Claiming Benefits While Unemployed

If you are unemployed, you should claim benefits to help pay your bills and other essential expenses. This article answers some common questions relating to claiming benefits while unemployed.


What benefits are available to me?


It will depend on your circumstances, whether you are able to work and what the lasting effects will be if anything. There are benefits like Employment Support Allowance. This is available for people who cannot work due to ill health. There are also Personal Independence Payments for people struggling with long term disabilities. It will depend though on your personal circumstances. Contact your local council and ask they give you details of the Local welfare rights service. They should be able to help you.


Can I claim Universal Credit?


If you are not currently enrolled on a higher education course and you are available for work you will be able to claim unemployment benefit if you meet all the eligibility criteria. You would either claim Jobseekers Allowance and Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. This will depend on whether your local Job Centre is accepting Universal Credit claims yet. In view of your living arrangements, you might find it difficult to claim Housing Benefit as part of Universal Credit. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will want to see that you are renting on a commercial basis to award benefit.


Is it a criminal offence to claim benefits after quitting my job?


It is not a criminal offence to give up your job and to claim benefits, such as Housing Benefit. Please seek further free advice if you want guidance regarding your likely benefit entitlement. I would suggest you also check with the DWP if you intend to claim any unemployment benefits as your entitlement may depend upon your reasons for leaving employment.


Can creditors take my ESA back payment?


They may well do so. This could be done in a number of ways. Where your account is in overdraft, or you owe the same bank money. They could withdraw the overdraft account when your money is paid in, or they could try setting one account off against another.

Alternatively, they could try and get a third party debt order to seize the funds in your account. Where they do you could apply for a hardship payment order, to have some of the funds released.

Where you owe money to a bank or have an overdraft, you could open a new bank account and have the money paid into that, although that won’t protect you from a third party debt order.

The best way to deal with this danger is to get advice and see what options are open to you for dealing with your debts.


Someone else is using my address, will this affect my housing benefit?


It may affect your benefits if it is deemed that this person is living with you, as this would normally result in a non-dependent deduction being made from your benefits. There is nothing to stop you letting them use your address as a forwarding address, but you need to be careful this doesn’t result in a presumption that they are living there.

You may also find this article on going bankrupt while on benefits useful.

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