What do I have to do?

CORONAVIRUS: Your claimant commitment should reflect what you are able to do given the current Coronavirus outbreak and your personal circumstances. Make sure you explain your situation to your Work Coach.

What you will have to do in exchange for receiving Universal Credit

What you need to do depends on your situation: there are four main categories of situation:

  1. Able to look for work.
  2. Able to undertake some work related activities and attend Work Focused Interviews.
  3. Able to attend Work Focused Interviews only.
  4. Unable to do any work search or work preparation at all.

More information on each of these is given below.

Able to look for work – all work related requirements group

If you are fit and able to look for work, and aren’t in any of the categories below, you will be expected to look for work.

Even if you’re working, you can be expected to look for more work if your job doesn’t pay you above a certain threshold (which depends on your circumstances), or, if you’re self-employed and not considered to be in ‘gainful self-employment’.

Your Claimant Commitment will include things like your job goals, and what regular work search activity and work preparation actions you must undertake.

Work search activity could involve:

  • Registering with ‘Find a job’. 
  • Registering with a recruitment agency.
  • Checking the job ads pages in a local paper and online.
  • Phoning or visiting local businesses.
  • Joining local job groups on social media.
  • Applying for suggested vacancies…..

The Claimant Commitment will set out how many hours a week you are expected to spend looking for work and undertaking work preparation activities.

In most cases this is 35 hours a week but can be less in specific circumstances.

If you don’t keep to the terms of your commitment you could be sanctioned.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.

Example:
Suri has claimed Universal Credit because her previous job ended and she needs help paying her rent. She doesn’t have any health problems and no caring responsibilities.
Her Claimant Commitment states that she needs to spend 35 hour a week looking for work. She has regular meetings with her Work Coach to discuss what she’s doing to find work. And her Work Coach makes a list of work search requirements that she needs to do.

If Suri fails to turn up to an interview with her Work Coach or doesn’t complete everything on her list of work search requirements, she will be sanctioned.

Able to undertake some work related activities and attend Work Focused Interviews

You’ll be in this group if you have a child aged two, or you’ve been found to have a ‘Limited Capability for Work’ (if you’ve been on ESA you’ll know this as the ‘work related activity group’ – WRAG).

You do not need to look for work but you muct keep in touch with the job market for when you are ready to start work – which will be either when your youngest child turns 3, or when you are fit for work.

You’ll need to have meetings with your work coach to discuss plans for moving into work in the future – called Work Focused Interviews, and you’ll be required to do some or all of these things:

  • Attend a skills assessment.
  • Write or improve your CV.
  • Go on a training course.
  • Take part in an employment programme.
  • Undertake work experience or a work placement.
  • Develop a business plan.
  • Anything else that the work coach asks you to do, if it’s reasonable.

If you don’t keep to the terms of your commitment you could be sanctioned.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.

Example:
Simon’s daughter has just turned two. Simon hasn’t worked for several years so his Work Coach sets up a skills assessment for him so as to clarify what work Simon would be best looking for. This counts as part of Simon’s work preparation and is recorded on his Claimant Commitment.

If Simon does not turn up for the skills assessment he could be sanctioned.

Example:
Davinder has just been assessed as having a Limited Capability for Work. Because he is capable of some work related activities he’s expected to keep in touch with the job market, prepare for work and attend work focused interviews. His Work Coach wants to see him once every three months.

If Davinder does not turn up for one of these interviews he could be sanctioned.

CORONAVIRUS: During the Coronavirus outbreak all face-to-face interviews with your Work Coach have been suspended and you will not be required to attend training courses in person. But you may still be expected to do some work preparation – keep checking for messages on your UC journal, emails and texts. If they do contact you, make sure you respond. And if they do ask you to undertake an activity then explain if you are going to be unable to do it and why – otherwise you could be sanctioned.

3. Work Focused Interviews Group

You’ll be in this group if:

  • You are the primary carer of a one year old child (ie up to their 2nd birthday).
  • You are a single foster parent or the responsible foster parent in a couple, and the foster child is aged one to sixteen – can be older if your Work Coach thinks that because of the child’s care needs it’s not appropriate for you to prepare for or look for work.
  • You are the other foster parent in a couple and your Work Coach thinks that because of the child’s care needs it’s not appropriate for you to prepare for or look for work.
  • You aren’t in one of the above groups now, but were during the last eight weeks and you intend to continue fostering.
  • You’re not a formal foster carer or a step-parent – but you’re a ‘friend or family carer’ of a child under 16, and you have to look after them because their parents can’t or the child would have to go into care if you didn’t step in. This is only for the first 12 months after taking the responsibility.

In this group, you’ll be expected to attend Work Focused Interviews to discuss activities that will make it more likely you’ll get a job, such as employment programmes, work experience, voluntary work or getting qualifications. But you will not be required to start these yet.

If you don’t keep to the terms of your commitment you could be sanctioned.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.

Example:
Iman’s son is 18 months old. Her partner works full time. Iman’s Work Coach has set up an interview to see Iman. At the interview they discuss what type of work she might like to do in the future, if she’ll need any training, and what type of child care she would be looking for.

If Iman had not turned up for the interview she could have been sanctioned.

CORONAVIRUS: During the Coronavirus outbreak all face-to-face meetings with you Work Coach have been suspended. But they may still want to have contact with you. So be sure to keep an eye on your UC journal, email and texts, and respond to any messages they send you.

No work related requirements at all.

If you’re in the group, then you won’t be required to do any work search or work preparation or attend any Work Focused Interviews.

You’ll be in this group if:

  • You are earning, or getting self-employed income, above your ‘earnings threshold’ – this varies depending on your situation.
  • You have been assessed as having a ’Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity’ (if you’ve been on ESA you’ll know this as the ‘Support Group’).
  • You’re the primary carer of a child (including a foster child) under one year old.
  • You are a carer who has the Carer Element in your Universal Credit.
  • You are pregnant and there are 11 weeks or less before the baby is due.
  • You’ve had a baby less than 15 weeks ago (including still births).
  • You’ve adopted a child less than 12 months ago.
  • You’re a student – but only certain students can claim UC, and only certain students fall into this group.
  • You are state pension age (only possible if you have a working age partner).
  • You are a full time apprentice – however low your earnings.
  • You are a young person (ie under 21) in non-advanced education who is ‘without parental support’.
  • You’ve experienced domestic violence in the previous six months –  in which case you can be in this group for 13 weeks in any 12 month period.
  • You’re on a certain type of drug or alcohol programme – for a six month period.

Example:
Joy works full time – 35 hours a week. She gets paid £10 an hour. This works out to be above her ‘earnings threshold’ and so she has no work search or preparation requirements in her Claimant Commitment.

Example:
Alan was getting Employment and Support Allowance when he moved in with his new partner. They made a claim for Universal Credit together and the decision on Alan’s capability for work transferred over from his ESA claim to the Universal Credit claim. He was in the ‘support group’ when he was on ESA and so was automatically put in the ‘Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activities’ group for Universal Credit. This means that there is no work search or preparation requirements in his Claimant Commitment.
His partner will have a separate Claimant Commitment.

IMPORTANT: Of course if your situation changes you’ll need to tell the DWP straight away so you can be put into the appropriate group and have your Claimant Commitment changed. Make sure you accept your new claimant commitment within 7 days.