Claimants or new applicants can expect to receive calls from the DWP regarding queries, updates or confirmation of their Universal Credit claim. The aim of this article is to explore the possibilities that one may face in case they miss a call from the DWP regarding their Universal Credit claim. For a detailed overview of such real-life situations, we will assess other scenarios in which claimants may miss a work review meeting and may be faced with challenging circumstances as a result. We will also review what you can expect to be asked during the assessment interview phone call with the DWP as well as a work capability assessment.

What Happens If I Miss A Call From Universal Credit?

If you miss a call from Universal Credit, you can wait until they call you back. If a claimant or applicant misses a phone call from Universal Credit, the Department for Work and Pension does not expect them to call back; mainly because it is quite difficult to trace the person and reason for the call even if you call back on the same number from which you’ve missed the call. 

The DWP claims that in case their call is missed, the department will make sure that it is followed up with another call in the following days. The same applies in the case the claimant is busy at the time of a call as it can be rescheduled by the DWP.

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.

You will need to keep relevant documents available during the call as you will be asked quesitons regarding the following during a phone interview for your 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)

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:

  • 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. 

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 or death of a close relative or friend
  • detained by the police
  • attending court or a tribunal
  • attended a job interview
  • severe weather conditions prevented the 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. 

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 jobcentre.

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 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.

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 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.

What Are Universal Credit Sanctions?

If a claimant does not attend meetings with their work coach at the Universal Credit Job Centre or fails to keep up with the terms agreed to in the Claimant Commitment, the Department for Work and Pensions will impose sanctions on their Universal Credit payments. This means that claimants will receive reduced payments or they may be stopped altogether on a temporary basis. 

The levels of Universal Credit sanctions are classified below:

Higher: This is a sanction imposed for 91 days (13 weeks) if it is your first higher-level sanction and 182 days (26 weeks) if it is your second (or subsequent) higher level sanction in any 364 day period. It is levied in case claimants fail to apply for jobs that they have committed to, are refused jobs, quit their job or reduced their working hours prior to claiming Universal Credit.

Medium: This is a sanction for 28 days if it is your first one in a 364 day period and 91 days for all subsequent sanctions during the same time period. It is levied in case the claimant fails to make attempts to increase their earnings or attend work search related interviews.

Low: A low-level sanction lasts 7 days if it is your first one, 14 days if it is the second one and 28 days within a 364 day period if it is the third sanction. It is applicable in cases where claimants fail to attend a work-focused interview, a training course, increase their earnings or take a specific action to get paid work.

Lowest: The lowest sanction applies when claimants fail to take part in a work-focused interview and will remain in place until you meet your commitment(s).

Conclusion:

The discussion in this blog post makes it clear that in case you miss a phone call from the DWP regarding your UC claim, you may have nothing to worry about. You may try calling back but it is best to wait for the DWP to contact you again as they normally call claimants again if they have missed a call. However, such is not the case when someone deliberately misses a review meeting with their work coach as there are only certain situations that may be excusable.

FAQs: What Happens If I Miss A Call From Universal Credit?

What happens if you miss a Universal Credit appointment?

If you deliberately miss a work search review appointment regarding your Universal Credit claim without good reason, you may be sanctioned by the DWP and your payments may be stopped or reduced.

Why do I have a phone appointment with Universal Credit?

Your phone appointment with your work coach can be due to any reason ranging from a basic interview to confirm the information shared in your claim or a review to discuss the activities you may undertake and the support the DWP can provide to enable you in increasing your income. 

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.

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 claimants no longer need to call to start claims as 1.2million sign-up for benefits.

Don’t call us – we’ll call you – GOV.UK

Missed call from DWP – Benefits and Work Forum

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

Fail to attend UC.pdf

Universal Credit and your claimant commitment – GOV.UK

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.