Jobseeker's Allowance is paid if you are capable of working, if you are available for work, and if you are actively seeking work. Note: this leaflet gives a brief summary of Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) and is for guidance only. It does not cover all situations, nor is it a full statement of the law. If you are not sure if you qualify, or whether you qualify for other benefits, then seek expert advice. See the section at the end of the leaflet for further sources of help and advice.
Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is for unemployed people and paid by the Jobcentre. There are two types of JSA. The first is contribution-based and depends upon your National Insurance contributions. The second is income-based and depends upon your financial and home circumstances. You may qualify for either or both of these parts, depending upon your circumstances.
There are basic conditions which you must fulfil to qualify for JSA. These include:
You qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance if you have recently been working and have paid a certain level of National Insurance contributions during recent tax years. No extra contribution-based JSA is payable for spouses, partners or children. Contribution-based JSA stops after six months.
Rates of contribution-based JSA vary according to age and from April 2012 are:
Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance is means tested and depends on your circumstances. Regulations approved by Parliament specify how much you should have coming in for your basic living expenses. This depends upon age, family size, disabilities, etc. If the money coming in is less than this amount, you will get income-based JSA to make up the difference.
Capital or savings up to a certain level do not affect benefit but income-based JSA entitlement will reduce if they are more than a specified amount. With couples, the needs and finances of both partners are taken into account when working out income-based JSA.
Income-based JSA does not cover rent and Council Tax. However, if you are getting income-based JSA you can get help with these from separate schemes run by the local council (Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit). If you are buying your home, an amount for the interest part of your mortgage payments may be added into the calculation of your income-based JSA entitlement.
You are entitled to certain other benefits. For example:
In certain circumstances JSA may be refused or stopped. It can then only be paid at a reduced rate to prevent hardship. For example: if you give up a job without a good reason; if you have lost a job through misconduct; if you do not comply with the basic JSA conditions such as refusing to attend a training course recommended by an employment officer.
When you become unemployed go to the Jobcentre and ask for a claim form. An appointment will usually be made for you to come back for interview when you should bring the completed form with you. You may have to attend the Jobcentre at regular intervals until you get a job.
There is also a way to claim online at www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DG_178228
JSA is usually paid directly into a bank account, building society account, Post Office account, or National Savings account.
Directgov provides information from across UK government departments
Provides independent advice on many issues including benefits. Listed in the phone book under 'Citizens Advice Bureaux'. Also, see their website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk