BASIC POSITION

To find current rates of social security payments generally see Social Security/Employment related benefits/2011-2012 rates . Basic rate of Jobseeker's allowance from April 2011 is £67.50 for those aged 25 or over.

Unemployment Benefit and Income Support for unemployed people were replaced by Jobseeker's Allowance ("JSA") as from 7th October 1966. JSA can be claimed by people who are out of work but available for and actively seeking employment.

For JSA purposes a person who is working on average less than 16 hours a week or who is on a Government Training course is treated in the same way as a person who is not working at all. Holidays are not taken into account in calculating the average. This can have the seriously unfortunate result for low-paid ancillary school staff who cannot find work during school holidays of excluding them from entitlement even if their earnings are below poverty level (see Banks v Chief Adjudication Officer HL 2001 UKHL 33, [2001] ICR 877, HL).

In essence, there are two elements to JSA:-

(i) Contribution-based JSA. As from 7th October 1996 an unemployed person can be entitled to "a contribution-based jobseeker's allowance" if he has paid sufficient Class I NI contributions. This replaced unemployment benefit (Jobseekers Act 1995, ss.1(4) and 2 and the 1996 - Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996, SI 1996/207).

(ii) Income-based JSA. As from 7th October 1996 a person who is over 18, is not engaged in remunerative work and is not entitled to income support is entitled to "an income-based jobseeker's allowance", regardless of contribution record. This replaces income support for those capable of work (Jobseekers Act 1995, ss.1(4) and 3 and the 1996 - Income Support (General) (Jobseeker's Allowance Consequential Amendments) Regulations 1996, SI 1996/206).

The former Employer's NI contribution holiday scheme for employers taking on a long term unemployed person scheme finally closed on 31st March 2000.

There are comprehensive Jobseeker's Allowance Guidance Notes on the DWP web-site and CPAG publish an excellent "Welfare Benefits Handbook" which now incorporates the material previously in their separate "Jobseeker's Allowance Handbook" (tel CPAG Booksales on 020 7837 3676). Also there is a useful Job Seeker's Allowance factsheet on the direct.gov.uk website.

Full and regularly updated information is available on the excellent Money, Tax and Benefits section of the direct.gov.uk website. This includes an on-line claim forms for JSA. Finally, www.rightsnet.org.uk have prepared a useful poster listing benefits generally.

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Last Update: October 2013