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.

Need someone to talk to about your finances?

If you’re struggling with money, you can talk to someone today, online, by phone or face to face. We have specially trained advisers who can help you start sorting out your financial problems.

Find free, confidential advice now using our free debt advice locator tool.

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

If you’ve lost your job, the main benefit you can claim is still Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). But the kind of JSA depends on your National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and household circumstances.

On top of 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).

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.

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 income will affect how much you will get. Your partner’s income will not affect your claim for new-style JSA.

Find out more about claiming Universal Credit here.

Contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance

If either you or your partner is above Pension Credit age and have made enough Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs), you might be able to claim contributory Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA).

If you meet these conditions, you will not yet be asked to make a new claim for Universal Credit. This means you will still be able to make a new claim or continue to claim other benefits like Tax Credits or Housing Benefit.

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is one of the benefits being replaced by Universal Credit and most people will have to make a claim for Universal Credit instead.

Whether you can claim will depend on your household income as it is a means tested benefit.

You might still be able to claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) if:

  • you have three or more children, and/or
  • either you or your partner is above Pension Credit age and
  • you have NOT made enough Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) to claim contributory JSA.

If you meet these conditions, you will not yet be asked to make a new claim for Universal Credit. This means you will still be able to make a new claim or continue to claim other benefits like Tax Credits.

Savings above £6,000 and your partner’s income will affect the amount of Universal Credit you could get.

Tax credits

Most people will not be able to make a new claim for Working Tax Credits (WTC) or Child Tax Credits (CTC) and will 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 will 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.

You might still be able to claim Tax Credits if either you or your partner is of Pension Credit age.

Find out more about Claiming tax credits.

Benefits to help with housing costs

Help with your rent

Depending on your income and savings, you could get some help with your rent from Housing Benefit or the housing costs element of Universal Credit.

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?

If you’ve been dismissed from your job because of misconduct, or you left it without a 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.

Did you find this guide helpful?