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:
Be unemployed, or working less than 16 hours/week
Be 18 or over
16-17 may be eligible if they have just left care or have had to flee home.
Be capable of full time work
Periods of up to two weeks sickness are allowed
Not be in full time education
However, many full-time College courses are described as ‘part-time’ for this reason. Studying at the Open University is allowed.
If you are disabled or you are a parent in full-time education, you can claim JSA during the summer break. (Although note that disabled students could qualify for ESA instead at that time, and single parents can qualify for Income Support instead at that time).
As soon as your course ends (often in June), you can immediately claim JSA – even if you are intending to go back to study for another course in the next term. So if you finish a BA in June 2009 and start an MA in September 2009, make sure to claim JSA from June to September. You don't need to wait for your results to come through (which can take weeks or even months), you can claim JSA right from the course end date. The claim will not normally be backdated though, so start the claim immediately.
If you have been on benefits more than two years, your Employment Officer may give approval for you to take on a ‘qualifying course’ and stay on JSA.
Not be a pensioner
Men aged 60-64 can claim JSA or Pension Credit. Normally better to claim Pension Credit, because no signing on and no capital limit.
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:
Have less than £16,000 capital
JSA rate decreases if you have £6,000 capital or more
The house you live in does not count as capital. Any other house you own does count, unless you are actively trying to sell it
You can get rid of capital by spending. However if the DWP believe you have spent simply in order to qualify for JSA then they can ignore the spending and treat you as if you still have the capital. That decision is appealable.
Your partner must work less than 24 hours a week (Note that you might both qualify for Working Tax Credit instead in that case).
Contribution based JSA depends on your previous National Insurance contributions.
To be eligible you must have sufficient NI contributions – meaning you’ve recently worked for four years or so
This JSA lasts for only six months, after which you would, if eligible, go on to Income-based JSA, or Working Tax Credit.
There are no limits on your capital – multimillionaires are eligible for contribution based JSA.
There are no limits on the number of hours your partner works – if your partner is in full time work on a high income, you are still eligible for contribution based JSA.
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.
You have 21 days to sign the Agreement, and your claim might be backdated once you sign. You can appeal the terms of the Agreement if they are too restrictive. You must do this within one month.
The Agreement will state you must be available for work and prepared to work at least 40 hours per week. Carers and those with disabilities may be allowed to restrict themselves to less hours.
You must be able to start work immediately, however:
If you do voluntary work you should get 1 weeks notice to start work and 48 hours notice to attend an interview.
If you are a carer - including looking after a child – you are entitled to 48 hours notice to start work
If you do some other service: 24 hours notice to start work
If you are working part time for pay, you must be available to start work at the end of your notice period.
You may be able to get a permitted period included in your Agreement – up to thirteen weeks in which you can restrict yourself to looking only for your normal job and rates of pay.
Sanctions: the DWP can sanction you if they decide you have not met the Agreement requirements. This can include:
refusing a notified vacancy, defined as a job vacancy which the claimant has found out about from Job Centre Plus, who keep records of all the jobs their clients request information about.
Missing a ‘Restart Interview’
Not being available for or actively seeking work
Voluntarily leaving work (see below)
Refusal to attend a compulsory scheme
You can lose your JSA payments for from 2 to 26 weeks
This does not affect Housing Benefit or Council Benefit. They continue to be paid regardless of any JSA sanctions.
The decision can be appealed
If sanctioned you can apply for a hardship payment which will effectively be reduced JSA payments
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
If you voluntarily leave a job you will not be eligible for JSA.
However you may be eligible if you say that you left due to harassment; because the job made you ill; because you received another job offer which subsequently fell through; because you moved for a partner’s job; or because you left to look after a relative.
If you were fired for misconduct you can be sanctioned up to 26 weeks.
However, you can appeal this decision. As many employers use ‘misconduct’ as an excuse to lay off workers, the JobCentre will often accept that it wasn’t your fault.
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:
‘Gateway’: 16 weeks of weekly interviews pressuring you to work
‘Options’: Compulsory full-time ‘work experience’ for 13 weeks with a company like ‘Action for Employment’.
‘Follow Through’: up to 26 weeks
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.
You must be signed off for 13 weeks in order the have a ‘new claim’ and therefore avoid being put on the New Deal.