Claimants of Universal Credit are guided through their local Job Centre to find a reasonably paid job according to their individual circumstances. Through this article, we will learn more about a work search review and what it entails, as well as the role of claimant commitment for your Universal Credit claim and different situations under which individuals can claim this benefit.

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 regards to finding a paid job at the earliest. 

The individual’s personal circumstances and the terms agreed to by them in the Claimant Claimant form the basis for the work activity related group that claimants are assigned. On the basis of this, work coaches make efforts to ensure that claimants are able to keep up with their commitments with regard to searching and preparing for a job.

During the work search interview, 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 interviews. 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. 

If your 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.

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.

Below is a detailed classification of the UC claim you can be eligible for on the basis of the number of children you may have:

Number of childrenAmount of Universal Credit
First child£282.50 (born before 6 April 2017) £237.08 (born on or after 6 April 2017)
Second child and any other eligible children£237.08 per child
Disabled or severely child£128.89 or £402.41

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.

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). 

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.

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.

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.

Which Change In Circumstances Affect Universal Credit?

Certain changes in your circumstances can bear an impact on the benefits you receive including Universal Credit. If you hide such facts from the authorities with the intention to avoid a reduction in your benefits, you may be penalised or taken to court. Therefore, it is advisable if you face any of the following situations, you must inform the relevant authorities by signing in to your Universal Credit account

  • 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)

Conclusion:

From the above discussion we can conclude that a work search interview aims to serve to key purposes; one is to take updates from claimants regarding progress on their ability to find paid work and the second is to guide and support them in finding an appropriate job. Such reviews may be held weekly or fortnightly and help the work coach in assessing claimants’ progress and if a change in their circumstance requires changes to their claimant commitment.

FAQs: What Is A Work Search Review For Universal Credit?

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 to the claimants’ circumstances and their progress regarding their work search.

How often is a work search review?

A work search review; which is a key component of the JSA regime, can be held on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

What is a benefit review?

A benefit review is the reassessment of the payment being made to claimants on the basis of their current circumstances.

References:

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

Work Search Reviews.pdf

Universal Credit: further information for families – GOV.UK

Can I be a stay at home mum and claim Universal Credit?

Universal Credit and you – GOV.UK

Can I claim Universal Credit if I leave my job voluntarily?

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

Getting a job and Universal Credit

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