Jobseeker's Allowance
Jobseeker's Allowance is a United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 benefit, colloquially known as the dole (or, in Northern Ireland & Scotland, as broo). It is a form of unemployment benefit
Unemployment benefit
Unemployment benefits are payments made by the state or other authorized bodies to unemployed people. Benefits may be based on a compulsory para-governmental insurance system...

 paid by the government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 to people who are unemployed and seeking work. It is part of the social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

 benefits system and is intended to cover living expenses while the claimant is out of work. It is paid by the Department for Work and Pensions
Department for Work and Pensions
The Department for Work and Pensions is the largest government department in the United Kingdom, created on June 8, 2001 from the merger of the employment part of the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Social Security and headed by the Secretary of State for Work and...

 (DWP) in England, Wales, and Scotland, and in Northern Ireland by the Social Security Agency
Social Security Agency
The Social Security Agency is a government agency in Northern Ireland. It is a department within the Department for Social Development , dealing with social security.-Services:...

 - an executive agency of the Department for Social Development
Department for Social Development
The Department for Social Development is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive. The minister with overall responsibility for the department is the Minister for Social Development.-Aim:...

. It is a working age benefit, and is generally available only to those aged 18–60 (the exact maximum age for claiming the allowance is linked to the rise in State Pension age). Jobseeker's Allowance is likely to be replaced by the Universal Credit
Universal Credit
The Universal Credit is a proposed new benefit which will replace six of the main means-tested benefits and tax credits in the United Kingdom.-Background:...

 during the current parliament. There are two forms of Jobseeker's Allowance, contribution-based and income-based.

To be eligible for JSA the claimant must prove that they are actively seeking work. This is done by filling in a Jobseeker's Agreement form and attending a New Jobseeker interview (NJI). They must also present themselves at their local Job Centre every two weeks thereafter to "sign on". Receiving Jobseeker's Allowance is therefore also known colloquially as "signing on". Claims for Jobseeker's Allowance are maintained by the Jobseeker's Allowance Payment System (JSAPS).

Outside the United Kingdom, similar payments are made in the Republic of Ireland and in Australia. Ireland has its own version of Jobseeker's Allowance which is also colloquially known as the dole (see unemployment benefit
Unemployment benefit
Unemployment benefits are payments made by the state or other authorized bodies to unemployed people. Benefits may be based on a compulsory para-governmental insurance system...

 section Ireland). Australia has implemented strikingly similar unemployment/welfare policies, which also have official titles based on informal, colloquial terminology. (e.g. see Centrelink
Centrelink is the trading name of the Commonwealth Service Delivery Agency , a statutory authority responsible for delivering human services on behalf of agencies of the Commonwealth Government of Australia. The majority of Centrelink's services are the disbursement of social security payments...

 and Work for the dole
Work for the dole
Work for the Dole is an Australian federal government program that is a form of workfare, work-based welfare. It was first permanently enacted in 1998, having been trialed in 1997....



The first unemployment benefits were paid in 1911, to job seekers who had paid National Insurance
National Insurance
National Insurance in the United Kingdom was initially a contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment, and later also provided retirement pensions and other benefits...

 contributions ("the stamp"). These payments were thus made only to people who had recently been in work, and not simply to those on low incomes. Furthermore, benefits were only paid for up to twelve months, by which time a claimant had to have regained work.

After the Second World War, the National Assistance Act 1946 was passed, and from 1948 anyone of working age on a low income could apply for support. National Assistance was replaced by Supplementary Benefit
Supplementary Benefit
Supplementary Benefit was a means-tested benefit in the United Kingdom, paid to people on low incomes, whether or not they were classed as unemployed. Introduced in November 1966, it replaced the earlier system of discretionary National Assistance payments and was intended to 'top-up' other...

 in November 1966, and Unemployment Benefit claimants could transfer to this after their initial entitlement had expired. Supplementary Benefit was later replaced by Income Support
Income Support
Income support is an income-related means-tested benefit in the United Kingdom for people who are on a low income. Claimants of Income Support may be entitled to certain other benefits, for example, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and help with health costs...

 in April 1988.

To streamline the system of benefits, improve claimant compliance and partially remove the distinction between means-tested claimants and those claiming against contribution records, long-term job seekers were disallowed from claiming Income Support in 1996 when the current Jobseeker's Allowance was introduced.

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance

Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA(C)) entitlement is based on Class 1 National Insurance
National Insurance
National Insurance in the United Kingdom was initially a contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment, and later also provided retirement pensions and other benefits...

 contributions in the two complete tax years preceding the calendar year of claim. This allowance is paid regardless of assets.

Certain other benefits including Statutory sick pay
Statutory sick pay
In the United Kingdom Statutory Sick Pay is paid by their employer to all employees who are sick for a period longer than 4 consecutive days but less than 28 weeks. The first 3 days of sickness are called waiting days...

, Statutory paternity pay, Statutory maternity pay, Statutory adoption pay, Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance
Employment and Support Allowance is a UK Government State Benefit which replaced new claims for Incapacity Benefit and Income Support on the basis of incapacity for work for most claimants from 27 October 2008. Initially, claimants already receiving Incapacity Benefit continued to receive it as...

, Bereavement benefit
Bereavement benefit
- United Kingdom :Bereavement benefit replaced Widow's benefit in the United Kingdom in April 2001. It is a social security benefit that is designed to support people who have recently lost their spouse, and need some financial support to help them get back on their feet...

, Carer's allowance and JSA(C) itself also count towards Class 1 contributions and are called "Credited Class 1 contributions".

Self-employed people do not pay Class 1 contributions, and thus may not claim JSA(C).

JSA(C) may be claimed for only 26 weeks before having to move onto JSA(IB), if eligible (see below).

Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

People who are not eligible for JSA(C) may claim Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, JSA(IB), which is means test
Means test
A means test is a determination of whether an individual or family is eligible for help from the government.- Canada :In Canada means tests are used for student finance , and "welfare" . They are not generally used for primary education and secondary education which are tax-funded...

ed for each individual claimant and/or their dependents. People who are eligible for JSA(C) may also claim JSA(IB) for any additional payments due under that benefit (for family dependents, for example). JSA(IB) is payable only if the claimant has less than £16,000 in savings (correct as of July 2006). Payments are reduced if the claimant has savings between £6,000 and £16,000.

Both forms of benefit face 100% marginal deductions if the individual earns more than a small amount - the 'disregard' - this is £5 per week for single people, £10 per week for couples and £20 per week for certain other groups such as some lone parents and disabled people. The 'disregard' has remained at the same nominal amount since the 1980s and has never been uprated with inflation, unlike benefits themselves. The benefit is withdrawn from those working 16 or more hours a week (though this does not apply to voluntary work). Part time students can claim provided they do not have more than 16 hours a week in teacher contact time and the course is not officially designated as full time by the college (irrespective of the number of hours of contact time).


In certain cases, a claimant's Jobseeker's Allowance may be stopped. These are:
  • Not being available for or actively seeking work, or not signing the Jobseeker's Agreement: if a claimant does not declare on the Jobseeker's Agreement that they are available for and actively seeking work, and sign the Agreement, the benefit will be suspended until the claimant completes and signs the agreement. Once the agreement has been signed, a Decision Maker will decide how much of the claim should be backdated, if any.
  • Missing a Restart interview: the claim will be terminated unpaid, back benefit entitlement will be lost, and the claimant will need to make a new claim.
  • Voluntarily leaving work, or refusing a notified vacancy: temporary reduction or stoppage of benefit payment, known as a sanction. The sanction may be up to 26 weeks, and the length will be decided by an adjudicator. A notified vacancy is a job vacancy which the claimant has found out about from Job Centre Plus, who keep records of all the jobs their clients request information about.
  • Refusing to attend compulsory scheme, or failing to comply with Direction: sanction of two weeks for the first instance, and four weeks for second and subsequent instances.

Jobseeker's Agreement

When a claimant attends a new Jobseeker Interview, they form a Jobseeker's Agreement with their advisor and sign it. The terms of the agreement include:
  • How many companies they will telephone each week
  • How many companies they will visit in person each week
  • Whether they will use any magazines/newspapers to find vacancies
  • That they will not work for more than 16 hours a week. Educational courses are sometimes counted for this time limit. The reason for this limit is that the government believes that doing more than 16 hours affects the Jobseeker's ability to find employment.

New Deal

If claimants below the female state pension age have been unemployed for over twelve months, they will be placed on the New Deal scheme. Some may also enter the New Deal process early if they fall in special categories. From 2009, a Flexible New Deal scheme started using the private sector to provide tailored employment and skills support, with return-to-work performance incentives for the providers.

In Northern Ireland the New Deal was replaced in 2008 by a similar scheme known as Steps to Work. This scheme is administered by the Department for Employment and Learning
Department for Employment and Learning
The Department for Employment and Learning , formerly the Department of Higher and Further Education, Training and Employment , is a devolved Northern Ireland government department in the Northern Ireland Executive...

 which operates Jobs & Benefits Offices jointly with the Social Security Agency.

Over the state pension age

Male claimants who reach the State Pension age for females (which is currently just over 60 years) are still eligible to claim Jobseeker's Allowance, although they must remain actively looking for work. Female claimants can only claim until they reach their relevant State Pension age. In both cases, the State Pension age is due to rise to 66 by 2020.

A claimant (regardless of their gender) can instead apply for Pension Credit
Pension Credit
Pension Credit was introduced in the UK in 2003 by Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was designed to lift a large number of the poorest retired people out of poverty. It replaced the Minimum Income Guarantee, which had been introduced in 1997...

 after they have reached the female state pension age. This replaces their Jobseeker's payments and avoids the requirement to sign on. NI credits will be paid on their behalf, regardless of whether they are claiming either benefit.

See also

  • Jobseeker's Allowance Payment System
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Welfare (financial aid)

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.