factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“Work-related requirements can’t be switched off”

The short answer:

That’s a myth ... yes they can

Work-related requirements, such as work search and work availability, can be switched off for a period of time under a legal requirement where your circumstances are recognised as serious enough to require a switch-off (including for victims of domestic violence, claimants suffering bereavement, caring for a child in distress, or for short periods of sickness). Switch-offs can also be agreed for any reason where it is unreasonable to expect you to complete your work requirements - for example because of urgent childcare needs.

Tip: It is always worth asking for work requirements to be reviewed if you are struggling, or will struggle, to meet them, as DWP guidance is clear that work coaches must take account of what is reasonable to expect from you. If you are not happy with your work coach’s decision, ask them to reconsider and seek advice.

Law and case law:

Regulations 98 and 99 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 set out how victims of domestic violence and people in other specified circumstances can switch off work requirements.

Official guidance:

Chapter J3 of Advice for Decision Makers (paragraph J3180 to J3257) and Switching off work availability and work-related activities (last updated March 2019) from the House of Commons library, sets out guidance for switching off work related activities.

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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