Jobseeker’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week, and are looking for work.
There are two forms of Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based and income-based) and both are taxable.
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
This is a personal flat-rate allowance. You may be able to claim this if you have paid enough in National Insurance contributions in the last 2 full tax years (the tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year).
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can be paid for up to 6 months, either in one period, or several shorter periods where your entitlement is still based on the same 2 tax years.
The amount you get may be affected by part-time earnings or an occupational or personal pension. Only your earnings are taken into account – any earnings of a partner are ignored.
It is not means-tested, so it is not affected by other income or savings you may have.
How much will i receive?
- Under 25 years old - £57.90 per week
- 25 years old and over - £73.10 per week
If you receive an income of more than £50 a week from an occupational or personal pension, the excess will be deducted from the amount of contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance you receive. For example, if your pension is £55 a week, £5 will be deducted from your benefit.
A one-off lump-sum payment does not affect your benefit. If your pension income is below £50 per week, then your contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid in full.
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
This is means-tested and is based on your income and savings. You may receive this benefit if you have no income, or a low income, and no more than £16,000 in savings. You do not have to have paid National Insurance contributions to get it.
You can claim for yourself and your partner (if you have one). You are not entitled to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if your partner is working 24 hours or more a week.
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can top up contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. Entitlement to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance gives access to other benefits including Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
A new benefit, Universal Credit was introduced in 2013 to replace means-tested benefits such as income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you are already getting income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance you will be moved over to Universal Credit at some point.
How much will I receive?
The amount you receive takes into account things like your age, your income and capital (and that of your partner), your disabilities (or your partner’s), and certain housing costs.
Savings over £6,000 (or £10,000 if you live in a care home) will be taken into account and assumed to provide you with a certain amount of income. If your capital (and your partner’s) is above £16,000, you will not be entitled to income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
If your income is less than the basic amount the law says you need to live on, you will receive the difference as income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. The calculation is similar to that used for working out Income Support.
Do I qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance?
You may qualify if you:
- satisfy the labour market conditions (see below)
- are not working 16 hours or more a week
- are under State Pension age
- are not in full-time education (with limited exceptions)
- live in the UK
- pass the contribution conditions (for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance)
- pass the income-based conditions (for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance), and
- do not have a limited capability for work because of ill health or disability that is expected to last more than 13 weeks (if you do, you should claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead).
The labour market conditions
There are 3 labour market conditions. You must:
- be available for work
- be actively seeking work, and
- have entered into a 'claimant commitment' (explained later in this section) that remains in force
If you fail to meet any of these conditions, your Jobseeker’s Allowance will normally cease for a fixed sanction period of between 4 weeks and 3 years. You may be eligible for Hardship Payments in the meantime. You can challenge a decision to impose a sanction.
For more information, see the Disability Rights UK Factsheet on Sanctions.
Available for work
You must be willing and able to take up any paid employment of at least 40 hours a week immediately. You can restrict your hours of availability if it is reasonable given your physical or mental condition. If you have caring responsibilities, you are also allowed a greater degree of flexibility here.
At the beginning of your Jobseeker’s Allowance claim, you can restrict your job-seeking to your usual occupation and your usual level of pay for up to 13 weeks.
Actively seeking work
You are expected to take a number of steps (usually at least 3) each week in order to have the best chance of getting a job. This can include applying for jobs, looking for vacancies, writing your CV and registering with employment agencies.
To keep receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must sign a claimant commitment. This will be drawn up at a face-to-face interview with a work coach.
It will include details of your availability for work (including any restrictions imposed by your condition), the sort of work you are looking for, how you will look for work and what you intend to do to improve your job prospects.
How do I claim Jobseeker’s Allowance?
If you are eligible to claim Universal Credit, you will need to call the Universal Credit helpline on 0345 600 0723 (textphone 0345 600 0743) to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Otherwise, you can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance online or ring the national claim number on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888).
In Northern Ireland, you will need to contact your local Jobs & Benefits office or Social Security office.
Information to start processing your claim is usually first taken from you over the phone. An appointment can then be made for you to attend a work-focused interview.
At the work-focused interview, a work coach will discuss your application with you and ensure you understand the rules for claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. They will also discuss what type of work you want and the best ways for you to find a job.
You will normally be expected to ‘sign on’ at your local Jobcentre Plus office every 2 weeks, to discuss how your job search is going. In addition, you must also attend regular, more detailed interviews to look at your situation.
What if my circumstances change?
It is always important to provide full, accurate information to benefits offices, and to let them know if your circumstances change. If you don’t do this your benefits may be stopped, you may receive demands for repayment, or you may face prosecution.