Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a benefit for people who are not in full time employment (ie they work less than 16 hours per week), are capable of working, and are looking for work.
New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance is based on the claimant's NI contributions.
New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance is not means-tested. So where someone is not entitled to any Universal Credit (a means-tested benefit), eg. due to having savings of more than £16,000 or due to the amount of their partner's earnings, they may still be entitled to New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance, as savings or their partner's income won't count.
How much ?
New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance is paid at:
£58.90 per week for under 25s.
£74.35 per week for those aged 25 or over
However, part-time earnings and/or pension income can affect the amount of New-Style JSA the claimant is entitled to - or may even reduce their entitlement to nil.
New-Style JSA is reduced £ for £ by:
- any part time employed or self-employed net earnings over the earnings disregard (which is normally £5 pw, but for some types of work it is £20 pw - ie auxiliary coastguard, part-time fire fighter, part-time lifeboat crew member or a member of the reserve forces)
- any gross weekly occupational or private pension payment over the disregarded amount of £50 pw.
Who can get New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance?
It is a person-based benefit, not a means-tested benefit - so the person claiming NS-ESA has to meet these criteria (the circumstances of their partner are ignored);
- Age 18 or over and under State Pension age
- Not be in work, or be working less than 16 hours a week on average*
- Available to work full time
- Actively looking for full-time work
- Not in full-time education
- Don’t have an illness or disability which means they can’t work
- Paid the correct level of National Insurance contributions**
- Have the right to work in the UK
*Where someone is on furlough then it will be their usual hours that are considered - ie before the Coronavirus outbreak. This is confirmed in Guidance..
**Self-employed workers who have only paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions for the past 2/3 years will not be eligible, unless they were working as a share fisherman or a volunteer development worker. See bottom of this page for the NI conditions.
How to claim it
In England, Scotland or Wales
Claim can be made online by going to the Gov.UK website, go down the page and click on "Claim JSA online"
Or on the phone by calling Jobcentre Plus to make a claim:
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Textphone: 0800 023 4888
Welsh language Line: 0800 012 1888
In Northern Ireland
Contact the local Social Security/Jobs and Benefits Office for a claim form.
There is a 7 day period between claiming and being able to get Jobseeker’s Allowance. These are called waiting days. Exceptions apply.
A claim for Jobseeker's Allowance can be backdated for up to three months before the date of the claim if they would have been entitled to it earlier. The claimant must have an acceptable reason for claiming late: they should request this when claiming.
New-Style Jobseeker's Allowance is normally paid on a fortnightly basis for a maximum of 6 months.
Normally claimants must go to a Jobcentre Plus office every 2 weeks (or when asked) to show how they’ve been looking for a job. This is known as ‘signing on’.
They must show their work coach what they’ve been doing to look for work, for example proof of job applications and interviews.
However, due to the Coronavirus outbreak all work search has been suspended and claimants have to be willing to be available for work as soon as the DWP feel it is safe for you to start applying for jobs.
Wayne and Sharon have both been in full-time employment for several years. During the Covid- 19 outbreak Wayne continues in work but Sharon's employment contract has ended.
Wayne's wages mean they earn too much to get Universal Credit but they're wondering if there's anything else they can claim.
As Sharon has paid sufficient NI contributions in the tax years April 2018-19 and 2017-18 (the two tax years before the current 'benefit year' January 2020 to end December 2021) she can claim NS-JSA.
Wayne's income does not affect her entitlement.
The NI Contribution Conditions for Contributory JSA
To be eligible, the claimant normally has to have paid or been credited with enough class 1 or 2 National Insurance contributions in the 2 full tax years before the benefit year they are claiming in.
The benefit year starts on the first Sunday in January. So, any claim made from 5 January 2020 – 2 January 2021 will depend on the claimant’s NI paid or credited in the tax years 2017/18 and 2018/19.
There are 2 conditions - both must be satisfied:
1. Paid contributions
The claimant must have worked and paid class 1 (employee) NI contributions on earnings at/above the lower earnings limit in at least 26 weeks in one of these 2 tax years.
In 2017-18 the lower earnings limit was £113 pw and in 2018/19 it was £116 pw.
This rule can be relaxed for spouses / civil partners of those in the armed forces who have been posted abroad and were entitled to credits for service families in at least one week in the previous tax year - the 26 weeks’ of NI contributions can have been paid in any one tax year (not restricted to the previous two tax years).
2. Paid or credited contributions
The second contribution condition is that, in each of the last two complete tax years, the claimant must have either paid* Class 1 NI contributions, or been credited* with Class 1 NI credits, on earnings of at least 50 times the lower earnings limit, (*or a combination of the two).
Class 1 credits can be awarded for weeks where the claimant has been in receipt of certain benefits, eg. Statutory Sick Pay, Jobseeker's Allowance or Carer's Allowance.
If someone is not sure whether they meet these conditions or not they could make a claim anyway and DW will check their NI contribution record.