How can the Jobcentre help with Benefits Entitlement?

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Despite the name, the Jobcentre Plus offices offer a much broader range of services than simply being the place to go to sign on and look for work. It is a one-stop shop for all of the state support available to people who are out of work and claiming benefits.

If you want to find your local Job Centre Office then we have them all on UK Jobs Guide in our Job Centre Online site section.

Jobcentre Plus advisers are experts at helping you find work, but also offer expertise on the benefits system and can give guidance on what you are and aren’t entitled to, as well as helping you through the process of making a claim.

They will mainly offer advice on benefits for unemployed people, although some of the benefits they can assist with are available for both employed and unemployed people alike. The principal benefits Jobcentre Plus advisers can assist you with are:


  • Jobseekers Allowance

Jobseekers allowance is the main state benefit paid by the Government to people who are not currently in work and is therefore the most common benefit claimed through Jobcentre Plus. It is available to anyone who is 18 or above and currently unemployed, but who capable of working and are actively seeking employment and well as some people in limited part-time or voluntary roles, or in training.

In order to claim Jobseekers Allowance, you must attend regular meetings with Jobcentre Plus advisors to prove you are seeking work, and be willing to sign a Jobseekers Agreement which commits you to taking certain steps to find employment.

You must also be available to start a job as soon as one is offered to you. In some circumstances, particularly if you have been claiming Jobseekers Allowance for a long period of time, your Jobcentre Plus adviser can require you to participate in certain employment or training schemes as a condition of receiving your Jobseekers Allowance benefit.

How much is it worth?

Currently Jobseekers Allowance will pay you £72.40 a week if you are over 25, but only £57.35 if you are 24 or under. This money will be paid directly into your bank, building society, or post office account by Direct Debit, usually on the Thursday of each week.

How do I claim?

To claim Jobseekers Allowance, you must contact your local Jobcentre Plus to arrange an interview with an adviser. Details on how to find your local jobcentre are at the bottom of this article.

For more information about Jobseekers Allowance, take a look at our comprehensive guide on How to Claim Jobseekers Allowance.


Income Support

If you are not applying for Jobseekers Allowance, you may be entitled to claim for Income Support. To be eligible, you will need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • you and your partner have no income or a low income
  • you’re working less than 16 hours a week
  • you haven’t signed on as unemployed
  • you are between 16 and pension credit qualifying age
  • pregnant, or a carer, or a lone parent with a child under 5 or, in some cases, unable to work because you’re sick or disabled
  • you have savings of less than £16,000

You can claim income support without a permanent address and also if you are doing some voluntary work

What will I get?

Depending on your level of income you will be entitled to a basic payment, sometimes also called a personal allowance, and some extra payments, also known as premiums. Depending on whether you are single, a couple, or a loan parent, you can get anything from £57.35 a week to £113.70 a week.

How do I apply?

The quickest way to apply for Income Support is by speaking to the Jobcentre Plus team on the phone. Contact numbers are below. You can also make an appointment to see an adviser if you want to discuss your individual circumstances in more detail.

To learn more about Income Support, visit the official website for more information. 

  • Employment and Support Allowance 

Employment and Support Allowance is the government funded benefit for people who are too unwell to be able to work, or whose ability to work is limited by disability or illness. Whilst the majority of claimants are not in any employment, you can make a claim if you are in some types of full or part-time employment too.

To be eligible to claim, you must fulfil a number of key criteria:

  • have a limited capability for work
  • be 16 years old or above
  • be under the age when you can claim as state pension
  • satisfy residence and presence tests
  • be unemployed or in certain types of full or part time employment.

To assess the extent of your capability to work, you will have to undergo a Work Capability Assessment. This is the core part of a 13 week assessment phase during which you will be paid a lower amount of Employment and Support Benefit. (At the time of writing a backlog means this period is currently running longer than 13 weeks for many claimants.)

The Work Capability Assessment is designed to test you capacity to work and to engage in work-related activity. It involves interviews and tests to check your mental and physical capacity as well as looking at your medical history. The outcome of the test will decide your level of income

If you fail your assessment, you will not be entitled to claim Employment and Support Benefit, but there is also an opportunity to appeal, and to date a significant number of appeals have been successful.

Work Capability Assessments have received a great deal of bad publicity since being introduced, but the company that delivers them, Atos, has recently quit and been replaced by a new provider, Maximus UK. It is therefore hoped that the service will soon be improved.

How much will I be entitled to?

Depending on your age and the outcome of your Work Capability Assessment, you will receive between £57.35 and £108.15 a week. There are two types of Employment and Support Allowance, Contributions-based which is dependent on your National Insurance Contributions, and Income-based, which depends on your personal circumstances and is only used if you are not eligible for the Contributions-based benefit. Your Jobcentre Plus adviser will be also to let you know which you are likely to be entitled to.

How do I apply?

Again you will need to contact your local Jobcentre Plus, details of which are at the bottom of this page. Ahead of your first appointment, you will also need to have secured a medical certificate from your doctor declaring your inability to work.

For more information about Employment Support Allowance, visit the official Government information page.


  • Personal Independence Payments

Employment and Support Allowance is not to be confused with Personal Independence Payments are the government benefit for those who are disabled sick to an extent that impacts on their everyday lives. They have replaced the Disability Living Allowance for adults (although this benefit is still available for children under 16).

Personal Independence Payments are not administered through Jobcentre Plus, but directly through the Department of Work and Pensions. To be eligible to claim, you will also have to undergo an assessment. Depending on the outcome of your Work Capability Assessment, you will be entitled to between £21.55 and £138.05 a week. 

To learn more, including how to apply for a Personal Independence Payment visit the official Government Personal Independence Payment website


  • Housing Benefit

Housing Benefit is the government funded benefit which helps people on low-income to pay their rent. It can cover part or all of your rent, depending on your circumstances and level of income, and is also available whether you are employed or unemployed. You cannot get Housing Benefit to help with the costs of a mortgage, utility bills, or any other housing related expenses.

To be eligible for housing benefit you must be able to demonstrate that you are on a low-income and have capital (i.e. savings and other property etc.) below a certain level. If you or your partner has capital above £16,000 in value, you will not be entitled to Housing Benefit.

You must also either be responsible for paying the rent, or the partner of the person responsible for paying the rent. Only one person per household is entitled to claim Housing Benefit.

How much will I get?

There is no set amount of housing benefit. The amount you are awarded will depend on the cost of your rent, and whether you rent privately or from the local council. There are also different levels paid to people who live in hostels, boarding homes, caravan sites, or house-boats. Your Jobcentre Plus adviser will be able to give you more information, including estimated amounts depending on your personal circumstances.

How do I claim?

You should speak with your local Jobcentre Plus advisor about making a claim for Housing Benefit alongside your application for Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, or Jobseekers Allowance. Contact details for your local Jobcentre Plus are at the bottom of this page.

For more information about Housing Benefit, including some estimates of what people are entitled to, visit the Housing Benefit page of the Government website.


  • Bereavement Allowance

If you are a widow, widower, or surviving civil partner aged between 45 and the state pension age, you might be entitled to claim Bereavement Allowance. This benefit was formerly known as Widow’s Pension, and is available for 52 weeks from the date that your husband, wife, or partner has died.

The amount you will be entitled to will depend on the age of your partner when they died (more is paid the older they were) and their level of National Insurance Contributions but range from £33.36 a week for a 45 year old, to £111.20 for people who were over 55. If you are already claiming other benefits, the benefit cap may restrict this amount. Claims can only be backdated for 3 months.

If you are still raising Children, you are entitled to the separate Widowed Parent Allowance, and you will lose your eligibility if you enter into another marriage or civil partnership during that first year.

How do I claim?

You can download a Bereavement Benefit Pack  or order one from your local Jobcentre Plus. You must then return it to the Jobcentre Plus or post it to the following address:


Dover Benefit Centre

Post Handling Site B


WV99 1LA    

To learn more about Bereavement Allowance or Widowed Parent Benefit, visit the website.


  • What about Universal Credit

Many of the benefits are currently being subsumed in the governments new Universal Credit scheme which is intended streamline the benefits system and make it simpler for claimants to get what they are entitled to.

Your local Jobcentre Plus will be able to advise you as to when the Universal Credit is being rolled out in your area, and how it will affect you. At present, the pilot schemes are taking place in:

  • Bath
  • Hammersmith, London
  • Harrogate
  • Inverness
  • North-West England
  • Shotton, Wales
  • Sutton

For more details on how Universal Credit works check out the official Universal Credit website.    

How to contact Jobcentre Plus

If you need to contact Jobcentre Plus for help in claiming any of the above benefits, you can just drop in and speak to someone. But for an in-depth conversation with an advisor, you are best to contact them in advance and make an appointment with your local branch. They will offer you honest advice and guidance as to what you are entitled to claim and will help you through the claims process. Where appropriate they can also recommend external advice and support services to help you with your particular circumstances.

You can find your local Jobcentre Plus by using our Job Centre Online section or simply call one of the following numbers on Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm:

Telephone: 0845 606 0234

Telephone (Welsh): 0845 606 7890

Textphone: 0845 605 5255

More Reading and Help

  • For more information about Jobcentre Plus, including where your local office is, and how to contact it directly, go to the Government website.
  • Check out this list of Government approved Benefits Calculators to work out what you are entitled to. 


Information correct as Feb 2015

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