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A Guide to Unemployment Benefits

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 27 May 2017 | 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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I have been claiming Universal Credit for a year as I couldn't go back onto JSA from being on ESA. I soon adapted to the routine of 5 hours a day jobsearch, 7 days a week including xmas day and so on. I have had quite a few interviews but never seem to be good enough as someone always seems to be better than me. I was offered a job last year but fell through as was suddenly offered to someone else. I have anxiety and low moods and live alone. I have a very tolerant and patient family who aren't surprised if I arrange something with them then drop out due to my waking up in the mornings usually in a bad mood. I feel very worthless. I have deductions from UC leaving me with 470 per month. After rent, there is barely enough left to get through the four weeks. I get paid the 4th every month sometimes some months are 5 weeks. I do get extra support from a charity which helps a lot but I still find I am skint the last week before payday. I end up borrowing from my long suffering dad who is on a pension himself so doesn't like to keep doing this. I don't get any help from the Jobcentre, just attend appointments that last literally for 5 minutes to check my jobsearch. I am 35 and spent the last few years signing on. I have had stints of work in between but since 2012 nothing really has happened and I get upset that I am in such a horrible situation. I have come close to going to a food bankbut find I cannot bring myself to it. I wish I didn't have so many worries and negative thoughts about myself as it isn't getting me no where. I wish I was back on JSA as being paid every two weeks was by far better, and you didn't have to pay your rent either. I envy those who are still able to claim JSA although being on Universal Credit does mean you can work 16 hours and be a bit better off.
NOWAYOUT - 27-May-17 @ 8:34 PM
Louise - Your Question:
My husband has been on contribution based jsa since January 2017,he has just been offered a 15 hour contract job but pay is monthly.will he get any tax back as he didn't work from Dec 2016- June 2017.also when should he sign off and do jobcentre give him his p45 back.

Our Response:
Why can't speculate whether he will get tax back, he would have to contact HMRC directly. Likewise, he would have to speak to Jobcentre Plus re; your additional question.
MoneyExpertise - 26-May-17 @ 12:36 PM
My husband has been on contribution based jsa since January 2017,he has just been offered a 15 hour contract job but pay is monthly .will he get any tax back as he didn't work from Dec 2016- June 2017.also when should he sign off and do jobcentre give him his p45 back.
Louise - 25-May-17 @ 8:13 PM
ShanClan - Your Question:
Hi. I have a sister who hasn't worked for 9 months and hasn't claimed any benefits in those 9 months either. She is 7 months pregnant. What are her options on benefits? She has moved in with me I am a single parent and was wondering if she's entitled to any benefits. Can anyone advise?

Our Response:
Please see Entitledto link here, which will help your sister find out whether she is eligible for benefits.
MoneyExpertise - 17-May-17 @ 10:53 AM
Hi. I have a sister who hasn't worked for 9 months and hasn't claimed any benefits in those 9 months either. She is 7 months pregnant. What are her options on benefits? She has moved in with me I am a single parent and was wondering if she's entitled to any benefits. Can anyone advise?
ShanClan - 16-May-17 @ 2:48 PM
None - Your Question:
I am a 62 yr my husband has low income.works 15 hrs a week.I have no income am I entitled to any Ben if it's.

Our Response:
Please see Entitledto link here which will help you further.
MoneyExpertise - 16-May-17 @ 2:05 PM
I am a 62 yr my husband has low income.works 15 hrs a week.I have no income am I entitled to any Ben if it's. .
None - 16-May-17 @ 11:02 AM
i am facing a disciplinary and its highly likely i will be dismissed after 15yrs employed in this company,i have never claimed any benefits in my life ,i am 61yrs old and dont think i will find anyone to employ me at this age ,what benefits will i be able to claim , i live in a private rented house and i wont be able to pay my rent if this is the outcome , i am married and my wife is contracted to 16 hrs a week .
steward - 13-May-17 @ 11:25 AM
TwizBliss - Your Question:
Hi All. I am a 36 year old man who has had continuous employment for over 9 years. In October 2015 I took on my first housing association flat. Previously I could only afford private house shares, but have managed to make the finances work albeit tightly. As seems common nowadays, I'm facing redundancy or a large reduction in my salary and am very worried about losing my home. Once I'm made redundant, I'm unsure whether I'm going to find something else as well paid and being a single man I am really worried about coming up short financially and losing my home. I know I can ask for JSA and HB but people keep saying about the "top-up" and I wonder if that will see for me or not. Any experience or advice would be much appreciated. I'm more than stressed out currently.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. I can only direct you to the likes of the Money Advice Service, please see link here and Entitledto here
MoneyExpertise - 8-May-17 @ 12:37 PM
Hi All. I am a 36 year old man who has had continuous employment for over 9 years. In October 2015 I took on my first housing association flat. Previously I could only afford private house shares, but have managed to make the finances work albeit tightly. As seems common nowadays, I'm facing redundancy or a large reduction in my salary and am very worried about losing my home. Once I'm made redundant, I'm unsure whether I'm going to find something else as well paid and being a single man I am really worried about coming up short financially and losing my home. I know I can ask for JSA and HB but people keep saying about the "top-up" and I wonder if that will see for me or not. Any experience or advice would be much appreciated. I'm more than stressed out currently.
TwizBliss - 7-May-17 @ 3:09 PM
Patrick - Your Question:
I am 63 and my arrangement as a Carer has just come to an end. As a result I am unemployed and my Working Tax Credit has ceased. Do I have to sign on and claim JSA for the two years before my retirement and suffer all their harrassment in a job market that is very difficult for me at my age? Or is there any special arrangements available to spare me this indignity?Patrick

Our Response:
I would speak to DWP directly regarding this as with regards to Jobseekers Allowance you may not be required to sign on after a certain age. You can also see what benefits you are eligible for via the gov.uk link here.
MoneyExpertise - 5-May-17 @ 10:34 AM
I am 63 and my arrangement as a Carer has just come to an end. As a result I am unemployed and my Working Tax Credit has ceased. Do I have to sign on and claim JSA for the two years before my retirement and suffer all their harrassment in a job market that is very difficult for me at my age? Or is there any special arrangements available to spare me this indignity? Patrick
Patrick - 4-May-17 @ 7:17 AM
I'm disabled for a long time I get highestdisabilty allowance and highest care and mobility I have a carer who's my partner to he's 65 in 3 weeks what do I do please 2017
Von - 24-Feb-17 @ 1:03 PM
I Dnt have job no money for three weeks I like to receive so money
Afg k - 21-Feb-17 @ 7:38 PM
Took the VES from civil service last march, now getting low in funds. May need to apply for unemployment benefit, but finding it a hassle. Knowing most of the business myself. Like further info and advice please
Dd - 13-Feb-17 @ 12:19 AM
Unemployed 2 weeks lost rented house , what can I claim?
Dodger - 9-Feb-17 @ 12:24 PM
Shaz - Your Question:
My present company want to terminate my contract with them by mutual agreement as my performance has dropped due to bereavement and personal issues. What benefits would I be entitled to please.

Our Response:
If you have paid your National Insurance for the last two years you will be entilted to Jobseekers Allowance. However, much also depends upon your personal circumstances, please see Entitledto link here. I hope this helps.
MoneyExpertise - 2-Feb-17 @ 10:48 AM
My present company want to terminate my contract with them by mutual agreement as my performance has dropped due to bereavement and personal issues.What benefits would I be entitled to please.
Shaz - 1-Feb-17 @ 9:57 AM
i work full time @ 40 hours and have to pay everything as my husband does not work at the moment and cant claim any relief from anywhere to help.no housing benefit, no job seekers allowance, no council tax relief and no tax credits. they have said he hasnt paid enough stamp and that my wage should be enough feel like we're drowning and no light at the end of the tunnel any suggestions
jacki - 29-Jan-17 @ 12:37 PM
Hi husband just lost his esa claim not enough points even though he has had cancer been for interview to go on jsa been told he has not enough national insurance contributions cos he has not worked for 2 half years and because i work for 22 half hours a week we are not entitled to any money is this right ????
Caro6 - 28-Jan-17 @ 3:36 AM
I snow 59 and what to leave my job of 19 years as I hate it
Fed up - 23-Jan-17 @ 5:53 PM
Lost job found out employer not paid NI and homeless through job
Will - 23-Jan-17 @ 2:24 AM
Jean - Your Question:
I took voluntary redundancy last August, paid rate b national insurance am I entitled to any financial support.

Our Response:
You may be entitled to Jobseekers Allowance, you can check via the link here.
MoneyExpertise - 19-Jan-17 @ 2:26 PM
pollyxyz - Your Question:
Can I get any other benefits.i am 70 yrs with a pension of 640 a month total income.my son lives with me.He is on jobseekers 70 a week.can I claim or him ,any other benefits

Our Response:
Please see Entitledto link here which will allow you to find out if you are eligible for any further financial help.
MoneyExpertise - 19-Jan-17 @ 2:11 PM
I took voluntary redundancy last August, paid rate b national insurance am I entitled to any financial support.
Jean - 18-Jan-17 @ 11:54 PM
Can I get any other benefits.i am 70 yrs with a pension of 640 a month total income.my son lives with me .He is on jobseekers 70 a week.can I claim or him ,any other benefits
pollyxyz - 18-Jan-17 @ 9:06 PM
My husband has just been made redudant we both get DLA me both highest mobility and me lowest carer as well. Our granddaughter who is 16 -and is in full time education . I just wanted to know what benefits I will get and will it be topped up with some sort of tax credit? Thanks
Bex - 17-Jan-17 @ 1:36 AM
my jsa has now been stopped im 51 always worked and paid N I. stamp what benefits can I clam .my partner is in full time work ?
huddy - 14-Jan-17 @ 2:28 PM
Abby - Your Question:
I am 40 and single. It has been necessary to give up work to look after my elderly mother who has health problems. We are moving into a house together shortly to make this easier. I do not want to claim unemployment benefit yet because I have made savings to keep me going for a while but I'm worried I'm not paying into my pension stamp now I'm not working and so I need to sign on in a sense to ensure that benefit is covered for my old age. How do I do this?

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which will explain further.
MoneyExpertise - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:44 PM
I am 40 and single. It has been necessary to give up work to look after my elderly mother who has health problems. We are moving into a house together shortly to make this easier. I do not want to claim unemployment benefit yet because I have made savings to keep me going for a while but I'm worried I'm not paying into my pension stamp now I'm not working and so I need to sign on in a sense to ensure that benefit is covered for my old age. How do I do this?
Abby - 9-Jan-17 @ 6:23 PM
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Latest Comments
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    Re: A Guide to Unemployment Benefits
    Hi. I have a sister who hasn't worked for 9 months and hasn't claimed any benefits in those 9 months either. She is 7 months…
    16 May 2017
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