Universal credit: Claimant commitment
One of the basic conditions of entitlement for Universal Credit is that the claimant accepts a claimant commitment.
NOTE: This page explains the normal rules around the claimant commitment. These have been changed during the coronavirus pandemic. Although claimants will still need to accept a claimant commitment our understanding is that:
- They will not be asked to attend the jobcentre - all requirements to attend the jobcentre in person are suspended unless directed to do so in exceptional circumstances
- The only commitment requirement at present is to report changes of circumstances
- Those with work search requirements on the claimant commitments should continue to look for work if it is safe to do so, but work coaches will not check if the claimant is meeting their commitments in relation to finding work and they will not get a sanction if they can’t keep to the commitments at this time.
The claimant commitment is a record of the claimant’s responsibilities in relation to their award of UC. Where a couple claim, both members must accept a claimant commitment. Only in limited circumstances will this requirement not be imposed. It will be updated and reviewed periodically and each time it is changed the claimant must accept the new commitment.
When is the claimant commitment agreed? After submitting the UC claim, DWP will normally contact the claimant by telephone to arrange an interview. The claimant will meet their adviser and draw up job search requirements which will be used to draw up the claimant commitment. The claimant will be given a copy of the commitment to take away from the interview.
If the claimant commitment is not accepted, the claim will be closed.
The process may be slightly different for people who are moved to UC without making a claim.
In order to receive UC it is necessary to meet conditionality requirements, which will be determined by an individual’s capability and circumstances. It is these work-related requirements that will be recorded in a ‘claimant commitment’. The claimant commitment will also set out the consequences if these requirements are not met.
UC has four sets of conditionality requirements according to individual capability and circumstances.
- no work-related requirements
- work-focused interview requirement only
- work preparation requirement
- all work-related requirements
You can find more detail about these requirements in our work conditions section.
In joint claims, each claimant may be placed in a different conditionality group - for example if one claimant has a disability which prevents them from working they may be placed in the no work-related requirements group whilst their partner could be in the all work-related requirements group.
The Claimant Commitment must clearly state what will happen if an individual fails to meet their responsibilities. This can include a cut in benefit, known as a sanction, if there is no good reason why any of the agreed responsibilities are not met. Depending on what is not met and how often, a sanction can last for up to three years.
More detailed information for advisors can be found in Chapter K1, Advice for Decision Making (AMD).
Last reviewed/updated 2 June 2020