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Universal Credit has replaced income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for most people – check if you can claim Universal Credit.

You can only get income-based JSA if you’re already getting contribution-based JSA.

You must also:

  • be single, or have a partner who works for less than 24 hours a week on average
  • have £16,000 or less in savings (including your partner’s savings)

You can’t get income-based JSA if you’re already getting ‘new style’ JSA.

If you're from the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein

To get income-based JSA you need to show:

  • you have settled status or a right to claim benefits in the UK - this is called a ‘right to reside’
  • the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay - this is known as being ‘habitually resident’
  • you’ve lived in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the last 3 months - this is called the ‘3-month living in test’

Your right to reside depends on things like your work, family and personal situation. You can check if you have a right to reside.

You might not need to prove you've been living here for the last 3 months. For example, if you have a right to reside because you’re working or self-employed.

You can only claim JSA if you have:

  • British citizenship and can prove you are ‘habitually resident’

  • pre-settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme and another right to reside

  • indefinite leave to remain or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme

If none of these apply to you, you might be able to make a late application to the EU Settlement Scheme. You’ll need to have a good reason for missing the deadline of 30 June 2021. Find out more about claiming benefits if you’re from the EU.

Exemptions from the right to reside and habitual residence test

Your client might be exempt - for example, if they were the victim of trafficking. 

You can check if your client is exempt from the right to reside and habitual residence test.

Find out more about staying in the UK if you're from the EU.

If you're a returning UK resident

You’ll need to give evidence to show the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands or Isle of Man is your main home and you plan to stay. This is known as being ‘habitually resident’.

You’ll also need to show you’ve lived here for the last 3 months - this is called the ‘3-month living in test’.

Check how to prove you’re habitually resident.

If you work part-time

Your wages will affect your JSA claim, and the rules are complicated. If you're 18 or over, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to work out how much you can get, or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

How much JSA you’ll get

If you’re eligible for income-related JSA you can get up to:

  • £58.90 if you’re 18 to 24
  • £74.35 if you’re 25 or over
  • £116.80 if you get income-related JSA as a couple

The exact amount you get will depend on your circumstances - for example, your payment might be less if you work part-time or get a pension.

You can get extra payments on top of your personal allowance in some cases - these are called ‘premiums’. You get a premium if you claim income-based JSA and you or your partner are:

You can get both contribution-based JSA and income-related JSA at the same time. The DWP will check how much you can get for each of them. The total JSA you’ll get is whichever amount is higher.

If you're 18 or over, you can use the Turn2us benefits calculator to work out how much you can get, or contact your nearest Citizens Advice.

Getting help with housing costs

If you get income-based JSA, you might get extra payments to help with your housing costs - these are usually paid straight to your landlord, lender or mortgage provider.

You need to ask for help with housing costs when you apply for income-based JSA over the phone.

If you rent your home

You might qualify for Housing Benefit to help pay rent while you get income-based JSA - find out how much you could get on GOV.UK.

If you have a mortgage or other loan for your home

You might be able to get a government loan to help pay the interest on a mortgage, or another loan to pay for things like:

  • the freehold of your property
  • your ex-partner’s share in your property
  • major repairs and improvements

The loan is called ‘support for mortgage interest' (SMI). You’ll need to pay it back - but only when you sell your home or give it to someone else.

SMI is usually paid directly to your mortgage or loan provider. It only helps pay the interest on what you’ve borrowed, not the repayments.

SMI will usually start 39 weeks (about 9 months) after you claim JSA.

If the DWP think you can get SMI, they’ll ask if you want to apply for it. They’ll usually ask 7 or 8 months after you claim JSA.

If you pay ground rent or service charge

You can get an additional JSA payment to help with your ground rent if your lease has more than 21 years left. You won’t have to pay this money back.

You might also be able to get help paying service charges if they’re for:

  • building insurance - if it’s part of a condition of your lease
  • small repairs, for example to water pipes or heating
  • small improvements, for example painting a hallway

You can’t normally get help with your service charge if it’s for major improvements or repairs, but there are some exceptions - for example if your home would’ve been unsafe without structural repairs.

It can take up to 39 weeks to get these expenses included in your income-based JSA claim, so it’s best to apply for them as soon as possible.

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