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Universal Credit (UC) - What activities will I have to do when claiming Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income.

What activities will I have to do when claiming Universal Credit?

The Jobcentre might expect you to do certain things in order to receive Universal Credit. This is called your ‘claimant commitment’.

What you are expected to do will depend on your circumstances, such as your health; your caring responsibilities; and whether or not you are working at the moment.

If you are claiming Universal Credit as a couple, you will each have your own claimant commitment based on your own circumstances.    

If you fail to meet your claimant commitment, you might be sanctioned.  

Situations and claimant commitment rules

Click on the links below that relate to your situation (s) to find out more about claimant commitment rules under Universal Credit.

I'm ill or disabled

If your illness or disability makes it harder for you to work, it is important to make sure the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) knows about it. When you first apply for Universal Credit, you can declare any health conditions on the application form. If you become ill or disabled while claiming Universal Credit, you should report it as a change of circumstances.

Your work coach should arrange for you to have an assessment of how your illness or disability affects your ability to work. This is called a ‘limited capability for work’ assessment.

This has three possible results: 

Limited capacity for work and work-related activity

If you are found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity, you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the Jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach.

Limited capacity for work

If you are found to have limited capacity for work, you will be placed in the ‘work preparation’ group. You won’t be expected to look for jobs or move into work. However, you might be expected to do things to prepare to be ready to move into work, like taking part in a training course or updating your CV.

Fit for work

If you are found fit for work, your work coach should still adapt your claimant commitment to suit your needs. If you do not think your claimant commitment has taken into account the impact of your health conditions, you should get advice.

I'm caring for someone sick or disabled

If you are providing 35 or more hours per week of care for someone who gets the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP), you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the Jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach. You won’t be expected to look for work. This applies even if you are working too much to be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

If you are providing less than 35 hours per week of care, or the person you care for doesn’t receive the right benefits, you should tell your work coach about your caring responsibilities and ask that your claimant commitment is adapted to take them into account. If you do not feel your claimant commitment has taken into account your caring responsibilities, you should get advice.

I'm looking after a child

If you are claiming Universal Credit as a couple, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ask you to choose one of you as the ‘main carer’ for your children. The children will only affect the claimant commitment of the main carer.

Your claimant commitment depends on the age of your youngest child.

My child is under 1

If your child is under 1 year old, you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the Jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach. You won’t be expected to look for work. 

My child is aged 1

If your child is aged 1, you will be placed in the ‘work-focused interviews’ group. You won’t be expected to look for work. However, you might be asked to have interviews with a work coach about the kind of work you would like to do in the future.

My child is aged 2

If your child is aged 2, you will be placed in the ‘work preparation’ group. You won’t be expected to look for work but you might be expected to take part in activities to improve your chances of getting a job in the future.

My child is aged 3 - school age

If your child is aged between 3 and school age, you will be placed in the ‘all work-related requirements’ group. You will be expected to look for work and to be available to take up a job if one is offered to you. You won’t be expected to take a job that would mean working more than 16 hours per week and you won’t need to spend more than 16 hours per week looking for work.

My child is aged school age - 12

If your child is aged between school age and 13, you will be placed in the ‘all work-related requirements’ group. You will be expected to look for work and to be available to take up a job if one is offered to you. You won’t be expected to take a job that would mean working more than 25 hours per week and you won’t need to spend more than 25 hours per week looking for work. If working 25 hours per week doesn’t fit with your child’s normal school hours, you could ask your work coach to adapt this.

My child is aged 13 or over

If your child is aged 13 or over, you will be placed in the ‘all work-related requirements’ group. You will be expected to look for work and to be available to take up a job if one is offered to you. You won’t be expected to take a job that would mean working more than 48 hours per week and you will need to spend 35 hours per week looking for work.

I'm working

You won’t be expected to do any activities at the Jobcentre if you are working and earning more per month than someone would earn working at minimum wage for the number of hours you are expected to work. This is called your ‘earnings threshold’.

Example

Alice is 29. Her son is aged 7, so she would be expected to work 16 hours per week. Because of her age, her minimum wage rate is £8.21 per hour. This means Alice’s earnings threshold is 16 x 8.21 = £131.36 per week or £569.23 per month. Alice works 10 hours per week and earns £15 per hour (£150 per week), so she is earning more than her earnings threshold and won’t have to do any activities at the Jobcentre.

If you are self employed

If you are self-employed, the earnings threshold won’t apply to you. You won’t be expected to do any activities at the Jobcentre or to look for work. However, you might be affected by the minimum income floor, which is also calculated based on what your claimant commitment would have been if you weren’t self employed.

Earning less than your earnings threshold

If you are working but are earning less than your earnings threshold, you might be expected to do some activities at the Jobcentre. As long as you are earning more than £338 per month (if you are single, or £541 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you won’t be expected to look for work or be available for work. However, you might be asked to take part in activities to increase your chances of getting a job.

If you are working but are earning less than £338 per month (if you are single) or £541 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you will be expected to look for more work and be available for work.

I'm over Pension age

If you are over Pension age, you won’t be expected to take part in any activity at the Jobcentre and you won’t be expected to look for work.

None of these apply to me

If none of these situations apply to you, you are likely to be put in the ‘all work-related activities’ group. You will be expected to spend 35 hours per week looking for work and will usually be expected to be available for work of up to 48 hours per week. 

If you have recently experienced domestic violence, bereavement or have some other good reason why you can’t do what your work coach expects you to do, you should tell your work coach. If you don't feel your claimant commitment takes your needs into account, you should get advice.

Several of these apply to me

If several of the situations apply to you, you will be placed in the lowest activity group you satisfy. You should look at the claimant commitment rules for situations you fall into.

Example

For example, Elis is working, has a disability, and has a 1 year old daughter. Elis earns £200 per month from work, so on this basis Elis would be expected to look for work. Elis’s disability means he has limited capacity for work, so on this basis he would be expected to do work preparation. Elis is the main carer for his daughter, so on this basis Elis would be expected to take part in work focused interviews. Work focused interviews are the lowest activity group Elis satisfies, so he will only have to take part in work focused interviews and he will not have to do work preparation or look for work. 
 

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