Your responsibilities

You’ll make an agreement called a ‘Claimant Commitment’ with your work coach.

What you need to do depends on your situation. You might need to do activities such as:

  • write a CV
  • look and apply for jobs
  • go on training courses

You’ll also need to do things like:

If you’re claiming with your partner, you’ll each have a Claimant Commitment and set of responsibilities.

If you have children

If you’re a single parent or the lead carer in a couple, your responsibilities will change as your youngest child gets older and will be tailored to your personal circumstances.

Age of your youngest child Your responsibilities
Under 1 You do not need to look for work
Aged 1 You do not need to look for work. You need to have interviews with your work coach to discuss plans for moving into work in the future
Aged 2 You do not need to look for work. You need to have regular interviews with your work coach and do work preparation activities (for example, writing your CV)
Aged 3 or 4 Work a maximum of 16 hours a week (or spend 16 hours a week looking for work)
Aged between 5 and 12 Work a maximum of 25 hours a week (or spend 25 hours a week looking for work)
13 or older Work a maximum of 35 hours a week (or spend 35 hours a week looking for work)

If you get support with childcare costs

You must:

  • report your childcare costs when you pay them
  • prove you’ve paid your childcare provider

You’ll need to show proof of:

  • your childcare provider for each child, for example an invoice or contract that includes the provider’s registration number and full contact details
  • the amount you paid and when you paid it, for example a receipt or bank statement

If you have an online account, you can report childcare costs and provide proof that you’ve paid by signing in to your Universal Credit account.

If you do not have an online account, you need to:

  • report your costs by calling the Universal Credit helpline
  • take proof that you’ve paid your childcare costs to your local Jobcentre Plus or send it by post

You’ll usually get the childcare amount in your next Universal Credit payment.

If you pay for childcare after it’s been provided, you can claim up to 3 months of past costs at a time. There may be a limit to how much you get back if you claim for more than one month’s fees at a time. Talk to your work coach for advice.

If you pay for childcare in advance, you can claim up to 3 months of advance costs at a time. You’ll be paid back in your monthly Universal Credit payments during the months the childcare is for.

If your payment is stopped or reduced

If you do not meet your responsibilities or what you’ve agreed in your Claimant Commitment, your Universal Credit could be stopped or reduced. This is called a sanction.

There are different levels of sanctions and they’re decided based on what you did and how often.

You’ll get half a sanction if you apply with a partner and only one of you does not meet their responsibilities.

You can appeal a sanction if you think it’s wrong. Citizens Advice can help with challenging a sanction.

Help if your payment is stopped or reduced

You can ask for a hardship payment if you cannot pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs because you got a sanction. You’ll repay it through your Universal Credit payments - they’ll be lower until you pay it back.

You must be 18 or over.

You’ll have to show that you’ve tried to:

  • find the money from somewhere else
  • only spend money on essentials

Call the Universal Credit helpline to ask for a hardship payment.

  1. Step 1 Check if you're eligible

  2. Step 2 Create an account and make a claim

    You need an online account to claim Universal Credit.

    1. Set up an account and make a claim

    You must submit your claim within 28 days of creating your account.

    If you live with your partner, they will also need to set up an account. You'll be given a code to link the accounts together.

  3. and Find out how your claim is assessed

    You'll need to have an interview with Jobcentre Plus. You'll be told how to arrange this after you submit your claim. It will be within 10 working days.

    If you have a disability or health condition you may need a medical assessment. You'll be told if you need one after you claim.

    1. What to do if you have a health condition or disability
  4. Step 3 Apply for an advance on your first payment

    If you need help with bills or other costs while you wait for your first payment, you can apply to get an advance.

    1. Get an advance on your first Universal Credit payment
    2. Check if you can get any other financial support
  5. Step 4 Attend your interview

  6. Step 5 Get your first payment

    You’ll get your first payment 5 weeks after you claim. Your account will be updated to tell you how much it will be.

    1. What to do if you disagree with the decision
  7. Step 6 Follow your agreement and report any change of circumstances

    You must keep to the Claimant Commitment you agreed at your interview. If you do not, your payments could stop.

    You must also update your account if your circumstances change to get the right payment.

    1. How to report a change in circumstances
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