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Universal Credit and work focused interviews

The DWP is beginning to introduce a new benefit called Universal Credit to replace means tested benefits such as Income Support and Housing Benefit.  Universal Credit is being phased in across the country area by area but will eventually affect all people who qualify for means tested benefits. It has not yet been fully introduced in the Dorset area.

Part of the assessment for Universal Credit includes an obligation to attend work-focused interviews. Currently Carer’s Allowance claimants are not obliged to attend work-focused interviews in order to claim Carer’s Allowance.  However, if you are below retirement age and are also claiming other means tested benefits such as Income Support, you will have to attend a work-focused interview before any decision about your benefits is made.

The interview will be with a personal adviser who will discuss with you the opportunities for work and training open to you taking your circumstances into account.  You do not have to take up any of the suggestions made at the interview, but if you fail to attend and participate in an interview offered to you, your benefit will be reduced.  Work-focused interviews can be deferred or waived if you can show that participation would be inappropriate for you due to the level of care you are providing or due to your own health needs.
There are different rules about work-focused interviews if you are claiming Employment and Support Allowance, visit www.gov.uk   for further details.

If you meet the criteria for Universal Credit there is a carer element which you can get included in your claim if you also meet the criteria for claiming Carer’s Allowance but earn over £110 a week after deductions. The carer element is a sum of money included in your Universal Credit calculation similar to the carer premium in Income Support or the carer addition in Pension Credit. You do not have to make a claim for Carer’s Allowance to get the carer element.

If you are making a joint claim with a partner/spouse for Universal Credit, and you both qualify, you can only each be awarded the carer element if you are caring for separate severely disabled people.


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