In order to receive Universal Credit, a claimant must follow the application process. This includes creating an account online and making a claim. Then, the individual will need to have an interview with Jobcentre Plus. The applicant will be told how to arrange this, and it will be within 10 working days. If a person cannot verify their identity online, then they can take three forms of proof of identity to their first interview at the local Jobcentre Plus, the gov.uk website explains.
This may include council tax documents, UK registration or naturalisation certificate, or a permanent residence card.
Those with a disability or health condition may need a medical assessment, and applicants will be told if they need one after a claim.
When the applicant meets their work coach, they will chat about how Universal Credit works, discuss what will happen next, and find out if one needs support with budgeting or an advance payment (which is required to be paid back via future payments).
The work coach will also work with the claimant to improve their work situation, and make an agreement known as the Claimant Commitment.
The Claimant Commitment sets out what a person must do in exchange for getting Universal Credit.
This may include the agreement to prepare for work, to look for work, or to increase earnings if an individual is already working.
Guidance on the Universal Credit website reads: “Your Claimant Commitment will be reviewed regularly, and may be changed if your circumstances change.
“Each time it changes you will need to agree and accept a new Claimant Commitment.”
The government website says that the agreement stating what a person needs to do will depend on their situation.
“If you have a health condition or disability that limits your capability for work, the Department for Work and Pensions will work with you to best support you during this time,” it says.
“You may be asked to do work search and work preparation activities that are reasonable for your condition and situation.
“All requirements are agreed with your work coach and you won’t be asked to do something you’re not capable of.”
Jade Caiger, Jobcentre Plus Work Coach, said: “Once you’ve made your claim to Universal Credit, you’ll have an appointment at the jobcentre with a work coach. They’ll explain how the benefit works and work with you to create your Claimant Commitment.
“This sets out what is expected of you in return for getting Universal Credit, and is tailored to your personal circumstances, including health concerns and family commitments.
“If your situation changes we’ll update what you’re being expected to do and agree a new commitment.”
A single parent or lead carer in a couple with young children’s responsibilities will change as the youngest child gets older.
Claimants who do not meet their responsibilities or the agreement in their Claimant Commitment may see their Universal Credit payments being stopped or reduced.
This is known as a sanction.
There are different levels of sanctions, with these depending on what has happened and how frequent it has occurred.