How Much Is the Jobseeker's Allowance?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you are under pension age and looking for a job, you may be eligible for a jobseeker's allowance (JSA). JSA is a benefit for individuals who are actively looking for work. It provides you with some income while you're searching for a job. In this article, we'll discuss what a jobseeker's allowance is, the different types of jobseeker's allowance, how you can claim it and how much you could get.

Related: How to Deal with Job Loss

What is the jobseeker's allowance?

Jobseeker's allowance is an unemployment benefit paid by the government to people who are unemployed and currently looking for a job. They give the allowance out on a biweekly basis, to be used to support your job search and living costs. You can also qualify for a jobseeker's allowance as a part-time worker as you continue trying to get more hours to work.

To get the jobseeker's allowance, you must be:

  • 18 years and over

  • Available for and capable of working

  • Actively looking for a full-time job

  • Working below 16 hours a week

  • Out of full-time education

  • Not claiming income support

  • Not have any illnesses or disabilities that can prevent you from working

Related: COVID-19 and Your Job: Tips and Actions to Consider

How much is the jobseeker's allowance

The amount of benefits you can claim varies depending on several factors, including:

  • The type of jobseeker's allowance

  • Your job status and how much you earn

  • Your relationship status

  • Whether you have children

  • Your total savings

  • The number of benefits you are currently receiving

Types of jobseeker's allowance

There are three types of jobseeker's allowance that you can choose based on your circumstances. These include:

Contribution-based

You can qualify for contribution-based insurance if you have paid enough National Insurance contributions as an employee in the last two tax years. This type of JSA pays you an income for six months, though you may receive income-based JSA after this. You might also receive some income-based JSA if you are on a low income and have a disability, a partner, are caring for a family member with a disability or have a mortgage or other housing costs.

New style

The New Style JSA is a benefit for individuals who are unemployed or working less than 16 hours per week and who are looking for work. It is a fortnightly payment that you can claim on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit (UC).

To qualify for New Style JSA, you must have paid National Insurance contributions for at least two full tax years before the year you are claiming in. If you qualify, you can receive benefits for up to 182 days. After this, your work advisor will talk to you about your options. If you qualify for both Universal Credit and New Style JSA, the government will take into account any New Style JSA you will receive as income for Universal Credit.

New style JSA comes in two payment plans. These include £58.90 per week if you are below 25 years of age and £74.35 per week if you are above 25 years of age. If you have part-time earnings or receive pensions, then you might get less money per week.

Income-based

Income-based JSA is payable when your contribution-based JSA stops, if you haven't paid enough Class 1 contributions to National Insurance or if you were self-employed. In some cases, it can also top-up contribution-based JSA. You can enjoy the benefits of income-based JSA for as long as you keep meeting the rules for it.

The amount of income-based JSA that's payable to you may be made up of:

  • A personal allowance: for yourself or a couple

  • Premiums: taking age, disability and caring responsibilities into account

  • Certain housing costs: usually support for mortgage interest

Income-based JSA may also entitle you to claim other benefits automatically such as dental treatment, free prescriptions, council tax support or housing benefit.

Universal Credit

The government pays out the Universal Credit monthly to help you with your living costs. You can get universal credit if you are low on income, out of work or you cannot work. The Universal Credit system replaces some tax credits and benefits you might be getting now, including income support, child tax credit, housing benefit, working tax credit, income-based JSA and income-related employment allowance.

How to claim the jobseeker's allowance

Here are the steps to follow when making a jobseeker's allowance claim:

1. Make a claim for the jobseeker's allowance

You can apply for the jobseeker's allowance online at JobCentre Plus or over the phone at 0800 055 6688. You can also go to your local JobCentre Plus branch. To apply, you need to provide your National Insurance Number, bank account details, employment details for the past six months and private pension statements. If you choose to apply online, you need to fill out an online form to see if you are eligible. You'll then receive a text message to confirm that the agency has received your details.

2. Agree to the terms and conditions

Familiarise yourself with the conditions required to get a jobseeker's allowance. This is because the Job Centre will call you for a face-to-face or phone interview to clarify a few things. These things can include:

  • Ensuring that you understand the rules applicable to jobseeker's allowance

  • To understand what kind of work you are searching for and to identify the best ways of finding work

  • Ensuring that you understand different job opportunities and training

  • Ensuring that you have filled the forms properly

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

3. Attend the work-focused interview

The work-focused interview is part of the requirements to get approved for the jobseeker's allowance. You can have a relative or friend escort you to your interview or contact them for support if you have a disability or health condition. At the work-focused interview, you need to sign a claimant commitment. This is an agreement that you'll carry out certain tasks to claim JSA. You and your advisor will decide and agree on what goes in your claimant commitment. For instance:

  • What you need to do to find a job (e.g. writing a CV, registering with recruitment agencies)?

  • How many hours per week do you need to spend searching for work?

  • Your circumstances (e.g. family, health, work history or caring responsibilities)

Related: The Essential Job Search Guide

Receiving the jobseeker's allowance

Once approved for the jobseeker's allowance, the Job Centre will deposit the money every two weeks into your bank account. Your payments are backdated to when you applied for the JSA and then paid fortnightly into your bank account.

If you don't agree with any decision made about your claim, ask for a written statement of reasons. If necessary, there's an appeals process you can go through. Keep in mind, however, that you will only get a month to dispute the decision, so seek advice and act immediately.

Related: How to Negotiate a Better Salary

Jobseeker's allowance frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the jobseeker's allowance:

Can I claim the jobseeker's allowance if I'm under 18?

You may also be able to claim a jobseeker's allowance if you are 16 or 17 years old under certain circumstances. You must be:

  • A responsible child with no support from parents or guardians. You must also provide ample evidence to show that you don't have parents or that you have a broken family.

  • Experiencing extreme hardship conditions after either being laid off by your parents or guardians. You also need to provide ample evidence to build a strong case and convince the organisation about your current circumstances.

How do I make sure that I keep receiving my jobseeker's allowance?

To keep getting your jobseeker's allowance, you need to keep searching for work and be available to take on a suitable job. Here are a few things to help you keep receiving your jobseeker's allowance after the 13th week:

  • Attend all interviews with your JobCentre Plus advisor

  • Focus on improving your skills to increase your chances of getting a job opportunity

  • Apply for jobs suggested to you by your advisor and don't leave voluntarily

  • Maintain good behaviour at work or a training programme

What happens when the government stops your JSA?

If the government stops your JSA, you may claim a reduced rate of your JSA. These are known as hardship payments. However, you won't receive it automatically. You must first make a claim and prove that you and your family will suffer hardship unless you receive benefits.

Unless you are considered a vulnerable person, you will not receive any payment for the first two weeks. For instance, if you are a disabled person, pregnant or have a child, the amount of hardship that you get will be 20% or 40% less than the usual rate of JSA, depending on your circumstances.

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