Jobseeker's Allowance

British social security benefit

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) is a Social Security benefit in the United Kingdom for people who are unemployed.

Unemployment Benefit was started in 1911 by the National Insurance Act 1911 for people who had paid National Insurance contributions. This was the first legal insurance scheme against unemployment in the world. At first it was only for people in a few industries like engineering and ship building. From 1920 it covered more workers. From 1947 it covered everyone.[1] In 1996 it was changed to Jobseeker's Allowance.

To make a claim people must show that they are actively seeking work by filling in a Jobseeker's Agreement form and attending a New Jobseeker interview. They must also go to a Jobcentre Plus every two weeks to "sign on", that is, to say that they are still actively seeking work.

Payment can be stopped (sanctioned) if the person is thought not to be doing their best to find a job.[2] The system of sanctions makes little difference to job finding efforts, but is very damaging especially to disabled people and people bringing up children on their own. [3]

Payment is £61.05 a week for people under 25 and £77 a week for people over 25. It stops after 182 days.

When it started there was a means tested Jobseeker's Allowance but it was stopped in 2022. Now people can claim Universal Credit if they do not qualify or if the benefit is not enough for them to live on.[4]


  1. Ogus, A; Barendt, E M (1988). The Law of Social Security (3 ed.). London: Butterworths. p. 65. ISBN 0406063370.
  2. "Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions: how to keep your benefit payment". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  3. "Benefit sanctions found to be ineffective and damaging". the Guardian. 2018-05-21. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  4. "Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2023-01-29.