New to Universal Credit

6. Your responsibilities

Universal Credit provides financial support. In return you will be expected to do certain things, depending on your circumstances.

Changes in your situation

It is your responsibility to tell the Department for Work and Pensions about any changes in your situation, as these may mean changes to the amount of Universal Credit you receive or what is expected of you. Changes can include:

  • finding or finishing a job
  • having or caring for a child
  • a change to your address
  • becoming ill
  • a change in your health condition
  • a change to your banking details
  • your rent payments going up or down
  • a partner joining or leaving the home you rent and live in

There may be other changes that are not listed here. If there are any changes in your situation talk to your work coach or contact Universal Credit to see if they will affect your payments or what you are expected to do.

These are often called changes of circumstances. For more information see Universal Credit: report a change of circumstances

Preparing or looking for work

What you are expected to do in return for receiving Universal Credit will depend on your personal circumstances. It will take into account things like caring responsibilities, or whether you are disabled or have a health condition.

With Universal Credit you usually get a work coach to help you if you are preparing for work, moving into work or looking to increase your earnings. They may continue to provide support and advice even when you start work, depending on your circumstances.

Your Claimant Commitment

In most cases what you will do will be agreed during a conversation with your work coach at the jobcentre. What you and your work coach agree will then be written down in a Claimant Commitment. This will set out what you have agreed to do to:

  • prepare for work
  • look for work
  • increase your earnings if you are already working

Your Claimant Commitment will be reviewed regularly, and may be changed if your circumstances change. Each time it changes you will need to agree and accept a new Claimant Commitment.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, both of you will need to accept an individual Claimant Commitment.

For more information see Universal Credit and your Claimant Commitment

What you will be expected to do

If you are able to work and are available for work you will need to do everything you reasonably can to give yourself the best chance of finding work. Preparing for and getting a job is expected to be your full time focus.

If you have a health condition or disability that limits your capability for work, the Department for Work and Pensions will work with you to best support you during this time. You may be asked to do work search and work preparation activities that are reasonable for your condition and situation.  All requirements are agreed with your work coach and you won’t be asked to do something you’re not capable of.

If your health condition or disability improves or gets worse, what is asked of you will change to match your new situation.

If you have a current Fit Note from your GP you will not be asked to take up or be available for work.

If you are not required to do work search or work-related activities you will continue to be supported whilst you remain on Universal Credit.

If you are the lead carer for a child, what is expected of you will be based on the age of the youngest child in your household. For more details see Universal Credit: further information for families

If you don’t do what you’ve agreed

If you don’t meet your responsibilities or do what you’ve agreed in your Claimant Commitment, your Universal Credit payments could be stopped or reduced.  This is called a sanction