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Unemployment benefits in United Kingdom

In what situation can I claim?

Job Seeker's Allowance is paid to help people while they look for work.

What conditions do I need to meet?

If you are over 18 but under the State Pension age, available for work and meet the other requirements set out here, you can put in a claim for Job Seeker's Allowance.

You will have to go for an interview to complete your application form. Once your claim has been accepted, you will have to go your local Jobcentre once a fortnight to show you have been looking for work. This is known as "signing on".

To get income-based JSA you must prove that you’ve been living in the UK or Common Travel Area for 3 months before you claim if you are:

  • a UK national who has recently returned from abroad and you have not worked since coming back to the UK;
  • an EEA or non-EEA national and you have not worked since arriving in the UK.

If you are an EEA national who has worked or been self-employed in the UK since you arrived, you may have to provide:

  • evidence of your earnings;
  • details of employment;
  • You will still have to attend an interview at a Jobcentre to get JSA.

What am I entitled to and how can I claim?

There are two types of Jobseeker' Allowance (JSA): the type you can claim will be worked out by Jobcentre Plus, and they will also see how much tax will be charged.

The Contribution-based JSA is paid for 182 days (about 6 months).

18 to 24: £57.90
25 or over: £73.10

As the name implies, you can only get this if you have paid enough class 1 National Insurance contributions in the last two tax years.

Income-based JSA is paid if you have not clocked up enough National Insurance contributions, or it can be paid if you have gone over your 182 days of contribution-based JSA.

Single (under 25): £57.90
Single (25 or over): £73.10
Couples (both aged 18 or over): £114.85

You could get this if you have not paid enough National Insurance as an employee and you are on a low income.

The benefit cap limits the amount of benefit that most people aged 16 to 64 can get. Some individual benefits are not affected, but the cap may affect the total amount of benefit you get.

You can start your claim online and you can also make a ‘rapid reclaim’ if you have had JSA in the last 182 days (approximately 6 months). Reclaims can be made online and should take about 10 minutes.

If you claim online you will get a text or a phone call fixing the time and date of your interview, within two working days of your claim. You can take someone with you to a JSA interview.

At the interview you have to agree things such as:

  • what steps you can take to find work, like improving your skills;
  • how you can improve your chances of getting a job, for example, get help on writing a CV, preparing for interviews, looking for work.

This is called a "Claimant Commitment".

Your JSA may be stopped, for up to three years, if you do not follow your agreement or commitment and can’t give a good reason.

You must let your Jobcentre know if your circumstances change or you could find you are committing benefit fraud. Volunteering will not normally affect your allowance, but let the Jobcentre know before you start.

Know your rights

The links below set out your rights in law:

Who do you need to contact?

Your nearest Social Security / Jobs and Benefits office in Northern Ireland.

Tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change as this can affect how much you get and you might be committing benefit fraud.

Claim JSA by phone if you can't do so online:
Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Welsh language: 0800 012 1888
Textphone: 0800 023 4888 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.

Source:
European Commission and national authorities dealing with unemployment insurance.

This page was last updated on November 15, 2018.

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