DEFINITION of 'Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)'

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is a benefit which is available to unemployed individuals in the U.K. who are actively seeking work. JSA is intended to help minimize the costs of living for those currently seeking full-time employment, and the benefit may also be available to people who are working less than 16 hours per week.

Also referred to as "the dole."

BREAKING DOWN 'Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)'

One of the premises of the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is that it is a condition-based benefit, meaning that recipients must continue to meet certain conditions on an ongoing basis in order to retain their eligibility for payments. The main condition for receiving the JSA is that the recipient must provide proof on a regular basis that they are in fact, actively looking for employment. This condition was introduced to avoid a situation where people become too comfortable in their unemployed status and unmotivated to find work due to the easily available and accessible unemployment benefits.

Precursors to the Jobseeker’s Allowance

Condition-based unemployment benefits in the U.K. date back to 1921, when a ‘seeking work test’ was introduced into the system. The work test required that people claiming benefits had to show that they were genuinely seeking employment and were willing to accept any job paying a reasonable wage.

The first unemployment benefits were paid in 1911, and were based on National Insurance Contributions. The benefits were paid for a maximum period of one year, and were available only to those who had been recently unemployed.

In 1920, the Unemployment Insurance Act created weekly cash unemployment benefits which were made available to 11 million workers for a period of 15 weeks during a time of a very high unemployment rate.

Unemployment benefits have continued to evolve over the years, leading to the current Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

Eligibility for JSA

The Jobseeker’s Allowance is available to an individual under the State Pension age, which is the earliest age a person can start receiving his pension, and is based on gender and birth date. To qualify for JSA, the claimant must be above 18 years old, although there are some situations where 16 or 17-year olds may be eligible.

The claimant must be out of full-time work, but actively seeking a job or contract. The JSA recipient must “sign-off” at Jobcentre Plus every two weeks, allowing the Jobcentre to assess whether sufficient efforts are being made to secure employment. Benefits may be stopped if the Jobcentre determines that the claimant is not fulfilling his or her job seeking obligations, is failing to attend interviews, or is turning down offers of employment or training.

There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance: the National Insurance Contributions (NIC) and Income Based JSA. With the NIC, if sufficient contributions have been paid over the preceding two years, a contributions-based Jobseeker’s Allowance can be claimed for a period of 182 days (26 weeks). If adequate contributions have not been made, the jobseeker may apply for an Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Eligibility for the Income Based JSA depends on certain criteria, such as: the claimant working no more than 16 hours per week, having no more than £16000 in savings, and the claimant's partner working no more than 24 hours per week. If the claimant has savings of over £6000, the allowance they are entitled to will be a portion of the full amount.

  1. Unemployment Insurance

    Unemployment insurance provides benefits to workers who meet ...
  2. Unemployment Claim

    An unemployment claim is a request made by an individual to the ...
  3. Unemployment

    Unemployment is the term for when a person who is actively seeking ...
  4. Concealed Unemployment

    Concealed unemployment refers to a group of out-of-work people ...
  5. Structural Unemployment

    Structural unemployment is a longer-lasting form of unemployment ...
  6. Natural Unemployment

    The lowest rate of unemployment that an economy can sustain over ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    The Cost of Unemployment to the Economy

    Unemployment carries many costs, both obvious and hidden, for an economy.
  2. Insurance

    How To Apply For Unemployment Insurance

    Unemployment compensation is a federal program administered by each state. Here's how to connect to your state's unemployment office and what to expect.
  3. Personal Finance

    Where Unemployment Hits Hardest

    A look at the demographics of unemployment, and what that means for workers around the nation.
  4. Personal Finance

    Understanding Natural Unemployment

    Natural unemployment is often defined as the lowest rate of unemployment an economy will reach.
  5. Personal Finance

    Jobs with the Lowest Unemployment Rates

    These jobs have low unemployment rates and high demand – both now and likely in the future.
  6. Personal Finance

    What The Unemployment Rate Doesn't Tell Us

    The unemployment rate is climbing, but what does it mean?
  7. Investing

    Did Your State Cut Unemployment Benefits?

    Many of the states now cutting back on unemployment benefits significantly under-funded their coffers prior to the Great Recession.
  8. Financial Advisor

    How Unemployment Affects You (Even If You're Working)

    Rebounding from a stint of unemployment can be a frustrating thing to do. These tips should soften the blow.
  9. Insights

    One in Four Employed Workers Are Looking for a Job

    Job hunting is more productive and lucrative for those who are already employed.
  10. Personal Finance

    Don't Let Unemployment Ruin Your Financial Plans

    Regardless of the reason, you'll want to be prepared if you find yourself unemployed.
  1. What is the difference between frictional unemployment and structural unemployment?

    Learn about structural unemployment and frictional unemployment, the differences between the two and their main characteristics. Read Answer >>
  2. How did the Great Recession affect structural unemployment?

    Structural unemployment is difficult to measure, but there are hints in the data that the spike in unemployment following ... Read Answer >>
  3. What's the difference between cyclical unemployment and seasonal unemployment?

    Learn about the key differences between cyclical and seasonal unemployment. Read about distinguishing features of each of ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is the key difference between the participation rate and the unemployment rate?

    Learn the key differences between the participation rate and unemployment rate, and how they can provide a clearer picture ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Enterprise Value (EV)

    Enterprise Value (EV) is a measure of a company's total value, often used as a more comprehensive alternative to equity market ...
  2. Relative Strength Index - RSI

    Relative Strength Indicator (RSI) is a technical momentum indicator that compares the magnitude of recent gains to recent ...
  3. Dividend

    A dividend is a distribution of a portion of a company's earnings, decided by the board of directors, to a class of its shareholders.
  4. Inventory Turnover

    Inventory turnover is a ratio showing how many times a company has sold and replaces inventory over a period.
  5. Watchlist

    A watchlist is list of securities being monitored for potential trading or investing opportunities.
  6. Hedge Fund

    A hedge fund is an aggressively managed portfolio of investments that uses leveraged, long, short and derivative positions.
Trading Center