A Public Law Project initiative is underway to help Universal Credit claimants avoid benefit sanctions.

The new website, www.claimantcommitments.org.uk, has been launched successfully with support from the Matrix Causes Fund and aims to provide claimants and advisers with the information they need to ensure that claimant commitments are tailored to individual circumstances.

What is the claimant commitment?

The claimant commitment is an agreement that claimants sign when they claim Universal Credit. It sets out the conditions the Department of Work and Pensions expects them to meet in order to receive their benefit. If claimants do not meet their conditions, they risk being sanctioned.

PLP’s own research has shown that many people are unaware that factors such as mental health, domestic violence, homelessness, childcare and refugee status can be taken into account when drawing up their claimant commitment. These concerns were echoed in a recent report from the Social Security Advisory Committee which noted that inappropriate requirements are being made of claimants.

How can the website help claimants and their advisers?

Information to help claimants in a range of different circumstances can be downloaded from www.claimantcommitments.org.uk as printer-friendly leaflets. Each leaflet fits on one piece of A4.

The website and leaflets include references to the relevant regulations and Department of Work and Pensions guidance so that claimants can refer to them when they meet their work coaches or communicate via their journal.

PLP is encouraging claimants and advisers to use the claimant commitment leaflets. Please share the link to the website among your networks.

Why is PLP trying to help reduce benefit sanctions?

PLP solicitor Sarah Clarke, recently told The Justice Gap:

“The Universal Credit sanctioning regime has resulted in unnecessary hardship to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, including care leavers, and claimants with disabilities. At its worst, the system is harmful and is counterproductive to its stated aims.

“Not only are sanctions harsher and more frequent than under previous regimes, the system is complicated and difficult to navigate, and there is poor administration and decision-making by the Department of Work and Pensions. Funding cuts to advice services including the legal aid cuts introduced by LASPO mean that claimants can find it difficult or impossible to get the help they need to challenge decisions.”

Please give us feedback

PLP needs your feedback on these resources so that we know what is working and what can be improved. If you can, please email feedback to: claimantcommitments@publiclawproject.org.uk

If you would like to have hard copies of the leaflets and you are unable to access a printer, please email a.godfrey@publiclawproject.org.uk.