Q. I currently claim Universal Credit and as a single parent with a child under one I currently have no job seeking or other work-related requirements attached to the claim.
However, I understand that these may change once my son reaches the age of one. I have no other children. What type of changes may I face when this happens?
Other than my responsibilities as a parent there are no other factors that might restrict my ability to work or job seek such as ill health.
A. Your Universal Credit responsibilities will change as your child gets older and also at specific times based on your sons age.
From the ages of one to two you will likely be required to take part in work focused interviews, how often will be based on your circumstances and failure to attend these will normally lead to a sanction unless you can provide a good reason for failing to attend.
From the ages of two to three your commitment will again change and you will be required attend work focused interviews and also prepare for work.
From the ages of three onwards you will normally have all the normal requirements of a job seeker i.e. you must meet all the work related requirements in order to receive Universal Credit but you may be able to limit your job seeking/searching in order to be compatible with your child’s school hours (including any travel time to and from school).
Work focused interviews will involve plans that will increase your ability to obtain employment and will take place with your work coach.
Things such as education, qualifications, past work experience, etc. will be discussed as well as options such as training you may do to increase your chances of obtaining employment.
Work preparation will include things such as doing unpaid or voluntary work, training, participating in government employment programmes.
When you must meet all work related activities to receive Universal Credit you will in addition to doing work focused interviews and work preparation also need to job seek and provide evidence of steps you have taken to do this.
For most job seekers you will need to show that you have spent 35 hours each week taking steps to obtain employment, such as applying for jobs, registering with agencies, writing to prospective employers who may not be currently seeking staff.
Your job coach may reduce the number of hours you spend each week doing this activity if it interferes with your responsibilities as a parent.