Universal Credit appointments are mandatory for claimants if they want to avoid being sanctioned by the DWP. Through this blog post, we will review the reasons that are acceptable by the DWP in case a claimant misses their appointment. In addition to this, we will also explore the different situations for which a claimant needs to meet with their work coach.

What Are Acceptable Reasons For Missing A Universal Credit Appointment?

Some of the reasons acceptable for missing out on a Universal Credit appointment include the following:

  • personal emergency due to ill health
  • domestic emergency including serious illness death of a close relative or friend
  • detained by the police
  • attending court or a tribunal
  • attended a job interview
  • severe weather conditions prevented commute

If a claimant has faced any of the above listed unfortunate incidents, they must provide evidence of the reason for missing out on an appointment with their work coach. On the other hand, if a claimant is not faced with any of these situations and yet they are unable to meet their work coach as per the scheduled time, they must inform them well in advance so that a meeting can be rescheduled for a later time; since the purpose of such appointments and meeting is to keep the DWP updated with the claimant’s progress on work-related activities.

If a benefits claimant deliberately misses out on an appointment with their work coach, they will be sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pension. This means that their benefits claim will be reduced in amount for the next few months. 

Universal Credit is a state benefit for UK citizens above the age of 18 and below state pension age. It aims to provide financial assistance to individuals who are either out of work or on a low income. It is a monthly payment that claimants receive to help them to cover living costs.

Universal Credit has replaced six benefits, referred to as the “legacy benefits” by serving a single payment for households and helping them meet housing and childcare costs. These include:

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Housing Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Additionally, it provides support for health conditions, disabilities or the role of a carer that prevent claimants from working full time or working at all.

To qualify for Universal Credit, claimants must be able to fulfil the below eligibility criteria:

  • aged between 18 (in some cases it may be 16 or 17) and state pension age
  • unemployed or on low income
  • between the claimant and their partner, total savings are less than £6,000
  • experiencing high costs for child care
  • suffering from a disability or health condition
  • caring for someone else

The amount of Universal Credit that an individual receives depends on their personal circumstances and income (if any). For instance, someone who is single and younger than 25 years of age will be eligible for Universal Credit amounting to around £257 per month. Meanwhile, this amount will rise to around £509 for someone who is living with a partner and either one of them or both of them are above the age of 25.

What Is A Work Search Review For Universal Credit?

A work search interview is a periodic dialogue between a Universal Credit (earlier JSA) claimant and their Work Coach at the Universal Credit Job Centre so that (a) the claimants can update their work coach regarding job search and job preparation activities that they have undertaken and (b) the work coach can provide guidance and support to the claimants to be able to find a job.

A work search review can also help in identifying a change in the claimant’s circumstances that may require changes to their previous claimant commitment and the work search related group assigned to them.

Work search reviews can be held weekly or fortnightly; sometimes held as a 10-minute phone call between a claimant and their work coach and other times as a detailed discussion at the local job centre.

Based on the terms of the agreement in the Claimant Commitment of a Universal Credit claimant, the work coach appointed at the UC jobcentre is committed to providing support and guidance to claimants with regard to finding a paid job at the earliest. 

What Happens At A Universal Credit Commitments Review Meeting?

A commitments review meeting is a basic discussion between the work coach from the jobcentre at DWP and a Universal Credit claimant to assess the individual’s ability to keep up with their Claimant Commitment as well as provide support and guidance to encourage progress. If the claimant has experienced a change in circumstances that can potentially affect their Universal Credit claim, they are expected to share such updates with their work coach during this session so that a new Claimant Commitment can be drafted, if need be.

These meetings are held regularly either through a phone call or a visit to the local jobcentre and it is mandatory for claimants to attend the review to keep their work coach updated on their progress regarding the commitments made with regard to their Universal Credit claim.

During a commitments review meeting, a work coach may inquire the claimant regarding the nature and quality of activities involved in searching for a job, the amount of time spent in such activities as well as the outcomes of such activities. Claimants are advised to keep evidence of their work search ready during such sessions. 

What Do They Ask You In A Universal Credit Phone Appointment?

In addition to your personal identification details, you can be asked about any of the following areas of your life during a phone appointment with regards to the Universal Credit claim:

  • your identification details from your passport or driving license
  • your postcode
  • your NI number
  • your bank account, building society or credit union account number 
  • your monthly rental payments
  • your landlord’s address 
  • details of your savings and capital investments
  • details of your income and benefits
  • details of any child care payments made by you
  • child benefit reference numbers (if any)

This is a preliminary session that is usually held via telephonic conversation. The purpose of this meeting is for the DWP officer to assess the claim made by a UC applicant.

Why Do I Need A Phone Appointment For Universal Credit?

A phone appointment with regards to your Universal Credit claim is a normal part of the process as the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) gather required information as evidence in support of your claim. 

These interviews may be held in person; however, to maintain a faster pace as well as avoid in-person visits since the onset of the covid 19 pandemic, phone appointments have been encouraged by the DWP and appreciated by claimants as well. 

Usually, a DWP adviser called a Work Coach will be the one asking the questions during a phone appointment for Universal Credit. The purpose of the interview is to confirm the information provided in your claim, assess your income and expense details, and discuss the work-related options available for you so that a Claimant Commitment may be drawn up. Once this document is finalised, you will become eligible to receive Universal Credit payments.

What Is A Work Capability For Assessment?

If your Universal Credit claim is based on medical conditions that prevent you from working, you will be asked by the DWP to provide evidence for such a claim and undergo an assessment process. This is termed a Work Capability for Assessment (WCA) and its purpose is to confirm the medical or disability claim made by applicants of Universal Credit.

During the assessment, applicants will be asked questions (in person or through a video call) regarding their health and how their conditions impact not just their ability to work but also to perform everyday chores.

After this assessment, a WCA form or a UC50 is sent to applicants who will fill in the required information before posting the completed form to the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) by the date requested.

After your form has been assessed, the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments will send their feedback report to the Universal Credit department at the Department of Work and Pensions. On the basis of your WCA, a decision will be made regarding whether you are fit to work and if you should be granted limited capability for work or will be assigned limited capability for work and work activity.

Conclusion:

By virtue of the detailed discussion above, we are now able to list down some acceptable reasons that prevent a claimant from being sanctioned by the DWP in case they miss their appointment with a work coach. Generally, a meeting with a work coach is held periodically, is prescheduled and is mandatory for a claimant to attend.

FAQs: What Are Acceptable Reasons For Missing A Universal Credit Appointment?

How long does it take for Universal Credit to review your claim?

Once a claimant has provided all the necessary documents required for their Universal Credit application, it generally takes between 5 to 6 weeks between their application being approved and the first Universal Credit payment is received by them.

What do they ask in a Universal Credit meeting?

You can be asked for details of your savings and capital investments, your income and benefits to your family structure, health conditions as well as personal circumstances that can impact your ability to work in a Universal Credit meeting.

How long is a work search review?

An initial work search interview can be 10 minutes long and would possibly be held via phone call. However, with the passage of time, the duration may increase depending on the exchange of updates to be shared and the interview may be held at the local jobcentre.

Why is my Universal Credit being reviewed?

Your claim for Universal Credit may be reviewed if you have experienced a change in circumstances due to which there may be changes to the UC payments you receive.

How often do you see your work coach on Universal Credit?

Usually, you get to meet your work coach at Universal Credit every three months. The purpose of these meetings is to discuss updates on the claimants’ circumstances and their progress regarding their work search.

References:

Fail to attend UC.pdf

Universal Credit and your claimant commitment – GOV.UK

Understanding Universal Credit – What you need to do on Universal Credit.

Universal credit and you

Universal credit interviews

Preparing for your Universal Credit interview

Universal Credit interview, work coach and activities

Going to your Universal Credit interview – Citizens Advice

Work Search Reviews Universal Credit aims for claimants to get as much work as they reasonably can do as quickly as possible

Claimant Commitment and UC Work Coach – Renfrewshire Website

Universal Credit and improving your skills for work

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