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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Conditionality and sanctions  →  Thread

UC claimant commitment - second opinion and review

Owen_Stevens
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UC London Adviser, CPAG

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Hello all

See https://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2021-0835/029_Claimant_Commitment_not_accepted_V3-0.pdf

Does anyone know when, exactly, a claimant is told about (i) the cooling off period and (ii) the possibility of getting a second opinion?  Do they have to reject a claimant commitment before they are told about it? Or are they told about it at the point that they are offered the draft commitment?

UB40
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Debt Advice + Community Money Advice Launceston

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Example 2
Chris made his claim for UC on 20.5.13. A claimant commitment is drawn up but Chris is not entirely
happy with the requirements recorded on it. Chris’s work coach allows Chris time to consider the
contents of the claimant commitment and the consequences for Chris and his household of not
accepting the claimant commitment. Chris is given up to seven calendar days to consider this. After four
days, Chris decides to accept the claimant commitment and so it takes effect from 20.5.13.
Example 3
Michelle made her claim for UC on 20.5.13. A claimant commitment is drawn up but Michelle is not
entirely happy with the requirements recorded on it. Michelle’s work coach allows Michelle time to
consider the contents of the claimant commitment and the consequences for Michelle and her
household of not accepting the claimant commitment. She is given up to seven calendar days to
consider this. Seven days pass and Michelle makes no contact regarding the claimant commitment. The
DM decides that in respect of the claim for UC made on 20.5.13, Michelle is not entitled. This is because a
claimant commitment has not been accepted.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1065178/admj1.pdf

Hope this helps….........

Jo_Smith
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Citizens Advice Hillingdon

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Currently assisting 2 clients who were sanctioned for not accepting cc. Both have health issues.
None were told about cooling off or 2nd opinion.
Over past year none of my sanctioned clients were informed about those concepts and in one case, a work coach was quite offended because they thought client is having a joke.

UB40
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The downside of the Second Opinion is that the ” claimant commitment” is passed to another Work Coach in the Jobcentre on the same day and if that Work Coach agrees that it is suitable then the whole UC claim is closed. So it is actually far worse that a sanction which has a time limit and does not include Housing Costs.

Owen_Stevens
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UC London Adviser, CPAG

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Thanks both

Presumably Jo is talking about claimant commitments which were replacing already existing agreements.  In that case failure to agree would result in sanction rather than ending the award.

If anyone else has any insight into when, exactly, claimants are told about these options I’d be really interested to hear that

Charles
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My understanding of the process is that for auto-generated commitments, claimants are automatically given 7 days (which is the cooling off period). During that time they can request a review (i.e., a second opinion).
Tailored commitments can be accepted immediately, but if the claimant doesn’t immediately accept it, they will also get 7 days (again, this is referred to as the cooling off period), and can also request a review in that time.

I don’t think claimants are formally told about the ability to request a second opinion, but it can be requested at any point in the 7 day period. Presumably work coaches will often inform claimants of this option.
The guidance does say (as UB40 mentions) that the cooling off period ends if a second opinion is asked for. However, I don’t think there is a legal basis for this: I believe the cooling off period is legislated for by Reg 15(1) (see ADM J1009), and the second opinion by Reg 15(3), but Reg 15(3) does not allow for reducing the period previously given under Reg 15(1).

By the way, even a refusal to accept an updated commitment will result in a claim being terminated (not simply a sanction).

Owen_Stevens
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Thanks Charles, that’s useful

Is the ADM compatible with this recent decision? https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/624313f4e90e075f07426e2f/CUC_1792_2020_UA_2020_001580.pdf

[ Edited: 13 May 2022 at 08:44 am by Owen_Stevens ]
Jess Strode
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For claims already ‘closed’ ie, refused, because the claimant has ‘failed to accept a claimant commitment’, and where the claimant:

a) has been given fewer than 7 days to accept it, and/or
b) has failed to attend a commitments meeting rather than failed to accept a commitment (since no meeting has been taken place to prepare a commitment) and / or
c) has complex needs,

Please feel free to use CPAG’s judicial review pre action template ‘JR119 UC claim closed for failure to accept claimant commitment when has complex needs, given fewer than 7 days to accept, and called to ‘meeting’ rather than asked to accept actual commitment’ on this page: https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/judicial-review/judicial-review-pre-action-letters/claimant-commitment-uc.

Please let us know how DWP respond .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Charles
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Owen_Stevens - 13 May 2022 08:15 AM

Is the ADM compatible with this recent decision? https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/624313f4e90e075f07426e2f/CUC_1792_2020_UA_2020_001580.pdf

I assume you are referring to the quotation in para. 14 from the DWP’s representative that there is no legal basis to terminate an award for failing to accept a revised claimant commitment?

Yes, this does seem to contradict the guidance. And the law for that matter (s. 14(5) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012).

Mr Finch
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“The consequences for Michelle and her household”
It sounds like the Mafia.