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First published:
08/02/2022

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How the Universal Credit jobseeker and work capability assessments may affect you

How the Universal Credit jobseeker and work capability assessments may affect you

Universal Credit – Jobseeker Changes

From 3rd February 2022, jobseekers on Universal Credit will have four weeks to look for jobs inside their previous occupation or preferred job sector.

You were previously allowed up to three months of job searching before you had to start looking outside of your chosen sector. This change is part of the UK Government’s “Way to Work” job push.

What does this mean for me?

If you claim Universal Credit (UC) and are capable of work, you will be assigned a work coach.

You and your work coach will agree on what work-related activities you must do in your claimant commitment. This will now include what type of work you are looking for.

If you have not found a job in your previous occupation or preferred sector after four weeks, your work coach will expect you to start looking in other sectors and professions.

Helen's case study

Helen was a successful Communications Manager for an FTSE 100 company but was made redundant by her company.

She applies for Universal Credit and is judged capable to work by the DWP. She is assigned a work coach and agrees to a claimant commitment with them. Helen starts looking for work and applies for communications manager jobs.

After four weeks, Helen has had several interviews, but no job offers yet. Helen is told she must now apply for jobs outside of a communications background at her next meeting with her work coach.

Universal Credit and Work Capability Assessment changes

When you claim Universal Credit and have a mental health condition that makes you unable to work for at least four weeks, you will be referred for a Work Capability Assessment on the 29th day of your UC claim.

From January 2022, you can now be referred for a Work Capability Assessment on the first day of your UC claim when one of the following situations apply:

  • You are in hospital or a similar institution for 24 hours or longer.
  • You are terminally ill.
  • You are pregnant, and there is a serious risk of damage to your health or the health of your unborn child if you do not refrain from work or work-related activity.
  • You are receiving or are about to receive treatment for cancer by way of chemotherapy or radiotherapy – or you are recovering from such treatment
  • You are prevented from working by law.
  • You are receiving treatment such as dialysis, plasmapheresis or total parenteral nutrition for gross impairment of enteric function or are recovering after receiving one of these types of treatment.

What can I do to support my mental health and well-being?

We understand these changes can be worrying for people, mainly if you have just started claiming Universal Credit.

Losing a job can be very upsetting. Being told you must look for work outside of your professional training or chosen career can be incredibly demoralising and impact your self-esteem.

Help is available if you are struggling with your money, mental health, well-being, or all three.

  1. Mental Health UK: Mental Health UK provides advice and support services for people experiencing money problems, loneliness, social isolation and resilience in young people. You can access Mental Health UK services here.

  2. Rethink Mental Illness: Rethink Mental Illness provides free advice and support for carers and anyone living with a mental health condition.

  3. Universal Credit Mental Health Guide: This easy-to-use guide talks you through the Universal Credit process step-by-step. You can access the Universal Credit Mental Health Guide for free.

  4. Money tools and calculators: Mental Health & Money Advice has a range of free tools and calculators that can help with benefit claims, debt management, budget plans, and more.

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