Jobseeker's Allowance

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 2 forms of Jobseeker’s Allowance – contribution-based and income-based. Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is currently being replaced by Universal Credit.

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.

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 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 have an income of more than £50 a week from an occupational or personal pension, the excess will be deducted from your benefit. 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 a week, then your contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid in full.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is being replaced by Universal Credit

During 2018, as the phasing out of income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance continues, there will be a gradually reducing number of postcodes across the UK where Universal Credit has yet to be introduced and you can still claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. The government aims for this process to be complete by the end of 2018, from which time no new claims for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can be made. 

You can check whether you are eligible to claim Universal Credit in your area using the universalcreditinfo.net postcode checker.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance 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.

If you are already getting income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will at some point be moved over to Universal Credit. The government aims to complete this process by March 2023.

How much will I receive?

The amount you get 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.

Do I qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance?

You may qualify if you:

  • meet 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  or Universal Credit 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 stop 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.

Claimant commitment

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 Department for Work and Pensions '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?

How you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance depends on whether Universal Credit has been introduced into your postcode area yet. You can check this by visiting universalcreditinfo.net

If Universal Credit has not yet been introduced into your area, and you live in England, Scotland or Wales, you should start your claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance by ringing the Jobcentre Plus claim line on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). There is also a Welsh language line on 0800 012 1888.

If you live in Northern Ireland, contact your local Jobs and Benefits office or Social Security office. 

You will be put through to someone who will go through the claim over the phone. Once they have finished, they will send you a customer statement so you can check the details are correct. You may be called back for extra information if you do not have it to hand. An appointment can then be made for you to attend an initial interview at the Jobcentre.

If Universal Credit has been introduced into your area, then how you claim Jobseeker’s Allowance will depend on whether you plan to claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance only, or contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit together.

  • To claim Universal Credit alongside your contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must apply for Universal Credit online
  • To claim contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance without Universal Credit you must ring 0800 328 5644 (textphone 0800 328 1344) and ask for form (UC)JSA1. This can only be emailed, not posted. When your form is completed, phone the helpline again to ask for an appointment at your local Jobcentre Plus office to take in the form and start your claim.

Initial 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.

Signing on

You will normally be expected to ‘sign on’ at your local Jobcentre Plus office (usually 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.

Download PDF or order a printed copy

Jobseeker's Allowance (PDF, 109KB)

We know lots of people would rather have something in their hands to read rather than look at a screen, so you can order printed copies of our information by post, phone or email.