All you need to know about Job Seekers Allowance

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What is Income Support?

What is Jobseekers Allowance?

What are the changes?

When are the changes happening?

How will I get moved to JSA?

What do I have to do to be entitled to JSA?

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Income Support
Income support is the benefit is for people who are unable to work full-time (pregnant or have a child under 5 years and do not have enough income to live on. The amount of Income Support that you can receive varies according to your circumstances. Unlike Job Seeker’s Allowance, you do not need to be looking for work to receive it. Read more>>

What is Job Seeker’s Allowance?
Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) is a type of benefit for people who are looking for work. There are 2 types:

  • Income-based: you can receive this if you are on a low income. You do not need to have National Insurance contributions in order to get this type of benefit.
  • Contributory: you can receive this if you have enough National Insurance contributions from your past work experience.

Please note that for both types of JSA, you must meet certain criteria (see ‘What do I have to do to be entitled to JSA’).

What are the changes?
Previously, single parents who did not work, or worked under 16 hours per week, were able to claim Income Support until their oldest child was 16. From May 2012, changes will be phased in so that single parents with a youngest child aged 5 or above will be unable to claim Income Support and will be expected to look for paid work. While looking for work, you will be entitled to claim JSA, or Employment and Support Allowance if you are not able to work due to a health condition or disability. Read more>>

If you want to talk about the changes to benefits and how it is affecting you come and join our Discussions on Benefits Changes and You.

When are the changes to JSA happening?
After May 2012, if your children are aged 5 and over, you will no longer be allowed to claim Income Support and will be expected to look for work.

How will I get moved to JSA?
You will be notified 8 weeks before your Income Support will be stopped. You will be asked to attend a voluntary interview where Jobcentre Plus will discuss the changes with you and what needs to happen next. Read more>>

What do I have to do to be entitled to JSA?
Jobcentre Plus will arrange a New Jobseeker Interview for you at your local Jobcentre Plus office after the initial voluntary interview. At this interview, you will meet with a personal adviser and together you will decide the steps you need to take in order to improve your chances of finding a job. These steps will then be included in a Jobseeker’s Agreement – once you have signed the agreement, you will be given your own copy to remind you of the agreed actions. The agreement is flexible, so if your circumstances change while you are on JSA, you can discuss with your adviser the steps that need to be amended.

In order to receive your JSA, you will need to attend regular Jobsearch Reviews at your local Jobcentre Plus – your adviser will make you aware of the dates, which are normally every fortnight. At each review, you will need to sign a statement that says you are still available for work and that you have been actively looking for jobs. If your circumstances change at all, it is a good idea to discuss them with your adviser at these reviews.
So, in order to keep receiving JSA, you need to do 3 things:

  • Actively seek work
  • Be available for work
  • Attend fortnightly Jobsearch Reviews

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More questions
For more information about JSA and school holidays, part time work and actively seeking work see All you need to know about Job Seekers Allowance part 2
For information about JSA and resigning, volunteering, sanctions and childcare see All you need to know about Job Seekers Allowance part 3
For further information about JSA and studying, disabilities, foster parents, home educating see All you need to know about Job Seekers Allowance part 4
Remember you can get personalised confidential email advice by contacting our Money & Benefit expert.
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