To get Universal Credit, you have to agree to something called a claimant commitment. This is a record of what you agree to do, such as how you’ll look for work or increase your earnings. If you don’t do the things you agree to in your claimant commitment, your payments might be reduced or even stopped.
When you make a new claim, you’ll be asked to come to the jobcentre to agree your commitment. This will be regularly reviewed and will change if your circumstances change.
Working and looking for work
As part of your claimant commitment, you’ll have to agree how many hours a week you’ll spend working or looking for work.
If you’re not working and your youngest child is 3 or older, you have to spend these amounts of time working or looking for work:
- 16 hours if your youngest child is 3 or 4
- 25 hours if your youngest child is between 5 and 12
- 35 hours if your youngest child is 13 or older
If your youngest child is under 3, you don’t have to look for work. But you might have to go to jobcentre appointments or do training to get ready for work.
If you’re working, you have to be earning the same or more than someone earning minimum wage working the hours that apply to you. For example, if you’re expected to work 16 hours but you can make the same amount as 16 hours on minimum wage in 10 hours a week because your salary is higher, that’s fine.
There are different rules if you:
- Are disabled or have a health problem
- Look after someone who’s disabled or has a health problem
- Have experienced domestic violence in the last 6 months
The rules around this are complicated. You can find out more on our page on work-related expectations, through Turn2us and by calling our helpline.
Explaining your childcare responsibilities
It’s important that whatever you agree to can fit around the time you need to look after your children. Remember to tell your work coach about:
- Your children’s school hours
- How long it takes to get them to school
- Anything else that might affect how much time you have in the week
Particularly if your children are under 13 or at school, you might need to ask for adjustments to the time you’re expected to work or look for work. More about tailoring your commitment to your childcare responsibilities
Signing and sticking to your claimant commitment
If you’re not sure about what you’re committing to, you don’t have to sign the commitment straight away. You should have 7 days to think it over. If you still haven’t signed after a week, it’ll be cancelled unless you’ve asked for more time. You can also ask for it to be changed after you’ve signed it.
Make sure what you’re agreeing to is doable. Your Universal Credits may be cut or even stopped (called being sanctioned) if you don’t do what you’ve said you will. If you have a good reason for not sticking to what you’ve agreed, you shouldn’t be sanctioned.