Depending on the results of the work capability for assessment and an individual’s Claimant Commitment, there is a varying number of hours that are agreed upon by claimants of Universal Credit in work-related activity. The aim of this article is to explain to readers what it means by spending 35 hours per week in a job search when a claimant agrees to it in the Claimant Commitment. Additionally, we will also discuss different situations that determine an individual’s ability to claim Universal Credit and how the benefit provides continuous support to claimants across the UK.

How Do You Spend 35 Hours In Job Search To Claim Universal Credit?

If you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment for Universal Credit that you will spend 35 hours per week working or looking for work, you will be required to keep up with this commitment to continue claiming Universal Credit payments. This includes the following activities:

  • drafting an appropriate CV and cover note
  • customising your CV and cover note to each job that you apply for
  • conducting research on employers and transport links
  • setting up online job alerts
  • creating an online employee profile
  • applying for suitable positions
  • following up on job applications
  • social networking with the intent to look for a job
  • preparing for your interview

You must record your activities in order to track your progress and share the results with your work coach. This will serve as evidence that you have managed to keep up with your Claimant Commitment of spending 35 hours looking for a job. Once you do start a job, you can keep the authorities updated on your working hours.

However, if you are a mother whose youngest child is younger than 1 year of age, you will not be expected to look for work while you are on Universal Credit. Below are details of your responsibilities regarding work depending on the age of your child/children if you are claiming Universal Credit:

Age of your youngest childYour responsibilities
Under 1 yearYou don’t need to look for work in order to claim Universal Credit.
1 yearYou don’t need to look for work if you are not already working but you will be asked to attend work-related interviews with a work coach.
2 yearsYou should take active steps to prepare for work including making a CV. 
3 or 4 yearsYou should work or look for work for a maximum of 16 hours per week. This may include training and work-related interviews.
Between 5 and 12 yearsYou should work or look for work for a maximum of 25 hours per week. This may include training and work-related interviews.
13 years and aboveYou should work or look for work for a maximum of 35 hours per week. This may include training and work-related interviews.

If you or your partner have to take care of a child and one of you have limited capability for work, you may be able to claim a work allowance despite one of the partners having a job. However, if you were taking the help of Universal Credit to pay mortgage interest payments, you will lose that claim once you get a job.

If claimants are found to have hidden such information deliberately from the authorities, they may face a penalty, the amount may be recovered later on or they may be even be taken to court.

If claimants deliberately refuse a job or an increase in pay to avoid benefits reduction despite agreeing to it in their Claimants’ Commitment, they may be sanctioned by the Department for Work and Pensions. This means that their Universal Credit payments will be temporarily reduced.

Can Stay At Home Mums Get Universal Credit?

Yes, stay at home mums can claim Universal Credit. 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 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 as 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, could be granted limited capability for work or will be assigned limited capability for work and work activity.

What Counts As Income For Universal Credit?

During your benefits calculation by the DWP, not only is your job-related income(s) taken into account, but the authorities will also consider unearned incomes. These are incomes that individuals receive without having to work.  

Unearned incomes that affect your Universal Credit payments include the following:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (new style)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (new style)
  • Pension Income
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • State benefits that aren’t replaced by Universal Credit

For every £1 earned through any of the above means, £1 will be reduced from your Universal Credit payments.

What Is Universal Credit?

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.

Who Is Eligible For Universal Credit?

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.

When Do I Tell Universal Credit I Have A Job?

You should inform the Department for Work and Pensions immediately when you have a job, an increase in pay or any other change in circumstances that affect your eligibility criteria or the scale of payments that you receive in the form of Universal Credit (or any other state benefit). 

In case of finding a job, you are required to provide the below information to the DWP:

  • who your employer is 
  • the date when the job will start 
  • the date by when your pay will increase

It is understandable that with a rise in income, you will face a reduction in your benefits. In the case of Universal Credit, for every £1 that you (or your partner earn), 55p will be counted as income during your Universal Credit calculation. While communicating a change to the DWP, you should state your disposable income in such cases, which is the take-home amount after your deduction of taxes, NIC and pension fund from your gross income.

Conclusion:

Based on your agreement with the DWP through your work coach, you will be required to spend 35 hours at a job or look for one while you are on Universal Credit payments. The reason for this is to provide your support in becoming financially independent in the future and improve your living conditions as you are able to increase your income. However, there are certain concessions for stay at home mums with young children aged 4 years and below. They may benefit from committing to lesser working hours spent at a job or job search.

FAQs: How Do You Spend 35 Hours In Job Search To Claim Universal Credit?

How many hours does Universal Credit want you to work?

Unless you are a mother with the youngest child under 4 years of age, the Department for Work and Pension will expect you to work or be involved in work search activities between 16 hours to 25 hours per week if you claim Universal Credit.

How often do you have to go to the Job Centre on Universal Credit?

You will have to visit the Job Centre every three months if you claim Universal Credit. The purpose is to discuss your progress related to finding work as well as if there has been a change in your circumstances.

Can Universal Credit look at your bank account?

While the DWP doesn’t regularly monitor your bank account, if they suspect that someone is committing claim fraud, they have the authority to gain access to one’s bank accounts and financial transactions.

How much is Universal Credit for a carer?

The carer element for Universal Credit is £163.73. If you are a carer, you must inform the Universal Credit centre. 

How much can a single person earn on Universal Credit?

If you are single and under 25 years of age, you can earn £344.00 on Universal Credit and if you are single and 25 or older, you can claim £411.51.

References:

Universal Credit and you – GOV.UK.

What does “35 hours job search” mean? – a Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions – WhatDoTheyKnow

Universal Credit: What you need to know as job-hunting rules restart – Citizens Advice

Supporting claimants in the light-touch regime

Conditionality regime / Further Universal Credit Information

Universal credit and you

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

Universal Credit explained | MoneyHelper

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