

You can report a change in your circumstance online, if you have an online account for Universal Credit.

Else, you can contact the Universal Credit helpline. The number you call will depend on the area you live in.
For residents of Universal Credit ‘full service’ area:
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

For some other locality:
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

If you choose not to report change in your circumstance, you may be committing ‘benefit fraud’.

Payment can be stopped

If you do not do what your work coach or Work Programme asks you to do then, your JSA payments will be discontinued, called being ‘sanctioned’.
For example, if you:

  • don’t keep to your agreement for seeking job
  • don’t report to a Jobcentre Plus office when asked
  • don’t take training course or turn down a job offers
  • don’t apply for jobs as instructed
  • don’t attend interviews you are invited to
  • don’t go to any training or participate in employment schemes
  • resign from your last job or leave your training without any genuine reason or because of your conduct

If any of the above applies to you, contact your Jobcentre Plus as early as possible. If you have genuine reason that you can prove it can help you keep your payment. You payments will be terminated for a certain time period and your will be informed about it.

If JSA payment is discontinued

Just in case your JSA is discontinued, you should continue to look for job. If you don’t, you benefit payment may be stopped for even longer duration. If are not happy or satisfied with the decision of the payment being stopped, you can ask for reconsideration through ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Moreover, you can appeal to Social Security and Child Support Tribunal if you find the judgment in the mandatory reconsideration notice is not satisfactory.
Until the dispute is settled, you can continue with any JSA claim.

Claim is stopped

If you are not available or not active in your job search then your JSA claim may be stopped. Though you can apply again, your payments will be discontinued for a period of either:

  • weeks if it is first time claim has been stopped
  • 13 weeks if there was a previous claim that was stopped within the past year

Hardship payments

You may be entitled for a hardship payment if your JSA payments are discontinued. You will not have to pay it back. This is a reduced about (about 60%) of your JSA.

Eligibility

If you are 18 years old or above and unable to pay for your rent, food, heating and other basic necessities then you are entitled for hardship payment for you and or your child. You will also have to provide proof that you have tried borrowing from friends and working extra hours to find money.

Claim for hardship payments

To know how to claim for hardship payments, contact your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach. Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Contact Jobcentre Plus to stop your JSA claim if you find a job.

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