How much is Jobseeker’s Allowance: All About JSA

If you’re struggling to find work, you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). But what is JSA? How much could you get? How do you claim, and what if you’re working part-time or studying?

girl looking annoyed

Jobseeker's Allowance can cause headaches

If you lose your job and you don’t have much in the way of savings to fall back on, you might be asking yourself, ‘How much is Jobseeker’s Allowance?’ Unfortunately, it’s not a lot–£59.20 a week if you’re 24 or under, and £74.70 if you’re 25 or older.

That’s why it’s important to know that you might be able to claim other benefits like Universal Credit or Council Tax Reduction at the same time. For more useful information on the wonderful world of JSA, read on!

Does income-based JSA still exist?

Jobseeker’s Allowance is a fortnightly allowance to live off while you’re searching for a job (or trying to get more hours in your current job). There used to be two kinds, Income-based JSA and Contributions-based JSA, but now they’ve been replaced with the sexy and fun ‘New Style’ JSA.

New Style JSA is a contribution-based benefit, which means you’ll only be able to claim if you’ve paid and/or been credited with enough National Insurance (NI) contributions in the 2 full tax years before the year you’re claiming in. To get New Style JSA you also need to be:

  • 18 or over
  • Capable of work
  • Available for work
  • Actively seeking work
  • Working less than 16 hours a week

You can apply for New Style JSA even if your partner works or you and your partner have savings over £16,000. This didn’t used to be the case, so, yay.

Where can I go for help with JSA?

Getting benefits is often a frustrating process. Unfortunately we are unable to offer benefits advice at The Mix, but we can give emotional support and guide you to the best places for expert advice if you give us a call on 0808 808 4994

Here are our main recommendations when it comes to JSA advice and support:

  • Citizens Advice: Your local Citizens Advice Bureau is the best place to get face-to-face advice and support. You must remember to bring along details of your benefits and general financial situation.
  • Find out more from our article on Using Jobcentre Plus about exactly how to use the Jobcentre.
  • If you’re angry or frustrated about your treatment by your Jobcentre, you can complain. Find out about the complaints process.
  • This benefits calculator from Turn2us shows you how much benefit you should be getting. Many people don’t realise how much they’re entitled to, or if they’re entitled to more than just JSA.
  • If you want to challenge a decision about your benefit, you can appeal.

How do I sign on?

If you’re looking to sign on as soon as possible, the Jobcentre prefers you to claim JSA online. You can also phone 0800 055 6688 (open 8am-6pm Monday to Friday), but you’ll need to explain why you can’t make the claim online.

In Northern Ireland you’re encouraged to fill in a claim form – find your local office from the NI Direct website.

What are the ‘Jobseeker Interview’ and ‘Jobseeker’s Agreements’?

When you claim, you’ll also have a Jobseeker’s Interview. Your advisor will:

  • Make sure you understand the rules for JSA
  • Discuss the kinds of work you’re looking for and the best ways of finding a job
  • Give you information about jobs, training and other opportunities
  • Check that you have filled in your form fully

You will also have to sign a Jobseeker’s Agreement (in some areas this is now called a Claimant Commitment). This sets out:

  • What hours you’re available to work
  • The kind of work you’re looking for
  • What you’ll do to find jobs and improve your chances of finding work

Remember to be realistic and make sure you agree with what’s set out in the agreement, because you could have your benefits stopped if you don’t fulfil your side of the bargain. Find out more about JSA sanctions here.

Your interview is an opportunity to get answers to all of your questions. As part of meeting the entitlement conditions for Jobseeker’s Allowance you’ll be asked to attend a fortnightly jobsearch review at a Jobcentre Plus office, usually every 2 weeks (or when asked).

Do I have to just do any job?

Not quite, but it might feel like that even though you can put certain restrictions on how and where you’re able to work.

For example, if you have a health condition or caring responsibility you may be able to restrict the times when you’re available for work.

And if you’re reliant on public transport, then you can take account of first and last buses and trains, and how long it would take you to get to work (although you are expected to commute up to an hour and a half each way in normal circumstances).

When will my jobseeker’s allowance get paid?

It can take up to two weeks to get paid after signing on.

If your money doesn’t arrive when you expect it, you should get in touch with your local Jobcentre as soon as possible (see our article on JSA Complications).

Can I claim JSA if I’m under 18?

Unfortunately, 16-17 year-olds can only claim JSA in exceptional circumstances. You have to fulfil all the criteria above, plus one or more of the following:

  • You’re responsible for a child
  • You don’t have any support from parents or guardians and can show that you don’t have any parents, or that your family relationship has broken down
  • You’ve just been laid off and can show that you’re experiencing ‘extreme hardship’

If you want to claim under exceptional circumstances, you have to make a strong case. We’d suggest getting advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). If you don’t qualify for JSA, you may be able to get Universal Credit.

Can I study and claim JSA?

You can’t usually get JSA if you are studying full-time. However, there are some instances in which you could claim Universal Credit. For example:

  • If you’re aged 21 or under, studying for a course which leads to a qualification at the level of A Levels or below, and you don’t have parental support.
  • You’re responsible for a child.
  • You live with your partner and they’re eligible to receive Universal Credit.
  • You’re receiving Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment, and also have a disability limiting your ability to work.
  • If you’re studying part-time you might be able to get JSA, but you’d have to be available for full-time work, and you’d be expected to quit your course if you get offered a job.
  • It’s worth noting that you may be able to do an Open University course and still get JSA.

Can I work and claim JSA?

You can work part-time and claim JSA as long as it’s for less than 16 hours a week. You still need to be actively seeking and available for more work, so make sure that you keep signing on and job-hunting if you want to get your JSA.

Any income that you earn over a small amount (£5 a week for a single person, £10 for a couple, up to £20 if you’re disabled, a carer or a lone parent) will be subtracted from your benefit. So if you’re single and earning £30 a week, you’ll have £25 deducted from your benefit.

But while you might not do much better financially from doing a few hours, it looks great on your CV that you’ve kept working, and increases your chances of finding more work.

I found work! But then I lost my job again

If you earn more in a week than you’d get paid in JSA, or work 16 hours or more, then your JSA claim will finish.

But, if you lose the work within 182 days, you may be able make a rapid reclaim online, which should only take around 10 minutes. Your reason for losing your job might affect your claim, see our article: can you claim jobseeker’s if you get sacked?

Compulsory schemes

After 13 weeks on JSA, you may be required to go on a ‘back to work’ scheme to help you get work experience. Failure to do so could mean you face JSA sanctions.

For more information about job schemes – including voluntary schemes – see our Government Employment Schemes article. Before we go, here are some other useful tools to help you navigate the world of JSA:

Next Steps

  • Use the Turn2Us calculator to work out what benefits and grants you're entitled to, or call their helpline on 0808 802 2000
  • The Mix's Stresshead tool was designed by young people to help relax and distract you when it all gets too much. It also has great stress-relief advice.
  • 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.

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JSA

By Holly Turner

Updated on 10-Sep-2021