Jobseeker’s Allowance and Self-Employment

Find out more about social welfare payments and self-employment

Written by spunout


If you are self-employed and meet certain conditions, you may be able to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA).

Can I claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while self-employed?

Jobseeker’s Allowance is a weekly social welfare payment for jobseekers. If you are self-employed, you may be entitled to it depending on your earnings from your business.

You do not need to close your business or stop working as self-employed for you to get JA. You also don’t have to be unemployed for at least 4 out of 7 days, as you do for Jobseeker’s Benefit. You will get Jobseeker’s Allowance if your income is below a certain level.

What is the means test?

Jobseeker’s Allowance is assessed by a means test. A means test calculates your income to see if it falls below a certain level. Your earnings from self-employment is taken into account in the means test if you apply for JA while self-employed.

The assessment must reflect the income you may reasonably be expected to get from your business over the next 12 months. Your income for the last 12 months will be used to estimate this. However, if you are aware of any factors that may cause your future income to be higher or lower than last year, this can be taken into account.

The earnings that will be assessed will be your income minus any work-related expenses over the last 12 months. This figure will then be divided by 52 in order to find your weekly means. 

Applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance

Find out more about applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance and Jobseeker’s Benefit.

To prove the level of income from your business, you must give your receipts and payments (documentation showing money coming in and out of your business) or audited accounts to the person dealing with your application. You may qualify for Supplementary Welfare Allowance while you are waiting to be assessed for a jobseeker’s payment or if you don’t qualify for a jobseeker’s payment.

Find out more about Jobseeker’s Allowance and work.

Find out more about Jobseeker’s Benefit and work.

Need more information?

We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.

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