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A Guide to Unemployment Benefits

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 3 Mar 2021 | 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 was made redundant in June 2019 and received a large payment which I have been living off. When can I claim unemployment benefit and what happens about paying my national insurance stamp since June 2019
Marky Mark0 - 3-Mar-21 @ 12:25 PM
Claiming new job seekers allowance if I work 16 per week will this affect my JSA. Thank you June Phillips
Riley - 17-Jun-20 @ 3:25 PM
My daughter had a well paid job . on giving in her notice on that job for another job found that because of downturn of work in new employer because of Corona, the new employer will not take her on . She has contributed nation insurance for at least16 years. However she has savings in excess of £16,000. She has a Motgage. Is there any benefit she can claim?
john - 3-Jun-20 @ 10:03 AM
I have just lost my job and want to sign on for Job Seekers Allowance. Since the LISA came in I have put the maximum amount of £4000 per year in. I have now got more than £16000 in my LISA. Do I declare this as Savings and if so does this mean I will not be entitled to my full unemployment benefit. If so will I have to take money out of my LISA (and get penalised) to fund my day to day living.
Jono - 23-Dec-19 @ 11:23 AM
I was in full time employment for 26 years and got made redundant in May 2018.I do have private rental income as I have another property which I Let. Am I entitled to any help as I am living on my savings & have a mortgage in property I live in.
Stacy - 9-Dec-19 @ 3:26 PM
Hi, I've just been given a 8 month driving ban. As I need to drive to sites to survey and install equipment, I can no longer fulfill all of my duties. I've only been in the job for 9 months now, and my employer says he can't keep me without a license. I've worked for 40 years without claiming any benefits, but it looks like I'll have to now. Will the ban be considered as "making myself unemployed" by our caring welfare system?
zx550 - 30-Aug-19 @ 12:09 PM
Hi. I was made redundant at the beginning of the year. Up to that date I had been in full time employment. I have not worked in this time though I have applied for various jobs unsuccessfully. My partner pays the mortgage and the savings I had which were less than £2k I have survived on. Can I claim JSA (backdated)?? I did not think I could claim because my partner is working in a full time job. Any advice welcome. Many thanks
SGre2019 - 16-Aug-19 @ 8:32 AM
My partner is looking to go back to work after many years out of work due to an injury. I work full time so he hasn’t been able to claim any benefits. He wants to start with job seekers so he can bring in some money while he’s looking. I’ve looked and unless he has been severely disabled or has worked in the last 2-3 years, he doesn’t qualify...is this right?
MummaG - 6-Aug-19 @ 3:56 PM
Hi, I've just finished my teacher training and have a job lined up in September but I won't be paid untill the end of that month, am I allowed to apply for any help? Have tried getting a job from now till then but no where is hiring as I am unable to commit to set days because I'm in the middle of moving to another part of the UK for the new job.
Ace - 23-Jul-19 @ 9:12 AM
Hello my daughter finishes her apprentiship tomorrow, she is going to uni but this doesn’t start until september, would she need to dign on for her stamp or does it not matter if she going to uni
june - 24-Jun-19 @ 6:26 PM
On 15 July I have to go to court.I may be looking at a driving ban.If I am (hopefully I won't be) will Ibe allowed to claim any benifits (only for the ban duration).I am now looking at possibilies of working throughout that period as well.
Howie - 10-Jun-19 @ 11:48 AM
Hi i am currently working in the care sector my age is 61 i have been trying to get varicose viens removed for 7 years plus with nhs don't fit the criteria and they are going worse. My job is very physical and i work shifts most of the time exhausted at the end of a shift. Due to all this i have decided it's time to look after myself now. Can i get any financial help if i work 24 hours. I have no dependants all left home and i live alone. Can you give me any advice as i can't keep putting everyone else's help before my own just to survive.
Lolly - 16-May-19 @ 1:02 PM
an you help me plsI had operation on my kidney followed by chest infection I then went profound deaf had cochlear implant after 6months was on ESA con based in support group was advised to return to work which I did had my hours cut to8 I just could not cope far to noisy in busy tearoom with implant so I gave my notice in also lost my ESA so now no job no ESAno income what do I live on now got bad anxiety depression help please can I reapply for ESA con based unable to work.
SylviaBlood - 19-Feb-19 @ 8:18 PM
i returnee red to work after 2operationsI was on ESA support groupcon based. I went to work I had my hours cut but unable to cope in noisy tearoom with cochlear. Implant after being proufound deafafter kidney operAtion. What do I do now lost my ESA can I reclaim con based can't go on income based as we got bit savigs which we are living on
sylv - 19-Feb-19 @ 8:05 PM
I got made redundant from my employer on the 31 August 2018 I have not claimed any benefits . I have not worked due to illness and am now looking after my elderly father due to his recent heart failure . Does any one know if I can claim any benefits at all even though I’m not able to look for employment
Aj - 28-Jan-19 @ 1:37 PM
I have been a self-employed taxi driver for the last 8 years, but but unfortunately two weeks ago I received a driving ban (for totting up 12 points in 3 years) for 6 months effectively taking away my entire livelihood! As I have been self-employed am I entitled to claim benefits?
Bpro - 20-Dec-18 @ 11:49 AM
Is there an upper time limit to receiving Income Based JSA?
John - 29-Oct-18 @ 2:45 PM
I resigned my job and officially left 7/9/18 Will I be entitled to claim?
Kate - 22-Oct-18 @ 9:40 AM
I signed off last Tuesday at the Jobcentre Becos I had said I started a job on that Monday and the women on the phone said I’d receive a last payment does a Anyone no when I will receive this last payment
Chlo123 - 15-Oct-18 @ 6:10 AM
Please could advise if employers are allowed to make your role redundant due to wanting to increase your hours? I work 90% hours and there is going to be a new manager starting and they are saying they need to increase to 100%. My working plan has been in place for several years with the old management. Is this OK or would this be unfair dismissal?
123 - 4-Sep-18 @ 1:01 PM
Would like to know if my daughter can claim jobseekers allowance she came home in May from university as she had finished all of her studying. She has applied for jobs but hasn't gotanything as of yet, she has no income coming in, so myself and my husband keeps her at the moment but can'talways do this.
Di - 24-Aug-18 @ 2:14 PM
Hello my question is what is the new benefit rate for jsa under 24 as i was working when it changed in april 2018
Frankdogg - 22-Aug-18 @ 5:02 PM
Nan - Your Question:
I have lost part of my job due to funding cuts. I am now only employed 20 hours per week. I am also a widow 61 years of age. Would I be entitled to any help

Our Response:
You can check via the link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
MoneyExpertise - 17-Aug-18 @ 3:31 PM
rkrgrg - Your Question:
I have been unemployed for 2 months. I have started receiving JSA and local council has also made adjustment on my Council Tax Bill. I own house on mortgage. I phoned DWP and asked for the cost towards my mortgage. I have filled all the information when I made application for JSA. Now, they saying I will only qualify for the mortgage help in next 31 weeks. My mortgage company will not wait that long. By the next 31 weeks most likely my mortgage company will repossess my house.Is there any help I can get from DWP towards my mortgage.Your advice would be much appreciated.

Our Response:
When you make a claim for benefits, you'll usually have to wait 39 weeks before your SMI starts. You can see more via the link here, which will help answer your question.
MoneyExpertise - 31-Jul-18 @ 2:04 PM
I have been unemployed for 2 months. I have started receiving JSA and local council has also made adjustment on my Council Tax Bill. I own house on mortgage. I phoned DWP and asked for the cost towards my mortgage. I have filled all the information when I made application for JSA. Now, they saying I will only qualify for the mortgage help in next 31 weeks. My mortgage company will not wait that long. By the next 31 weeks most likely my mortgage company will repossess my house. Is there any help I can get from DWP towards my mortgage. Your advice would be much appreciated.
rkrgrg - 31-Jul-18 @ 12:33 AM
I have lost part of my job due to funding cuts. I am now only employed 20 hours per week . I am also a widow 61 years of age.Would I be entitled to any help
Nan - 23-Jul-18 @ 9:35 PM
I was made redundant after 17 years, 3 years ago now while I was on maternity leave. At the time I obviously got my redundancy & also maternity benefit. Directly after that I became very ill with cancer and was not in a position to work but did not claim or apply for anything. I am now trying to figure out what I might be entitled to claim support with as I have used up all my redundancy & savings. Luckily my partner works full time so that has taken the pressure off. I am looking to see if I can get help with going to university to get some further training. Any advice on what my steps should be to find out.
gerjam - 23-Jul-18 @ 10:03 AM
My wife is being made redundant, she will be 63 , I am 66. I am still working 32 hours a week and also have my state pension coming in. She doesn’t get her state pension until she is 66. Does she sign on ? Will she get any unemployment money ? Our savings are about £5000. Other than unemployment pay is there anything else we could claim such as council tax reduction we are in band c.
Tony47 - 29-Jun-18 @ 1:10 AM
@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
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