What Is The Difference Between JSA And Universal Credit?

This blog post will differentiate between JSA and Universal Credit by providing its readers with a detailed comparison between the two welfare payments, their application process and the amounts that claimants will get.

What Is The Difference Between JSA And Universal Credit?

The primary difference between Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit (UC) is that JSA is a welfare benefit that is based on need, whereas UC is a means-tested benefit.

To qualify for JSA, claimants must be unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours per week. Once a claimant starts working for more than 16 hours per week, they will no longer be eligible for JSA. On the other hand, your Universal Credit payments are not affected by the number of hours you work.

There are two types of JSA: 

  • contribution-based JSA 
  • income-based JSA 

Contribution-based JSA is available to claimants who have paid enough National Insurance contributions; while income-based JSA is available to claimants who have a low income. There is a basic rate for Universal Credit payments as claims are based on the income of the claimant. However, additional elements can be added for individuals who need help with housing or childcare costs.

That said, you may not be able to claim income-based JSA anymore as this is one of the six legacy benefits being replaced with Universal Credit. This means that if you need to apply for state support for being on a low income, you can qualify for Universal Credit. 

UC is a means-tested benefit that is available to claimants who are aged 18 or over, who are employed or self-employed, and who have a low income. UC is paid monthly and can be used to cover the costs of housing, food, and other essentials. It can be claimed as long as the recipient is on a low income. 

JSA is paid through weekly payments and is generally reviewed after 6 months of payments; after which claimants are encouraged to start looking for work. JSA payments can be stopped if the claimant or their partner work for more than the eligible number of hours or their savings increase to more than £16,000. 

What Is The Difference In Payments For JSA And Universal Credit?

The difference in payments for JSA and Universal Credit depends on the claimant’s circumstances.

If you qualify for JSA, you will be able to claim according to the following classification:

  • Claimants who are between 18-24 years of age receive £61.05 each week 
  • Claimants who are older than 25 years of age receive £77.00 each week

On the other hand, Universal Credit payments can be classified based on claimants’ circumstances as follow:

  • Claimants can get £265.31 per month if they are single and under 25 years
  • Claimants can get £334.91 per month if they are single and older than 25 years
  • Claimants can get £416.45 per month if they are part of a couple and both partners are younger than 25 years 
  • Claimants can get £525.72 per month if they are a couple and are older than 25 years

Who Can Claim JSA?

Anyone who fulfils the below eligibility criteria from JSA can claim the benefit from the DWP:

  • living in England, Scotland or Wales
  • aged 18 years or above and under the state pension age
  • have employment rights in the UK
  • available for and looking for work
  • currently unemployed or working for less than 16 hours per week
  • previously held a job
  • previously paid National Insurance (in the recent 2 to 3 years)
  • currently not in full-time education
  • not having an illness or disability that prevents being employed

How Do You Claim JSA?

You can claim Jobseeker’s Allowance online through the UK Government’s website. If you need help with the application process you can call the Jobcentre Plus office at 0800 055 6688 during weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm to seek advice and guidance. 

Once your application is processed, you can expect to be contacted by a Jobcentre Plus office within 2 days. They will ask you to come to their office for an interview. Once your interview is complete, you will be asked to sign an agreement stating that you will be actively looking for work while you receive JSA. 

Who Can Claim Universal Credit?

An individual who seeks to apply for Universal Credit should qualify on the below-listed terms:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for childcare
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

Claimants who have savings below £6,000, can qualify for the full amount of Universal Credit. If your savings are between £6,000 and £16,000, you will be eligible for a reduced amount of UC payments. However, with savings above £16,000, you will no longer be eligible for a UC claim.

How Do You Claim Universal Credit?

You can file a Universal Credit claim online. If this is your first time applying for UC, you will need to first create an online account before you can apply for benefits payments. 

If you have a partner, both of you will have to file a joint claim. You will need to provide details of your personal and financial information (as well as that of your partner) when you apply online. Claimants will also need to provide details of their health condition(s) and disabilities (if any).

Once your claim is processed and approved, it will take 5 weeks for your first UC payment to arrive through a bank, credit union or building society account.

If you have any questions regarding the claim process, you can call the Universal Credit helpline at 0800 328 5644.


The above discussion has indicated the main difference between JSA and Universal Credit. While JSA is based on the need of a claimant, Universal Credit is based on their income level. Among other factors, another key difference is that JSA allows claimants to work for a certain number of hours while UC has no such restrictions. However, with Universal Credit replacing income-based JSA, many JSA claimants will find themselves transferred to UC.


What is the Difference between JSA and Universal Credit? A Young Person’s Guide

Can I get Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)? – Turn2us

What Universal Credit is – GOV.UK