Can you claim Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, and is it included in Universal Credit?
We take a look at how JSA works, and how to apply for it if you’re receiving Universal Credit.
What is Jobseeker’s Allowance?
There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA):
- income-based, and
- contribution based, which is also called the ‘new style JSA’ for those getting Universal Credit.
Both types pay the same amount but the process of applying for them is different.
For income-based JSA, the amount you are entitled to is based on you or your partner’s income.
If you work 16 hours or less per week on average, your partner works less than 24 hours per week on average, and if you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings you may be able to apply.
If you have never worked before, this is the only kind of JSA you can apply for.
Contribution-based JSA, which is available if you’re on Universal Credit, is based on your National Insurance contributions (NICs).
You can apply for this if you’ve paid enough NICs but you can’t get this type of JSA if you’ve never worked before.
Contribution-based JSA is paid for up to six months and you can only get it if you made enough NI payments in the previous two tax years.
There's no maximum time period for receiving income-based JSA, only that it's paid every two weeks.
Are you eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance?
In order to receive JSA the following must apply:
- You need to be 18 or over
- Only those under the state pension age can get it
- Not in full-time education
- You must be living in England, Scotland or Wales
- You must be available for work
- You can’t be working more than 16 hours a week on average
- If you have a partner they can’t work for more than 24 hours a week on average
- You can’t apply if you have an illness or disability which stops you from working
- To continue getting payments you need to show you’re looking for work
How much JSA can you get?
The amount you can get depends on your personal situation, such as the number of hours you work and any savings you already have.
For those aged 18 to 24, you can get up to £57.90 per week, those aged 25 or over can get £73.10, and as a couple you can claim up to £114.85 a week in income-related JSA.
With contribution-based JSA, there's no set payment based on age but the highest amount you could claim is £114.85 a week.
Anyone aged 16 or 17 may also be able to get JSA if they’re forced to live away from their parents, would suffer severe hardship without getting it or if they, or their partner, are responsible for a child.
Payments are made every two weeks and if you’re not actively looking for work they may be stopped.
You can apply for JSA online or on the phone – see Gov.uk for the phone contact details – and you’ll need to attend a short interview at your local Job Centre before the payments start.
During this you’ll sign a contract to agree to look to work and will need to show some forms of identity.
Is Jobseeker’s Allowance included in Universal Credit?
If you live in an area where there is a full Universal Credit service, you’re already claiming Universal Credit, or you stopped getting it in the past six months because of your salary, you can apply for JSA.
The only type you can apply for is what’s called the ‘new style JSA’ which works in the same way to contribution-based JSA.
You cannot get income-based JSA and Universal Credit at the same time.
To check if your area has full service Universal Credit, check the updated lists on the Government’s website.
Universal Credit has been rolled-out across the country and more than 60 areas have started a full service this month.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:
Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it's a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit pay out.
Alternative Payment Arrangements– If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.
Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the government to help with emergency household costs of up to £348 if you're single, £464 if you're part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You'll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You'll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax or be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments if your payments aren't enough to cover your rent.
Foodbanks – If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussel Trust website.
For more information, see How to get help with Universal Credit and what financial support and grants are available?
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