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Chapter J1: The claimant commitment

Contents
What the claimant commitment is
J1001:Introduction
J1004:Information included in the claimant commitment
J1006:Accepting the claimant commitment
J1008:Date of acceptance of the claimant commitment
J1015:Extending the period of time to accept the claimant commitment
J1020:Exceptions to the requirement to accept the claimant commitment
J1021:Lacking capacity
J1025:Exceptional circumstances
J1030:Reviewing the claimant commitment

Chapter J1: The claimant Commitment

What the claimant commitment is

J1001 Introduction

It is a condition of entitlement to UC that a claimant has accepted a claimant
commitment (1).For joint claimants, it is a condition of entitlement that each of them
has accepted a claimant commitment (2). Unless a claimant commitment
1. has been accepted or
2. can be treated as having been accepted
then there can be no entitlement to UC. For joint claimants if either member of the
couple refuses to accept a claimant commitment then the couple are not entitled to
UC.

1 WR Act 12, s 4(1)(e); 2 s 3(2)(a) & s 4(1)(e)

J1002

A claimant commitment is a record of a claimant's responsibilities in relation to an
award of UC (1). In order to receive UC without a reduction the claimant is expected to
carry out what is required of them as recorded on their claimant commitment.

1 WR Act 12, s 14(1)

J1003

It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to prepare for each UC claimant a
claimant commitment. A claimant commitment can be
1. reviewed and
2. updated
at such times as the Secretary of State sees fit (1).
1 WR Act 12, s 14(2)

J1004 Information included in the claimant commitment

A claimant commitment must include (1)
1. a record of the requirements that the claimant must comply with in connection
with an award of UC, or such of them as the Secretary of State considers it
appropriate to include and
2. any information specified in regulations and
3. any other information that the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

1 WR Act 12, s 14(4)

J1005

The claimant commitment can be in any form as the Secretary of State sees fit (1). The
claimant commitment will be a written document which can be accepted in various
ways (see J1007).
1 WR Act 12, s 14(3)

J1006 Accepting the claimant commitment

In order to be entitled to UC, a claimant can only be said to have accepted a
claimant commitment where it is
1. the most up-to-date version and
2. accepted by the claimant in the manner specified in regulations and further by
the Secretary of State (1).
1 WR Act 12, s 14(5); UC Regs, reg 15(4)

Example 1

Brian is in receipt of UC. He accepted a claimant commitment dated 1.11.13 when
he first made a claim for UC. At that time Brian was in the work-focused interview
group and his claimant commitment reflected what was required of him in that group.
On 9.2.14 a new claimant commitment for Brian was drawn up by his adviser
following a change of circumstance which meant Brian was now subject to all work-
related requirements. This new claimant commitment has a greater number of
activities specified on it. Brian has accepted this updated claimant commitment and
still satisfies the conditions of entitlement for UC.

Example 2

Julie is in receipt of UC. Her claimant commitment recorded that Julie had to
complete some specific actions with regard to work search. Julie has now completed
those actions so a new claimant commitment needs to be drawn up reflecting the
new actions which are required of her.

J1007 J1005

The methods by which a claimant commitment can be accepted by a person is set
out in regulations as
1. electronically or
2. by telephone
or
3. in
writing (1).
The Secretary of State then specifies which of these methods are to be used by a
person to accept their claimant commitment.
1 UC Regs, reg 15(4)

J1008 Date of acceptance of the claimant commitment

There will often be a gap of time between the date of
1. claim and
2. acceptance
of the claimant commitment.

J1009

Where there is such a gap then the claimant can be treated as having accepted the
claimant commitment on the first day in respect of which the claim has been made.
However, the claimant commitment has to be accepted within a time specified by the
Secretary of State (1). This may be referred to as a "cooling off" period.

1 UC Regs, reg 15(1)

J1010

The claimant commitment is generated as a result of a conversation with the
claimant. There may be occasions where the claimant refuses to accept their
claimant commitment. The claimant must be offered a cooling off period so that they
can reconsider. The cooling off period should be a maximum of seven calendar
days.

J1011

Claimants who fall into the all work-related requirements group or the work
preparation group will need to have a discussion with an adviser before a claimant
commitment can be drawn up and accepted. Claimant commitments for claimants
not in either the all work-related requirements group or the work preparation group
may be accepted as part of the normal claims process.

Example 1

Jack made his claim to UC on 20.5.13. However, he was unable to be seen by the
Jobcentre to discuss and accept his claimant commitment straightaway. An
appointment was made for 28.5.13. When Jack attends the Jobcentre on 28.5.13,
he accepts his claimant commitment and is treated as having accepted it on 20.5.13.
This therefore allows Jack to meet that particular condition of entitlement for UC
from the date of claim.

Example 2

Chris made his claim for UC on 20.5.13. A claimant commitment is drawn up but
Chris is not entirely happy with the requirements recorded on it. Chris's adviser
allows Chris time to consider the contents of the claimant commitment and the
consequences for Chris and his household of not accepting the claimant
commitment. Chris is given up to seven calendar days to consider this. After four
days, Chris decides to accept the claimant commitment and so it takes effect from
20.5.13.

Example 3

Michelle made her claim for UC on 20.5.13. A claimant commitment is drawn up but
Michelle is not entirely happy with the requirements recorded on it. Michelle's adviser
allows Michelle time to consider the contents of the claimant commitment and the
consequences for Michelle and her household of not accepting the claimant
commitment. She is given up to seven calendar days to consider this. Seven days
pass and Michelle makes no contact regarding the claimant commitment. The DM
decides that in respect of the claim for UC made on 20.5.13, Michelle is not entitled.
This is because a claimant commitment has not been accepted.

J1012

Where an award of UC has been made
1. without the claimant making a claim and
2. where the claimant commitment has been accepted by the claimant within the
time specified by the Secretary of State
the claimant commitment is treated as having been accepted on the first day of the
first assessment period of that award (1).
Note: ADM Chapter A2 provides guidance on circumstances where an award of UC
can be made without a claim being required.
1 UC Regs, reg 15(2)

Example

Madelene was entitled to UC but her award came to an end when her income
exceeded the prescribed minimum. Two months later, Madelene's income drops so
that she would be entitled to UC again. An award of UC is made without the
requirement for Madelene to make a new claim. Madelene is required to accept a
new claimant commitment in respect of this latest award of UC. This claimant
commitment takes effect from the first day of the assessment period of the latest
award of UC. Madelene therefore satisfies that condition of entitlement for UC and
her award of UC will begin from the first day of that assessment period.

[J1013-J1014]

J1015 Extending the period of time to accept the claimant commitment

The period of time within which a person is required to accept
1. a claimant commitment or :
2.
an updated claimant commitment
can be extended.

J1016

The extended period of time applies where the claimant has requested that the
Secretary of State review
1. any action proposed as
1.1 a work search requirement or
1.2 a work availability requirement or
2. whether any limitation should apply to
2.1 a work search requirement or
2.2 a work availability requirement
so long as the Secretary of State considers the request as reasonable (1).
1 UC Regs, reg 15(3)

[J1017-J1019]

J1020 Exceptions to the requirement to accept the claimant commitment

A claimant is not required to meet the basic condition of entitlement of having to
accept a claimant commitment if (1)
1. they lack capacity to do so or
2. exceptional conditions apply and it would be unreasonable to expect the
claimant to accept one.
1 UC Regs, reg 16

J1021 Lacking capacity

A claimant does not have to meet the basic condition of accepting a claimant
commitment where they lack the capacity to do so (1).

1 UC Regs, reg 16(a)

J1022

In this context, "lack the capacity" primarily relates to those claimants with an
appointee acting on their behalf. However, a decision should be made based on the
available evidence as to whether or not a claimant lacks the capacity to accept a
claimant commitment.

Example 1

Fiona has severe learning disabilities. She has made a claim to UC with an
appointee completing the claim on Fiona's behalf. After a discussion with the
appointee, Fiona's adviser at the Jobcentre decides that Fiona is not required to
accept a claimant commitment because her learning disabilities mean that Fiona
cannot understand the expectations or requirements in connection with a claim to
UC.

Example 2

David makes a claim for UC with the help of his neighbour. The neighbour isn't
David's appointee but is helping him with the claiming process. During the new claim
interview with his adviser, it becomes apparent that David does not understand what
is required of him with regards to entitlement to UC. The adviser decides that David
should be referred for appointee action. An appointee is later authorised to act on
David's behalf. David is not required to accept a claimant commitment.

J1023

Where it is accepted that a claimant lacks capacity then the requirement to accept a
claimant commitment is lifted. An appointee is not required to accept a claimant
commitment on the claimant's behalf and should not be asked to do so.

J1024

J1025 Exceptional circumstances

The claimant is not required to accept a claimant commitment where (1)
1. exceptional circumstances apply and
2. it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to accept a claimant
commitment.

1 UC Regs, reg 16(b)

J1026

Examples of when exceptional circumstances apply may include where
1. the claimant is incapacitated in hospital and is likely to be there for weeks
2. the Jobcentre is closed due to an emergency, for example, a fire or a flood :
3.
there is a domestic emergency preventing the claimant from accepting the
claimant commitment.
This list is not exhaustive. When determining whether or not exceptional
circumstances apply, the DM should remember that the normal everyday meaning of
"exceptional" is "unusual; not typical".
Note:
Once the exceptional circumstances have passed then the claimant is
required to accept a claimant commitment.

J1027

The DM has to take into account the circumstances of each individual case in
deciding whether it is also unreasonable to expect the claimant to accept the
claimant commitment.

Example 1

Nina made a claim to UC but due to a fire at the Jobcentre was unable to attend the
meeting with her adviser to accept her claimant commitment. The DM treated Nina
as having accepted her claimant commitment and so Nina became entitled to UC.
Now that the Jobcentre is re-opened, Nina is required to accept a claimant
commitment drawn up by her adviser.

Example 2

Rose has made a claim to UC. On the day that she is due to meet her adviser to
accept her claimant commitment she is, at short notice, given an appointment at her
hospital to have a long awaited operation. Rose is expected to be in hospital for
some time but is unsure for exactly how long at this stage. It would be unreasonable
to expect Rose to cancel her operation in order to accept her claimant commitment.
Once she has been discharged from hospital, another appointment can be booked
with her adviser to accept her claimant commitment.

Example 3

Kevin has made a claim to UC. On the day that he is due to accept his claimant
commitment, he phones the Jobcentre to say that he cannot attend because his
washing machine has broken and an engineer is due to fix it that day. However,
Kevin lives with his unemployed mother and she can be at home for the engineer.
The DM does not treat Kevin as having accepted his claimant commitment because
it is not unreasonable to expect Kevin to arrange with his mother to deal with the
engineer.

[J1028-J1029]

J1030 Reviewing the claimant commitment

A claimant commitment can be reviewed and updated at such time as the Secretary
of State sees fit (1). Where the claimant's work-related requirements change then the
claimant commitment should record this.
1 WR Act 12, s 14(2)

Example

Rory has been in receipt of UC for three months. He has no work and has failed to
find any since losing his job in retail prior to his claim for UC. Rory has worked in
retail for all of his working life. Rory's claimant commitment includes his work search
requirements which are mainly centred on looking for work in his former occupation.
Rory's adviser at the Jobcentre decides that Rory's work search should be
broadened to also include work other than just retail work. Rory's claimant
commitment is updated to reflect this wider work search requirement and Rory has
to accept the updated claimant commitment in order to retain entitlement to UC.

J1031

Where a claimant commitment has been reviewed and updated then the claimant
must accept it in order to maintain entitlement to UC (1).
1 WR Act 12, s 14(5)

[J1032-J1999]