If you are unemployed and have paid sufficient class 1 National Insurance contributions you may qualify for contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). If you are a Universal Credit claimant this contributory benefit is known as 'new-style Jobseeker's Allowance'. This help page covers both versions.
The 2 tax years that are relevant are the ones that were completed before the benefit year in which your jobseeking period began. The tax year runs 6 April - 5 April. The benefit year runs from the first Sunday in January.
As well as having paid enough National Insurance contributions you must also satisfy the other conditions for JSA, such as signing on and showing that you are actively seeking work.
To find out whether you have paid enough National Insurance contributions you can contact HMRC on 0300 200 3500 (or 0300 200 3519 if you have a speech or hearing impairment).
You can also visit the Gov.uk website to check your National Insurance contributions record online.
From April 2020, the rate for contributory/new-style JSA is:
If you do not have enough national insurance contributions to get this benefit you might be entitled to means-tested benefits instead. If you are entitled to this benefit you could also get means-tested benefits to 'top-up' the amount you receive.
The first step in making a new claim for contributory/new-style JSA is to fill in the Jobseeker's Allowance online claim form
Once you have filled in the online form you will then need to attend an interview with JobCentre Plus. Even if you have made a JSA claim within the last 6 months, and hence can use the 'rapid reclaim' service, you need to fill in the form before an interview can be arranged.
You will not be paid for the first 7 days of your claim, these are called waiting days.
If you can't apply online then a telephone helpline is available. For more information see the .Gov.UK help page on how to claim JSA or the Gov.UK help page on how to claim new-style JSA
For Northern Ireland you claim via the social security/jobs and benefit offices and details can be found on the NIdirect website.