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Applying for a JSA hardship payment

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You might be able to get a hardship payment from the Department for Communities (DfC) if you're not getting your JSA payments and you're struggling to pay your essential living costs.

You don't usually have to pay a hardship payment back and you'll get it until your JSA starts again.

Check if you can get a hardship payment

You can get a hardship payment if your JSA has stopped or not started because:

  • you’ve been sanctioned
  • the Jobs and Benefit Office (JBO) is checking you’re doing enough to find work
  • you’ve just applied for JSA but the claim is delayed while the JBO checks you’re able and willing to look for work
  • the Department for Communities thinks you've been overpaid

You’ll also need to prove that you or your partner will have problems paying for essential living costs. For example if:

  • you won’t be able to buy enough food or clothing
  • you can’t pay for the heating you need
  • your electricity might be disconnected
  • you won’t be able to pay rent

Check how much you’ll get

Your hardship payment will be less than your normal JSA payment - exactly how much you get depends on your circumstances.

Your circumstances Minimum payment
Single and over 25 £43.86
Single and under 25 £34.74
In a couple on a joint claim £85.60
In a couple on a single claim (if you’re both over 18) £43.86
In a couple on a single claim (one under 18) £34.74

If you’re pregnant or seriously ill, your minimum amount will be higher - you’ll find out exactly how much you’ll get when you apply.

If you get a carer's, disability or pensioner premium, you’ll still get this on top of the minimum amount for your circumstances.

Applying for a hardship payment

You have to apply on a JSA10 form - you can get one from your local JBO.

You can apply straight away, although the JBO might ask you to wait a few days before you get your payment - you can usually only get a hardship payment 15 days after your JSA payment was stopped.

You’ll be able to get your hardship payment straight away if you’re considered ‘vulnerable’ by the JBO. This means you or your partner:

  • are responsible for a child or young person
  • are pregnant, disabled or a carer
  • are homeless
  • have a chronic medical condition
  • are under 18
  • are under 21 and have left care within the last 3 years

You’ll have to show proof - for example a letter from a doctor or a benefit letter.

Evidence you’ll need

When you apply, you'll have to show proof of hardship. This is your chance to explain what costs you're struggling to pay and how your essential needs aren't being met.

You should also explain that you've done all you can to find money from elsewhere - for example, from savings. The DfC can't expect you to borrow money, find cheaper housing, sell your belongings or ask friends or family for help, though they will look at what support you can get from other people who live with you but aren't part of your family.

With your statement, include copies of evidence. For example:

  • bank statements showing your balance
  • a budget sheet showing your income and costs
  • utility bills showing arrears or threats of disconnection
  • a letter from a food bank
  • letters from your landlord or mortgage provider showing arrears or demands
  • prescriptions, appointment confirmations or a doctor’s note

Send your statement by Royal Mail Signed For and keep the receipt - send it to your local JBO.

You'll be asked to go to an interview with a hardship officer in your local JBO. The interview will be within 24 hours of you asking for a hardship payment. Take a copy of your claim form with you to the interview.

Check what other money you could get

Check if you can get help with food and furniture.

You might also be able to get local support by contacting your nearest Citizens Advice.

If you get Housing Benefit, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to make sure they don't stop your payments. Tell them your JSA has only stopped temporarily, to make sure you keep getting your Housing Benefit payments.

If you own your house and get Housing Benefit for Rates or Rate Relief, contact Land and Property Services to make sure you keep getting your rates payments.

If your circumstances change

Tell your local JBO about anything that could affect your hardship payment. For example, if you get given some money or your living costs go down.

Get help with debt

If you’re worried about getting into debt or paying debts while your JSA has stopped, you can get help online or contact your nearest Citizens Advice

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