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How to change your Universal Credit Claimant Commitment

If you have had a change in circumstances, or you are having difficulty completing your work-related activities in your Universal Credit Claimant Commitment, we explain how you may be able to make a change. This might be because your mental health has gotten worse. Or if you have a change to your caring responsibilities.

The first step is to contact the Universal Credit helpline - 0800 328 5644 - and make an appointment with your work coach about changing your Claimant Commitment.

You should add a note to your Universal Credit online journal, explaining why you need to change your Claimant Commitment and explaining any change in circumstances if applicable.

While waiting to change your Claimant Commitment, it's essential to meet your current claimant commitment. If you don't, the DWP may issue you with a Universal Credit sanction.

Speaking honestly to your Universal Credit work coach

In your meeting with your Universal Credit work coach, you should be completely honest about your situation and what work-related activities you believe are realistic for you.

You will need to show why you need to change your current Claimant Commitment, and mention any change in circumstances.

Specific situations either automatically reduce your work-related activities, or require you to do no work-related activities.

Short-term illness

If you have a short-term illness, you should immediately inform your Universal Credit work coach. You will not be required to work while you are ill - you are allowed two sick periods a year only under Universal Credit.

You will be required to provide a doctor's note if you're ill for more than seven days, and you will be classed as a long-term illness if you are sick for more than 14 days.

Long-term illness

If you are off with a long-term sickness due to a mental health condition or illness, and you can prove you have 'limited capability for work' you will not be required to work.

You will need to fill in a UC50 form and attend a Work Capability Assessment - a test to decide if you can claim Universal Credit with a limited capability for work element.

If you have any other health problems or your mental health condition affects your life but doesn't mean you have 'limited capability for work' you should still inform your work coach.

If your work coach refuses to change your claimant commitment based on your health, you could claim they are discriminatory against you. If you believe this is the case, you should speak to a local welfare benefits advisor who can give you further guidance.

Domestic abuse

If you have experienced domestic violence or any other form of abuse, you should inform the DWP immediately. You can do this to your work coach, or if you feel more comfortable, you can call the Universal Credit helpline.

Once you have reported the abuse to the DWP, you will no longer be required to complete any work-related activities for 13 weeks, as long as you no longer live with your partner. This is extended to 26 weeks if you are a single parent and your child is under 16.

You will also need to send the DWP a statement from someone in an official position, for example, a:

  • Police officer.
  • Social worker.
  • Healthcare professional.
  • Housing officer.
  • Support worker.
  • Employer.

If you don't officially report the domestic abuse or continue to live with your partner after, the DWP will not change your Claimant Commitment.

If you feel threatened at home and need help

If your partner or someone you live with is making you feel threatened or anxious, you should always seek help.

You can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free on 0808 2000 247 at any time.

You can also contact the Men’s Advice Line for free on 0808 801 0327 Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm.

You care for someone

If you care for someone, your work coach should consider this when creating your Claimant Commitment.

You should inform your work coach immediately if you have a temporary issue with care, meaning you won't be able to complete tasks on your Claimant Commitment.

Your work coach should be able to make allowances based on your caring responsibilities if they are reasonable.

Specifying your job

If you are expected to look for work as part of your Claimant Commitment, you will usually be expected to accept any job you have been offered that pays at least the minimum wage.

For the first 4 weeks of your UC claim, you can decide what jobs you want to apply for. If you have not found a job in your preferred occupation or sector after that time, you will usually be expected to look for work in any sector or occupation.

Can I specify what jobs I can apply for if I have a mental health condition?

Your work coach should adjust your Claimant Commitment if your mental health condition means you only feel comfortable in specific jobs. For example, you don't want a customer-facing job because you have social anxiety.

What if I have just lost my job?

If you are recently unemployed, you can ask your work coach to restrict your search to a specific job for 4 weeks. For example, you may want to look for engineering jobs that pay a similar amount to your previous job because you have experience in this field of work

To do this, you will need to provide evidence that you have a reasonable chance of finding the specific job you want. To do this, you can show your work coach relevant experience, training, and qualifications.

Commuting time to your job

You shouldn't be expected to apply for jobs that would take you more than 90 minutes to commute each way.

You should explain to your work coach if your mental health condition or any caring responsibilities mean you should reduce your expected travel time further - if this is agreed, make sure your Claimant Commitment considers this.

Other reasons to make a change to your Claimant Commitment

You may have other reasons to ask for a temporary change to your Claimant Commitment. You should tell your work coach if your circumstances mean:

  • You have to attend a funeral.
  • You have a family emergency.
  • An immediate family member has died, and you need time off work to grieve.
  • You can't get childcare.
  • You are moving house.

Your work coach may decide to change your Claimant Commitment, but you may still be required to do some work-related activities.

What to do if your work coach won't change your Claimant Commitment

If your Universal Credit work coach won't change your Claimant Commitment and you believe the decision is unfair, you should make a complaint to the DWP.

If you receive a Universal Credit sanction despite explaining your situation to your work coach, you can challenge the decision with a mandatory reconsideration.

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