Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.

FOIs: Universal Credit - Claims
Below are a selection of FOIs we have, over the past few years, sent to the DWP with the answers
We hope you find these useful.

Just click on the FOI you are interested in to see the full question and the answer. (Note in some cases we have summarised the answers.)

What form of evidence is required to add a child element after a claimant has a baby? If the evidence cannot be provided within a calendar month (bearing in mind Child Benefit delays and other circumstances) can this time limit be extended?

The form of evidence can either be a birth certificate or a notification of birth from the Tell us Once Service. If the evidence is received after the Assessment Period in which the child was born then consideration will be given by a decision maker to back date the child element, and any arrears will be paid to the claimant.
Click here to see the original FOI.

In both of these FOI responses:
FOI 2610 and FOI 3576
- it is clearly stated that failure to attend an interview purely to provide evidence comes under UC Claims & Payments regulation 37.
2610 states "A claimant is mandated to attend the initial evidence gather interview under the power to require a person to supply information or evidence in connection with the claim, in regulation 37 of the Claims and Payments Regulations 2013. A claim cannot be closed for failing to attend an interview for this purpose until a period of one month has expired since the information was requested. The SoS must allow the one month period to elapse before closing the claim, and may extend this one month period if he considers"
But in the Deposited Papers, the "Fail to Attend" Paper states "Failure to attend Initial Evidence Interview A claim will normally be closed the day following a failure to attend the Initial Evidence Interview unless the claimant has complex needs"
This cannot be talking about where the interview is also a claimant commitment interview as that is dealt with separately on the paper.
Could you either: Confirm that the Deposited Paper has been /will be amended to make it clear that a claimant has one month to provide the missing evidence and that the claim should not be closed the following day and/or Explain why there is this difference in guidance and/or Provide the documents that back up the statement in the Deposited Papers?

We can confirm that the Deposited Paper has been amended and a claimant has one month to provide the missing evidence and that the claim should not be closed the following day. There is always the possibility for a difference in current guidance and the Deposited Papers as we refresh the HoC every so often. We do not have a set date when we refresh the HoC library.
To be helpful we have provided a PDF document of the current Fail to Attend guidance,
Here is a link to the HoC library.
Click here to see the original FOI.

Could you confirm whether, as with Live service UC claims, a claimant who fails to provide evidence at a first claim interview should either:
Send their evidence (if within time scales) to the Universal Credit postal address (the Handling Site B one) or Send it to another address or Take it in at a later date at the local Job Centre if they agree to accept it or Should it be sent to either of the two addresses given in the UC Full Service LA support pack? Or Should it be attached as an uploaded document to their journal?
Could you also confirm whether it is still the case that in order to attach a document a claimant has to ask their work coach to add a To Do onto their To Do list on the UC account?

Universal Credit Full Service is a digital service and claimants, on receipt of a To Do in their journal, can upload the relevant evidence documents or alternatively can provide their evidence documents to their Work Coach.
When the claimant attends the Jobcentre, their Work Coach can create a To Do to enable the evidence to be uploaded.
Only when these alternatives are not available should claimants use the postal service. Post should be addressed to:
Or use the full address below
Canterbury Benefit Centre
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 2EA
Click here to see the original FOI.

When Job Centres are digitally enhanced, will a person who wishes to claim UC be able to use an Internet Access Device (or access wifi on their own device) to claim UC online at the Job Centre? Or are these devices purely for job searching?

In a digital Jobcentre a person wishing to claim UC online will be directed to a computer set aside specifically for this purpose, or they can take advantage of the free WiFi and use their own device.
Original available here.

‘The UC online claim (Digital) asks the claimant to give rent and eligible service charges.......
If the claimant inputs the total figure as rent (with the correct gross rent figure) - and then when the DWP verify the rent with the landlord, the landlord splits it into service charges and net rent (but still the same total gross rent figure) - will this trigger a 'to do' for the claimant to amend the rent details on their claim, meaning that no Housing Cost Element will be included until they do?’

Service charges only apply to social sector landlords; they are not paid to private rented sector claims.
When verifying rent with a social sector landlord, both the claimant and the landlord are required to input a breakdown of housing costs, separating service charges from rent.
In instances where the details do not match, the claimant is required to clarify their exact housing costs. A ‘To Do’ activity is triggered for the claimant to action. Failure to verify these costs will result in payment delays.
Click here to see the original.

Summary of FOI 3576 on Evidence & ID Verification Interviews; and Claimant Commitment Interviews

Time limit to book verification interview

Where a claimant is unable to verify through gov.uk/verify they book a verification interview at the Job Centre. The regulations* stipulate no particular time limit by which they must do this but current practice is to give 7 days from date of claiming UC.

What happens if claimant fails to attend the verification interview?
If a claimant fails to attend a verification interview Regulation 37(3) of the UC, PIP, JSA & ESA regulations 2013 states that they must provide the evidence within a calendar month of initial request (or such longer time as DWP considers reasonable).
But where (as often happens) the verification interview is conducted at the same time as a Claimant Commitment this regulation is superseded by the requirement to attend a meeting to sign their Claimant Commitment. And under discretionary powers the claim can be closed after day 7.
(Note the claim is actually often cancelled the following day and we believe this could be challenged as the claimant has already signed a basic claimant commitment on their digital form so the argument isn't correct - 7 days' "cooling off period" should also apply to variations to the commitment.)
*Regulation 35 of the Universal Credit (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013 states:
".... every person who makes a claim for benefit .....must attend at such place and on such days and at such times as the Secretary of State may direct, for the purpose of supplying any information or evidence under regulations 37, 38, 39 and 41, if reasonably so required by the Secretary of State."

Failure to attend the Claimant Commitment Interview
It depends on the reasons why the claimant has failed to attend, and whether the DWP are aware of them, as to whether they are allowed longer to attend.
Did they need to attend?
According to DWP Guidance ADM J1020-1027 and Regulation 16 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, a claimant isn’t required to accept a claimant commitment at all if they lack capacity to do so or if “exceptional conditions” apply and it would be unreasonable to expect the claimant to accept one. So if anyone in this position (eg lacks mental capacity, suddenly hospitalised, housebound etc) fails to book/ attend an interview they should not have their claim closed.
Did they fail to attend?
Where a claimant has been identified as having complex needs, an extra seven days should be given after failure to attend before the decision maker considers closing the claim. Complex needs should have been identified at the Initial Work Interview. For claimants without complex needs the claim will be closed following the day that the appointment was not attended. A claimant might then be able to get their claim backdated in limited circumstances.
Note that there does not appear to be any regulation allowing a claimant to re-arrange an interview. However that does not mean the DWP couldn’t use their discretion if they considered it appropriate.
Did they fail to attend but provide reasons later?
Where a claimant has been unable to attend but later notifies the DWP if their reasons, the claimant can ask the DWP to revise their decision to close the claim and this will be considered on a case by case basis. Regulation 5 of the UC Regulations 2013.

The Digital UC guidance on the Deposited Papers does not refer to the regulations, (whereas the ADM memos do). Please could you give any documentation or explanation as to why this is the case?
Digital UC guidance provides an overview to an area covering multiple parts of the regulations and is one of a number of products that supports the delivery of Universal Credit. UC Digital guidance is designed to be used on conjunction with the ADM, Learning & Development packages/products and the intuitive IT system that administers Universal Credit. Where an understanding of specific regulations are required the suite of products refers to or advises the content of the respective regulations.

Full FOI 3576
3576 Attachment re cancelled claims.pdf

The Full service guidance document "Assisted Digital" explains how claimants experiencing a variety of barriers to claiming UC maybe given coaching or support.
However what is unclear is how someone (who has no alternative source of support and does not have an appointee) can be assisted if they physically cannot use a device because of a physical disability - or are precluded - due to a criminal conviction - from accessing the internet.
This guidance says "During delivery of assisted digital, Universal Credit members of staff must not enter information on a claimant’s behalf. " and "Universal Credit members of staff must never enter information on a claimant’s behalf. "
So I would be grateful if you could explain exactly how a person physically unable to use the internet may be assisted.

On occasions when the claimant cannot access the Universal Credit system, or, due to a criminal record they are excluded from accessing the internet, they can make and administer their claim over the telephone. In addition and if appropriate, we can also arrange for a home visit.
It is only in these exceptional cases that we input data on the claimant’s behalf. The information entered and its accuracy is the responsibility of the claimant.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Please could you provide any guidance or procedure that ensures that when someone is
entering their details on an online claim for UC, the system/ the computer/anyone processing
the form recognises when the claimant wishes to claim New style JSA / ESA either as well as
or instead of Universal Credit, and ensures that they are able to do so

When a claimant enters their details onto the online system to claim Universal Credit there are
certain questions that are asked which determine whether the claimant can claim Universal
Credit. If they do not pass the gateway criteria they are then redirected to contact their local
Jobcentre to discuss what they are entitled to, this could be new style JSA / ESA.
We do not hold any guidance but I am including links to gov.uk website which provides
information on the new style ESA and JSA which offers support to UC claimants. Please see
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number

Click here to see the original FOI.

I understand regulation 35 of the UC, PIP, JSA & ESA (Claims & Payments) regs 2013 requires a UC claimant to "attend at such place and on such days and at such times as the Secretary of State may direct, for the purpose of supplying any information or evidence" and that a claimant will usually have to attend a new claim interview; therefore a claim has not been validly completed until the claimant fulfils such requirements.
I have been unable to find any regulations or guidance that define how long (and under what circumstances) after an appointment date it is reasonable for the DWP to deem that a claimant has arrived too late for their appointment/interview and that the claim will be closed.
I have heard of a claimant being deemed too late when they arrived five minutes BEFORE the allotted time. Their claim was closed and they had to reclaim meaning several days' lost income. I there is any guidance on what is reasonable - both in terms of claimant action / inaction, and in terms of when it is reasonable to close the claim.

There is no formal definition of a reasonable period of time during which a claimant can be accepted as attending late for, as opposed to having failed to attend, a mandatory appointment. This is determined locally, depending on whether the claimant has complex needs that affected their ability to attend on time and the capacity to undertake the interview that day. Therefore, there is no recorded information that provides a definition of late attendance.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Students who are on DLA/PIP and have a Limited Capability for Work are able to get Universal Credit. BUT - unlike ESA - they are not treated as having a Limited Capability for Work when sending in fit notes.
So I would be grateful if you could help me with the following scenario, providing me with the regulations and/or guidance that explain how this works.

How does a student - who is not already on Universal Credit – make a claim for UC if they have not yet had a Work Capability Assessment, taking into consideration the issue that they will not meet the claiming criteria until they are found to have a LCW? Presumably unless they meet the claiming criteria for UC they won't be put forward for a Work Capability Assessment so they would be stuck in a Catch 22?
I am aware that there is a regulation that allows a claim from someone who - purely because of their income - only becomes entitled to Universal Credit once they are found to have a Limited Capability for Work - but in this scenario it's not the student's income that is stopping them from claiming Universal Credit - it's the fact that they are a student and thereby ineligible.
Please provide the regulations and/or guidance that describes the process of how such students make their claim and and a WCA referral etc.

(In essence the reponse was that if a student:
- Gets DLA or PIP
- But hasn't had a Work Capability Assessment
- And doesn't fall into a category that allows them to be treated as having a Limited Capability for Work, ie under Schedule 8 or 9 of the UC regs 2013)
- then they will not be able to claim UC)

In Universal Credit (UC), limited capability for work or limited capability for
work and work related activity is determined in one of two ways. One is
following the outcome of a Work Capability Assessment. The other is where
the claimant is treated as having limited capability for work.
Regulation 41 in the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 provides for when a
Work Capability Assessment can be carried out, once entitlement to UC has
been determined.
The circumstances in which a claimant is to be treated as having limited
capability for work, or limited capability for work and work related activity, are
listed in Schedules 8 and 9 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013. The
claimant should provide sufficient medical evidence in support of having one
of the conditions or treatments listed such that the claimant can be treated as
having limited capability for work (Schedule 8), or limited capability for work
and work related activity (Schedule 9), without the need to refer for an
Schedules 8 and 9 are here http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376.
In order to prepare for a move into work in the future a UC claimant who has
been determined as having limited capability for work and entitlement to
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP),
can become a full time student and continue to receive financial support
through UC. Provision is at Regulation 14 (b) in the Universal Credit
Regulations 2013.
A new claim for UC can be made and taken where a disabled person in full
time education, who is entitled to DLA or PIP, can be treated as having limited
capability for work. This means having one of the conditions or treatments
listed in Schedules 8 and 9 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, and
providing the necessary medical evidence in support of that.
In these cases the claimant meets the UC disabled student requirements: i.e.
the student is entitled to DLA or PIP, has limited capability for work, and is in
full time education. The UC claim can continue throughout the period of full
time study providing the limited capability for work determination remains valid
and entitlement to DLA or PIP continues.
Regulation 28(7) of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 provides for a
claimant’s income (or joint income) to be treated as the prescribed minimum –
one penny in accordance with Regulation 17. This regulation applies where
the claimant meets the basic entitlement conditions.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Student applying for UC when not yet given a Limited Capability for Work Assessment'.
I received some of the information I asked for but not all:
You stated:
"A new claim for UC can be made and taken where a disabled person in full
time education, who is entitled to DLA or PIP, can be treated as having limited
capability for work. This means having one of the conditions or treatments
listed in Schedules 8 and 9 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, and
providing the necessary medical evidence in support of that. "

But you have not explained how a student on DLA or PIP, who has not yet had a Work Capability Assessment, and does NOT fall into one of the limited categories of Schedule 8 or 9, make a claim for UC.

If they live in a Full service area they would not be able to get a WCA via ESA.
So although they are a disabled student who should be entitled to UC, because they have not had a WCA before claiming UC, and do not fall into a category of people who can be treated as having a LCW or LCWRA, it looks like they will never be able to claim.

Please confirm if my reasoning is correct or explain an alternative way they could claim UC.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Please could you provide any internal guidance for Decision Makers etc that ensures that the system / the Decision Makers recognise when someone (who is submitting a UC claim) wishes to claim New style JSA / ESA either as well as or instead of Universal Credit, and ensures that they are able to do so.

Please could you provide the regulations and/or guidance that describe the process for making a "credits only" claim for Universal Credit, when someone in a Full service UC area doesn't meet the NI contributions conditions for new style ESA or JSA, but also has too much income/savings for Universal Credit.

1. There is no internal guidance for Decision Makers to recognise when someone wishes to claim new style JSA/ESA, either as well as, or instead of, Universal Credit. A Decision Maker does not have any involvement at the initial claim stages of a new claim. They would only have involvement if there needed to be a decision made later on
any aspect of the claim.

2. We do not have internal guidance but the process is as follows.
A customer can contact the main Job Centre Plus claim line number (0800 055 6688) or call into their local Jobcentre explaining they want to claim National Insurance (NI) credits only as they are unemployed but do not want or can not receive Universal Credit and or new style JSA.
The telephony agent or Jobcentre member of staff will take down the basic contact details, arrange an interview at the claimants local Jobcentre and send them or give them a JSANC1 form to complete and bring to the interview.

The Work Coach will assess their entitlement to an NI credit, based upon the evidence in the form, inform them of what they need to do or keep on doing, and set them a fortnightly day of attendance. When they must show their continuing entitlement based upon meeting the requirements of The Social Security (Credits) Regulations, regulation
8A(2)(ba), which are that they meet the requirements of sections: 1(2)(e) to (h) and section 6D and 6E of the Jobseeker’s Act 1995.
If they do so, each week (NI credit weeks run Sunday to Saturday) DWP will inform HMRC that they have done so and HMRC will give them a class 1 NI credit by adding it to their National Insurance record. This is done electronically through the e-NIRS2 browser between DWP and HMRC or can be done clerically on an appropriate form, if it is not possible to do so through the browser.
The relevant regulations are The Social Security (Credits) Regulations 1975 (S.I. 1975/556), regulation 8A(2)(ba) – credits for unemployment, which is in the public domain and can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk, specifically:
The Jobseekers Act 1995, section 1(2), can be found at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1995/18/contents,
specifically the revised version 30/11/2014:
Click here to see the original FOI.

Thank you for your response to my question, FOI 693 - asking if someone has a problem claiming online and then calls to register a claim, how the date and time of the call can be proved - in which you confirmed that "Calls made outside of operating hours are not recorded as we do not have a recording facility"
Can you provide any regulations or guidance which states how someone can provide evidence they have registered their intention to claim given that calls made outside of operating hours are not recorded? Or is it that, should there be any dispute over when the intention to claim was registered, it would be a matter of a decision based on the balance of probability?

When the IT system is not available and someone tries, but fails, to make a claim they can request backdating when the system becomes available. We would be aware of the times the system is unavailable and so would accept the claimant’s request.
Claims can also be made by telephone. If the claimant is unable to complete the claim during the call they have a month to come back with the correct information or to complete the claim. If that is done, then the date of claim will be the date of the phone call - that being ‘the date of first notification of intention to make a claim’.
This only applies when there has been a phonecall - If there is no such call then the concept of an ‘intention to claim’ does not arise.
If the claimant has a disability then backdating can be considered. If none of the above apply then the claim would start from the next day when the claimant is able to make their claim.
Click here to see the full FOI.

1. Can you provide the guidance and/or legislation that allows the claimant to give explicit consent for a specific representative over a specific matter without the need for the claimant to be present?
2. Some service centre staff are refusing to look on the claimant's journal without verbal consent from the claimant at the time of the call - please provide guidance that confirms such verbal consent from the client is required.
3. Where the claimant has given explicit consent to a rep, we are assuming that there is no restriction on what this matter is? I.e. that it is not restricted to just housing related issues if the rep calls from a housing provider? Please provide the guidance on this thanks.

A claimant can use their online account to provide explicit consent to disclose information via their Journal - consent covers a particular query. If a claimant is with the rep then staff will verify the claimants identity but if they are not present with the rep, a three way telephone conversation with the claimant will be arranged.
The representative who works for their social landlord will be restricted to the information relevant to a claimants housing costs. Similarly, a representative who is dealing with other matters, will be told the relevant information in respect to each query.

FULL VERSION of FOI available here
Find out more about explicit consent here on our website.

Please can you provide guidance/regulations on the means by which a claimant may provide evidence of child care costs in Full Service UC: We have been told that the only way these can be provided is by handing them in at the Job Centre, but this can be very difficult to do if the claimant is in full time work and/or lives a long way from the nearest Job Centre.
1. Does it have to be the Job Centre closest to the claimant's home or can it be one that is near their place of work?
DWP Answer: Jobcentres can use their discretion to handle a claim at the most appropriate Jobcentre.

2. Is it the case that the evidence of child care costs cannot be posted? If
not, why not?

DWP Answer: 2. Support with childcare costs in Universal Credit is given on proof of paid
childcare costs. Currently claimants have to present evidence of their
childcare costs by providing receipts to their work coach. However, if parents
are working or unable to get to the JCP they can agree with their work coach
to send the childcare receipts in to the JCP, provided that the claimant
continues to meet all that they are required to as part of their Claimant

3. Is it the case that they cannot be scanned/photographed and uploaded onto
the online account? If not, why not? (Is this because they could be tampered

DWP Answer: 3. This is correct. There is no current facility for electronic upload of childcare
receipts. We are looking to add upload functionality to future builds of the
Universal Credit service, which will allow claimants to upload documents as
evidence of childcare costs.

4. Reg 33 of the UC regs says "(2) The childcare costs condition is only met in
respect of an assessment period if those charges are reported to the
Secretary of State before the end of the assessment period following the
assessment period in which they are paid. "
As the word used is "reported" rather than "evidenced" is it the case that
amount can be reported but the evidence provided after the relevant monthly
assessment period and the child care cost element be paid later?”

DWP Answer: Yes. This is correct. The claimant has to report the costs to their work
coach before the end of the Assessment Period to which the costs are
attributed (not necessarily the Assessment Period in which the costs were
paid). The childcare cost element can be paid later, upon receipt of evidence
for care that was reported in the appropriate assessment period.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Q1.Please could you send the procedure required by a claimant when they log into their Full service Universal Credit account - in terms of whether they need to provide their full 16 digit number, password etc. (If you could supply a sample screenshot this would be useful)

A1. In respect of the claimant account and logging in I have provided a link to the login screen for information. This is part of the Gov.uk on line services. To sign into your account the user name and password is needed. This is set up when the Universal Credit application is made. https://www.universal-credit.service.gov.uk/sign-in

There are protocols around the user name which must be at least 6 characters (but no more than 30) and have letters and numbers. The password must be at least 8 characters and contain at least one capital letter, one lower case letter and one number. Both these items are then needed to access the claimant account on subsequent visits.

The 16 digit code or personal security number (commonly known as the PSN) is an additional security layer in full service. This is given out to the claimant at the jobcentre during the initial appointment stage. The number is printed out and laminated. The work coach does not see the number at any point.
Q2. Could you let me know what happens - if anything - if they have changed their email address since they first claimed - and any guidance /procedure for DWP staff in this situation.

A2. If a claimant changes their e mail address they can do this via their account. The change generates a verification e mail to the new e mail address
Q3. What should a claimant do if they lose or forget any of their numbers /password?
I assume they would need to reset this- would they need to book a fresh appointment to take ID into the Jobcentre?

A3. Gov.uk has a screen where claimants can access their account. There are links on this page if the claimant cannot remember their username or password so that the user name and password can be reset on line.

Different circumstances apply where the claimant loses/forgets their 16 digit PSN. For this they need to attend an interview to verify their ID again. A new PSN is then generated and issued.
Q4. If so, and they miss an interview at the Job centre because they have not been able to login while waiting for the fresh appointment so didn't know they had been invited, would this count as a good reason which would mean they avoid a sanction?

A4. In respect of your final query it is not possible to give a definitive answer. Decision making relies on applying the regulations to the individual circumstances taking into account what has happened and what is reasonable.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Under the 'Full'/Digital Service do all claimants need to attend a first claim interview? And if not, how are they given / how do they agree to their Claimant Commitment?

When a claimant makes their claim to Universal Credit online, they verify their identification and bank details. Depending on the data provided, the claimant will be automatically allocated to a conditionality group, for example, ‘working enough’ or ‘no work related requirements’ conditionality groups.

Depending on the claimant’s conditionality groups of either ‘working enough’ or ‘no work
related requirements’, they may either:

Receive a simple claimant commitment, telling them that if their circumstances change
they need to contact us, or;
They will be required to attend the jobcentre for a face to face meeting.
If the claimant commitment is automatically sent, the claimant can agree to it online.
This answer means that there are certain people who will not need to attend a new claim interview and who can just accept their claimant commitment online.

Click here to see the original FOI.

Some time ago (in 2013) in response to a FOI request DWP released a sample Claimant Commitment "Joanne Brown" which has been very useful. Has there been any change to this and is there an updated version you could publish?

Universal Credit do not have an example of a claimant commitment as we encourage claimants to apply and agree to their commitment on-line. We do have guidance for work coaches however, for when claimants prefer to make a claim and sign their commitment face to face. The guidance is attached as separate annexes – see below.
Annex 1: Commitment Pack
Annex 2: Creating a Commitment Pack
Click here for the Joanne Brown example - please note very out of date hence reason for FOI.
Original FOI here.

Will a Benefit Transfer Advance Payment always be set to be recovered over a 12 month period or can it be set to be recovered quicker and when will this happen?

Where a claimant is eligible for a Universal Credit Advance (benefit transfer) the advance will be recovered from the claimant’s Universal Credit payment in twelve equal monthly instalments unless the claimant asks for a quicker repayment period.

The first repayment will be taken from their first payment of Universal Credit unless it is agreed that repayment can be delayed because they have had a change of circumstances that would mean taking this first repayment would cause genuine hardship. This deferral period can be for up to 3 months.
Once the deferral period has ended, repayment of the advance would begin and recovery would take place as outlined above i.e. over twelve equal instalments or over a shorter period specified by the claimant.
Also available on the 'WhatDoTheyKnow' website - click here.
Click here for more information on Benefit Transfer Advances.