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If your JSA has stopped or been reduced

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Call your local Jobs and Benefits Office (JBO) and ask why your JSA has been stopped or reduced.

Make a note of the date and time you call. Also write down the name of the person at the JBO you spoke to.

The Department for Communities (DfC) should have written to tell you your JSA is being stopped or reduced, but it’s still worth calling. You can find out more about why it’s been stopped and ask any questions. You should also ask them to send you a letter about their decision if you haven't had one.

If the JBO says you’ve been sanctioned

Your JSA might have stopped or been reduced because the DfC thinks you didn’t do something you were meant to. This is called a ‘sanction’.

If the JBO says you’ve been sanctioned, ask them:

  • why you’ve been sanctioned
  • when the sanction started
  • how long the sanction will last

For example, when you call you might find out you’ve been sanctioned for 2 weeks for missing a job interview.

If you’ve been sanctioned, you might be able to get some money to pay for essentials like heating. This is called a ‘hardship payment’. When you call, ask the JBO if you can apply for one.

You might be told you can’t apply when you can. Check if you can get a hardship payment.

Even though you’ve been sanctioned, you should keep to your jobseeker's agreement. For example, keep applying for jobs or going on a training programme.

If you can’t, check if you can change your jobseeker's agreement.

If the JBO thinks you’re not looking for work

Your JSA might have stopped because your personal adviser thinks you’re not doing enough to look for work.

If the JBO says they’re checking you’re doing enough, ask them:

  • why they think you’re not available for work or looking for work
  • what evidence you can give them to prove you’re available and looking
  • how and when you should give them the evidence you have
  • the date your JSA stopped

While your JSA has stopped, you might be able to get some money to pay for essentials like heating. This is called a ‘hardship payment’. When you call, ask the JBO if you can apply for a hardship payment.

You might be told you can’t apply when you can. Check if you can get a hardship payment.

Challenging the decision

If you disagree with the DfC’s reasons for stopping or reducing your JSA, you can ask them to change the decision. 

Even if your JSA was stopped because you didn’t do something, you should challenge the decision if you had good reason for not doing it. For example, if you missed a JBO appointment because you were too sick to go.

You’ll need to ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ to challenge a JSA decision.

Getting help while your JSA has stopped

You could get help with things like food or items you need for your home - for example a bed or cooker. Check what help you could get in your area.

If you're on a low income, you might be able to get benefits like:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Rate Rebate
  • child tax credits

Use the Turn2Us benefits calculator to check what benefits you could get.

If you're getting Housing Benefit

If you're challenging the decision to stop your JSA, tell your local Housing Benefit office. They can make sure your Housing Benefit doesn't stop because you're not getting JSA.

Get help with debt

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

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