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Preparing for your Universal Credit interview

This advice applies to Wales

The last step of applying for Universal Credit is an interview at the Jobcentre. It's best to arrange the interview at the Jobcentre within 7 days of applying for Universal Credit. If you do this, your first payment shouldn't be delayed.

Your interview will be with a member of staff called your 'work coach' - you'll meet them regularly as part of your Universal Credit claim. Your work coach will want to check your details and arrange what you'll need to do as part of your Universal Credit claim.

If you're in a couple, you'll do separate interviews.

Once you've arranged your interview, there are things you can do to prepare.

Taking a friend or relative with you

You can take a friend or relative with you to your interview if you need support. Contact the DWP in advance to let them know and explain your reasons. They can't refuse to let you take someone with you.You can contact the DWP through your Universal Credit online account. If you have problems doing this, call the Universal Credit helpline:

Universal Credit helpline (full service)
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

If you can't get to your interview

Call the Universal Credit helpline straight away if you can't get to the interview. You should only be able to rearrange your interview if you have a good reason, for example you're ill on the day or you need to do an urgent repair in your home.

If you miss your interview the DWP might close your claim. This means you'll have to start your application again and your first payment might be delayed. You might be able to challenge your claim being closed - you can get help to do this from your local Citizens Advice.

If you have a long-term illness or disability

Call the Universal Credit helpline if getting to or taking part in the interview will be difficult for you.

You can ask the DWP to change things to make the interview easier - this is called a 'reasonable adjustment'. For example, you can ask for a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter, or for your interview to be at a place you can travel to easily.
You can ask for a home visit, but this will only happen in certain situations. For example, if you can't leave home because of a physical or mental health condition.

If the DWP refuse a reasonable adjustment

If you ask for a reasonable adjustment and it doesn't happen, you should check if this is discrimination and if you can complain. You should contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you think you've been discriminated against.

Gather everything you need for the interview

You'll have to take documents that prove you've give the right details in your online application. 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.

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 them - ask for the address at your interview.

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

Proof of your identity

When you set up your online account and started your Universal Credit claim, you would have been asked to prove your identity online using the government's 'Verify' system. If you had problems doing this, you'll need to give proof of your identity at your interview instead.

This could include:

  • your passport
  • driving licence
  • EEA national identity card

If you don't have photo ID, the Jobcentre might ask you some security questions instead. This can take longer, so it's better to take the ID they've asked for if you have it.

Your housing details

You'll need proof of your address, such as a bank statement or utility bill.

If you rent privately, you should take your tenancy agreement to prove how much rent you pay and what your landlord's address is. If you don't have a rent agreement, ask your landlord for a copy or for a letter with details of your agreement.

Your bank details

You'll need to give information about 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 for this. If you have internet banking you can print a statement from your online account.

Your income and savings

You'll need details of:

  • how much you earn from work, eg recent payslips, or accounts if you're self-employed - if you've left work, you need to take your P45
  • any income that's not from work, eg from a pension or insurance plan
  • any other benefits you're getting, eg 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 have children

You'll need to bring:

  • birth certificates for your children - you can order a new birth certificate if you've lost one, 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 a registered childminder
  • child benefit reference numbers

You can find child benefit reference numbers on letters to you about child benefit. The reference numbers start with 'CHB' and are made up of 8 numbers and 2 letters - like this: 'CHB12345678 AB'.

Call the Child Benefit Office if you need help.

Child Benefit Office
PO Box 1
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE88 1AA

Child Benefit Helpline: 0300 200 3100 (Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 8.00pm; Saturday from 8.00am to 4.00pm)
Textphone: 0300 200 3103

If you don't have the right documents

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 (full service)
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

Plan what you'll say at the interview

Your work coach will want to know 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 increase your hours of work. They might ask you:

  • what qualifications and work 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 if you want to look for work that pays a certain amount
  • 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

You can get careers advice and help looking for work from the National Careers Service.

Telling your work coach about your circumstances

You should plan to 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.

You should tell them if you:

  • have children - if you live with your partner, you'll need to nominate a main carer (you'll automatically be the main carer if you're a single parent)
  • have a disability or health condition
  • look after someone with a disability
  • find it difficult to read or write
  • are homeless
  • are being treated for a drug or alcohol problem
  • have to do jury service
  • have been a victim of domestic violence in the last 6 months
  • have a partner, child or young person who has died in the last 6 months - a child is anyone under 16 or someone under 20 who's in education or training

At your interview

Your work coach will tell you what 'work-related activity group' you'll be in. This will determine what 'work-related activity' you have to do to get UC. These are tasks like applying for jobs or updating your CV.

You'll discuss your situation with your work coach and be put into a 'work-related activity group'. Each group has different tasks you'll need to do to get ready for work.

Check your work coach has put you in the right work-related activity group. If you get put into the wrong group and struggle with the tasks, your Universal Credit could be cut - called a 'sanction'.

Signing your claimant commitment

Your work coach will put your work-related activities on an agreement called your 'claimant commitment'. You'll need to sign and agree to this to get Universal Credit.

Don't sign your claimant commitment if you can't do the things listed on it - your Universal Credit payment could be affected. You can ask to change your claimant commitment if there's anything on it you can't do.

Your work coach has to consider your requests and be reasonable. If they refuse to change it, you can ask to have their decision reviewed. You can write a message asking for a review in your online account.

If you refuse to sign your claimant commitment at the interview, you'll have 7 days to agree to it. You claim will be refused if you don't agree in this time. You should still ask them to look at your claimant commitment again if you don't agree with what they're asking you to do.

Ask your work coach about the Flexible Support Fund

At your interview, ask your work coach about the Flexible Support Fund. This might help you with money towards training or travel. They don't have to give this extra money to you.

After your interview

It will be at least 5 weeks until you get your first payment. This starts from the date of your claim if you've sent in all the right evidence and agreed your claimant commitment. You'll have to make a new claim if you don't do this.

You can ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit if you don't think you'll have enough money to live on while you wait for your first payment.

Once the DWP have agreed to an advance payment you should get the money in 3 working days. Tell the DWP if you need it sooner than this - they can pay you on the same day if you'd have no other money to live on.

You should get a message in your online account telling you what your payment will be and when you'll get it. You should get the advance payment in 3 working days if the DWP have agreed you should have one. Tell the DWP if you need it sooner than this - they can pay you on the same day if you'd have no other money to live on.

If you haven't got a message in your online account after 5 weeks, call the Universal Credit helpline and ask them why you haven't heard anything yet.

Universal Credit helpline (full service)
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free.

You should also call the helpline if anything changes between your interview and your first payment, for example you get a new job or you move house. Check what sort of changes you should report.

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