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:
- pay your own rent and other housing costs
- report any changes in your circumstances
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
- 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
You can report childcare costs and provide proof that you’ve paid by signing in to your Universal Credit account.
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.
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.