Job Seeker’s Allowance

August 22, 2017

Job Seeker’s Allowance is an unemployment benefit available in most of the UK. It provides help when looking for work. Who can apply, and how does it work?

There are two things that Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) can be based upon – National Insurance (NI) contributions and income.

For National Insurance contributions, there are two versions – contribution based and new style. For contribution based, your entitlement to JSA is based on your NI payments in the last two tax years. New style is based on whether you’re entitled to Universal Credit – this will be if you are a single person living in England, Wales or Scotland, or a couple or family living in a Universal Credit Area.

The most common form of JSA is income-based. This is based on the criteria that you work an average of 16 hours or less a week (and your partner works less than 24 hours a week) and you have savings of less than £16,000. You must also be over 18, under State Pension age, not in full time education, living in England Scotland or Wales (Northern Ireland is different), and available for and seeking work. If you are aged 18 – 24, the payments you receive will be lower than for over 25s.

Once you have applied for JSA, the Jobcentre plus will arrange an interview with you. Once your payments start, there are several reasons that they can be stopped. This may be because you have not kept your agreement to look for work, you don’t attend Jobcentre appointments, you turn down jobs or training, you don’t apply for jobs, go to interviews or training, or you leave jobs or training for no good reason or due to your behaviour. When payments are stopped, they may be stopped for any amount of time between 4 weeks and 3 years.

Hardship payments are available if JSA has been stopped (equivalent to about 60% of JSA). This will be available if you are over 18, have looked for money elsewhere, and if you can’t pay for rent/heating/food/basic needs for yourself and children.

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