Benefits for Unemployment

IMPORTANT FACTS- What is Jobseeker’s Allowance?

Jobseekers allowance is a weekly payment to help people while they look for work. This is now paid as part of Universal Credit.

IMPORTANT FACTS- Who can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

To get Jobseeker’s Allowance you must be:

  • available for, capable of and actively seeking work
  • aged 18 or over but below State Pension age. Jobseeker’s Allowance isn’t normally paid to 16 or 17 year olds except in exceptional circumstances such as family estrangement 
  • working less than 16 hours per week on average
  • in Great Britain

Full time higher education students can’t usually claim Jobseeker’s Allowance during the summer holidays. There are exceptions for those with children and disabilities. See here for full details.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance:

  •  Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

You may be entitled to claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions (NICs). Jobcentre Plus can pay this for up to 182 days. Generally, self-employed contributions will not help you qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

  •  Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

This is based on your income and savings. You may get this if you have not paid enough NICs (or you’ve only paid contributions for self-employment) and you’re on a low income.

IMPORTANT FACTS- How much you can claim

The maximum amounts per week are as follows. You will receive the money every two weeks into a bank account.

AgeAmount for 2020/21
Aged 16 – 24£58.90
Aged 25 or over£74.35

For income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, the amount may be less after your household income, pension and savings is taken into account. Couples (if both are over the age of 18) will receive up to £116.80 for both partners. 

VIDEO- Watch this as an insight for what people can expect when they sign on. 

How to apply

You can do this online or by calling the Jobcentre Plus – details here.

You will need your National Insurance number and a contact telephone number.

Attending the Jobcentre

When you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll need to attend an interview at the Jobcentre. An adviser will help you draw up a ‘Jobseeker’s agreement’. This will set out the steps you agree to take to find work. To keep getting benefits you’ll have to attend regular job search reviews, usually every fortnight. There’s a longer review if you’ve been getting benefits for 13 weeks.

Other assistance

You may also be able to get further financial assistance for things like buying formal clothes for interviews and travel expenses to get to interviews.

NUMBERS TO REMEMBER: Jobseeker’s Allowance:
Aged 16-24: £58.90
Aged 25 or over: £74.35