Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)

6. Your JSA claim

After you claim JSA, a work coach will help you make a plan to find a job.

This will help you:

  • keep a record of what happened
  • prove to your work coach that you’ve been looking for work

Your work coach may tell you to take part in an employment programme, like the Work Programme.

Reporting to a Jobcentre Plus office

You must go to a Jobcentre Plus office every 2 weeks (or when asked) to show how you’ve been looking for a job. This is known as ‘signing on’.

You must show your work coach what you’ve been doing to look for work, for example proof of job applications and interviews.

If you’re a victim of domestic abuse you might be able to get a break of up to 13 weeks from job seeking - speak to your work coach if you need this support.

If your circumstances change

You must tell Jobcentre Plus if your circumstances change, for example you start working or your income changes. This might affect how much you get.

Volunteering won’t normally affect your JSA but you should report it before you start.

If you’re claiming ‘new style JSA

If you have a Universal Credit online account, you can report a change in your circumstances online.

Otherwise you’ll need to contact the Service Centre. Which number you call depends on where you live.

If you’re in a ‘live service area’ for Universal Credit
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

If you’re in a ‘full service area’
Telephone: 0345 600 4272
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

You’re in a full service area if it has an asterisk (*) on the list of Jobcentre areas. If your area doesn’t have an asterisk, it’s a live service area.

You might be committing benefit fraud if you choose not to report a change.

When payment can be stopped

Your JSA payments will be stopped for a period if you don’t do something your work coach or the Work Programme asks you to do. This is called being ‘sanctioned’. For example, if you:

  • don’t accept or keep to your agreement to look for work
  • don’t go to a Jobcentre Plus office when asked
  • turn down a job or training course
  • don’t apply for any jobs you’re told about
  • don’t take part in any interviews you’re invited to
  • don’t go to any training booked for you or take part in employment schemes
  • leave your last job or training without good reason or because of your behaviour

Contact Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible if any of these apply to you. You may be able to keep your payment if you have good reason.

You’ll be told how long your payment will be stopped for. It could be between 4 weeks and 156 weeks (about 3 years).

Find out more about how long your JSA payment could be stopped for.

If your JSA payment is stopped

If your payment is stopped, you should keep looking for work. Your benefit payment could be stopped for longer if you don’t.

You can ask Jobcentre Plus to reconsider the decision to stop payment. If they do not change their decision, you can appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.

You should continue with any JSA claim until the dispute is settled.

If you claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction

You should contact your local council immediately. They’ll tell you what to do to continue getting support.

If your claim is ended

Your JSA claim may be ended if you aren’t available for or actively seeking work. You can apply again straight away, but your payments will be stopped for a period of either:

  • 4 weeks if it’s the first time your claim has been ended
  • 13 weeks if a previous claim has been ended within the past year

Hardship payments

You may be able to get a hardship payment if your JSA payments have been stopped. You don’t have to pay it back.

A hardship payment is a reduced amount (usually 60%) of your JSA.


You can get a hardship payment if you can’t pay for rent, heating, food or other basic needs for you or your child.

You must be 18 or over.

You’ll have to show that you’ve tried to find the money from somewhere else, such as borrowing from a friend or working extra hours.

How to claim

Speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser or work coach to find out how to claim a hardship payment.

Jobcentre Plus
Telephone: 0345 608 8545
Textphone: 0345 608 8551
Welsh language: 0345 600 3018
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

If you find a job

Contact Jobcentre Plus to end your JSA claim if you find a job.