While the aim of Universal Credit is to provide support to individuals on low-income, the DWP also undertakes certain programs to ensure that individuals who can become financially independent are able to receive the required support and encouragement. Through this blog post, we will explore how this is made possible through the Light Touch Regime for Universal Credit for claimants. Additionally, we will also explore details regarding Universal Credit, the eligibility criteria, as well as the concept of limited capability for work and relevant assessments in this regard.

What Is The Light Touch Group For Universal Credit?

The Light Touch Regime aims to encourage and motivate its members to become financially independent and not have to rely on Universal Credit in the near future. It is a subgroup assigned to those individuals who belong to the following classification for Universal Credit claim:

  • they are part of the All Work-Related Requirement (AWRR) Group 
  • their earnings are between the Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) and the CET

It also includes claimants who belong to any of the following situations:

  • individual earnings are above the AET
  • there are no individual earnings but household earnings are above the AET
  • individual earnings are below the individual AET but household earnings are above the household AET

The Administrative Earnings Threshold (AET) for individuals has been set as follows: 

  • £345 per month for an individual
  • £552 per month for a joint claim

Unearned income and earnings from self-employment cannot be used for AET. These should be incomes received from an employer. Claimants who leave a job (or are asked to leave) must inform the DWP within 5 days of the incident. If they are found to have left a job of their own accord without sound reasoning, claimants may be sanctioned by the DWP through reduced UC payments.

The Conditionanility Earning Threshold (CET) is calculated by taking account of individual circumstances; by multiplying the National Minimum Wage (NMW) by the number of hours a claimant is expected to engage in work-related activity.

Claimants who are assigned the Light Touch Regime do not face any work search related requirements. However, they are required to participate in two Work Search Interviews scheduled on day one and week 8 in the regime. These interviews are usually held via a phone call and may only be arranged in person in case no phone contact is established with the claimant.

After the Work Search interviews, neither are there any mandatory requirements to be fulfilled by individuals belonging to the Light Touch Regime, nor are they required to be part of any Work Search Reviews. Any other work-related activity that they participate in is voluntary and mutually agreed upon between them and the DWP. 

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.

Does Limited Capability For Work On Universal Credit Get Backdated?

Yes, the Limited Capability for Work element that eligible candidates claim on Universal Credit can be backdated for up to three months. The reason for this is the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which evaluates an applicant’s claim that their health condition or disability prevents them from performing work-related tasks. There is a three-month waiting period for the WCA to be confirmed. 

Once their claim is approved, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will compensate claimants for this period by providing a three month backdate of payments for the limited capability for work element on Universal Credit. If due to any reason, the WCA takes more than three months to be confirmed, the DWP will clear backdated payments up to that point in time.

The DWP will carry out a Work Capability Assessment to provide evidence in support of their claim. If an applicant has been unable to work for 4 weeks due to a health condition or disability, they will be referred for a WCA on the 29th day. The assessment can either be carried out in person or through a phone/video call. It generally takes around three months from your WCA to the time that the DWP reaches a decision regarding your LCW claim.

During this time, 

  • applicants of new claimants will receive the standard allowance
  • claimants continue getting the same universal credit amount if they are reporting WCA due to a change of circumstances

However, if applicants of LCW fall into any of the below categories, they will not be required to undergo a WCA:

  • the claimant’s age qualifies them to receive a state pension
  • the claimant is receiving Attendance Allowance. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) with the enhanced daily living component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the highest rate care component.

The waiting period for WCA will not apply under the following conditions:

  • the claimant is are terminally ill
  • the claimant is part of a work-related activity group or support group due to their Employment and Support Allowance and is being moved over to Universal Credit
  • the claimant was in the work-related activity or support group a day before their Universal Credit award began but it was stopped due to rules about time limiting
  • if the claimant was previously awarded an LCW but either they stopped being a couple or become a couple
  • the claimant had already begun their waiting period through a previously awarded LCW claim

Once approved, the LCW element will add £343.60 each month to your previous UC claim.

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.

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.

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. If you lose your job due to any valid reason(s), you will be able to reclaim your previous Universal Credit amount.

Conclusion:

Through this article, we have learnt that the Light Touch Group for Universal Credit not only includes individuals who need financial help from the state but are also capable of achieving financial independence through the DWPs’ encouragement and support. This is the reason why even though they have no mandatory commitments to fulfil other than 2 work-related interviews, claimants belonging to the Light Touch Group are provided opportunities to be able to increase their earnings.

FAQs: What Is The Light Touch Group For Universal Credit? 

What is a conditionality group?

A conditionality group is based on the capabilities and circumstances of an individual claiming Universal Credit. There are six conditionality groups for Universal Credit that assign work-related activities to claimants, categorically based on the group that they are assigned to.

What is the conditionality earnings threshold?

The Conditionality Earnings Threshold aims to ensure that Universal Credit claimants who earn above a certain level are not required to engage in work-related activities. It is calculated by taking account of individual circumstances; by multiplying the National Minimum Wage (NMW) by the number of hours a claimant is expected to engage in work-related activity.

Do you get extra money for limited capability for work?

Yes, you get extra money in addition to your Universal Credit claim for limited capability for work. Additionally, you can also claim back payments if you can provide the required evidence to the DWP. 

What is the work-related activity group?

Your work-related activity group is part of your claimant commitment to Universal Credit. There are four such groups which include no work-related requirements group, work-focused interview group, work preparation group and all work-related activity group.

What are the categories for Universal Credit?

Universal Credit is replacing a number of state benefits including Housing Benefit, Income Support, (income-based) Jobseeker’s Allowance, (income-related) Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

References:

Supporting claimants in the light-touch regime

Conditionality regime / Further Universal Credit Information

Claimant commitment | UC Essentials

Health conditions, disability and Universal Credit – GOV.UK

Universal Credit: Health conditions and disability guide – GOV.UK

Universal Credit Limited Capability for Work

A long-term health condition or disability

Does limited capability for work get backdated?

Getting a job and Universal Credit

Understanding Universal Credit – How earnings affect Universal Credit

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