People who rely on benefits have a bad image in the media – unfairly so. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if you have to claim benefits; after all, they are what you’re entitled to and you need money to live. It’s actually important that you DO claim benefits if you’re unemployed. We explain why and show you what you might be entitled to.

Why do I need to claim unemployment benefits?

If you’re unemployed, as many people are at the moment, you’ll still have a mortgage/rent to pay, bills coming in and yourself or a family to support. Benefits are there to help you keep everything ticking over while you get yourself back on your feet.

However, claiming benefits are important for other reasons, too. Everyone in the UK pays National Insurance contributions (NICs) to build up their social security benefits, including a State Pension. If you claim benefits, the government keeps paying these for you so you won’t end up in trouble when the time finally comes to retire!

What benefits can I claim?

Unemployment benefits can be complicated, so it’s important that when you sign on at a Jobcentre, you ask about exactly what forms you need to fill in and who you need to speak to…

Jobseekers Allowance

This benefit involves weekly or fortnightly meetings with an advisor at the Job Centre and you have to prove that you are actively seeking employment. This involves filling in a jobseeking diary and letting them know about applications and interviews. Anyone who is unemployed with little or no savings or income could be entitled to this.

Housing benefit

This benefit is not run by the Job Centre like Jobseekers Allowance. It is run by your local council and you may need to attend a separate meeting with them or provide evidence that you are unemployed/on a low income. This is money to help pay your rent. And if you don’t want your landlord to know about your change in circumstances then you don’t have to tell them – the council won’t declare it unless you give them permission.

Council tax and housing benefit

This benefit is usually applied for at the same time as your housing benefit and is paid by your local council. You won’t actually receive any money directly, it will just automatically come off your council tax bill and you could save up to 100% of your total annual bill!

Child benefit

This benefit isn’t only open to unemployed people, it includes a huge range of circumstances for anyone with children under the age of 16 and it can really help if you’re struggling to financially support your family.

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