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New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA): Get the Assistance You Need as Unemployed

By IntFormalities
Updated on November 20, 2023
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Losing a job can lead to a challenging and uncertain time. But in the United Kingdom, there’s a support system in place known as the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This benefit provides financial assistance to individuals seeking new employment opportunities.

Let’s explore the eligibility criteria, application process, and what to expect during your JSA journey, shedding light on a vital safety net for those facing job loss.

How to claim 'new style' Jobseeker's Allowance (jsa)
Qualifying individuals can get <strong>New Style Jobseekers Allowance JSA <strong>for up to 6 months while they look for a job

What Is New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

For those who lose their jobs and become unemployed, help is available in the form of the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). This benefit provides a small payment while the person is looking for new employment opportunities. While on the benefit, an employee from the Jobcentre Plus will assist the job seeker in finding work. That way, they can return to the work system as soon as possible and be off the benefit scheme.  

What’s the Difference between It and the Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance?

Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance is for those employed but working a minimal number of hours (usually less than 16 hours a week). Due to the low number of hours, the wages are likely to be low. The Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance tops up their payments to ensure people have enough to live on.

Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance may stop if:

  • The applicant starts to work more than 16 hours a week
  • Their partner begins to work more than 24 hours a week
  • The savings held by the candidate and their partner increase to over £16,000

How Do You Qualify for New Style JSA?

To qualify for the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance, you will need to meet both of the following:

  • Worked in the capacity of an employee
  • Paid sufficient National Insurance Class 1 contributions for the previous two to three years (National Insurance credits can also be used)

Those who only paid Class 2 NI contributions and were self-employed are not eligible (unless working as a volunteer development worker or a share fisherman).

In addition to the above requirements, you must also be:

  • Aged 18 or above, although some 16 and 17-year-olds are also eligible (contact Jobcentre Plus for details)
  • Under the State Pension age
  • Not enrolled in full-time education
  • Ready to work
  • Not in employment or working 15 hours or less
  • In Scotland, Wales, or England
  • Not affected by illness or a disability which prevents you from working

Savings held by you or your spouse and the line of work do not affect the claim.

While on a new JSA, reasonable action must be taken to find employment. 

How To Claim JSA

To start the application process, you will need the following:

  • National Insurance Number
  • Building society or bank account details
  • Employment information for the previous 6 months (including the name, address, and contact details of the employer(s) and dates employed)

Recent bank statements are necessary if any payments are being received from:

  • A Private pension
  • A Workplace pension
  • Any annuities 

It is possible to backdate payments by as much as 3 months. With all these details at hand, the easiest way to apply is online

Those who:

  • Are aged 16 or 17
  • Are applying on someone else’s behalf
  • Are unable to apply online and require assistance
  • Require other forms of communication such as audio CD, braille, or large print

Should make contact with JobCentre Plus to apply for their JSA benefit. 

After the Application

After completing the application, a text or email message will be sent to the applicant to confirm the submission. Within 14 days of the application, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will invite the applicant for an interview at the local JobCentre Plus or explain why the person is ineligible for the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance. 

Those who disagree with the decision can ask for a mandatory reconsideration

The Jobseeker’s Allowance Interview

If invited for an interview, the applicant must attend. If you are unable to make it, it is feasible to rearrange the interview dates and times to suit you. Do you have a health condition, disability, or language barrier? In those cases, it will be possible to attend the interview with someone else. The local Jobseeker’s office can arrange additional support for you if you need it.

The interview usually takes place at the nearest Jobcentre Plus office. The applicant will be asked to agree to a plan on the steps they will take to look for a job and show 3 forms of identity:

  • One photographic form of identification. Examples include:
  • Proof of address. Example include:
    • A utility bill from the previous 6 months (for e.g., electric bill, telephone bill, bank statement, etc.)
    • The council tax bill from the previous 6 months
    • Pension statement or a payslip from the previous 6 months
    • Student loan records
  • Further proof of identification. Examples include:
    • Cheque book
    • P60
    • Store or credit card statement
    • Savings account book
How do you qualify for new style JSA?
The JSA applicant will have to show how they have been following the agreed commitments for example by showing the applications for potential jobs and the interviews attended

Making a Commitment

At the interview, an employee from the Jobcentre Plus (also called a work coach) will discuss the possible steps and the commitment the job seeker will make to look for work. It will include registering with agencies, writing CVs, and spending a set number of hours each week seeking work opportunities. It will factor in things such as:

  • The health of the individual
  • Commitments at home (for example, looking after the kids)
  • The amount of help required from the JobCentre to obtain work or to increase income

Based on the discussion, the applicant will sign a “Claimant Commitment.” Essentially, it is a promise of the effort the applicant will make toward finding a new job role. 

How Much Is New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)?

After the interview, the DWP will write to the applicant to notify them of the interview’s outcome. The letter will inform the job seeker if they qualify for Job Seeker’s Allowance and the amount they’ll receive. Eligible people will receive a payment (called a “personal allowance“) of £67.20 per week (if aged 18 to 24), or £84.20 per week (if 25 or over).

The exact amount will depend on individual circumstances (e.g., the payments might be less if working part-time, holding savings, or a pension). This benefit is paid for 182 days (approximately 6 months)

If, after 6 months, no employment opportunities are found, people are often moved to Universal Credit.

Can JSA Payments Be Reduced or Stopped?

The program will involve attending an interview with the work coach every 2 weeks, and the applicant will have to show how they have been following the agreed commitments. For example, by showing the applications for potential jobs and the interviews attended. 

If the obligations are not met, the JSA might get stopped or reduced, referred to as a “sanction.” Potential reasons why a person may become “sanctioned” include the following:

  • Not attending agreed interviews with the work coach
  • Not keeping up with the agreed commitments
  • Not accepting training opportunities or job offers
  • Not applying for positions indicated by the work coach
  • Not attending any booked training courses or other employment schemes

Other reasons for sanction include:

  • Not starting work immediately after finding a job
  • Taking a pay cut in the current job without a valid reason
  • Be subjected to a pay cut because of something the candidate did at their job (for example, behaviour)
  • Leaving a job or training course without a valid reason

Change of Circumstances

All changes in circumstances must be reported to the Job Seekers Allowance Office. You can notify them through your online account or by calling them on 0800 1690310. Examples of a change of circumstances will include:

  • Stopping or starting training or educational programs, apprenticeship schemes, or work
  • Changes to the partner’s income or working hours
  • Moving homes
  • Changing names
  • People moving in or out of the house (for example, a partner or child)
  • Changes to other benefits received within the home
  • Changes in pension, savings, property, or other types of investments
  • Any additional money received (for example, a charity)
  • Changes to a disability or medical condition
  • Moving into sheltered accommodation, a care home, or entering a hospital for a prolonged period
  • Going overseas
  • Immigration status changes (for those who are not British citizens)

It is important to provide accurate information, or you may be liable to a £50 fine or prosecution in severe cases or with fraudulent attempts.

An Aid for Those Not in Employment

New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance is there to provide payments for those who are unemployed and looking for work. The scheme aims to provide small payments called a “personal allowance” to help the unemployed and those without an income. Those who receive the New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance can obtain help from a work coach to find employment opportunities so that they are back in the work system as soon as possible.  

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