To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms are in place to inform claimants of contribution-based jobseeker's allowance of (a) the maximum payment period, (b) the date on which entitlement will expire and (c) other benefits to which they may be entitled.
The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the acting chief executive of Jobcentre Plus, Mel Groves. I have asked him to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Mel Groves:
The Secretary of Stat for Work and for Pensions has asked me to reply to your question regarding the processes that are in place to inform customers claiming contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance of the maximum payment period, the date on which entitlement will expire, and other benefits to which they may be entitled. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Acting Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
Information about entitlement to contribution based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA(C)) is available from a number of sources, including through a range of leaflets and the Jobcentre Plus and Direct Gov websites. In addition, the explanatory notes of all Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) claim forms, and the leaflet "Jobseeker's Allowance and getting back to work" which is issued to every person claiming JSA, specifically detail that the maximum payment period for contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance is 182 days.
Customers claiming JSA are kept informed of changes to their benefit by the issue of 'system-generated' notifications as changes occur. When customers have received 165 days of JSA(C), they are informed by a system generated letter that their entitlement is nearing the maximum payment period. In addition, they are informed when their entitlement has actually expired, and that they may still receive Class 1 National Insurance credits if they continue to attend the Jobcentre and remain available for and actively seeking employment. These notifications ask the customer to contact Jobcentre Plus if they need any further information or if they think the decision is incorrect
If the customer did not apply for income based Jobseekers Allowance JSA(IB) at the outset of their claim, they will be invited to claim once their entitlement to JSA(C) has ended. If the customer decides to claim JSA(IB) they are required to complete a claim form to reassess their entitlement, which will include information about how they can claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit, if not already in payment.
Additionally, customers can ask for a 'Better off Calculation' to be carried out at any time during their claim. This calculation will look at a customer's current financial circumstances and their potential entitlement to any other benefits. Information about the 'Better off Calculation' is available via a number of sources, including leaflets and the Jobcentre Plus and Direct Gov websites.