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Universal Credit (UC) - What activities will I have to do when claiming Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people of working-age who are on a low income.

Last reviewed 08 April 2024

What activities will I have to do when claiming Universal Credit?

What is a claimant commitment?

The Jobcentre might expect you to do certain things in order to receive Universal Credit. This is called your ‘claimant commitment’.

What you are expected to do will depend on your circumstances, such as your health, your caring responsibilities and whether or not you are working at the moment.

If you are claiming Universal Credit as a couple, you will each have your own claimant commitment based on your own circumstances.    

If you fail to meet your claimant commitment, you might be sanctioned.  

Situations and claimant commitment rules

Click on the links below that relate to your situation(s) to find out more about claimant commitment rules under Universal Credit.

I'm ill or disabled

If your illness or disability makes it harder for you to work, it is important to make sure the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) knows about it. When you first apply for Universal Credit, you can declare any health conditions on the application form. If you become ill or disabled while claiming Universal Credit, you should report it as a change of circumstances.

Your work coach should arrange for you to have an assessment of how your illness or disability affects your ability to work. This is called a ‘limited capability for work’ assessment.

This has three possible results: 

Limited capability for work and work-related activity

If you are found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity, you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the Jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach.

Limited capability for work

If you are found to have limited capability for work, you will be placed in the ‘work preparation’ group. You won’t be expected to look for jobs or move into work. However, you might be expected to do things to prepare to be ready to move into work, like taking part in a training course or updating your CV.

Fit for work

If you are found fit for work, your work coach should still adapt your claimant commitment to suit your needs. If you do not think your claimant commitment has taken into account the impact of your health conditions, you should get advice.

Terminal Illness 

If you have a terminal illness and have less than twelve months to live, you don’t have to have an assessment of how your illness affects your ability to work. You will be found to have limited capability for work and work-related activity.

To make a claim for terminal illness in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland:

  • You need an SR1 medical form if your health professional thinks you might have less than twelve months to live.

I'm caring for someone sick or disabled

If you are providing 35 or more hours per week of care for someone who gets the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the daily living component of Adult Disability Payment, the middle or high rate care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), the middle or high care rate of Child Disability PaymentAttendance Allowance or Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP), you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach. You won’t be expected to look for work. This applies even if you are working too much to be able to claim Carer’s Allowance or Carer Support Payment (Scotland).

If you are providing less than 35 hours per week of care or the person you care for doesn’t receive the right benefits, you should tell your work coach about your caring responsibilities and ask that your claimant commitment is adapted to take them into account. If you do not feel your claimant commitment has taken into account your caring responsibilities, you should get advice.

I'm looking after a child

If you are claiming Universal Credit as a couple, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will ask you to choose one of you as the ‘main carer’ for your children. The children will only affect the claimant commitment of the main carer.

Your claimant commitment depends on the age of your youngest child.

My child is under 1

If your child is under 1 year old, you will be placed in the ‘no work-related requirements’ group. You won’t be expected to do any activities through the jobcentre and you won’t have a work coach. You won’t be expected to look for work. 

My child is aged 1

If your child is aged 1, you will be placed in the ‘work-focused interviews’ group. You won’t be expected to look for work. However, you might be asked to have interviews with a work coach about the kind of work you would like to do in the future.

My child is aged 2

If your child is aged 2, you will be placed in the ‘work preparation’ group. You won’t be expected to look for work but you might be expected to take part in activities to improve your chances of getting a job in the future.

My child is aged 3 - 12

If your child is aged between 3 and 12, you will be placed in the ‘all work-related requirements’ group. You will be expected to look for work and to be available to take up a job if one is offered to you. You won’t be expected to take a job that would mean working more than 30 hours per week and you won’t need to spend more than 30 hours per week looking for work.

My child is aged 13 or over

If your child is aged 13 or over, you will be placed in the ‘all work-related requirements’ group. You will be expected to look for work and to be available to take up a job if one is offered to you. You won’t be expected to take a job that would mean working more than 48 hours per week and you will need to spend 35 hours per week looking for work.

I'm working

You won’t be expected to do any activities at the Jobcentre if you are working and earning more per month than someone would earn working at minimum wage for the number of hours you are expected to work. This is called your ‘earnings threshold’. You can find more information in our guide Working hours and Benefits

Example

Alice is 29. Her son is aged 3, so she would be expected to work 30 hours per week. Because of her age, her minimum wage rate is £11.44 per hour. This means Alice’s earnings threshold is 30 x 11.44 = £343.20 per week or £1,487.20 per month. Alice works 20 hours per week and earns £18 per hour (£360 per week), so she is earning more than her earnings threshold and won’t have to do any activities at the jobcentre.

If you are self employed

If you are self-employed, the earnings threshold won’t apply to you. You won’t be expected to do any activities at the jobcentre or to look for work. However, you might be affected by the minimum income floor, which is also calculated based on what your claimant commitment would have been if you weren’t self employed.

Earning less than your earnings threshold

If you are working as an employee but are earning less than your earnings threshold, you might be expected to do some activities at the jobcentre. As long as you are employed and have household earnings of more than £677 per month (if you are single) or £1083 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you won’t be expected to look for work or be available for work. This does not apply to income that comes from self employment or income from other sources such as pensions. You might still be asked to take part in activities to increase your chances of getting a job.

If you are working but are earning less than £677 per month (if you are single) or £1083 per month joint income (if you are a member of a couple), you will be expected to look for more work and be available for work.

There are some exceptions if your partner is not expected to work. If your partner is not expected to work (for example, because they're a carer or have Limited Capability for Work), the single person threshold will be used instead of the couple threshold. 

I'm over Pension age

If you are over Pension age, you won’t be expected to take part in any activities at the jobcentre and you won’t be expected to look for work.

None of these apply to me

If none of these situations apply to you, you are likely to be put in the ‘all work-related activities’ group. You will be expected to spend 35 hours per week looking for work and will usually be expected to be available for work of up to 48 hours per week. 

If you have recently experienced domestic violence, bereavement or have some other good reason why you can’t do what your work coach expects you to do, you should tell your work coach. If you don't feel your claimant commitment takes your needs into account, you should get advice.

Several of these apply to me

If several of the situations apply to you, you will be placed in the lowest activity group you satisfy. You should look at the claimant commitment rules for situations you fall into.

Example

For example, Elis is working, has a disability and a 1 year old daughter. Elis earns £200 per month from work, so on this basis Elis would be expected to look for work. Elis’s disability means he has limited capability for work, so on this basis he would be expected to do work preparation. Elis is the main carer for his daughter, so on this basis Elis would be expected to take part in work focused interviews. Work focused interviews are the lowest activity group Elis satisfies, so he will only have to take part in work focused interviews and he will not have to do work preparation or look for work. 

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