Government benefits – for the unemployed

The government provides a range of benefits and allowances for those who are unable to support themselves financially, whether they are unemployed and looking for work, on a low income, ill, injured or disabled, bringing up a family, caring for someone or retired. The financial and practical support that you receive from the government will depend on your personal circumstances – there are various different options. This series of guides provides concise and practical information on key government benefits. In this guide we look at benefits available to those who are unemployed and looking for work.

Jobseeker’s allowance – unemployed people who are of working age and are actively looking for work, or people who work less than 16 hours a week, can claim jobseeker’s allowance. It will be calculated either on your income or on your national insurance contributions, according to your circumstances, and the amount that you will receive will be a flat weekly rate. £57 is the current rate for single adults, although you’ll receive less if you have savings of over £6,000. You won’t be eligible to receive any jobseeker’s allowance if you’ve got more than £16,000 of savings. You can apply by either going to your local job centre or by completing an online application. Once your application has been received, you’ll have a meeting with an adviser. They will explain the allowance to you and together you’ll draw up a jobseeker’s agreement, which will outline how you’ll go about finding a job and what support you’ll receive in order to do so. This agreement will be reviewed regularly, and you’ll need to return to the job centre every two weeks to confirm your claim for jobseeker’s allowance. Those claiming jobseeker’s allowance are eligible for free NHS dentistry and prescriptions, and may qualify to receive assistance with housing and council tax.

Job grant – if you’ve been claiming jobseeker’s allowance, income support or incapacity benefit for at least 26 weeks and you’re about to start a full-time job (at least 16 hours per week) that will last five weeks or more, you may be eligible to receive a one-off tax-free payment known as a job grant. You may also qualify if your benefits stop because you have a partner who has recently started working over 24 hours a week. If you and your partner have no children, you’ll receive £100, or if you have a family you’ll get £250. The grant is tax-free and isn’t classed as income so it won’t affect any other benefits. You don’t need to apply for it – you should automatically receive it after telling your jobcentre plus that you’ve got a job.