What is the Difference between JSA and Universal Credit? A Young Person’s Guide

Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit are both benefits you can apply for as a young person, but Universal Credit is not based on any National Insurance contributions you may have have. Find out more.

What is JSA? Am I eligible?

Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) is a contribution-based benefit for people who are looking for work. Contribution-based means that it is based on the National Insurance (NI) you’ve paid in the two tax years before the year you’re claiming in.

Sounds complicated? Don’t stress! There’s a table here which you can use to see if you’re likely to be eligible. Generally, the NI contribution requirement means that young people looking for their first job, or those straight out of University, are not likely to be eligible.

What is Universal Credit?

If you don’t qualify for JSA, you can apply for Universal Credit. This is a monthly payment to help with your living costs and has replaced JSA in a lot of circumstances. Generally, to qualify for Universal Credit, you must: be 18+ (there are occasional exceptions); be on a low income or out of work; have less than £16,000 of savings between you and your partner.

You apply for Universal Credit online. In normal circumstances, you would then need to go for an interview at your local Jobcentre Plus.

Coronavirus information

JSA and Universal Credit interviews have all been cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Check for yourself when you read this to make sure you have up to date information.

Even if interviews are not going ahead, you might still need to speak to someone from the DWP on the phone.

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For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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