This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Claimant Commitment'.

 
The Universal Credit Claimant Commitment 
 
Policy Aims  
 
Universal Credit is designed to ensure that for people who can, work is still the 
best route out of poverty and an escape from benefit dependence.  The aim of 
Universal Credit is to increase labour market participation, reduce 
worklessness and increase in-work progression.  The conditionality regime will 
recast the relationship between the citizen and the State from one centred on 
“entitlement” to one centred on a contractual concept that provides a range of 
support in return for claimant’s meeting an explicit set of responsibilities, with 
a sanctions regime to encourage compliance. A personalised approach to 
labour market activity, together with appropriate sanctions, will encourage and 
incentivise claimants to take responsibility for preparing for work, finding work 
and taking up more and better paid work. 
 
The Claimant Commitment is at the heart of this personalised approach. 
Compliance with requirements such as active job search and engagement 
with advisers, increases the chances that claimants find work more quickly 
than they would otherwise, but too often in the current system there is a lack 
of clarity about requirements and consequences. The Claimant Commitment 
will address this, for the first time setting out all requirements and 
consequences in one place – ensuring claimants understand what is required.   
 
The key role it will play is reflected in the fact that all claimants are required to 
accept a Claimant Commitment as a condition of entitlement to Universal 
Credit.  The Claimant Commitment will be accepted as part of the normal 
claim process, where appropriate during a face to face interview with an 
adviser.  The conditionality group a claimant falls into determines the 
requirements that can be imposed:   
 
All Work- Related Requirements Group 
 
Claimants who are able to work fall into this group. Our aim is to encourage 
them to get into as much work as they reasonably can do as quickly as 
possible. Advisers will take account of individual circumstances and set 
requirements that, if complied with, give the claimant the best possible 
prospects of finding paid work. All such requirements will be recorded on the 
Claimant Commitment.  Our initial focus will be on those claimants who would 
be eligible for current benefits. We will explore through trials, tests and pilots 
the right approach  for claimants who are in work. 
 
Work Focused Interview Only Group 
 
Claimants in this group, including people responsible for children aged 
between 1-5 and foster carers, will be required to attend regular work focused 
interviews which help them focus on how they can move into work in the 
future and the steps they can take to prepare for this.  
 
Work  Preparation Group 
 

 
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Claimants who have been determined at their Work Capability Assessment as 
having limited capability for work are subject only to work preparation and 
work focused interviews. Our aim will be to set requirements which help keep 
them  motivated by preparing them to return to work as soon as they are able, 
taking into account their capability and circumstances.   
 
No Work-Related Requirements Group 
 
For those claimants who are not expected to work, their Claimant 
Commitment will require them to notify promptly any changes in 
circumstances. For those claimants who are exempt from conditionality 
because of their earnings, the Claimant Commitment will also advise them of 
any implications of ending employment or loss of pay. 
 
The Claimant Commitment 
 
As accepting a Claimant Commitment is a condition of entitlement, in the case 
of joint claims, both eligible claimants within a household will be required to 
accept an individual Claimant Commitment, which will set out any work related 
requirements for each of them. If one member of the couple does not accept 
their Claimant Commitment, neither will be entitled to Universal Credit if they 
continue to apply as a couple.  The Claimant Commitment can be accepted 
electronically, by phone or in writing. The appropriate method will be made 
clear to the individual. 
 
We recognise that in some circumstances, claimants will find it difficult or be 
unable to accept a Claimant Commitment. In the following situations, we will 
support these people by: 
 
  lifting the requirement for those claimants who lack capacity.  In this 
context, “lack the capacity” primarily relates to those claimants with an 
appointee acting on their behalf. 
  In exceptional circumstances, deferring the requirement to accept a 
Claimant Commitment, without affecting the date of entitlement, such 
as an office being closed due to fire or flood.  
 
Claimants in the all work related requirements group 
 
This paper focuses on the development of requirements for those claimants 
falling into the all work related requirements group. These will be subject to an 
intensive conditionality regime and will be expected to actively look for and 
prepare for work.  These are claimants who would be eligible for Jobseeker’s 
Allowance in the current benefit system and who will be the first to access 
Universal Credit.   
 
In all such cases, the Claimant Commitment will be developed through a face 
to face interview with an adviser.  The interview will cover 4 core elements 
leading to a set of requirements to be recorded in a Claimant Commitment. 
These are:  
 
 Diagnosis 
of 
claimant 
capability and circumstance 
  Identifying the work a claimant is expected to look and be available for 
 
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  Establishing which work search, preparation and availability requirements 
should apply 
  Establishing ongoing contact requirements 
 
These will enable the adviser to develop and record a set of requirements 
that, if complied with, will give claimants the best prospects of finding work. 
 
Diagnosis of claimant capability and circumstance 
 
To support claimants get into as much work as they can as quickly as 
possible, advisers will determine a claimant’s capability and personal 
circumstances (including exploring work history, qualifications, health and 
caring responsibilities) . This will ensure the claimant is placed in the correct 
conditionality group and that all relevant circumstances are taken into 
account.   
 
Identifying the work a claimant is expected to look and be available for 
 
The adviser will identify a job requirement that sets out the work a claimant is 
expected to look for and accept if offered. The adviser will establish the type, 
location, hours and pattern of work a claimant will be expected to look and be 
available for.  Claimants will normally be expected to look for any suitable 
employment, paying the relevant national minimum wage,  that is within 1.5 
hours travelling distance from their home.  Claimants will also be expected to 
look for full time work.  
 
Claimants in the all work related group will normally be available to attend an 
interview and take up a job immediately. People with childcare responsibilities 
are permitted 48 hours to arrange alternative care and up to one month to 
arrange care before they take up a job. 
 
There are a variety of matters an adviser will take into account. Where a 
claimant has a strong work history the adviser can allow a claimant to restrict 
their jobsearch for up to 3 months to looking for work relating to a particular 
type of job and location (and associated salary) that they have recent 
experience in.  This is to be known as a ‘permitted period’. After this period, 
they will be expected to look for full time work at the national minimum wage. 
 
The adviser should also reflect on caring responsibilities and any health 
issues. There are specific provisions in regulations: 
  
  A parent of a child aged 5-12 years (or an older child where the child 
has exceptional care needs) will be expected to look for work in line 
with their caring responsibilities, for example during their child’s school 
hours.  
 
  Carers who are not entitled to the Carer’s Element but have regular 
caring responsibilities for a severely disabled person may have their 
hours of availability adjusted in line with their caring responsibilities. 
They will have to satisfy the adviser that the restricted hours offer 
reasonable prospects of finding paid employment. Those with at least 
 
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35 hours a week of caring responsibilities are exempt from all 
requirements 
 
  Where a claimant has a physical or mental impairment the requirement 
will be limited to what is considered reasonable in light of the 
impairment and they will not have to show they have ‘reasonable 
prospects’ of finding work. 
 
In establishing whether a claimant has “reasonable prospects” of obtaining 
paid work, the adviser will ensure that the limitations do not prevent the 
claimant from taking up any job, taking into account the jobs available in the 
local labour market and ensuring that the claimant is not restricting the hours 
they are available to such an extent that no jobs would be available.    
 
Establishing whether work search and availability requirements should 
apply 
 
When a claimant is expected to look for work, we will identify the requirements 
that will maximise their chances of finding work.  These will remain in place 
and the claimant will be expected to show how they have been meeting them 
on a regular basis. The requirements will be kept under review to check that 
they are still appropriate and likely to get the claimant into work.  
 
There will also be some circumstances, where requirements won’t be applied, 
for short periods of time. In certain circumstances, work search and availability 
requirements cannot be applied.  Regulations give a list of the particular 
circumstances where this may be appropriate.  This applies to claimants: 
 
  with a self certificate/medical evidence of illness of up to 14 days  
  receiving medical treatment outside of Great Britain  
  on jury service or attending court or a tribunal as a witness 
  whose partner, child or qualifying young person has died  
  participating in structured recovery for alcohol or drugs 
  who has in the last 6 months been a victim of domestic violence 
  who are prisoners 
  with a  protection order 
  engaged in a public duty. 
 
And at adviser discretion: 
 
  where the claimant is carrying out work preparation or voluntary work 
preparation 
 
  Where a claimant has a fit note beyond the first 14 days of sickness the 
adviser may decide that it is unreasonable to impose work availability and 
work search requirements on account of the claimant’s illness.  They may 
decide that, nevertheless, the claimant should be subject to other work 
related requirements, such as work preparation and/or work focused 
interview requirements 
  
  Where a claimant has a temporary emergency or temporary 
responsibilities and the adviser considers that it would be unreasonable to 
 
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require the claimant to comply with requirements for a short period of time 
(for example a claimant is dealing with a domestic emergency).   
 
Setting requirements to give claimants the best prospects of finding 
work 
 
By the end of the process, the intention is that the claimant is committed to 
complying with their requirements and motivated to find work. In setting 
requirements, the adviser will – working with the claimant – set out a detailed 
action plan, articulating the steps a claimant must take to give themselves the 
best prospects of finding a job.  
 
A claimant will be expected to devote the same number of hours to work 
search in accordance with this action plan as we would expect them to be 
available for work (up to a maximum of 35 hours a week). 
 
The action plan in the Claimant Commitment will reflect: 
 
- any mandatory work preparation requirements – such as attendance at 
training or CV clinics – that the adviser thinks will benefit the claimant. 
 
- other (non-mandatory) activity the claimant is engaged in that the adviser 
agrees improves their employment prospects.  For example, if they are 
undertaking paid work or undertaking voluntary work (though this can only 
account for 50% of the expected hours). 
 
- work search activity.  Work search activity will take up the majority of a 
claimant’s time – usually 35 hours - although we can take account of work 
preparation activity. In articulating a work search plan we will expect advisers 
to focus on quality of work search not quantity.  We do not intend to set out in 
guidance how long any particular activity should take as this will vary from 
claimant to claimant. Where a claimant has done all that could reasonably be 
expected of them – for example they have applied for all suitable jobs and 
undertaken all the activities set out in their work search and work preparation 
plan -  this may be considered sufficient even where the time taken was less 
than the hours expected.   
 
Establishing ongoing contact requirements 
 
Finally, advisers will determine how on an ongoing basis they will continue to 
support the claimant and check that they are continuing to take the necessary 
steps to move them into work.  This will consist of a tailored level of adviser 
contact - by telephone, electronically, or face to face – and regular reviews – 
at least fortnightly - to check progress and that a claimant is meeting their 
requirements.  Claimants in need of additional support are likely to be seen 
more often and for longer than those claimants more capable of looking for 
and finding work themselves. 
 
Accepting a claimant commitment 
 
Advisors will record all requirements in the Claimant Commitment. 
Requirements set will aim to get the claimant into work as quickly as possible 
but will be reasonable with regard to the claimant’s circumstances, such that 
 
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the claimant understands them. The consequences (sanctions) of any failure 
to comply will be made clear.  
 
There may be circumstances where the claimant is reluctant to accept the 
Claimant Commitment.  If the claimant refuses to accept, the adviser must 
offer a cooling off period of a maximum of 7 calendar days. If the claimant still 
refuses to accept their Claimant Commitment then he or she will no longer be 
entitled to claim Universal Credit 
 
The claimant can also request a reconsideration (second opinion) of the 
Claimant Commitment. This means that another adviser looks again at the 
requirements set in the Commitment and decides if they are reasonable. If the 
original requirements stand, then the date of entitlement may be moved to the 
date the claimant does accept their Claimant Commitment.     
 
A new Claimant Commitment should be drawn up in response to a change of 
circumstance, when old requirements expire, or when work search or work 
preparations activities are proving ineffective.  Any revised Claimant 
Commitment has to be accepted by the claimant for entitlement to continue. 
 
Sanctions 
 
Where a claimant has not completed a requirement, the adviser will need to 
ask the claimant why this is.  The adviser should consider whether a referral 
to a decision maker is appropriate to consider the application of a sanction.  
Sanctions only apply if the claimant failed to meet a requirement without good 
reason. 
 
Claimants will be invited to provide evidence of good reason for not meeting 
the requirement.  The decision maker will take all available evidence into 
account and may contact the claimant or third parties for further information. 
 
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Claimant Commitment Examples: Joanne Brown  
 
On 9 Jan 2013 Joanne sees an adviser. Joanne is 25, single, with chronic 
asthma which prevents her working in dusty environments, but no other 
personal circumstances that need to be taken into account. Joanne will be 
required to be available for full time work and undertake job-search for 35 
hours per week.  At the first interview the adviser establishes that she: 
 
  Has 5 GCSEs including English and Maths at Grade C 
  Has no IT qualifications or experience and no internet access at home 
  Has 1 year voluntary work experience (3 years ago)   
  Would like to work in a clothes shop 
  Uses public transport. The bus service is limited. 
  Has brought in a CV 
  
The adviser explores how Joanne feels about not working and what she thinks 
is stopping her getting a job.   
 
Joanne will be required to check the local paper and apply for all suitable jobs. 
She agrees to visit the library or Jobcentre to set up a Universal Jobmatch 
(UJ) account.  The adviser assesses this will take Joanne about half a day 
including travel.  The adviser agrees with Joanne that she should then make a 
trip into town twice a week to spend time on UJ. Whilst there she should visit 
shops and hand in a tailored CV.   
 
As Joanne’s CV needs work, the adviser discusses attendance at a 2 day 
interviewing skills and CV workshop.   The adviser looks at UJ with Joanne 
but there are no suitable vacancies. She suggests that Joanne contacts a 
local agency that specialises in employment in the retail sector. The adviser 
tells Joanne that any matches on UJ or via the local paper should be applied 
for and a record of all Joanne’s activity should be kept. 
 
The adviser arranges for Joanne to attend a Job Club in her village. This is 
not mandatory but it will give her access to supported jobsearch.  The 
Claimant Commitment is attached (annex 1)

 
On 6 February, Joanne has completed the activities in Section 2 and has 
provided the new CVs, along with her diary of regular activity.    Her CV is 
improved and her adviser agrees Joanne will continue her cold-calling efforts. 
They agree that she will go to town twice a week to spend time on UJ and 
cold call shops, concentrating her effort, street by street.    
 
Joanne has secured 8 hours per week voluntary work in the local charity shop 
and the manager will provide a reference should she need one.  The adviser 
has suggested Joanne gains a formal IT qualification and also advises her to 
update her CV on UJ to show she is now undertaking the voluntary work.  
 
Joanne has also been referred to a 6 week (one day per week) Level 2 IT 
course and 9 hours will be counted as jobsearch (6 hours for the course and 3 
for travelling.   
Joanne’s updated Claimant Commitment is attached in annex 2 
 
 
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Mark Jones 
 
On 9 Jan 2013 Mark sees his adviser for his first Universal Credit interview.  
Mark is 45 and has split up from his wife. He is healthy and has 1 child aged 
15 living with him who has been in trouble with the police and plays truant. 
Mark has a voluntary parenting contract with the Youth Offending Team which 
says Mark must ensure his child goes to school and must be home by 4.30pm 
to supervise him after school.  For these reasons Mark has asked if he can 
restrict his hours to school hours to fit with his parenting contract so he can 
take his child to the morning Homework Club at 8am and can be home at 
4.30pm.  He lives in a village and has no family nearby. The following 
information is also gathered by the adviser: 
 
  Mark has no qualifications but can read and write  
  He has no IT skills an no internet access at home   
  He worked as a gardener at the local quarry and as a driver for 15 
years and took redundancy. He hasn’t worked for 12 years. 
  He would prefer outdoor/labouring type jobs  
  He has a car  
  He has no CV. 
  
Mark is happy to look for work providing he can drop his child off at school 
and can be back for 4.30pm.  The adviser has agreed Mark’s hours can be 
restricted to a minimum of 25 hours per week and for his availability to be 
between the hours of 9:00 and 3:00 to allow for travel to and from a job.  
 
Mark’s adviser suggests attending a CV and interviewing skills course.  He 
also refers him to an IT course, and has allowed 6.5 hours for the course and 
travel. Marks adviser discusses the best types of work search activities that 
will help him to find employment.  This includes, applying for vacancies in the 
local newspaper, using Universal Jobmatch and “cold calling” employers. 
The Claimant Commitment produced for Mark from this interview is 
attached annex 3

 
On 14th January Mark contacts the office to say he had been ill and developed 
chondritis which makes it hard to breathe and painful to move.  The doctor 
advises rest for the next 7 days. Mark’s adviser switches off requirements for 
1 week based on a self certificate.  Mark produces a fit note for the 2nd week 
showing he cannot work, so the requirements remain switched off and on 
week 3 he has a fit note that says he could do some work but needs to restrict 
his driving for a further 2 weeks. The new Claimant Commitment produced 
for Mark is attached at annex 4 
 
Following the suspension of requirements, in view of the Doctor’s advice that 
the condition may take months to completely alleviate, Mark is asked to attend 
a discussion with his adviser to review his Claimant Commitment to ensure 
that it is still reasonable and appropriate in light of his health condition. 
  
 
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