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Freelancer: Can I Qualify for Unemployment Benefit?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 May 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Freelance Unemployment Benefits

Q.

I have been working as a freelance architect over the past 3 years, classified as self employed, but have been unable to get another freelance position.

What do I need to do to qualify for unemployment benefit? Also, if I have savings would this affect me?

(Ms George Clark, 15 September 2008)

A.

As you are unemployed, you may be entitled to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance. There are two elements to this. The ‘contributory’ Jobseeker’s Allowance is based upon your National Insurance contributions and credits over recent years and this lasts for 6 months. However, as you have been self-employed for the past 3 years, entitlement to this requires the recent payment of Class 1 National Insurance contributions and as those who are self-employed pay Class 2 contributions, it’s unlikely that you would qualify for contributions-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.

However, you could be eligible to claim income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is an income-related (means-tested) benefit and the amount you may be entitled to receive will depend upon the number and ages of any dependants and any income which is available to you and your family, including savings.

When it comes to savings, if they exceed £16,000, you will not be entitled to income-based jobseeker’s allowance until they fall below that threshold. If you do qualify, however, you will be entitled to receive this benefit for as long as it’s needed, providing that the qualifying conditions continue to be met.

As its name would suggest, in order to receive Jobseeker’s Allowance, you must be available for work and be prepared to actively seek work. You’ll also be required to keep records of your search for work as evidence and might be asked to produce this periodically.

Naturally, should you decide at some point to resume your self-employment status, you’ll need to inform your local JobCentre Plus.

To find out more, you should telephone your local JobCentre Plus and make an appointment to see one of their advisors. It’s important to do this straight away because as soon as you have registered with them, any entitlement to benefit will be backdated to the day you inform them, so even if you have to wait a week or two for an appointment, your claim will be backdated to the day you booked the appointment. In addition to Jobseeker’s Allowance, the advisor will also be able to help you in your quest to get back into employment, and they will also be able to tell you about any other state benefits you might also be entitled to.

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