I was self-employed can I claim JSA?

I'm a self-employed hairdresser, but I've just lost my job. Can I claim Jobseeker's Allowance after being self-employed? If not, are there any benefits I can claim? I have no children and I share a rented flat with my boyfriend.

As you’ve been self-employed you won’t have paid class one National Insurance contributions. This means you won’t be able to claim contribution-based JSA because this is based on having paid enough class one contributions during the previous two tax years. You’ll need to make a claim for income-based JSA instead.

Income-based JSA is means-tested, and so is affected by any income or savings (over £6000) that you have. The Jobcentre assume that as you live with your boyfriend, you share your finances. So his income and savings will also affect the amount you can claim. If he works full time, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to claim JSA.

As you’re renting, you might be able to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction. These benefits are also means tested, but the income thresholds are higher, so you might be entitled to Housing Benefit even if your joint income is too high to get JSA. You need to contact your local council to make a claim.

If your partner is over 25 and working more than 30 hours per week (or 16 hours if he’s disabled and receiving a disability benefit) then you could make a claim for Tax Credits. Call the Tax Credits Helpline on 0845 300 3900 for an application form.

You can get a rough idea of whether you’ll be entitled to each of these benefits using this online benefits calculator. You may also want to visit your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) and ask for a full benefits check – they can also advise you on any problems with applying.

Next Steps

  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.