Jobseeker’s Allowance is a fortnightly payment to help with living costs while you’re searching for a job (or trying to get more hours in your current job). To get JSA you need to be:
There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance. When you apply the Jobcentre will find out which one you can apply for.
1. Contribution-based JSA
If you’ve been working and paying Class 1 National Insurance Contributions for most of the past two full tax years, you may be able to claim contribution-based JSA.
It’s important to remember:
2. Income-based JSA
You can claim income-based JSA if you haven’t worked for long enough to claim contribution-based JSA. The majority of JSA claims are for income-based JSA:
For 16-24 year-olds, the basic rate is £57.90 a week. For 25 and over, it’s £73.10. Your allowance can be reduced if you have part-time earnings (or a pension).
The Jobcentre prefers you to claim online. You can also phone 0800 055 6688 (open 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday), but you’ll need to explain why you can’t make the claim online.
In Northern Ireland you’re encouraged to fill in a claim form, find your local office here.
When you claim you’ll also have a jobseeker’s interview. Your advisor will:
You will also have to sign a Jobseeker’s Agreement (in some areas this is now called a Claimant Commitment). This sets out:
Be realistic and make sure you agree with what’s set out in the agreement you can have your benefits stopped if you don’t fulfil your side of the bargain.
It can take up to two weeks to get paid after signing on. You’ll then have to sign on at the Jobcentre every fortnight. This involves a short interview to check your situation, job seeking progress and any change of circumstances (e.g. if you got a job). You should get your money fortnightly, within three working days of your visit.
Over the next couple of years, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance will gradually be phased out and replaced with Universal Credit (contribution-based JSA won’t become part of Universal Credit).
The basics will stay the same, you agree to job hunt in return for some money. But some things will be different. You’ll probably have to do more job-hunting, you’ll only get your benefit once a month and if you’re a couple applying you’ll only get one monthly payment between you.
Anyone currently on JSA will be transferred to Universal Credit gradually and if you’re newly unemployed you may be asked to apply for Universal Credit now. In Northern Ireland, Universal Credit won’t be introduced until 2017.
Remember to tell your benefits advisor if your circumstances change for example, if you get a pay rise, new job or move in with a partner. If you don’t you could face a £50 fine, as well as having to pay back any extra benefit. See gov.uk for more information.
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