Jobseeker's allowance

We are currently updating our financial information following the March 2015 budget announcement. For the most up-to-date information, please contact us on 0808 808 00 00.

If you’re unemployed and able to work, Jobseeker’s Allowance can give you a weekly income while you look for work.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance – contribution-based and income-based.

You may be entitled to contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance if you’ve paid enough national insurance contributions in the last two complete tax years.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is based on your income and savings. Generally, if you’ve paid national insurance contributions while being self-employed, these won’t help you qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. If you work less than 16 hours a week, some money you earn will be ignored by the Jobcentre. This is typically £5, £10 or £20 of your weekly earnings depending on your circumstances.

Advisers at your local Jobcentre Plus (England, Scotland and Wales) or Social Security or Jobs and Benefits Office (Northern Ireland) will help with your job search. If you need specialist advice because of an illness or disability, ask to see a disability employment adviser.

Important changes

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit in England, Scotland and Wales. The benefit you have to apply for will depend on where you live. Contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is staying the same. Contact a welfare rights adviser to find out how this change may affect you.

How can I claim?

In England, Scotland and Wales, call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688, textphone 0800 023 4888, or visit You’ll need to attend an interview with an adviser at your local Jobcentre. In Northern Ireland, contact your local Social Security Office or Jobs and Benefits Office.

Back to Working age benefits

If your illness affects your ability to work

You may be able to get financial help from the government if you are unable to work because of cancer.

Managing on a low income

There is financial help available if you are working and have a low income.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a payment for people who are on a low income or looking for work in England, Scotland and Wales.

Industrial injuries disablement benefit

You can claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit if you’re ill or disabled due to your work.