Tips for Uni and College graduates on Job Seekers Allowance

Finishing University is supposed to be a time of celebration and relief as you look back and congratulate yourself on all the work that you’ve put in. Instead, a lot of students become overstressed over the next stage. You’ll find yourself suddenly needing to find and apply for jobs so that the bills can get paid now you don’t have the student loan to cover it. With that in mind, could Job Seekers Allowance be a temporary relief for you? If you’re actively seeking work, then why not get paid for it?

What types of Job Seekers Allowance can you claim?

There are three main types of Job Seekers Allowance that you can claim, from the following:

Contribution – a temporary allowance that can be used for up to 6 months, eligible for anyone who has paid enough national insurance for the last two years. Basically, if you’ve previously been in full-time employment over the past two years.

Income-based allowance – this is means-tested so anyone is eligible that hasn’t been able to pay enough class 1 national insurance tax, are on low income or unemployed with little to no savings. For students on or moving onto part time courses at their university then you can apply for this as well.

Universal Credit – this is for people unemployed or on low incomes. This form of benefits is paid once a month rather than fortnightly. It can incorporate help with housing costs or rent. You can earn any amount whilst on universal credit however, the more you earn the less you will receive.


How do you claim Job Seekers Allowance?

There are multiple ways you can apply for Job Seekers Allowance including online, over the phone or by going into your local Jobcentre Plus. When applying you will be asked to prove that you are actively seeking employment. 

Applicants aged between 18 and 24 will be entitled to receive a maximum of £50.95 a week every two weeks and a maximum of £73.10 for anyone aged 25 or over. If you have over £6,000 in savings, then you will receive a smaller amount and if you have £16,000 or over in savings then you won’t qualify for any benefits. After applying you will be asked to have an appointment at your local Job Centre and then your application will be processed.

After qualifying for these benefits, you’ll have to return to the Job Centre every two weeks to show what you’ve done to secure employment in order to qualify for payment. Your efforts can be shown by searching for jobs in papers and online, writing a CV and applying for jobs.

Once you’ve been cleared for payment your money should be paid directly into your bank account. If you have any changes in circumstance then you’ll have to notify the Job Centre, this includes:

  • Starting a new job
  • Moving to a new house
  • Going on holiday
  • You’re re-entering education.


What documents will you need?

To claim Job Seekers Allowance you’ll be required to provide specific documents. This includes your national insurance number and proof of identity, for example, a driving license or passport. If you live with a partner, you may also need their national insurance number. You’ll also need evidence of your income and savings, bank statements are best for this.

Why should you make a claim?

  • Extra money– This gives you the ability to search for the jobs that you are wanting to come out of university, allowing you time to go through applications processes and get paid whilst doing so.
  • Free prescriptions– when on job seekers you are entitled to free prescriptions on the NHS
  • Discounted council tax– whilst being on Job Seekers Allowance you will be entitled to up to 25%
  • National insurance credits- whilst on Job Seekers you’re entitled to have national insurance credits this is so you’re able to build up your state pension whilst being unemployed

Food shopping

Why shouldn’t you make a claim?

  • The stigma– over the years a stigma has formed around being on this benefit and can deter many from applying for it. You don’t have to tell anyone that you’re on this.
  • This is only short term– Although it is free it isn’t a lot, this money is enough to pay for food, it isn’t enough to keep you going forever.
  • Not all Jobs count– You must return once every 2 weeks and you can’t just go hunting for the jobs you want. You must apply for jobs that the Jobcentre office has advertised or else they don’t count it for your allowance.