Universal Credit - The journal, online account and avoiding sanctions



The online Universal Credit account

You’ll need your online Universal Credit account for lots of things – it’s not just for applying for Universal Credit. 
It will be used to:
 
  • Update your details if your circumstances change
  • Provide information such as childcare costs
  • Give details about a disability or health condition
  • View how much your Universal Credit payments will be 
  • Exchange messages with your work coach. This happens in the area of your Universal Credit account called the journal
  • Keep a record of all the things you’re doing to find work (if you need to). You’ll find the things you need to do are recorded in the section of the online account called the to do list
Every April you’ll need to let the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) know whether your rent has changed – up or down

The ‘to do’ list

The to do list is an area within your online Universal Credit account.

The things (tasks) you need to do while your application is being processed – or during the time you’re receiving Universal credit – will be listed in your to do list.

These are the tasks you agreed to do as part of your claimant commitment. It could also be things that you still need to do to complete your claim.

Once a task on your to do list is complete, it will move to the section in the online account called journal

The journal

The journal is an area within your online Universal Credit account.

This is where you will be able to leave messages for your work coach. And they’ll be able to reply or leave new messages for you.

It’s really important to check your journal regularly so you don’t miss a message.

The journal is the right place to tell your work coach about applying for jobs and whether you’ve attended interviews or work experience or training.

If you need to, you’ll also be able to share documents that you’ve been working on, like CVs.

Completed, old tasks from your to do list will be stored in the journal, too.

Your journal will become a complete record of all the things you have done while applying for and claiming Universal Credit.

Sanctions

What is a sanction?

A sanction means that some, or possibly all, of your Universal Credit payment will be stopped.

If you don’t do the tasks you agreed to when you signed your claimant commitment, then you risk getting a sanction.
 

If you have a very good reason for not doing a task, you must let your work coach know as soon as you can. This will help you to avoid being sanctioned.


You could be sanctioned for things like, not attending an interview or a work-search review. And you could be sanctioned until you attend them. You could also be sanctioned for not keeping your journal up to date.

The level of sanction varies and depends on the reason for the sanction. Also, if you’ve had previous sanctions this could result in longer sanctions being applied.

A sanction can last for up to 6 months.

What to do if your payment is stopped

A hardship payment is available if you’re given a sanction and can’t pay for basic things like food, heating or rent. But you’ll have to pay this back from future Universal Credit payments.

To get a hardship payment, you must be:
  • 18 or over
  • able to show you’ve tried to find the money elsewhere
  • and show that you need the money for essentials
To apply for a hardship payment, call the Universal Credit free helpline on 0800 328 5644

How to appeal

If you don’t agree with being sanctioned, then you can appeal. This is called a Mandatory Reconsideration.

You can find out more about this on the Government website.

If the Mandatory Reconsideration is turned down, you can go to an Independent Tribunal. Find out how.

Citizens Advice will be able to help you apply.

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The interview, workcoach and activity groups
Be prepared

The journal and avoiding sanctions
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