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Chapter U3: ESA claimant responsibilities - the claimant commitment

Contents
What the claimant commitment is
U3001:Introduction
U3004:Information included in the claimant commitment
U3006:Accepting the claimant commitment
U3008:Date of acceptance of the claimant commitment
U3015:Extending the period of time to accept the claimant commitment
U3020:Exceptions to the requirement to accept the claimant commitment
U3021:Lacking capacity
U3025:Exceptional circumstances
U3030:Reviewing the claimant commitment

Chapter U3: ESA claimant

responsibilities - the claimant
commitment What the claimant commitment is Introduction U3001 It is a condition of entitlement to ESA that a claimant has accepted a claimant
commitment (1). Unless a claimant commitment
1. has been accepted or
2. can be treated as having been accepted then there can be no entitlement to ESA.

1 WR Act 07, s 1(3)(aa)

U3002

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

1 WR Act 07, s 11A(1)

U3003

It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to prepare for an ESA 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 07, s 11A(2)

U3004 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 ESA, 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 07, s 11A(4)

U3005

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 U3007).
1 WR Act 07, s 11A(3)

U3006 Accepting the claimant commitment

In order to be entitled to ESA, 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 07, s 11A(5); ESA Regs 13, reg 44(4)

Example

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

U3007 U3005

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 ESA Regs 13, reg 44(4)

U3008 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.

U3009

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 ESA Regs 13, reg 44(1)

U3010

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.

Example 1

Jim made his claim to ESA 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 Jim 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 Jim to meet that particular condition of entitlement for ESA
from the date of claim.

Example 2

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

Example 3

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

U3011

U3012

Where an award of ESA 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 benefit week of that award (1).
Note: ADM Chapter A2 provides guidance on circumstances where an award of
ESA can be made without a claim being required.
1 ESA Regs 13, reg 44(2)

[U3013-U3014]

U3015 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.

U3016

The extended period of time applies where the claimant has requested an extension
and the Secretary of State considers the request as reasonable (1).
1 ESA Regs 13, reg 44(3)

[U3017-U3019]

U3020 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 ESA Regs 13, reg 45

U3021 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 ESA Regs 13, reg 45(a)

U3022

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

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

Example 2

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

U3023

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.

U3024

U3025 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 ESA Regs 13, reg 45(b)

U3026

Examples of when exceptional circumstances apply may include where
1. the claimant is incapacitated in hospital and is likely to be there for several 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.

U3027

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

Natasha made a claim to ESA 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 Natasha as having accepted her claimant commitment and so Natasha
became entitled to ESA. Now that the Jobcentre is re-opened, Natasha is required
to accept a claimant commitment drawn up by her adviser.

Example 2

Rae has made a claim to ESA. 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. Rae 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 Rae 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

Keith has made a claim to ESA. 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,
Keith lives with his retired mother and she can be at home for the engineer. The DM
does not treat Keith as having accepted his claimant commitment because it is not
unreasonable to expect Keith to arrange with his mother to deal with the engineer.

[U3028-U3029]

U3030 Reviewing the claimant commitment

A claimant commitment can be reviewed and updated at such time as the Secretary
of State sees fit (1).
1 WR Act 07, s 11A(2)

Example

Rod has been in receipt of ESA for 6 months. During that time Rod's health has
improved and although he isn't yet ready for employment, he is at a stage where he
can attempt some voluntary work for a few hours a week, perhaps working for a
charity. Rod's adviser at the Jobcentre decides that Rod's claimant commitment is
updated to reflect this. Rod has to accept the updated claimant commitment in order
to retain entitlement to ESA.

U3031

Where a claimant commitment has been reviewed and updated then the claimant
must accept it in order to maintain entitlement to ESA (1).
1 WR Act 07, s 11A(5)

[U3032-U3999]