The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that people claiming Universal Credit (UC) will begin to see a return of job-seeking requirements which were suspended. Work coaches will be calling all claimants to help them prepare for work, although what people will need to do will depend on their “Claimant Commitment.” This is a document people need to agree to as part of getting UC.
What do I need to do to receive my Universal Credit?
After applying for UC you should have been put in one the four “conditionality” groups. You can check which group you’re in by logging into your UC account online and checking your Claimant Commitment. This will tell you which group you’re in and what tasks you’ll have to do regularly to get Universal Credit. These tasks could include writing your CV, signing up for job alerts or applying for vacancies.
Does everyone claiming Universal Credit have to look for work?
Most people will probably be put in the “All Work-Related Requirements Group” if they’re able to work. Depending on your circumstances, however, you might be put in a different “conditionality” group, say if you have children under the age of three, or are pregnant or disabled.
In some cases you won’t have to take any steps to prepare for work or improve your skills, in other cases you may have to have interviews with your work coach. You can check which group you’re in, and what you must do to receive your full UC payment, by logging into your UC account online.
What happens if I don’t meet the requirements?
Failing to carry out the tasks set out in your Claimant Commitment could mean your UC payment is temporarily reduced, which is known as a sanction. The amount your UC will be reduced depends on factors such as how long the sanction lasts, and how quickly you complete the outstanding tasks. See gov.uk for more information.
What if there are no jobs available?
It’s very tricky for many who are job hunting at the moment. In order to show how you have completed the to-do list set out in your Claimant Commitment, keep a diary of the tasks you’ve done and how long they took, e.g. signing up to a recruitment agency.
How do I challenge a Universal Credit decision?
You need to tell your work coach as soon as possible if you’re in the wrong “conditionality” group. Explain which exceptions apply and show them any evidence you can – for example a letter from your doctor if you’re sick, or the birth certificate for a child you care for.
If your work coach won’t change your work-related activity group, you can complain to the DWP. If you get a sanction even though you’ve explained your situation to your work coach, you can challenge the decision by asking for what is called a mandatory reconsideration.