WHILE CLAIMING JSA: While searching for work, the plan will help you keep a written record of the outcomes.
It also provides proof to your work coach that you have been ‘active’ and looking for work.
The work coach might also decide to move you into one of the employment programmes (e.g. the Work Programme).
Reporting to Jobcentre Plus for JSA
You must visit the Jobcentre Plus office every two (2) weeks, or sooner if asked to do so. Most claimants know this procedure of claiming JSA as ‘signing on‘.
The visit gives you an opportunity to show your work coach how you are searching for a job. Some examples can include showing them proof of your work interviews or job applications.
Note: A break of up to 13 weeks from job seeking might apply if you are a victim of domestic abuse. In cases such as these, your work coach can also help with extra types of support.
Change of Circumstances and JSA
You must inform Jobcentre Plus if any of your personal circumstances change. Common examples would include start working or getting a change in your income. A changes of circumstances can affect how much Jobseekers Allowance you get.
As a rule, volunteer work does not usually affect your JSA claim. But, the government advice is to report it before you start volunteering.
Reporting Changes while Claiming New Style JSA
In some cases, you can report a change in circumstances for JSA online. You would need to have a Universal Credit online account to do so. If not, you must contact the Universal Credit helpline. The correct telephone number to call will depend on where you are living.
If you are living in one of the Universal Credit ‘full service‘ areas, you can:
Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
If you are living anywhere else you can:
Choosing not to report a change in circumstances may be committing benefit fraud.
JSA Sanction Rules: Stopped or Reduced
There is a list of reasons why JSA payments stop or get sanctioned for a period. Your JSA claim stops if you fail to do something that either the Work Programme or your work coach asks you to do.
Jobcentre Plus will inform you how long the payment will get stopped. As a rule, it ranges between four (4) weeks and three (3) years. JSA sanctions can happen if you:
- Fail to accept or keep to your agreement to go and look for work.
- Do not visit a Jobcentre Plus office if they ask you to.
- Turn down a job offer or a place on a training course.
- Fail to apply for any jobs that you get made aware of.
- Do not participate in any interviews that they invite you to.
- Fail to attend any training booked for you or participate in employment schemes.
- Leave your last job or training because of your behaviour or without a valid reason.
Note: Contact your Jobcentre Plus office if any of these apply to your situation. JSA payments may continue if you have valid reason.
If JSA Payment Stops
You should continue looking for work even if your JSA stops. Benefit payments can stop for longer periods if you stop searching for a job. Your Jobcentre Plus may reconsider the decision of stopping the payment.
But, if the decision is not reversed, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal. It is best to continue with your JSA claim until the dispute gets reviewed or settled.
Claiming Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction
What should you do if your JSA payments stop and you claim Housing Benefit? You should get in touch with your local council immediately. They will help you get support and inform you what to do to next.
If Your JSA Claim Ends
In some cases, JSA claims may finish altogether. This happens most often if you are unavailable for work or fail to seek work. Even though you can apply straight away again, your payments will stop for a period of time. As a rule, they will stop for:
- 4 Weeks: For those whose claim has ended for the first time.
- 13 Weeks: If you had a previous claim ended within the past 12 months.
JSA and Hardship Payments
Some claimants are eligible for a hardship payment when JSA payments have stopped. Hardship payments do not have to be repaid. In most cases a hardship payment is a reduced amount of a regular Jobseeker’s Allowance payment. In most cases it would be around 60 per cent of the usual amount.
Hardship Payment Eligibility
A hardship payment is for heating, food, or rent. It can also help to pay for other basic necessities for you or your child if you are unable to buy them.
You must be at least 18 to qualify for the hardship payment. You will need to show that you tried alternative methods of finding the money. That could mean borrowing it from a friend or working extra hours.
How to Claim Hardship Payment
Contact your work coach or Jobcentre Plus adviser to get more information on claiming a hardship payment.
Note: You must contact your local Jobcentre Plus if you find a job and start working so they can end your JSA claim.