When you claim Universal Credit you have to agree to and sign a Claimant Commitment.
The Claimant Commitment is your record of what you will do in return for receiving Universal Credit – your commitments, and the consequences of not meeting them.
Everyone has to have one – apart from in very exceptional circumstances.
You can view your latest Claimant Commitment online.
If you are a couple, you each have to sign your own Claimant Commitment. If one of you doesn’t, then you cannot be paid any Universal Credit and your claim will stop (but you have a seven day ‘cooling off’ period to change your mind).
Your Claimant Commitment may be affected if your partner starts work or their circumstances change.
What’s in the Claimant Commitment?
Every Claimant Commitment will include requirements such as:
- What you will need to do (if anything) to prepare for or look for work,
- Telling the DWP about any changes that might affect your benefit,
- Telling the DWP within 5 days if you finish work,
- If you’re self-employed, giving details of your earnings and allowable expenses every month.
IMPORTANT: If for any reason you find you can’t do something that you have been asked to do in line with your Claimant Commitment, you MUST tell the Job Centre immediately – and keep a record. Otherwise, you could have some of your Universal Credit ‘sanctioned’ (not paid) – and this could last from anywhere between a month and – if further sanctions are applied – six months.
How and when do I sign it? Do I have any say over what’s in it?
You’ll sign a basic version of a Claimant Commitment online when you first claim.
Then, you’ll have to book an appointment with your Work Coach to discuss what you will be required to do in exchange for receiving Universal Credit.
This will be your opportunity to discuss any problems you might have looking for work, or with particular types of work. For example, if you have a bad back, make sure you tell your Work Coach so you don’t end up having to apply for jobs carrying heavy loads.
Your Work Coach will then amend your Commitment in line with what you have discussed / agreed and ask you to sign a more detailed version – you will need to do this online.
If you are expected to look for work, this tailored version will give more details of what you are expected to do.
What if I don’t turn up for the Claimant Commitment appointment or don’t agree to what it says?
Usually your Universal Credit claim will be closed down the next day.
If this happens, make a new claim straightaway and speak to a Benefits Adviser to see if there is anything you can do about the closed claim.
The rules say you are supposed to be given a 7 day cooling off period if you fail to agree to a Claimant Commitment, so you can argue that they should give you longer to accept the new version.
NOTE: It’s important that if you ever can’t make any appointment at the JobCentre that you tell them straight away to avoid claim closures and benefit sanctions.
What if I don’t keep to the terms of my Claimant Commitment?
If you don’t keep to what it says in your Claimant Commitment, you can be sanctioned.
This means some of your benefits can be cut. If you’re sanctioned a second time, your benefits may be cut for longer.
If you think you’ve been unfairly treated, you should ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration of the sanction/s.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.
What if my circumstances change?
If your circumstances change, you must let your Work Coach know as soon as possible by leaving a message on your UC journal.
Your Work Coach will then review your Claimant Commitment with you to make sure it reflects your new circumstances.
You will then have 7 days to agree to this new version online. If you fail to accept it, then your claim can be closed.