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Check you’re in the right Universal Credit work-related activity group

This advice applies to Scotland

You might need to look for work or prepare for work as part of getting Universal Credit. What your work coach asks you to do depends on which ‘work-related activity group’ (sometimes called a ‘conditionality group’) you’re in. If you’re in the wrong group, you can try to get it changed.

If you’re in the right group, find out how you can change what work-related activity you’re asked to do.

Look in your Universal Credit online account to find out what work-related activity group you’re in, as well as what tasks you need to do.

If you don’t have an online account you can find your work-related activity group on your paper ‘claimant commitment’. This is a document you’ll need to agree to as part of getting Universal Credit. You’ll agree it with your work coach and update it each time you see them.

If you can’t find your claimant commitment, ask your work coach which work-related activity group you’re in.

There are 4 work-related activity groups:

Group What you'll need to do

No work-related requirements group

You don’t have to do anything to prepare or look for work

Work-focused interview group

You have to go to regular meetings with your work coach 

Work preparation group

You have to meet your work coach regularly and also prepare for work. This includes things like writing a CV and going on training or work experience

All work-related activity group

You have to do all you can to find a job or earn more. This includes looking for jobs, applying for jobs and going to interviews

You’ll probably be put in the ‘all work-related activity group’ if you’re able to work, unless you meet any of these exceptions.

If more than one exception applies to you, you should be in the group with the lowest requirements. For example, if you fit into both the ‘work preparation group’ and the ‘work-focused interview group’, you should be in the ‘work-focused interview group’, as that group requires less activity.

You’re disabled or you have a long-term illness

Tell your work coach if your sickness or disability reduces what you can do to work or look for work. You’ll usually need to fill in a form and you might need to go to a medical assessment.

Your work-related activity group will depend on how the DWP thinks your sickness or disability affects you:

  • if they decide you have ‘limited capability for work and work-related activity’ (LCWRA) you’ll be in the ‘no work-related requirements group’
  • if they decide you have ‘limited capability for work’ (LCW) you’ll be in the ‘work preparation group’

If the DWP decide you don’t have LCW or LCRWA you’ll be in the ‘all work-related activity group’. The Jobcentre should still take your sickness or disability into account when considering what type of work you need to apply for.

You won’t need to fill in the form or have an assessment if you’ve already been assessed as having LCW or LCWRA and you either:

  • get contribution-based Employment and Support Allowance
  • get Incapacity Credits
  • got income-related Employment and Support Allowance before you claimed Universal Credit

Find out how to show that you have limited capability for work if you’re sick or disabled.

You're caring for a severely disabled person

If you care for a severely disabled person for at least 35 hours a week, you’ll be in the ‘no work-related activity group’ if one of these applies:

  • you’re entitled to or getting Carer’s Allowance
  • you can’t get Carer’s Allowance, but only because your earnings are too high, and the DWP thinks it would be unreasonable for you to look for work and be available for work

The person you care for must be getting one of these benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • the standard or enhanced rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • the highest or middle rate care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance paid with a war disablement pension or industrial injuries benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

You aren’t classed as having caring responsibilities if you earn money from them.

If you don’t meet these conditions, you could be placed in the ‘all work-related activity group’. Your work coach should still consider your care responsibilities when setting your work activity. For example, if you spend 20 hours a week caring for someone, you shouldn’t have to go to job interviews in those hours.

You’re responsible for your own child or a child you adopted

If the child is your own by birth

If you’re the main carer for a child, your work-related activity group depends on how old your child is.

If you’re living with your partner you’ll need to nominate which of you is the main carer. You usually do this at your first interview at the Jobcentre.

Your child's age Your work group
Under 1 No work-related requirements group
1 Work-focused interview group
2 Work preparation group
3 or above All work-related activity group

Your work-related activity should still fit in with looking after your child.

While your child is under 13 your work coach has to make sure your work activity fits around school or nursery hours. This includes the time it takes you to travel there and back.

Your work coach should adjust your work-related activity if your child has extra care needs - for example if they have a mental health condition. They should do this even if your child is over 13.

Tell your work coach if you’re looking after your child but they normally live with an ex-partner. Your work-related activity group won’t change, but your work-related activity should still take your child into account while you’re looking after them.

If you adopted a child less than 12 months ago

You'll be in the ‘no work-related activity group’ for 12 months, no matter how old the child is.

Usually the 12 months starts when when the child is placed with you. You can start your 12 months up to 14 days before then if you tell the Jobcentre you need time to prepare for the adoption. You can’t ask for this if you're a close relative of the child you've adopted.

After 12 months, you’ll be in the same work-related activity group as if the child wasn’t adopted.

You’re a foster parent or look after the child of a friend or family member (kinship care)

Are you a kinship carer?

If you look after the child of a friend or family member, because their natural parents aren’t able to, you might be a kinship carer. For example, if you look after your grandchild. Kinship carers are entitled to support from their local council. The child could be ‘looked after’ by the local authority, which means they have particular responsibility for the care of the child, even if they are living with you.

You can find out more about kinship care and 'looked after’ children or phone the confidential Kinship Care helpline on 0808 800 0006 (free from landlines and most mobiles). It’s worth doing this as being a kinship carer will affect which UC work-related activity group you are put in.

If you’re the kinship carer of a not ‘looked after’ child

You’ll be in the ‘work-focused interview group’ if you live in Scotland and you’ve become a kinship carer of a child that’s not looked after by the local authority in the last 12 months.

You’ll need to meet all of these conditions:

  • you're not the child's parent or step-parent
  • you're caring for the child because they have no parent or they have parents who can't care for them
  • if you don't care for them, it's likely that the local authority will look after them instead because of concerns about their welfare
  • the child is under 16

If you live with your partner and one of you meets these conditions, you’ll need to decide which of you will be responsible for the child and tell the Jobcentre. This person will be placed in the ‘work-focused interview group’. The other member of the couple may be put in a different work-related group.

If it’s more than 12 months since you became responsible for the child, you could be expected to look for work. If you feel you couldn’t manage this, explain your reasons to your work coach. If you’re responsible for a child under 5, you should be placed in a group with lower expectations.

You’re a foster parent or kinship carer of a ‘looked after’ child

If you are a kinship carer in Scotland, a ‘looked after child’ is one that is looked after by the local authority. This means they have parental responsibilities for the child, even though you look after them. If you have a Permanence Order in place, the child will be ‘looked after’ but you may have some shared parental rights and responsibilities. You can find out more about what 'looked after' means if you’re not sure.

Child under 1

If the child you look after is under 1, you'll be in the ‘no work-related activity group’. This means you won’t have to do any work-related activities - you won’t be expected to prepare for work, look for work or get a job.

If you and your partner both look after the child, you’ll have to nominate a main carer and tell the Jobcentre. You usually do this at your first claimant commitment interview. The other member of the couple may be put in a different work-related group.

Child between 1 and 15

If the child you look after is aged between 1 and 15, you should be in the ‘work-focused interview group’. This means you'll have to go to one or more work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre to help you find or stay in work. You won't have to look for work, be available for work or prepare for work.

If you and your partner both look after the child, only one of you can be responsible for the child (unless they have care needs) for the purposes of being placed in the ‘work focused interview group’. You’ll have to choose a main carer and tell the Jobcentre. You usually do this at your first claimant commitment interview. The other member of the couple may be in a different work-related group.

Child or young person has care needs

If a child or young person you’re looking after has care needs you should be in the ‘work-focused interview group’. This means you'll have to go to one or more work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre to help you plan for finding work in the future or to stay in work. You won't have to prepare for work, look for work, or be available for work. If you’re living with a partner and you both care for the child, you should both be placed into this group.

The Jobcentre must think the child or young person's care needs would make it unreasonable for you to prepare for work, look for work or be available to work.

You don’t have foster children with you right now

If you don’t currently have foster children with you but you were fostering within the last 8 weeks and intend to foster again soon, you may be placed in the ‘work-focused interview group’. This means you'll have to go to one or more work-focused interviews at the Jobcentre to help you plan for finding work in the future or to stay in work. You won't have to prepare for work, look for work, or be available for work.

You’re pregnant or you’ve given birth in the past 15 weeks

If you’re at least 28 weeks pregnant, you should be in the ‘no work-related activity group’.

If you’re less than 28 weeks pregnant, you might still need to look for work. If you can’t manage this, explain why to your work coach.

Tell the DWP if working or looking for work could be a risk to your health or your baby’s health. They’ll class you as having either:

  • ‘limited capability for work’ - this will put you in the ‘work preparation group’
  • ‘limited capability for work-related activity’ - this will put you in the ‘no work-related activity group’ and increase your Universal Credit payments

You might need to show some evidence of the risk - for example a letter from your doctor. Find out more about having limited capability for work.

If you’ve recently given birth

If it’s less than 15 weeks since you gave birth, you should be in the ‘no work-related activity group’.

If it’s been 15 weeks or more since you gave birth, and you’re not the child’s main carer, you could be expected to look for work. If you can’t manage this, explain your reasons to your work coach.

You’ve reached Pension Credit age

You should be in the ‘no work-related activity group’ if you’ve reached Pension Credit age.

You’ll usually be better off claiming Pension Credit instead - check if you can get Pension Credit.

You or your partner are working or self-employed

If you’re self-employed you’ll be in the ‘no work-related activity group’ if you earn above the ‘minimum income floor’.

If you’re not self-employed you’ll be in the ‘no work-related activity group’ if you earn above your ‘earnings threshold’. This is the weekly hours you’re expected to work multiplied by your minimum wage.

If your earnings vary they’re calculated as an average of the past 3 months.

How many hours you’re expected to work

For your earnings threshold, your weekly hours depend on what work-related activity group you’re in:

Your work group Hours
Work-focused interview group 16
Work preparation group 16
All work-related activity group Set in your claimant commitment - usually 35

If you live with your partner

Your earnings thresholds will be added together to create one joint threshold.

If your combined earnings are less than your joint threshold, one or both of you will need to look for more work. If one of you is earning more than their individual threshold, that person doesn’t have to look for more work.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help with your earnings threshold.

You're in full-time education

In term time and most holidays you'll be in the ‘no work-related requirements group’ if you’re eligible for Universal Credit. In the summer holiday you might need to look for work.

Tell your work coach as quickly as possible if you’re in the wrong work-related activity group. Explain which exceptions apply and show them any evidence you can - for example a letter from your doctor if you’re sick, or the birth certificate for a child you care for.

If your work coach won’t change your work-related activity group, you can complain to the DWP.

If you get a sanction even though you’ve explained your situation to your work coach, you can challenge the decision with a mandatory reconsideration.

 

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