Jobseeker’s Allowance provides money for those people who are currently in between jobs and are actively looking for work. If you’re currently unemployed, or on a low income, you could be eligible to receive either a contribution-based allowance or an income-based allowance.
Jobcentre Plus – which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions and delivers working-age support – will determine if you’re eligible to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance. You’ll be required to attend an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office to help them make their assessment. However, the basic rules on eligibility require you to be:
- Over 18
- Living in England, Scotland or Wales
- Be able to work and be actively seeking work OR be currently working less than 16 hours a week
- Not in full-time education
- Not claiming a pension
Before you contact your local Jobcentre Plus office here’s a short guide to the two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance available:
Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
You’ll be able to receive contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if you’ve paid enough National Insurance payments over the past two tax years. This is non-means tested and is available for a maximum of 6 months. After this period you may still be eligible to receive income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
You’ll be able to receive income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if you’re on a low income or you haven’t paid enough National Insurance contributions over the past two tax years. This allowance is means tested so both your current income and your savings will affect how much allowance you’ll receive.
How much can I expect to receive?
How much allowance you receive will depend on your eligibility, which the job centre will determine at your first interview. Your age and personal circumstances will also affect the amount you’re paid. Currently the maximum weekly amounts are:
- Aged up to 24: up to £57.90
- Aged 25 or over: up to £73.10
- Coupled aged over 18: up to £114.85
You can also use an online independent benefits calculator to help you find out what you may be entitled to. The three most popular benefits calculators are Turn2us, Policy in Practice and entitled to and you can find out more by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
How is Jobseeker’s Allowance paid?
Your allowance will usually be paid every two weeks. Before you start receiving your payments you’ll be asked for your bank or building society details.
What other services does Jobcentre Plus offer?
If you’re of working age and you’re actively seeking work, your nearest Jobcentre Plus has plenty of support on offer. Each office has a number of advisers who are there to help you as well as a range of services designed to get you back to work. These include ‘Find a Job’, an online service that enables you to search and apply for advertised jobs and advisers will be able to assist you in creating a profile, uploading your CV and more. Other services that you’ll be able to benefit from include job fairs and job-hunting courses – where you’ll learn to write and hone your CV.
If you’re unhappy with the service you received from Jobcentre Plus then there’s a complaints procedure you’ll need to follow. You can contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus in writing, call, or make your complaint online. You’ll need your National Insurance number, contact details and your postcode to proceed. Here are the contact numbers (both available Monday to Friday between 8am to 6pm):
Jobcentre Plus: 0843 902 0769
Jobseeker’s Allowance: 0844 372 1185
An online complaint about Jobseeker’s Allowance can be made here:
If, once you’ve made a complaint, you’re unhappy with your treatment or the amount of time it’s taking to deal with your complaint you can contact your Local Government and Ombudsman.
Where is my nearest Jobcentre Plus office?
The Jobcentre Plus head office is located in Leeds. Their phone lines are open Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm.
Alternatively to find out where your nearest office is you can use the online local office search. It’s available at http://los.direct.gov.uk and all you’ll need is your postcode.