Back in March 2020, Regulations were made which suspended the requirements Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants to be available for and look for work. As of 1 July 2020, this suspension has been lifted, meaning that the work search and availability requirements apply again.
What is conditionality?
When you claim these benefits, you must sign a ‘Claimant Commitment’, which is essentially an agreement between you and the Jobcentre setting out what is expected of you in return for your benefit payments. Exactly what is expected of you will be decided in agreement with you and your work coach and is different for everyone depending on their circumstances. The conditions are focused on getting ready to move into work and looking for jobs.
What happens if I don’t meet these requirements?
The Government guidance states “Your Claimant Commitment will clearly state what will happen if you fail to meet one or more of your responsibilities. Your Universal Credit payments may be reduced for a set period of time if you fail to meet one or more of your responsibilities and can’t give a good reason to explain why. This is known as a sanction.” It’s therefore important that you make sure the requirements are met.
Are there any exceptions?
There are lots of circumstances when the conditions can be relaxed or removed altogether. Some are automatic and some are at the discretion of your work coach. A full list is available in the ‘Universal Credit and You’ guide.
Where can I look for work?
There are lots of ways of looking for a job, but the Jobcentre recommends two Government websites:
1. Job Help is a website with lots of information, hints and tips about finding and applying for jobs, interview techniques, CV writing, training and much more
2. Find a Job is a website that allows you to search tens of thousands of vacancies, and to track your applications.
Using these websites should help you in your job seeking and should also make it easier for you to prove you’ve been meeting the requirements of your claimant commitment.
What if I’ve been sanctioned?
If you’ve been sanctioned and disagree with the decision, you have the right to challenge it. It’s always a good idea to get some advice to help you decide if there’s a case.
As always, if you need help with this please get in touch with our Money Advice Officer who can offer support, guidance and representation.