Out of work benefits: Jobseeker’s Allowance
If you have lost your job, the main benefit you could be entitled to is ‘Job Seekers Allowance’ (JSA).
There are two types of Job Seekers Allowance ‘New Style’ and ‘Income-based’.
To check if you are entitled to Jobseeker’s Allowance, you can use the official online benefits calculator.
By entering information about yourself, including your outgoings, savings and any income, you can find out which benefits you may qualify for.
If you have made sufficient Class 1 National Insurance Contributions in the last two full tax years, you might be eligible for the New Style Job Seekers Allowance.
If you qualify, you can receive this for up to six months.
The JSA will be paid into your bank, building society, or credit union account every two weeks and your spouse or partners income will not impact your eligibility.
If you need help with things like cost of housing or bringing up children, you will have to make a separate application for Universal Credit, however Universal Credit is based on total household income, so the income from your spouse or partner will impact how much you are able to receive.
Universal Credit is gradually replacing Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. You may be told that you need to claim Universal Credit instead. This must be claimed online.
You may also be entitled to other support from the Government, such as tax credits. Take a look at the Government website for more information.
How to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance
Claiming out of work benefits can be done in a few simple steps.
If you discover that you might be eligible, you will probably want to make a claim. This can be done online.
After submitting your claim, you will be contacted by a Jobcentre Plus centre near you, usually within 2 working days. This is so they can arrange an interview with you.
Items to bring to your interview
You should always check with your local Jobcentre Plus exactly what you need to bring.
However, you will be required to take your P45 to the interview, plus two forms of identification. What you can use as identity documents is listed on the Government website.
At the interview, you will be required to sign an agreement to say that you will be looking for work. This is known as a ‘Claimant Commitment’.
You must stick to this commitment (which can vary from person to person, depending on circumstances) or your Jobseeker’s Allowance could be stopped.
What happens after the interview?
If your claim is successful, you should be given a ‘work coach’. This person is there to help you draw up a plan to search for a job.
You may be told that you need to participate in a Work Programme.
You will also be required to go to the Jobcentre Plus every 2 weeks. During this appointment, you should show your work coach evidence of what you have been doing to find a job. This could include job applications, for example.
How much could I be entitled to?
The exact amount varies, depending on things such as your savings and how much other income you have.
However, there is a maximum amount (correct at the time of writing), which is set at:
- £57.90 for 18-24-year-olds
- £73.10 for those aged 25 or over
- £114.85 for couples who are both aged over 18
When do I get paid?
Jobseeker’s Allowance payments are normally paid directly into your bank account every 2 weeks.
Am I entitled to out of work benefits if I have been sacked?
If you have been sacked, there may be a delay before you can start to receive any Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.
This may also be the case if you have left your job “without a good reason”.
Your work coach at the JobCentre Plus may stop your benefits from being paid in these instances. How long this lasts is up to your work coach.
Other out of work benefits
As well as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, you may be entitled to support such as Housing Benefit or help with your council tax.
If you own your own home, you could be entitled to help with your mortgage interest payments.
For more information about out of work benefits, head to the Government website.
Change in circumstances
It is essential that you inform Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change. You may also need to tell HM Revenue & Customs.