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Universal Credit (UC) is gradually replacing tax credits, and some other social security benefits. Universal credit is now available across the UK and HMRC state that it is no longer possible for anyone to make a brand-new claim for tax credits. The only exception is for certain people who are granted refugee status. Instead, people are expected to claim UC or pension credit depending on their circumstances.  Currently, existing tax credit claimants can continue to renew their tax credits and/or add extra elements to their claim. See our existing tax credit claimants page for more information. Our understanding is that the majority of existing tax credit claimants will move to either universal credit or pension credit by the end of the 2024/25 tax year. You can find out more about this in our universal credit section. 

Updated on 6 April 2024

Claimant commitment

One of the basic conditions of entitlement for Universal Credit is that you must accept a claimant commitment unless an exception applies.

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Claimant commitment basics

The claimant commitment is a record of your responsibilities in relation to your universal credit claim. It will set out what you have agreed to do to prepare for and look for work (if you’re not working already and are required to) or what you have agreed to do to increase your earnings if you are already working. The commitment is based on your personal circumstances so the responsibilities will be tailored to you.

If you have made a joint claim for universal credit, both you and your partner must accept a claimant commitment. Only in limited circumstances will this requirement not be imposed.

Claimant commitments will be updated and reviewed periodically and each time it is changed you must accept the new commitment.

You should be able to see your latest claimant commitment online via your universal credit account.

There is a guide to the claimant commitment on the GOV.UK website.

Setting up and agreeing a claimant commitment

Once you have made a universal credit claim, DWP or DfC will normally contact you to arrange an interview to set up your claimant commitment. You will meet with your adviser and talk about any work or job search requirements or other requirements which will be used to draw up your claimant commitment. This includes talking about things that would make it hard for you do certain things. You will need to accept your claimant commitment in your online account.

If the claimant commitment is not accepted, your universal credit claim will be stopped.

Contents of a claimant commitment

There are four work-related groups in universal credit. You will be placed in one of these conditionality groups. Which group you are in controls what work related requirements you can be asked to do. These are:

  • no work-related requirements
  • work-focused interview requirement only
  • work preparation requirement
  • all work-related requirements

You will be put into one of the groups, depending on your individual circumstances. You will then agree your obligations and any work-related requirements and these will be recorded in your claimant commitment. The claimant commitment also sets what will happen if you do not you’re your agreed requirements.

If you have made a joint claim, you will each have your own requirements and may be placed in a different conditionality group - for example if you have a disability which prevents you from working you may be placed in the no work-related requirements group whilst your partner could be in the all work-related requirements group.

There is more information in our work requirements section.

Failing to meet the claimant commitment

The claimant commitment should clearly state what will happen if you fails to meet your responsibilities. This can include a cut in benefit, known as a sanction, if there is no good reason why any of the agreed responsibilities are not met. Depending on what is not met and how often, a sanction can last for up to three years.

If you have any problems meeting your claimant commitment you should contact DWP or DfC straight away. 

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