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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999


Currently, unemployed partners of JSA claimants are not required to be available for or actively seek work. There is no targeted help and support available to assist them to return to work if they wish to do so. Ninety per cent of partners of JSA claimants are women.

Under the new scheme, an unemployed couple who do not have responsibility for children, and who belong to the group to be defined in regulations, will be required to make a joint claim for JSA and each will have to satisfy the conditions of entitlement to the benefit. Regulations will prescribe which couples will be covered by the requirement by reference to their date of birth. It is intended that the requirement will apply to couples where one or both members of the couple is aged under 25 when these measures are introduced. At least one member of the couple must have reached the age of 18.

Both partners will therefore have the same opportunity to receive help and guidance to return to work and to go onto employment programmes including the New Deal for Young People.

The basic conditions of entitlement to JSA are set out in section 1 of the Jobseekers Act. They include the requirement for the claimant to be available for and actively seeking employment and to have a “Jobseeker’s Agreement” (i.e. an agreement which is entered into by the claimant and an employment officer which specifies the steps that the claimant will take in order to seek employment – as defined at section 9(1) of the Jobseekers Act).

There are currently two routes to JSA:

  • Contribution-based JSA is payable only to a person who, in addition to satisfying the conditions contained in section 1 of the Jobseekers Act, satisfies the National Insurance contribution conditions (section 2 of the Jobseekers Act). It is payable at a personal rate and includes no additional payments for any dependants of the claimant. Both members of a couple may separately qualify for contribution-based Jobseekers Allowance if they each satisfy the contribution conditions on the basis of their own contributions record.

  • Income-based JSA is an income-related benefit for which the claimant must satisfy the conditions specified in section 3 of the Jobseekers Act in addition to the entitlement conditions at section 1. One member of a couple claims for himself and for any dependants.

The Act introduces a third route to JSA: “joint-claim Jobseeker’s Allowance”, which will apply in certain cases where JSA is claimed for a couple. This is a sub-category of income-based JSA.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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