factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“The DWP can sanction me if I don’t do something on my claimant commitment”

The short answer:

Not necessarily … you may be able to show that your commitment does not reflect your responsibilities or that you have a good reason for any failure

If you don't meet the work-related requirements recorded on your claimant commitment then you can be sanctioned by the DWP. However, this should not happen if the recorded details are wrong or inaccurate in some way - perhaps because your circumstances have changed recently so that the original work-related requirements should no longer apply, or you have not been properly notified of the requirements. You may also be able to avoid a sanction by showing you have a good reason for failing to carry out the activity.

In addition, if you fail to do something, the DWP should give you reasonable time - usually five days - to explain what the problem was. A sanction should only be imposed if the decision maker decides that you did not have a good reason.

You should be notified of any decision to sanction you and you can challenge it by mandatory reconsideration and then appeal.

Tip: If something goes wrong and you miss doing something you have agreed to, put a message in your online journal as soon as you can explaining the circumstances. If you can't go online try and ring your work coach or make an appointment to see them. Explain any difficulties you had, eg childcare, family illness, or transport issues. 

Law and case law:

Upper Tribunal case CSUC/494/2017 considers the rules for imposing and notifying work-related requirements and decides that a sanction decision could not stand when it was based on an out of date, unsigned claimant commitment.

Official guidance:

Chapter K2 of Advice for Decision Makers gives examples of what can be considered good reason for failing to meet one of your claimant commitments.

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.

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