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A form of unemployment benefit, Job Seekers Allowance is paid by the UK Government to those who are unemployed and actively seeking work. JSA act as part of the social security benefits system and helps to cover the cost of living whilst the claimant is out of work.
Unemployment benefits were first introduced in 1911 and today, somewhat surprisingly, they only make up 2% of the UK’s welfare expenditure.
The Job Seekers Allowance Contact Number
If for any reason you need to contact somebody about Job Seekers Allowance, there are a number of ways you can do so.
Firstly, you can call Jobcentre Plus on 0843 816 6333. This is a helpline for all JSA enquiries, as well information about new claims. The Job Seekers Allowance helpline is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
However, if you’d prefer to talk to somebody face to face, you can use the Jobcentre Plus office locator to find your most convenient office.
Job Seekers Allowance Complaints
If for any reason you wish to make a complaint about the service you received from Jobcentre Plus when applying for JSA, there are a number of ways in which you can do so.
By Phone – Call 0843 816 6333. This helpline is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
How to Claim JSA
If you’re currently looking to claim Job Seekers Allowance, there are a number of steps you will need to follow.
Check Your Eligibility
To be eligible for Job Seekers Allowance, there is certain criteria you have to meet. You must be over the age of 18, be under state pension age, you cannot be in full-time education, you must live in England, Scotland or Wales, you must be available for work and you must be actively seeking work, or currently working less than 16 hours per week. The rules differ in Northern Ireland; more information can be found here.
Make a Claim
After checking your eligibility, the next step is to make a claim. Currently, there are different ways of claiming, and there are different types of JSA. To claim ‘Contributions-based and income based JSA’, you will need to use the online service. If you are applying for ‘New Style’ JSA you will need to call one of the Job Seekers Allowance customer service numbers. The number you call will depend on whether or not you live in a ‘live service area’ for Universal Credit, or a full service area. If you are unsure, you can use the list of Jobcentre areas to find out.
Live service area for Universal credit – 0843 816 6333
Full service area – 0843 816 6333
Both Job Seekers Allowance contact telephone numbers are available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
After you’ve completed your claim, you will be invited to attend a JSA interview at your local Jobcentre Plus office. Be aware, if you don’t attend, you won’t receive JSA. When attending your interview, you will need to bring your P45 (if applicable), as well as one primary identity document and two secondary identity documents. You can also take someone along to support you at your interview.
Sign Your Claimant Commitment
As part of your JSA agreement, you will need to sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’. This will be agreed between you and your work coach and will include what you need to do to look for work, as well as how many hours you need to spend looking for work each week and proof that you have done so.
After making your claim, you will be provided with help to find work. Your work coach will help you to keep a record of what you have been doing and how you have been actively looking to find work. You will also be required to report to a Jobcentre Plus office every two weeks to ‘sign on’. If your circumstances change, you are required to inform Jobcentre Plus straight away.
Additional Job Seekers Allowance Support
Currently, there are three different types of JSA available. They are ‘Contribution-based JSA’ and ‘New Style JSA’.
You may receive this type of JSA if you have paid enough Class 1 National Insurance Contributions in the two tax years before the current benefit year. (This includes National Insurance Credits).
New Style JSA
You are eligible to apply for new style JSA if you are entitled to apply for Universal Credit. This applies to single people anywhere in England, Wales and Scotland, as well as couples or families living in a Universal Credit Area. New style JSA works in the same was as contribution based JSA and you can get it on its own, or at the same time as Universal Credit.
You may be eligible for this if you are currently working less that 16 hours per week (on average), your partner is working less that 24 hours per week (on average) or if you have £16,000 or less in savings. Unfortunately, you cannot get income-based JSA and Universal Credit at the same time.
If your JSA application is successful, the payments you can expect to receive are as follows:
- Age 18-24 – Up to £57.90 per week.
- Age 25 or over – Up to £73.10 per week.
- Couples (both aged over 18) – Up to £114.85 per week.
Payments are usually paid every two weeks and will be paid directly into your bank, credit union account or building society.
When Job Seekers Allowance Payments Can Be Stopped
If you do not stick to the conditions of your ‘Claimant Commitment’, your payments can and will be stopped. Payments will be stopped if you:
- Fail to attend a Jobcentre Plus office when asked.
- Refuse to accept a training course or a job.
- Don’t apply for jobs you have been told about by your work coach.
- Refuse to attend an interviews you are invited to. Leave your job or training course without good reason.
If any of these apply to you, you should contact Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible. You will be informed about how long your payment will be stopped for. This can be anything from four weeks to 156 weeks, depending on the circumstances.