Looking for a job can be frustrating, particularly if your finances are a concern. If you are a UK citizen however, you may be eligible for job seekers allowance. This is an unemployment benefit awarded to people who are actively looking for a job. Here is what you need to know about the benefits you are entitled to whilst job seeking and how the process works.
When Am I Eligible for Job Seekers Allowance?
Job seekers allowance is paid every two weeks into your bank account. The specific amount depends on a range of factors, including:
Your age (to qualify, you need to be over 18 but under the State Pension age)
Any savings that you have
You also need to not be in full-time education
You may be able to receive some benefits if you are working part-time
You will need to show proof you’re available to work and actively looking
Your parents must not be receiving child benefits on your behalf.
You must not be claiming income support
You must also live in England, Wales or Scotland. If you live in Northern Ireland, it’s best to contact your local social security or the Jobs and Benefits office
What Types of Job Seekers Allowance Exist?
Depending on your circumstances, you can claim either contribution-based or income-based jobseekers allowance. The latter is based on your income and savings. To be eligible, you must work less than 16 hours a week.
If you have a partner, they will need to be working, less than 24 hours a week. You must also have less than £16,000 in savings.
If you have been employed over the past two tax years, you might also qualify for the contribution-based job seekers allowance. It’s based on your Class 1 National Insurance contributions and you are entitled to it even if your partner works, or even if you have enough savings to keep you afloat.
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How Much Will I Receive?
The exact sum you receive as part of your benefits will greatly depend on your income, savings, and age. As a rule of thumb, if you are between 18 and 24, you are entitled to a maximum of £57.90 per week. People over 25 can receive up to £73.10 per week, and couples over 18 can file for a joint job seeker allowance and receive a maximum of £114.85 weekly.
In some cases, you may be eligible for extra payments on top of your personal allowance. These are called ‘premiums’ and you can claim one if you’re already receiving an income-based jobseekers allowance. You can qualify for a premium allowance if you or your partner are disabled, or either one of you is a carer getting Carer’s allowance. Being over the State Pension Age for women is also a means for qualification.
How Can I Claim Job Seekers Allowance?
The first step is applying online. You can get in touch with your local Job Centre Plus Office to ask them about the procedure. Once your online application has gone through, you will need to attend an interview at the same local Job Centre Plus Office. Make sure you bring all necessary documentation with you and prepare for the interview, this will include the following;
You should have original documents of your proof of identity (i.e. not photocopies of pictures of the identifications) with you, such as your driving license or a recent passport
You will need to bring two pieces of secondary identity documentation as well. One needs to show your current address such as a recent utility bill, and one to prove your date of birth
Proof of Unemployment
You should also bring your P45 if you have one which will prove you are no longer in employment
How do I Prove I’ve Been Actively Looking for a Job?
One of the prerequisites to receive a job seekers allowance is that you should be actively looking for a job. During the interview, you will be allocated to a work coach. This is the person responsible for your case. You’ll need to provide them with the number of hours you’re prepared to work per week. Come up with an estimate of how much you will need to earn to live and get by too.
After the Interview
After your interview is over, should you be awarded job seekers allowance, you will need to return to your local Job Centre Plus Office every two weeks. This is in order to prove that you have adhered to the Claimant Commitment. You will need to sign the Claimant Commitment during your interview. This document outlines how you will be looking for a job and your commitments as a benefits claimant.
Make sure to keep track of any job applications you make as this will serve as proof that you’re indeed actively looking and ensure you keep on receiving your job seekers allowance. Failure to produce this proof or your work could result in your benefits may stopping for a period of between 4 weeks and 156 weeks (3 years).
UK Housing Benefits
If your application for an income-based jobseekers allowance has been approved, renters may also qualify for Housing Benefits. You may also qualify for help with your health costs and Council Tax Support.
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