Applying for a JSA hardship payment

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

You might be able to get a hardship payment from the Jobcentre if you're not getting your JSA payments.

You don’t usually have to pay a hardship payment back and you’ll get it every 2 weeks until your JSA starts again.

Before you start

How you apply for a hardship payment depends on the type of JSA you’re getting. There are 3 types of JSA:

  • income-based JSA

  • contribution-based JSA

  • new style JSA

New style JSA is part of the Universal Credit system. 

The way new style JSA works is different to contribution-based JSA - the rules are similar to the Universal Credit rules.

If you’re claiming new style JSA you’ll need to apply for a Universal Credit hardship payment.

If you aren’t sure which type of JSA you’re getting, check your benefit letter or contact your local Jobcentre to find out.

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 Jobcentre is checking you’re doing enough to find work

  • you’ve just applied for JSA but the claim is delayed while the Jobcentre checks you’re able and willing to look for work

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

  • you can’t afford the medication you need

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
Your circumstances

Single and over 25

Minimum payment


Your circumstances

Single and under 25

Minimum payment


Your circumstances

In a couple on a joint claim

Minimum payment


Your circumstances

In a couple on a single claim (if you’re both over 18)

Minimum payment


Your circumstances

In a couple on a single claim (one under 18)

Minimum payment


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

Contact your local Jobcentre to ask how to apply for a hardship payment. They might do an application for you over the phone, send you a form to fill in or ask you to complete the application at the Jobcentre.

You can apply straight away, although the Jobcentre 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 Jobcentre. This means you or your partner:

  • is responsible for a child or young person

  • is pregnant, disabled or a carer

  • is homeless

  • is under 18

  • is under 21 and has recently been looked after by the local authority

  • has a chronic medical condition

  • has a long-term mental impairment - this includes mental health conditions (such as depression), cognitive impairments (such as dementia) and learning disabilities (such as downs syndrome)

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 be asked to fill in and sign a ‘statement of hardship’. This is your chance to explain what costs you’re struggling to pay and how your essential needs aren’t being met. Doing a budget sheet could help you with this.

You should also explain that you’ve done all you can to find money from elsewhere - for example, from savings. The DWP can’t expect you to borrow money, find cheaper housing, sell your belongings or ask friends or family for help.

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. The address to send it to should be on the statement - if it isn’t, ask the Jobcentre what address to use.

Check what other money you could get

There are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.

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

If you get Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, contact your council 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 and Council Tax Reduction payments.

Cost of Living Payments

The government sent the last Cost of Living Payment of £299 during spring 2024. They haven’t announced any more payments. 

You should have got the Cost of Living payment of £299 between 6 and 22 February 2024. To get the payment you must have been entitled to an income-based JSA payment between 13 November and 12 December 2023.

If you didn’t get the last payment

If you think you should have received a Cost of Living Payment, you can report a missing payment on GOV.UK.

If your circumstances change

Tell your local Jobcentre 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

Next steps

Check what to do if your JSA has stopped.

If your application for a hardship payment is refused you can challenge the DWP’s decision.

Page last reviewed on 01 August 2022