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Universal Credit - the claimant commitment

Universal Credit is a benefit you can get if your income and capital are below a certain level. To get Universal Credit, you normally have to accept a claimant commitment. Read this page to find out more about the claimant commitment and why it's important for you to know what's in it.

What is your claimant commitment?

Once you've submitted your claim for Universal Credit (UC), you'll be asked to go to an interview with a Jobcentre Plus adviser and accept a claimant commitment. This is a document which sets out what you have to do to prepare for work or find work. If you're already working, it may set out what you have to do to find better paid work or work more hours. The steps you have to take are known as your work-related requirements.

Your work-related requirements will depend partly on which work-related group you're in. There are rules about which work-related group you should be in. These depend on your personal circumstances and can't be changed by your adviser. But you may also have some individual steps which you've agreed with your adviser to take in order to help you get back into work, or to find more or better paid work.

What are the work-related requirements?

There are four work-related requirements:

  • the work-focused interview requirement
  • the work preparation requirement
  • the work search requirement
  • the work availability requirement.

Your claimant commitment may include one or more of these requirements, depending on your circumstances. You will be told at your interview which requirements you'll be expected to meet.

Which work-related requirements should be in your claimant commitment?

The work-related requirements your claimant commitment contains depend on which work-related group you're in. There are rules about which work-related group you should be in and which requirements you have to meet. This depends on your personal circumstances. Jobcentre Plus has to follow these rules. They will interview you to decide which group you're in and which requirements to include.

You should always check which work-related requirements are in your claimant commitment to make sure it contains the right ones. If Jobcentre Plus has put you in the wrong group, it may be asking you to do things to get your full amount of benefit that you're not actually required by law to do.

To make sure your claimant commitment contains the right work-related requirements, you can follow these steps:

Step one

Check your claimant commitment to see what it says you have to do. For example, your claimant commitment may say that you have to spend 35 hours a week looking for work.

Step two

Check which type of requirement each of the things you have to do comes under. For example, looking for work comes under the work search requirement. The pages about what the requirements are say what each requirement involves.

Step three

Check which work-related group you've been put in. You can do this by:

  • looking at any paperwork you've got from Jobcentre Plus
  • asking Jobcentre Plus which group you're in.

If either of these things aren't possible, you will need to work out which group you're in.

Once you know which work-related requirements your claimant commitment says you have to meet, you can find out which group has to meet these requirements. This will tell you which group Jobcentre Plus has put you in.

Example

Your claimant commitment says you have to spend 35 hours a week looking for work.

This comes under the work search requirement.

Only people who are in the all work-related requirements group have to look for work.

This means you've been placed in the all work-related requirements group.

Step 4

Once you've worked out which work-related group you're in, you should check whether Jobcentre Plus has put you in the right one. For example, if you're responsible for a two-year old child you should be in the work-focused interview only group. People in this group don't have to look for work. If you've been asked to look for work it means you've been placed in the wrong work-related group. You can challenge Jobcentre Plus's decision if it put you in the wrong group.

Couples and the claimant commitment

If you're in a couple, you normally each have to accept a claimant commitment to get UC. If you each have to accept it but one of you won’t, you can’t get UC. However, in some cases, only one of you has to meet the conditions of entitlement and accept a claimant commitment.

If you're temporarily exempt from meeting your work-related requirements

You may be temporarily exempt from meeting your work-related requirements. You might be exempt, for example, if:

  • you’ve got to go to court
  • you’ve got temporary caring responsibilities or an emergency at home
  • you’re sick for a short period
  • you’re the victim of domestic violence.

If you're temporarily exempt, Jobcentre Plus should record this in your claimant commitment.

Reviewing and updating your claimant commitment

Jobcentre Plus can review and update your claimant commitment. They'll do this if your circumstances change and you no longer have to meet the same work-related requirements. If this happens, they'll update your claimant commitment to say which requirements you now have to meet. You'll then have to sign the up-to-date claimant commitment to carry on getting UC.

Sanctions and your claimant commitment

If you fail to meet any of the work-related requirements in your claimant commitment, Jobcentre Plus may sanction you. This means they reduce your UC for a certain period of time.

If you're sanctioned because of a work-related requirement which isn't in your claimant commitment, you can challenge the sanction.

Next steps

Citizens Advice

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