You are currently in the en section of the site.

No thank you, please close this banner.

First published:

Top Tips

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.

Top tips and advice

  1. Why the Mental Health and Money Advice service is helping people with mental illness and money issues
  2. This Talk Money Week, read our conversation guides around money worries
  3. Should you be worried about rising mortgage interest rates?
  4. What is financial anxiety?
  5. Budget 2023: How does it affect you?
  6. Why debt can happen to anyone, and how shame can shape our relationship with money
  7. Let’s Get Talking about Student Mental Health: University Mental Health Day
  8. How to save money this Christmas and New Year’s
  9. Tips for managing your money and mental health in 2023
  10. What to do if money worries are affecting your mental health
  11. Blue Badges available for people suffering from mental illness
  12. Budget 2018: How does it affect you?
  13. What the 2018 PIP ruling means for those living with mental health issues
  14. Mental health and Money Advice responds to Goverment’s proposed Breathing Space scheme
  15. Being a carer can affect your mental health and money
  16. What to do when debt worries impact on performance at work
  17. Changes to Support for Mortgage Interest
  18. FCA announces new rules on 'buy now pay later' products and overdrafts
  19. Mental health and money advice for COVID-19 outbreak
  20. How to budget your money during the COVID-19 outbreak
  21. How the Touco app can help you get support around money and mental health
  22. How banks are helping during the Coronavirus period
  23. DWP publishes mental health conditions for PIP back payments
  24. Managing your mental health and money after government cuts
  25. Universal Credit boost for mental health
  26. Household Support Fund
  27. Tips for managing your money and mental health in 2022
  28. How to manage your mental health and money following the energy price rise
  29. How the Universal Credit jobseeker and work capability assessments may affect you
  30. World Bipolar Day
  31. What is the impact of savings on mental health?
  32. How to save money at Christmas 2023 and New Year's 2024
  33. Managing your money and mental health on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  34. What does the Autumn Statement 2023 mean for you?
  35. What you need to know about the household energy price cap decrease
  36. What does the Budget 2024 mean for you?
  37. Debt Awareness Week: Reasons People Don’t Get Debt Advice and How to Overcome Those Barriers
  38. Your Simplified Options for Dealing With Debt

Other Top Tips & Advice

You may find this other advice useful.

Please tell us more

For urgent help, please see Help & contacts