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
In return for receiving Universal Credit you will need to do certain things. 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. If you are able to prepare or look for work, this will include attending appointments with your work coach.
These can take place by phone, video call or in person at a Jobcentre.
No matter how your appointment is due to be held, it’s important that you attend. If you are asked to attend an appointment but don’t attend and don’t have a good reason why, your Universal Credit payments will be affected.
If there is a good reason why you can’t attend, let us know as soon as possible.
Face coverings are no longer a legal requirement in England, Scotland and Wales, however, government guidelines do advise continuation of wearing one to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
You do not need to come to the jobcentre unless we ask you to do so. If you need to contact us, the quickest way to do this is online or by phone.
If you do need to visit a jobcentre, they are open and one of our colleagues will be able to assist you.
DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.
Your Claimant Commitment
In most cases what you will do will be agreed during a conversation with your work coach. 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.
You can ask to change your Claimant Commitment, but all changes will need to be agreed with your work coach. If you think there are things that need to be taken into account, you should talk to your work coach about these so that they can fully understand your situation. See examples of circumstances that could affect your 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 (including mental health conditions) 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. You do not need to have been assessed as having limited capability for work for your health condition or disability to be taken into account. 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.
Other circumstances may also have an effect upon what you are asked to do. You should talk to your work coach about anything which may prevent you from being able to fully focus on finding or preparing for work. This could include:
- Childcare responsibilities. See the childcare section to find out how the age of your youngest child affects what you will be expected to do.
- Domestic abuse. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, the jobcentre can temporarily remove the need for you to look for work so that you can focus on your immediate needs. Read more about the support available for victims of domestic abuse
- Homelessness. If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness, the need for you to look or prepare for work can be paused so you can focus on finding somewhere to live.
- Bereavement. If you have suffered a bereavement you should let your work coach know so you can discuss how it might affect what you are expected to do.
- Caring responsibilities. If you are responsible for taking care of someone else, such as disabled relative, this can be considered when discussing what you will be expected to do.
- Drug or alcohol misuse. If you are in structured treatment for drug and/or alcohol dependency you may not be required to look or be available for work for up to 6 months.
- Leaving care. The DWP care leaver offer includes studying for secondary level education up to the age of 22, during which time you may not be required to look or be available for work.
Find out more about how your situation might affect what you are expected to do in return for Universal Credit.
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.
This table shows what you will be expected to do in return for Universal Credit, depending on the age of your youngest child. Other circumstances may also affect what you are asked to do.
|Age of youngest child||Your responsibilities|
|Under 1||You do not need to look for work in order to receive Universal Credit.|
|Age 1||If you are not already working, you do not need to look for work in order to receive Universal Credit. You will be asked to attend work-focused interviews with your work coach to discuss plans for a future move into work and will need to report any changes of circumstances.|
|Age 2||You will be expected to take active steps to prepare for work. This will involve having regular work-focused interviews with your work coach, and agreeing a programme of activities tailored to your individual circumstances which might include some training and work preparation activities (for example, writing your CV).|
|Age 3 or 4||You will be expected to work a maximum of 16 hours a week, or spend 16 hours a week looking for work. This might include some training and work-focused interviews.|
|Age between 5 and 12||You will be expected to work a maximum of 25 hours a week, or spend 25 hours a week looking for work. This might include some training and work-focused interviews.|
|Age 13 and above||You will be expected to work a maximum of 35 hours a week, or spend 35 hours a week looking for work. This might include some training and work-focused interviews.|
You should let your work coach know as soon as you accept a job offer, as you can claim support for your childcare costs for at least a month before you start work.
By this summer, working parents on Universal Credit will be able to receive even more financial help with their childcare costs. This will be up to £951 for 1 child or up to £1,630 for 2 or more children. Eligible parents claiming Universal Credit will also be able to get help with their childcare upfront so that they can more easily pay their next set of costs. Parents who are moving into work or increasing their working hours can speak to their Universal Credit work coach who can provide more information.
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