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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 depend on how long you were working for, your National Insurance contributions, how you left your job, and your household circumstances.

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

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

You might also be able to get help with costs such as 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 in the past two full tax years, you might be able to get new style Jobseeker’s Allowance.

You can get this for up to six months. It will be paid into your bank, building society or credit union account every two weeks. Your partner’s or spouse’s income won’t affect your claim.

Find out more about making a claim for new style Jobseeker’s Allowance at GOV.UK Opens in a new window

If you need help with things, such as housing costs or bringing up children, you’ll 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’ll get.

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, you’ll 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

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.

Find out more about Housing Benefit at GOV.UKOpens in a new window

Help with Council Tax

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

Apply for Council Tax Reduction at GOV.UKOpens in a new window

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.

To find out what benefits you could get, use the Benefits Calculator at Turn2usOpens in a new window 

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 the Turn2usOpens in a new window

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, and
  • you’ve been working for your current employer for at least two years.

Also, check your employment contract to see if you’re entitled to contractual redundancy pay as well.

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. This means, they can 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 if you go back to work or if your circumstances change.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you need to tell your Jobs & Benefits office.

You also need to notify HMRC. You might be fined up to £300 if you don’t tell the HMRC Tax Credits Office that 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’re getting Universal Credit, your payments might gradually reduce until your income rises to the point where you no longer qualify for it.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free, impartial help for all your money and pension choices. Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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