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Universal Credit Claimant Commitment

This section explains your responsibilities if you get Universal Credit. The agreement made with your work coach is the 'Claimant Commitment'.

THE RESPONSIBILITIES: Each particular situation will determine what you need to do. As a rule, your responsibilities and activities will include:

  • Looking for, and applying for, jobs.
  • Writing a CV (curriculum vitae).
  • Going on training courses.

Your obligations set out in the Claimant Commitment mean you must also:

Note: You will be applying as a couple if you live with your partner. That means both of you will have a Claimant Commitment and a set of responsibilities.

Responsibilities if You have Children

There will be a change in responsibility for a single parent, or for the lead carer in a couple, as the youngest child gets older. In this case, the Claimant Commitment gets tailored to your personal circumstances.

Age of the Youngest Child Universal Credit Claimant’s Responsibilities
Less than 1 year old There is no requirement to look for work.
From the age of 1 to 2 years old There is no requirement to look for work. But, you must have interviews with your work coach to discuss future plans of moving into work.
From the age of 2 to 3 years old There is no requirement to look for work. But, you must have regular interviews with your work coach. You will also need to do work preparation activities (e.g. writing a CV).
From the age of 3 to 5 years old Work a maximum of 16 hours a week (or spend 16 hours a week looking for work).
From the age of 5 to 12 years old Work a maximum of 25 hours a week (or spend 25 hours a week looking for work).
From the age of 13 years old Work a maximum of 35 hours a week (or spend 35 hours a week looking for work).

Getting Support with Childcare Costs

You will have until the last day of your assessment period to report your childcare costs each month. Reporting late childcare costs could cause a delay in the payments or you may not get paid at all.

If the Payment gets Stopped or Reduced

Every applicant has an obligation to meet the responsibilities or agreements set out in the Claimant Commitment. Failing to do so means your Universal Credit payment could get stopped or reduced.

The proper term for a stoppage or a reduction in benefits is a ‘sanction’. But, there are several different levels of sanctions. The severity of benefits sanctions depend on what happened and how often.

The DWP will issue half a sanction for a couple, if only one partner fails to meet their responsibilities. Even so, you can appeal against a sanction if you think it got made in error. The Citizens Advice can also help you to challenge a benefits sanction.

Getting Help for Stopped or Reduced Payments

There are certain situations that allow for a hardship payment. As a rule, it applies if getting a sanction means you are unable to pay for food, heating, hygiene needs, or rent. You would repay it through future Universal Credit payments. Thus, they will be lower until it gets paid back.

To get a hardship payment you must be at least 18 and be able to show:

  • You tried to secure the money from somewhere else (e.g. a relative or a friend).
  • You were only spending money on essential things to cover your living costs.

Note: You should telephone the Universal Credit helpline if you need help getting a hardship payment.


Universal Credit Rules: An overview explaining what the Universal benefit system is and how it works.
Universal Credit Eligibility: Most people will qualify if they are on a low income or they are out of work.
Universal Credit Rates: Payments combine a standard allowance and any extra amounts that may apply.
How to Claim Universal Credit: You must apply online and as a couple if you are living with your partner.
Universal Credit Payments: Check how long it takes for the first payment and how often they get paid.
Advance on First Payment: Find out how to get an advance payment to help cover essential living costs.
Reporting Changes: You must report a change of circumstances while you are getting Universal Credit.
Other Financial Support: Help is available from various other organisations if you are having difficulties.

Universal Credit Claimant Commitment Responsibilities