factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“My claim will be closed if I miss my first interview after claiming online”

The short answer:

It does happen ... but it shouldn’t

Once you have put in your claim to the DWP you are normally required to attend an initial evidence gathering and claimant commitment interview at the jobcentre. If you fail to attend your first interview, DWP guidance says your claim will usually be closed the day after the failure to attend. It also suggests you will have to make a new claim and ask for it to be backdated.

However, the law makes it clear that a decision must be made on your claim – even if it is to refuse benefit - and that this decision is appealable.

Tip: If your claim is closed, ask for a decision notification and ask for a mandatory reconsideration of that decision. You should still be able to see your journal but you won’t be able to write in it so you will have to telephone or write to request the mandatory reconsideration. Put in a new claim to be safe too.

If you know you won’t be able to make a first interview, let the jobcentre know and give reasons so a new appointment can be made to try and avoid this happening. Explain to your work coach that you have good reason for missing or rearranging an appointment. This might include things like illness, unexpected childcare needs, and court appearances.

Law and case law:

Section 8(1)(a) of the Social Security Act 1998 requires the DWP to make a decision on a claim for benefit.

Official guidance:

Claim closure and re-claims (last updated March 2019) from the House of Commons library, confirms that if a claim is closed, the claimant should receive a decision notification that the claim has been closed, including consideration of appeal rights.

A DWP response to an FOI request on early closure of claims (August 2017) confirms that a claim cannot be closed for failing to attend an initial evidence gathering interview until a period of one month has passed since the information was requested.

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

Thank you for your feedback