Below is a full DWP FOI response on how a Universal Credit Claimant Commitment can
be used to impose forced-labour (#workfare), which was explicitly legislated for under
Section 16(3)(e) of the 2012 Welfare Reform Act.
“DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
Our Ref: FoI 117
Date: 31 January 2018
Dear Mr Zola,
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 10th January 2018. You asked:
“Under Universal Credit (UC) can a claimant with a Work Placement or Work
Experience Work Preparation requirement included in their Claimant Commitment get a
benefit sanction if they decline to start or continue to undertake the Placement or
Experience? Please also disclose details of the legislation for these requirements and
the precise Decision Maker guidance sections/chapters explaining the basis sanctions
may apply to a claimant’s UC for these Placement and Experience requirements”.
A “work preparation requirement” is a requirement that a claimant take particular action specified for the purpose of making it more likely, in the opinion of the Work Coach, that the claimant will obtain paid work (or more paid work or better-paid work). Work preparation requirements include undertaking work experience or a work placement. The requirements a claimant is asked to meet should be clearly set out in their Claimant Commitment.
Work Coaches work with claimants to individually tailor these requirements and explain the consequences of failing to meet them. If a claimant fails to meet their agreed
requirements, they are referred to a Decision Maker to determine whether a sanction is
appropriate. The Decision Maker invites those referred for a sanction to explain why
they failed to meet the requirement/s agreed in their Claimant Commitment. Decision
Makers take all the claimant’s individual circumstances, including any health conditions
or disabilities, and any evidence of good reason into account before making a decision.
Sanctions are only used in a minority of cases when people fail to meet each of their
requirements that they agreed in their Claimant Commitment without good reason.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 does not require us to provide any information
that can be considered reasonably accessible to you. Please see section 21 of that
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 and The Universal Credit Regulations 2013 set out the
legislation by which Universal Credit operates and can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk.
Parliamentary legislation is available to everyone free of charge and if you do not have
access to the internet at home, access is available through your local library.
For general information about Universal Credit please follow the attached link to
information held on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit
However, you may find the following information helpful.
Regulations 84 to 99 of The Universal Credit Regulations 2013 contain specific
provisions relating to the setting of work-related requirements outlined under sections
15 to 25 of the Welfare Reform 2012 Act, including the persons to whom they are to be
applied, the limitations on those requirements, and other related matters.
Section 16 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 covers work preparation requirements.
A work preparation requirement is a requirement that a claimant take particular action
specified for the purpose of making it more likely in the opinion of the Work Coach that
the claimant will obtain paid work (or more paid work or better-paid work). Work
preparation requirements include:
– attending a skills assessment;
– improving personal presentation;
– participating in training;
– participating in an employment programme;
Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act allows us to direct you to information
which is already reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested is
available here Advice for Decision Making. You asked for the guidance and the legislative
references with reference to Universal Credit claimants with a Work Preparation
Requirement on their Claimant Commitment and the possibility of a sanction applying
in the case of a failure to meet their requirements.
The relevant Advice for Decision Making chapters include:
J3 “Work-related requirements” –
K3 “Higher Level Sanctions” –
K5: “Low Level Sanctions” –
The appropriate legislative references appear below the relevant paragraphs of
The Advice for Decision Making is written by civil servants employed by the Department
for Work and Pensions.
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference
DWP Strategy FoI Team”
Workfare is alive and well, as well as sanctions
It is worth remembering that nothing stops a WHP provider arranging ‘voluntary‘ unpaid work experience (workfare). And Universal Credit claimants may have already undertaken mandatory work experience prior to starting the WHP, as well as Youth Obligation conscripts