Income based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
Last updated: 07/04/2021
No new claims can be made for this benefit. If you are getting income-based jobseeker’s allowance at the moment you will continue to do so until your circumstances change or you are invited to claim universal credit instead.
Income-based jobseeker’s allowance is paid if you are not working and have no, or a very limited, income. It is affected by any income, money or savings over £6,000.
Jobseeker’s allowance rates:
Single parents aged 16 or 17: £59.20
Single parents aged 18 and over: £74.70
To receive jobseeker’s allowance, you must agree to undertake certain tasks which will be included in your ‘claimant commitment’.
What is the claimant commitment?
A claimant commitment is a contract between you and the Department for Work and Pensions. It records the tasks you are expected to carry out to find work while you receive jobseeker’s allowance. It can include details of specific steps you are expected to take and when they must be completed, the changes of circumstance that you must report and information on penalties for not completing tasks. The claimant commitment will also state how many hours per week you are expected to work. For single parents, this is normally a minimum of 16 hours per week. If you are responsible for a child under the age of 13, you can restrict your hours to school hours. The claimant commitment will be reviewed from time to time.
Job seeking reviews (signing on)
You will be asked to attend fortnightly job search reviews at your jobcentre. This is also known as ‘signing on’. If you do not attend on the right day and at the right time without prior agreement, your benefit may be suspended. Unless you can show ‘good cause’ for your failure to attend within five working days, your entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance will end. If you are unable to arrange short-term childcare to enable you to sign on, you can request that you sign on by post.
During your job search review, you will be asked to provide evidence of everything you have done to look for work.
If you have an unforeseen situation, such as the death or serious illness of a close friend or relative or a domestic emergency that affects you or a relative, you may not have to do the tasks for a limited period. This period can be up to one week on no more than four occasions in any 52-week period. One of these periods can be extended to eight weeks, although the other three would then be restricted to one week.
While getting jobseeker’s allowance you are expected to take a job within a week of being offered it or to attend an interview within 48 hours. These times can be extended if you can show they are unreasonable in your circumstances. You should not lose benefit if you don’t attend an interview or start a job if you can show that childcare was not available, not suitable, or you can show that the cost would take up an unreasonable proportion of your income.
Penalties if you do not meet the terms of your claimant commitment
Jobseeker’s allowance payments can be suspended for many reasons, this is known as a sanction;
- If you left your job through misconduct
- If you left your job without ‘just cause’
- If you do not carry out a specified activity intended to improve your chances of finding paid work (a jobseeker’s direction)
- If you do not apply for or accept a specific job.
What sanction, if any, is to be applied will be decided, taking all your circumstances into consideration, by a decision maker.
Sanctions can either last for a fixed period of two to four weeks or they can be variable in length lasting up to six months. You should not be sanctioned if you can show ‘good cause’ for not applying for/accepting a job or for leaving a job. ‘Just cause’ is different to ‘good cause’ and is not defined in the rules.
If your jobseeker’s allowance is suspended, you could qualify for hardship payments. These payments are 40% lower than jobseeker’s allowance. The reduction in payments should be 20% if you or any member of your family is either pregnant or seriously ill. Ask at the jobcentre for form JSA10: jobseeker’s allowance hardship application. There is usually a 7-day waiting period before it is paid but payment may be immediate if you are homeless or have mental health issues.