Job Seekers Allowance

Rates (2011/12)

Under 25: £53.45 per week

Over 25: £67.50 per week

Couple (both over 18): £105.95 per week


Substantial extra amounts are available for JSA if you meet certain disability related conditions. See these course notes for details.

To claim JSA you must: 

If you have children, then you would also claim Child Tax Credit. In the old days you used to get extra JSA for children, but not anymore.

There are two types of JSA:

Income Based JSA is means tested. To be eligible you must:

Contribution based JSA depends on your previous National Insurance contributions.

When claiming JSA, the first three days are classed as ‘waiting days’ when you receive no payments – except for linked jobseeking periods (within 12 weeks of each other) when there are no waiting days restrictions.

Jobseeker’s Agreement: This is drawn up by the Employment Officer and it states the terms you must agree to in order to receive JSA.

Sanctions: the DWP can sanction you if they decide you have not met the Agreement requirements. This can include:

Delayed Payments: Get a crisis loan for living costs if JSA payments are delayed. This is paid back later, out of your benefits. In Edinburgh call 0800 328 3838. They must make a decision within four hours, and you can request a review of the decision if refused. Young and childless people are often rejected but if you keep applying for a loan you are likely to be successful.

Leaving a job

Joint Claims: couples should only make a joint JSA claim if they are both jobseekers. A joint income support claim makes more sense if possible – same money, but no signing on requirements.

Migrants’ entitlement to JSA: Those from countries within the EU are entitled to benefits if they are defined as a worker – this includes unemployed workers and so includes JSA, but only if you have previously worked in the UK. This entitles you to JSA and Housing Benefit, but not Disability Benefit or Employment Support Allowance.

After 5 years legal residence in the UK however, the claimant is entitled to all benefits.

The New Deal

For under-25’s: You will be put on the New Deal scheme after 6 months on JSA. This will mean:

For 25+: You will be put on the New Deal after 18 months. Similar scheme, but the ‘Options’ period is replaced with ‘Intensive Activity Period, also 13 weeks, and essentially the same. The ‘Follow Through’ period is shorter, 6-13 weeks.