Benefits and tax credits when you’ve lost your job

If you’ve just lost your job, you might be wondering what out of work benefits you’ll be able to claim. The benefits available depends on how long you were working for, your National Insurance Contributions (NICs), how you left your job and household circumstances. What you’ll be able to claim also depends on how long you were working for.

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What benefits can you claim if you’ve lost your job?

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If you’ve lost your job, the main benefit you can claim is new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

On top of new-style JSA, you might be able to get help with costs like housing and childcare through Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of benefits you would have normally claimed, including Tax Credits and Housing Benefit.

New-style Jobseeker’s Allowance

If you’ve made enough Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in the last two full tax years, you might be able to get new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

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You can get this for up to six months and it will be paid into your bank, building society, or credit union account every two weeks. Your partner’s or spouse’s income will not affect your claim for new-style JSA.

If you need help with things, such as housing costs or bringing up children, you will have to make a separate application for Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is based on household income, so your partner’s or spouse’s income will affect how much you will get.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance is a means-tested benefit for jobseekers who hadn’t paid enough qualifying National Insurance contributions or who are still looking for work when their new style Jobseeker’s Allowance runs out.

It is one of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit. Most people can no longer make a new claim for it and will now have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead.

This includes people who were getting Severe Disability Premium and were previously prevented from claiming Universal Credit.

Tax credits

You can now only make a new claim for tax credits if you’re getting either Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit already.

If you’re not already getting tax credits and need help with the costs of bringing up children or topping up a low income, youll be asked to apply for Universal Credit.

If you’re already getting tax credits and lose your job, this is a change of circumstances and might mean you have to make a new claim for Universal Credit.

You must tell the Tax Credit Office within 30 days. You can call the Tax Credits Helpline on 0345 300 3900.

Find out more about Claiming tax credits.

Benefits to help with housing costs

Help with your rent

Depending on your income and savings, you might get some help with your rent from the housing costs element of Universal Credit if you’re making a new claim for support.

Most people can no longer make a new claim for Housing Benefit. If you’re already getting Housing Benefit and lose your job, this may count as a change of circumstances and you’ll have to claim Universal Credit instead.

If you qualify for Universal Credit, your Housing Benefit will be paid for a further two weeks after you send in your Universal Credit claim before it stops.

Help with Council Tax

You might also be able to get help with Council Tax.

Help with mortgage interest payments

If you’re a homeowner, you might qualify for help with your mortgage interest payments.

Benefits to help with other costs

There are other specialist benefits available, so whatever your circumstances, make sure you’re getting the right entitlements.
Use the Turn2Us benefit calculator to find out what benefits you could get.

Welfare and educational grants

If you’re on a low income, there might be some support available through welfare and educational grants from charities.

You can search for grants on Turn2us.

Statutory redundancy pay

If you’ve been made redundant, you’ll normally be entitled to statutory redundancy pay if you’re an employee, have made enough National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and you’ve been working for your current employer for at least 2 years.

You should also check your employment contract to see if you’re entitled to contractual redundancy pay as well.

Find out more in our guide to redundancy pay.

Are you entitled to benefits if you’ve been sacked or you resigned?

If you’ve been dismissed from your job because of misconduct, or you left without good reason, there might be a delay before you can start getting Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit.

This is because your Jobcentre Plus work coach is allowed to apply a sanction to your benefit – in other words, stop it being paid for a certain number of weeks. It’s up to your work coach how long the sanction lasts.

If your circumstances change

Remember to tell Jobcentre Plus or Jobs and Benefits Office if you go back to work or if your circumstances change.

The same goes for HM Revenue & Customs – you could be fined £300 if you don’t tell the Tax Credits Office your circumstances have changed.

You might still be entitled to some help when you go back to work and your income is low.

For example, if you were getting Jobseeker’s Allowance you might carry on getting Housing Benefit or Working Tax Credit.

If you are getting Universal Credit, your payments might gradually reduce until your income rises to the point where you’re no longer eligible to get it.

Tell the Tax Credits Officeopens in new window (0345 300 3900) when your circumstances have changed.

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