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Going to your Universal Credit interview

This advice applies to Wales

The last step of applying for Universal Credit is to have an interview at the Jobcentre. Before then you’ll need to set up a Universal Credit account and make a claim.

Your interview is with your ‘work coach’ - this is the person you’ll meet regularly as part of your claim. At the interview they’ll check your details and ask you to agree your ‘claimant commitment’ - this sets out what tasks you'll do regularly to get Universal Credit.

If you couldn’t use the ‘Verify’ system online to prove your identity, you’ll have to answer more questions at your interview to prove your identity.

Book your interview

After you’ve applied online, you’ll need to book an interview at your local Jobcentre. You’ll need to book it within a week. If you don’t arrange the interview within a week you might have to start your application for Universal Credit again.

Check the ‘to-do list’ section of your Universal Credit account for the phone number you need to book your interview.

If you can’t find a phone number, call the Universal Credit helpline. You’ll need your National Insurance number when you call. You can find your National Insurance number on a payslip or letter from HMRC.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and might be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

Tell the person you speak to if you’ve had problems proving your identity online. They’ll tell you what you’ll need to take with you.

Check your online account

Log in to your account to check the details of your interview. They’ll be under the section called your ‘to-do list’.

Whenever you complete something on your to-do list, you’ll be able to find it under the section called ‘journal’. This is so you have a record of what you’ve done.

You can use your journal to:

  • contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and your work coach
  • add and upload evidence such as information on your health or childcare costs

You should check your journal regularly so you don’t miss any messages from the DWP or your work coach. Try to answer any messages from your work coach as soon as possible.

If you can't get to a Jobcentre

You should call the Universal Credit helpline if you’ll find it difficult to go to an interview because you’re ill or disabled.

You can ask the Jobcentre to change things to make it easier for you - this is called a ‘reasonable adjustment’. For example, you can ask them to move your interview to a place you can get to more easily, or for a British Sign Language interpreter.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and might be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

If the Jobcentre won’t make changes for your illness or disability, check if they’ve failed to make a ‘reasonable adjustment’.

You might be able to take action about discrimination if they still won’t do anything.

If you need to cancel your interview

Call the Universal Credit helpline straight away if you can't get to your interview.

You should be able to rearrange your interview if you have a good reason. For example - you're ill on the day, you need to do an urgent repair in your home or your children are ill. You usually won’t have to wait more than a week for another interview - you can arrange this when you call. 

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and might be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

Try to give as much notice as possible, but it’s OK if you have to call on the day of your interview.

Make a note online in your journal after you’ve called the helpline. Write down what you agreed so you can refer to it later.

If you miss your interview without telling the Jobcentre, your claim might be closed. This means you'll have to start your application again and your first payment might be delayed. 

If you want to take a friend or relative with you

You can take a friend or relative with you to your interview if you need support.

Tell the DWP before your interview and explain your reasons. They have to let you take someone with you.

You can contact the DWP on your Universal Credit journal. If you have problems doing this, call the Universal Credit helpline:

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and might be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

Gather everything you need for your interview

You'll have to take documents that prove you gave the right details in your online application. Take any documents which you used online as well as anything else that helps prove your identity.

You won't get your first Universal Credit payment until you've brought all the documents with you.

You can print our checklist [ 66 kb] to remind you what you need to take with you and what questions you’ll be asked.

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the documents you need - you’ll need to answer some more questions at the Jobcentre.

If you don't take all your documents, you'll need to take them to your Jobcentre within 1 month of your interview. 

You can also post the extra documents to the Jobcentre if you can't take them on the day - ask for the address at your interview.

If you don’t have the extra documents, tell your work coach - they might be able to ask you extra questions instead. Your Universal Credit payments won’t start until you’ve submitted everything you can.

If you live with your partner they'll have their own interview. They'll also need to take documents proving their details - even if you've already proved some things, like your address.

Take a photo ID

You’ll need to take at least one photo ID to the Jobcentre. Photo IDs include your:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • national identity card if you're an EU citizen 

If you don't have any photo ID, the Jobcentre might ask you some security questions instead. You won’t need to prepare for these but your interview will take longer than normal, so it's better to take ID if you have it.

Take your housing details

If you rent privately, you’ll need to prove how much rent you pay and what your landlord’s address is - take your tenancy agreement or a recent rent statement.

If you don't have a rent agreement, ask your landlord for a copy of the agreement or for a letter with details of your agreement.

If you rent from your local council or housing association, you don’t need to take evidence of your housing costs to your interview. You’ll have entered details of your housing costs in your online application - the DWP will get in touch with your landlord to check those details are are correct.

If you have your own home, you’ll need to provide evidence of your mortgage or loan. This could be a mortgage agreement or bank statements showing the payment of a mortgage.

Take your bank details

You'll need to give details of your bank, building society or credit union account. This could be your bank card or a bank statement. If you don't have any bank statements you can ask your bank for one - you might have to pay a small fee.

If you’ve used a friend or family member’s bank account for your first payment, it’s best to ask your work coach what to do at your appointment.

If you have internet banking you can print a statement from your online account.

Take information about your income and savings

You'll need details of:

  • how much you earn from work, such as recent payslips, or accounts if you're self-employed - if you've left work, take your P45
  • any income that’s owed to you, such as pay from working overtime
  • any details of work you’re going to start
  • any income that's not from work, like from a pension or insurance plan
  • any other benefits you're getting, such as benefits letters or a bank statement
  • any savings you have - and a bank statement to show the details
  • any other 'capital' you have, like shares or property

If you're self-employed

You'll need to show that being self-employed is your main job. This is called being 'gainfully self-employed'. You'll need to show:

  • you get regular work from self employment
  • that your work is organised - for example, you have invoices and receipts or accounts
  • you expect to make a profit

To prove you're gainfully self-employed, take documents to your interview such as:

  • invoices
  • receipts
  • accounts
  • proof that you're registered as self-employed with HMRC

Call HMRC to check if you’re registered as self-employed.

HMRC

Telephone: 0300 123 2326

Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm

Calls to this number can cost up to 9p a minute from a landline, or between 3p and 55p a minute from a mobile - (your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay).

Take as many documents as you can so that the person interviewing you can see that you’re self-employed. If you don’t, you might have to look for other work while you get Universal Credit.

If you have children

You'll need to take:

  • birth certificates for your children - if you've lost one, you can order a new birth certificate on GOV.UK, but you'll have to pay a fee for this
  • evidence of any childcare costs - such as an invoice or a receipt from a nursery or registered childminder
  • your Child Benefit reference number

You can find your reference number on any letters you have about Child Benefit. The reference number starts with 'CHB' and is made up of 8 numbers and 2 letters - like: 'CHB12345678 AB'.

Call the Child Benefit Office if you don’t know the reference number.

Child Benefit Helpline

Telephone: 0300 200 3100

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm

Saturday, 8am to 4pm

Textphone: 0300 200 3103

Website: www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/child

Calls to this number can cost up to 9p a minute from a landline, or between 3p and 55p a minute from a mobile - your phone supplier can tell you how much you’ll pay.

If you don't have the right documents

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the documents you need - take as many as you can.

You’ll still be able to claim Universal Credit, but you’ll need to answer a few more questions when you go to the Jobcentre for your interview.

Call the Universal Credit helpline before your interview and explain why you won't be able to bring the right evidence. You might be able to get more time, for example if you need to order new copies of any documents.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free. It’s best to call from the phone number you gave the DWP when you set up your Universal Credit account. You'll have a shorter wait and might be put through to the same person who handled previous calls you've made.

Think about what you'll say at the interview

You’ll need to agree what work tasks you need to do in return for Universal Credit - this is called your ‘claimant commitment’. You’ll agree this with your work coach at your interview and sign if you agree.

It’s important to be as open and honest as possible about your situation so your work coach understands what you can and can’t do.

Explain what work you can do

Your work coach will ask you about your skills and the type of job you're looking for. If you have a job, you might be expected to look for a better paid job or work more hours. They might ask you:

  • what qualifications and experience you have - take your CV or any training or qualification certificates to the interview
  • how much you want to earn - tell them what you've earned in previous jobs
  • how many hours you can work each week - give your work coach a good reason if you can't work full-time, like if you've got health problems or caring responsibilities
  • where you could work - explain anything that limits where you can travel, for example if you don't have a car

Tell your work coach about your situation

Tell your work coach about anything that affects your ability to work or look for work. Some of these things might be hard to talk about, but it's worth discussing them as they affect what you'll have to do to get Universal Credit.

Tell your work coach if you:

  • have children
  • have a disability or a health condition
  • look after someone with a disability
  • had a partner, child or young person who’s died in the last 6 months
  • are being treated for a drug or alcohol problem
  • find it difficult to read or write
  • are homeless
  • have to do jury service
  • will struggle to pay for travel - your work coach might be able to give you money to help

Tell your work coach if you’ve experienced domestic violence in the last 6 months - you might not have to take on any work-related requirements for 13 weeks.

Agree your claimant commitment

After you’ve told your work coach about your situation, they’ll tell you what ‘work related activity group’ you’ll be in. Each group has different tasks to get ready for work - they could be applying for jobs or updating your CV.

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

Your work coach will write your tasks on your claimant commitment.

Make sure your claimant commitment is right for you

Don't sign your claimant commitment if you feel like you can’t do any of the tasks on it. If you agree to the claimant commitment and can’t do the tasks, your Universal Credit payments could be stopped.

Be honest with your work coach and explain to them why you’ll struggle to complete the tasks. Ask them to consider putting you in another ‘work-related activity group.’

Your work coach has to consider your requests and be reasonable. If they don’t change your claimant commitment, you can ask for a different member of staff to review the decision.

You can take up to a week to decide whether the claimant commitment is right for you. Make sure you tell your work coach what you decide within a week. If you don't tell them in time, they'll close your claim.

If you need help getting your claimant commitment right, talk to an adviser.

After your interview

You’ll usually get your first payment 5 weeks after you submitted your claim online.

If you haven't sent all your evidence or agreed your claimant commitment, do this as soon as possible - if you don't, you might have to make a new claim.  

If you don't think you'll have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment, you can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit. The advance payment is a loan - you’ll have to pay it back, but you won’t need to pay any interest. Find out how Universal Credit is paid.

Tell the DWP if anything changes between your interview and your first payment, for example you get a new job or you move house. Check which changes you need to report.

Check what other benefits you can get

You might also be able to get other benefits too - for example, if you’re a carer or have a long-term health condition.

You can use the free Turn2us or Entitledto benefit calculators to check which benefits you can get. You’ll need to be a British or Irish citizen to use the calculator.

If your application is unsuccessful

The DWP will send a message to your online account if your application is unsuccessful. You can ask them to reconsider the decision if you think it’s wrong.

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