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A Guide to Unemployment Benefits

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 19 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Unemployment Benefits Redundancy

Unemployment is an issue that is affecting a steadily growing number of people. The long period of relatively low unemployment enjoyed in this country was rudely interrupted by the recession, and redundancy is now on the minds of many. Very few sectors are immune from the effects of the downturn, and it is therefore important for everybody to understand the help and benefits available to them in the event that they become unemployed.

Jobseekers Allowance

The main unemployment benefit is Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) - what most of us know as the dole. JSA is not granted to everyone who is out of work. Rather, you must be under the state pension age and actively seeking work. The official signing off your JSA at the Jobcentre will try to ascertain whether or not you are actually looking. However, it is possible to claim JSA while still doing some work; it is available to all those doing less than 16 hours work per week.

Jobseekers Allowance is available in either contribution-based or income-based form. Contribution-based JSA depends on the National Insurance payments that you have made over the course of the previous two years. If you have worked full-time and made your full NI contributions for the previous two years, you will receive contribution-based JSA for the full period - currently set at 182 days. Contribution-based JSA is paid at a rate of £51.85 per week for those aged 16-24, and £65.45 for those aged over 25.

Income-based JSA is paid to those who have not made National Insurance contributions. It is only available to those who do not have savings exceeding £16,000, and your entitlement will be reduced if your savings exceed £6,000. Your payments will also be cut if you have any income from part-time employment, or if your partner works more than 24 hours per week. Income-based JSA is paid at a rate of £65.45 per week if you are single, and £102.75 if you are in a couple.

Income Support

If you are unemployed because you are unable to work (for example because you are sick, a carer or a single parent), you may qualify for Income Support. This benefit is entirely means-tested, and is available to those aged between 16 and 59 with savings of less than £16,000. You must also be working less than 16 hours per week. You local Job Centre Plus will be able to advise you on how much you may be entitled to.

Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is available to those who need help paying their rent. Each area of the country has a fixed maximum level of Housing Benefit to which you might be entitled. This is reviewed monthly in line with rental price changes. Your circumstances will dictate what proportion of this figure you are entitled to. Again, you will not qualify if you have more than £16,000 in savings. There is a significant amount of help available to those who are unemployed; consecutive Budgets have seen increases in the rates of redundancy pay.

If you find yourself unemployed, you should remember that there is no shame in claiming that to which you are entitled. You have been, or will be, a taxpayer, and the state is there to support you. Read more in our redundancy category.

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[Add a Comment]
@Dave - you might be able to claim Jobseekers if you are looking for work through the summer.
GG - 19-Jun-18 @ 3:08 PM
Hi, I am going to be out of work for 8 weeks due to no work available. I’m a free lance teacher and will be off for the whole of the summer and an extra 2 weeks(8 weeks). Can I claim anything for these 8 weeks? Thanks. Dave.
Dave - 19-Jun-18 @ 8:38 AM
My daughter has been laid off for 8 weeks, she still has another job of 10 hrs a week,she claims nothing, can she get anything at all,anything would help?
G.S. - 15-Jun-18 @ 10:34 PM
Pat - Your Question:
My son lost his job I December last year.he had never claimed benefits before in his life.He is now 58 and has used all his savings to live he now has no money left and has applied for housing benefits and job seekers allowance.the job seekers allowance has come through but not the housing benefit every time he is told that some thing is still outstanding then he gives them what they needed and when he goes back when it still has not come through he is told that they need something else.this has been going on for weeks in the meantime I am paying his rent and I'm a pensioner my self.how long does it take for housing benefits to come through in England.he did not know that he could claim benefits if he had under £16000 in the bank.he waited until he had no money before he claimed.is there a time limit to claiming these benefits.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Your son should get back pay (from the time he registered) once the issues have been dealt with. This means he should be able to reimburse you the money owed. Unfortunately, your son would have to ask housing benefit directly if there is a time limit, as we have no knowledge regarding their administrative processes.
MoneyExpertise - 15-Jun-18 @ 3:43 PM
My son lost his job I December last year .he had never claimed benefits before in his life. He is now 58 and has used all his savings to live he now has no money left and has applied for housing benefits and job seekers allowance.the job seekers allowance has come through but not the housing benefit every time he is told that some thing is still outstanding then he gives them what they needed and when he goes back when it still has not come through he is told that they need something else.this has been going on for weeks in the meantime I am paying his rent and I'm a pensioner my self.how long does it take for housing benefits to come through in England .he did not know that he could claim benefits if he had under £16000 in the bank .he waited until he had no money before he claimed .is there a time limit to claiming these benefits.
Pat - 15-Jun-18 @ 11:38 AM
KG - Your Question:
My sister is currently on sick leave from work since October last year with no sign of improving and is contemplating resigning from her job after 28 years. Should she resign would she be entitled to any benefits eg Income Support or Unemployment Benefit? Her husband works full-time and are both UK residents.

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
MoneyExpertise - 12-Jun-18 @ 2:33 PM
My sister is currently on sick leave from work since October last year with no sign of improving and is contemplating resigning from her job after 28 years. Should she resign would she be entitled to any benefits eg Income Support or Unemployment Benefit? Her husband works full-time and are both UK residents.
KG - 10-Jun-18 @ 5:35 PM
@The Roth - the problem with Jobseekers Allowance is that you have to be looking for a job. I'd give them a call because you might be allowed it if you say you are looking for some interim work.
Jess - 4-Jun-18 @ 2:00 PM
I am on a contract that is due to end at the end of July as a teaching assistant. I am going on to do teacher training which starts at the beginning of September, which means I will go without any pay over the 6 week summer holiday. My wife will also be going on maternity leave at approximately the same time. Would I be able to claim anything like JSA for this period of 6 weeks? From September, my student loan will kick in so I will not be worried after that.
The Roth - 2-Jun-18 @ 1:52 PM
My daughter is just about to finish uni but wants to go back in September to do her masters. Is she entitled to any benefits over the holiday period? Thank you
Mothrr - 24-May-18 @ 8:44 PM
Moni - Your Question:
I worked in the UK since January 2005 until February 2015 - I had to leave UK and return to Slovakia as grandparents got sick. Applied for unemployment benefits in Slovakia, waited for 6 months to only find out, I was meant to apply in the UK. Can I still retrospectively apply for the money lost in 2015? THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP!!!

Our Response:
You would not be able to apply retrospectively. Claims only begin from the date of registration. If you did not register to claim when you finished work - then you would not be able to now. Also, you would have to have been living in the UK at the time in order to have been eligible to claim.
MoneyExpertise - 10-May-18 @ 9:36 AM
I worked in the UK since January 2005 until February 2015 - I had to leave UK and return to Slovakia as grandparents got sick. Applied for unemployment benefits in Slovakia, waited for 6 months to only find out, I was meant to apply in the UK. Can I still retrospectively apply for the money lost in 2015? THANK YOU FOR ANY HELP!!!
Moni - 9-May-18 @ 3:22 PM
My son has just finished his first season as a professional footballer were he only picked up £95 per week his cintract is only 44 weeks long so for 8 weeks he will be unemployed until his new contract starts can he claim benefits for these 8 weeks ?
.nay - 4-May-18 @ 2:37 PM
Massy - Your Question:
Hi I was made redundant and got payment in lieu. Now have £5k left.Can I apply for income based Jsa ?Also I have a shared fixed rate saver account but in joint names with me and my Mother. Would this affect my claim?Thanks

Our Response:
The gov.uk link here , should tell you all you need to know.
MoneyExpertise - 4-May-18 @ 10:14 AM
Hi i was made redundant and got payment in lieu. Now have £5k left. Can I apply for income based Jsa ? Also I have a shared fixed rate saver account but in joint names with me and my Mother. Would this affect my claim? Thanks
Massy - 3-May-18 @ 9:00 AM
sman - Your Question:
Im on jsa and I went for an interview and passed but they said I have to fiil in a registered unemployment form what is this form for

Our Response:
You have to register unemployed in order to officially receive state benefits.
MoneyExpertise - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:39 PM
emma - Your Question:
Hiya,ive been out of the country for the past 6 years studying medicine abroad. I recently found out I am pregnant and my mum wants nothing to do with me or the baby and shes told me to get out of the house. I am now homeless and pregnant. Will I get assistance from the state?

Our Response:
You don't say whether you are living in the UK or abroad still. If you have just returned to the UK much depends upon how long you have been back, please see link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
MoneyExpertise - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:19 AM
Hiya, ive been out of the country for the past 6 years studying medicine abroad. I recently found out I am pregnant and my mum wants nothing to do with me or the baby and shes told me to get out of the house. I am now homeless and pregnant. Will I get assistance from the state?
emma - 8-Apr-18 @ 12:23 PM
im on jsa and I went for an interview and passed but they said I have to fiil in a registered unemployment form what is this form for
sman - 6-Apr-18 @ 1:15 PM
Bonza - Your Question:
Hello, I am British citizen, I have been out of the country for a year, come back two months ago, I have been looking for work, at the moment I am doing voluntary work, non paid, my partner also returned two months ago, after being applying for jobs during all this time she has got a contract but she will start work in two weeks. Non of the two has receive any money so far, we are running out of money to paid the rent of our share bedroom in a shared flat. the question is: is there any help that we can get until we get some paid work? our situation is getting very worrying. I know that cannot apply to JSA because not been here for three months but is there anything else that I can apply for? we are going to be in the street and with less posibilitys to to work if we dont have a house.

Our Response:
You would have to try the Turn2Us link here for more information. However, as a rule you cannot be viewed as habitually resident (and therefore entitled to claim benefits) until you've been living in the UK for at least three months. You can see more via the link here .
MoneyExpertise - 27-Mar-18 @ 2:25 PM
Hello, I am British citizen, I have been out of the country for a year, come back two months ago, I have been looking for work, at the moment I am doing voluntary work, non paid, my partner also returned two months ago, after being applying for jobs during all this time she has got a contract but she will start work in two weeks. Non of the two has receive any money so far, we are running out of money to paid the rent of our share bedroom in a shared flat. the question is: is there any help that we can get until we get some paid work? our situation is getting very worrying. I know that cannot apply to JSA because not been here for three months but is there anything else that I can apply for? we are going to be in the street and with less posibilitys to to work if we dont have a house.
Bonza - 27-Mar-18 @ 11:04 AM
Being a female born in the 50s I took the decision to stop work at 60 and live off my retirement savings instead of using them at 66+. There is a danger that these will run out before I retire - my husband has just died and "things" happen generally that take a toll on your money. I am so glad that I took this decision though, as I have had 2 full years with my husband before losing him. I have never been able to find any useful information on "relaxed signing on" when close to retirement age. I currently don't claim any benefits as I find the whole process degrading. But there might come a time when I have to. Will my retired status be recognised or will they still class me as "of working age", if I apply for financial help?
Caz - 23-Feb-18 @ 11:45 AM
Jazzy - Your Question:
I left my job on the 19th december to commence a new job in january 2018 however I withdrew from the post and have been unemployed since this time. I am starting a new job in april 2018 am I entitled to jsa, my husband works full time

Our Response:
You would have to speak to Jobcentre Plus directly about this matter, as much depends upon your circumstances. You may also wish to try the benefits calculator via Entitledto link here.
MoneyExpertise - 22-Feb-18 @ 10:33 AM
I left my job on the 19th december to commence a new job in january 2018 however I withdrew from the post and have been unemployed since this time. I am starting a new job in april 2018 am I entitled to jsa, my husband works full time
Jazzy - 21-Feb-18 @ 3:27 PM
Ellie - Your Question:
I've recently been made redundant from my 24hr p/w job. I'm also registered as a sole trader & continue to work 2hrs p/wk on a contract , however I only get paid for this every 4-6wks. If I claim contributions based JSA, will my benefit be calculated as having received wages each week or will it only be affected the week that I actually receive payment?

Our Response:
You may be able to get Jobseekers Allowance if you work on average less than 16 hours per week in your second job, please see link here.
MoneyExpertise - 13-Feb-18 @ 10:22 AM
I've recently been made redundant from my24hr p/w job. I'm also registered as a sole trader & continue to work 2hrs p/wk on a contract , however I only get paid for this every 4-6wks. If I claim contributions based JSA, will my benefit be calculated as having received wages each week or will it only be affected the week that I actually receive payment?
Ellie - 12-Feb-18 @ 3:31 PM
Littleles - Your Question:
My sister is on jsa last week her 12 year old daughter had a fall and got rushed 2 hospital. She has broke her hip and will be in hospital for quite a while. My sister is really struggling with money just getting 2 and from the hospital. Now she being told she needs all this special equipment for her when she comes home is there any help she can get with all this

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Much depends upon what the equipment is. If it is specialist equipment to aid yours niece's recovery, the NHS should supply this. The decision about the type of specialist equipment that your niece may need will be discussed with her parents/carers and any other relevant professionals involved with the child at home, or school.
MoneyExpertise - 12-Feb-18 @ 12:55 PM
My sister is on jsa last week her 12 year old daughter had a fall and got rushed 2 hospital. She has broke her hip and will be in hospital for quite a while . My sister is really struggling with money just getting 2 and from the hospital . Now she being told she needs all this special equipment for her when she comes home is there any help she can get with all this
Littleles - 11-Feb-18 @ 6:18 PM
Yvonne - Your Question:
I'm 57 and being made redundant from my job which I've been in for 11 years. I've been mostly employed and paid NI for past 40 years. My husband is in work. Will I get job seekers allowance? Will I get it straight after I'm finish my work? How much will,it be? How long will I get it for?

Our Response:
If you have paid NI for the past two years, then you should be eligible to apply, please see link here, which tells you how much you would receive.
MoneyExpertise - 9-Feb-18 @ 3:39 PM
I'm 57 and being made redundant from my job which I've been in for 11 years. I've been mostly employed and paid NI for past 40 years. My husband is in work.Will I get job seekers allowance? Will I get it straight after I'm finish my work? How much will,it be? How long will I get it for?
Yvonne - 30-Jan-18 @ 7:57 PM
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