Universal Credit claims can be made conveniently online. Your submission for claim along with relevant documents as evidential support will be followed by an interview with your Work Coach who will assess your work capabilities and confirms the information provided by you. This blog post will tell you what to expect during such an interview and the essential documents that you might require during the conversation. We will also discuss the full picture of Universal Credit and its eligibility criteria as well as the claimant’s circumstances that may affect this benefit.

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)

Additionally, you may also be asked questions related to the following aspects of your life with regard to your claimant commitment to Universal Credit:

  • personal circumstances such as child care or health concerns that may affect your work-related responsibilities
  • personal skills that you may have acquired outside your workplace
  • your educational qualifications and work experience
  • the type of job you aim to apply for
  • the number of hours you are willing to work

You may also be asked questions regarding the following areas of your personal life:

  • if you have any children (and how many)
  • whether or not you have a partner
  • if you think you will struggle to pay for childcare
  • if you have a disability or health condition
  • whether you are looking after someone with a disability or health condition
  • if you’ve experienced a personal loss in the recent 6 months
  • if you are being treated for alcohol or drug addiction
  • whether you have difficulty in reading or writing 
  • if you are homeless
  • if you have to do jury service 
  • whether you will struggle to pay for travel
  • if you have experienced domestic abuse

This telephonic conversation may generally last around 30 minutes and it is advisable to keep all relevant documents handy to be able to provide the required information without wastage of time. 

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 Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is a state benefit for UK citizens above the age of 18 and below the 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 prevents 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 childcare
  • 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.

Which Change In Circumstances Affect Universal Credit?

Certain changes in your circumstances can bear an impact on the benefits you receive including Universal Credit. Therefore, it is advisable if you face any of the following situations, you must inform the relevant authorities: 

  • a new mobile number, postal or email address
  • a change in your bank details
  • change of residence due to moving in with a partner
  • having a child
  • changes to your health condition
  • being unable to work due to an illness
  • starting to care for a child or disabled person
  • finding or finishing a job
  • changes to your earnings, savings, investments
  • changes to rental payments
  • changes to your immigration status (in case you’re not a British citizen)

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.

However, the following unearned incomes do not count towards Universal Credit calculations:

  • Child Benefit
  • Child Maintenance Payments
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Income From Boarders And Lodgers

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 or an increase in pay. 

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.

It must be kept in view that your Universal Credit payment does not automatically stop when you get a job. You will continue to receive the benefit, however, the amount will be reduced depending on your wages.

Conclusion:

According to Universal Credit statistics, there were approximately 5.9 million claimants of Universal Credit in July 2021. From your online application, form and document submission to your discussion-based interview (whether in person or through a phone call), all essential steps will confirm your eligibility for Universal Credit payments. While interviews were mostly held as a 50-minute in-person session in the past, it is now more common for work coaches to make a 30-minute phone call with claimants as they confirm details regarding their personal circumstances as well as working conditions. Since it is a pre-booked session you will have ample time to gather the necessary information that you will be required to confirm and prepare questions that you would like to ask your Work Coach.

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

What questions does Universal Credit ask?

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. Questions can be related to your identification details your qualification and work experiences, your health condition and some personal details including your family life.

How long does a Universal Credit phone interview take?

While interviews were mostly held as a 50-minute in-person session in the past, it is now more common for work coaches to make a 30-minute phone call with claimants as they confirm details regarding their personal circumstances as well as working conditions. The purpose of these interviews is for the Work Coach to confirm the personal, health, income and expense related information shared by claimants in their application form.

What evidence is needed for Universal Credit?

You will need evidence of your income, savings, health conditions, expenses and mentionable living conditions on the basis of which you have applied for a Universal Credit claim. It is best to keep copies of the required documents during your interview.

Can Universal Credit Check your bank account?

While Universal Credit may not be monitoring your bank account regularly, they can have access to your bank statements and transactions details through access provided by the Department for Work and Pensions. The purpose of this is to confirm your financial details as claimed in your application.

How many payslips do you need for Universal Credit?

You (and your partner) will need to provide at least 5 weekly or 2 monthly payslips in support of your Universal Credit claim. If this is not possible, then a detailed letter from your employer will be required who can state the details of your income and deductions (if any).

References:

Universal credit and you

Universal credit interviews

Preparing for your Universal Credit interview

Universal credit interviews | Disability Rights UK

Universal Credit interview, work coach and activities

Going to your Universal Credit interview – Citizens Advice

Universal Credit: Report a change of circumstances – GOV.UK

Getting a job and Universal Credit

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.

John has 22 years of experience in financial services. This spans across financial research, financial services (As a qualified mortgage broker and underwriter), financial trading and sales at global investment banks. While working as a publishing research analyst, he covered European bank credit and advised institutional clients on investment strategies at both JP Morgan and Societe Generale. John has passed all three levels of the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) programme.