Unfortunately, people who claim unemployment benefits come in for a lot of bad press. They’re often labelled as lazy scroungers when in fact this is not necessarily the case at all. Competition for jobs these days is very strong and it’s not uncommon for keen, well-qualified graduates to leave university only to find they cannot find work straightaway.
You can claim unemployment benefits if you are aged over 18, a UK resident and a UK national.
The benefits system is there to help until you find your way into a career and can begin to earn a wage. In fact, it’s very important that you do claim the benefits you’re entitled to.
Why should you claim unemployment benefits?
Once you have finished university, your grant will no longer be there to help you pay your rent and keep up with the bills. Benefits are there to enable you to keep things going until you find yourself a job.
In addition to this, while you are claiming unemployment benefits, the Government will continue to pay your National Insurance Contributions for you which will go towards your State Pension in the years ahead when you retire.
What unemployment benefits can you claim?
Despite the Government’s recent attempts to simplify things, unemployment benefits can be rather complex and it’s not always easy to understand just what you can claim for.
The first thing to do is to ‘sign on’ at your local Job Centre. This is your declaration that you are currently unemployed and seeking work.
You can begin your claim for JSA (Jobseekers’ Allowance) by completing a simple online form. Your nearest Job Centre will then text you with details of a meeting that you must attend in order to begin receiving payments. At this meeting you will need to produce two forms of proof of identity; a passport and driving licence or utility bill are usually sufficient.
You will then have to attend fortnightly meetings with a Jobcentre advisor and will have to show them evidence that you are trying to find a job. Usually, this means telling the advisor about any interviews you have attended or applications you have submitted.
All those who are unemployed and looking for work and who have little or no savings or income are entitled to claim this unemployment benefit.
Housing benefit is operated by your local council and is money intended to help you pay your rent or mortgage. If you would prefer that your landlord doesn’t know that you’re claiming benefits, you can request that the council keeps the information confidential.
Council tax and housing benefit
Council tax benefit is not paid to you directly but it is deducted from your council tax bill. This is well-worth claiming as you could save up to 100% of your bill!
If you have children to support and you’re unemployed, you could be entitled to child benefit if your children are aged under 16. This can be very helpful if you are the sole parent and provider.
In these times of universally high unemployment, there is no stigma attached to claiming unemployment benefits in the UK. For further advice on what benefits you are entitled to and how to go about making a claim, contact Job Centre Plus or ask at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.