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Universal Credit: your claimant commitment and sanctions – new Public Law Project free advice resources

26 September 2019

The Public Law Project (PLP) has launched a microsite for both claimants and advisers to help make sure that individual claimant commitments are appropriately tailored and do not impose unrealistic requirements.

The site - @ www.claimantcommitments.org.uk - went live after the Social Security Advisory Committee report raised concerns about inappropriate requirements being made of claimants.

The SSAC report also highlighted that people with mental health problems are less likely to feel that their commitments reflect their circumstances.

Content at PLP's new website is customised for specific groups of claimants who may be more at risk of having a sanction imposed or who are likely to be particularly badly affected if they are sanctioned.

Leaflets for different claimant groups can be downloaded as printer-friendly PDFs and fit on one piece of A4.

References to the relevant regulations and sections of DWP guidance are included so that claimants can refer to them when they meet their work coaches or communicate via their journal.

The leaflets available are:

If you would like to have hard copies of the leaflets on the website and you are unable to access a printer, please email: a.godfrey@publiclawproject.org.uk

The PLP has been running a project on benefit sanctions since 2016.

As part of this work PLP has been accepting referrals for casework and running training workshops for welfare rights advisers, mental health support workers, and people working in housing.

It has become clear from their research and training that some Universal Credit claimants are being given standardised or template claimant commitments that do not reflect their individual circumstances or which fail to take into account important information.

Many people who claim Universal Credit are unaware that factors such as mental health, domestic violence, homelessness or childcare can be taken into account when drawing up their claimant commitment.

PLP's concern is that claimant commitments that are not tailored to meet individual circumstances create a higher risk of sanctions, as claimants may have work-related requirements imposed on them that are not reasonable or realistic.

PLP would welcome your feedback on these resources: Are they useful to you and your clients? Have you used them? What, if any, improvements might be made?

Please do let them know what you think by emailing: claimantcommitments@publiclawproject.org.uk

See also DWP must take urgent action to ensure mandatory medical requirements are not placed on UC claimants, says SSAC