Claimants of Universal Credit are required to agree to a set of terms called the Claimant Commitment. Through this blog post, we will explain the details of what happens during a commitments review meeting which is held periodically and organised by the local jobcentre. Additionally, we will also discuss the change in circumstances of a claimant that must be shared during such sessions so that their Claimant Commitment is reviewed and redrafted. And finally, we will look at different situations and how they are to be communicated to the DWP by a claimant.

What Happens At A Universal Credit Commitments Review Meeting?

A commitments review meeting is a basic discussion between the work coach from the job centre 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 job centre 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.

If you have experienced a change in your personal circumstances such as the following situations, you must inform your work coach of them during the commitments review meeting as it will impact the terms of your Claimant Commitment:

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

Additionally, if you have experienced any of the following changes, you are expected to inform your work coach as it will bear an impact on your Universal Credit payments:

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)

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. These may include printouts of their resumes, job posts that they have applied to, feedback from potential employers, etc.

If a work coach is not satisfied with the progress (or lack of it) regarding finding a job from the claimant’s side or finds out that they have not been able to keep up with the terms agreed in their claimant commitment, they may impose a sanction on the UC claim. This means that if a UC claimant is unable to perform desired tasks related to work search or work preparation, their UC payments can be reduced or stopped temporarily. 

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)

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

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.

Should I Tell Universal Credit I Have A Job In The Commitments Review Meeting?

You don’t have to wait until the commitments review meeting to inform your work coach that you have a job. In fact, you should inform the Department for Work and Pensions immediately when you have a job or an increase in pay. This can be done via a phone call, email or your online UC journal.

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.

Can I Claim Universal Credit If I Quit My Job?

Yes, you can claim Universal Credit if you quit your job voluntarily. However, it is essential that are able to prove a “good reason” for quitting your job if you want to continue receiving your Universal Credit payments without any deductions from the Department for Work and Pension.

According to Citizen’s Advice, good reasons for leaving your job (that will not affect your Universal Credit) payments include the following:

  • taking voluntary redundancy due to reasonable circumstances
  • weren’t paid according to the National Minimum Wage 
  • did not feel safe due to the lack of health and safety standards in the working conditions 
  • did not feel safe due to fear of being bullied or harassed 
  • worked on a zero-hour contract

You must be able to provide evidence of the reason that you claim for your resignation. If you are unable to claim a “good reason” for leaving your job and it appears to the DWP that you have voluntarily become unemployed, you will possibly face a sanction on your Universal Credit payments. This means that you will be paid a reduced amount of the benefit for a period of three months before you become entitled to the original amount.

Conclusion:

Through this discussion, we can conclude that a commitments review meeting is held periodically with the aim to assess a claimant’s progress in terms of finding work or increasing their pay. They receive support and guidance from their work coach so that they are able to meet the terms stated and agreed to in the Claimant Commitment. It is mandatory for all claimants to attend these sessions.

FAQs: What Happens At A Universal Credit Commitments Review Meeting?

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 being 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 job centre.

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:

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

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

Getting a job and Universal Credit

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

Health conditions, disability and Universal Credit – GOV.UK

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