Conditionality and sanctions

Last updated: 21/09/2023

Changes to Universal Credit in-work conditionality require people earning the equivalent of over 15 hours per week at National Living Wage, but less than full time hours, to look for more work or better paid work or face sanctions.

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See our universal credit advice guide.

You can find out more information from the Universal Credit section on the Govt website.


Conditionality, in the context of Universal Credit, means that recipients of the benefit have certain responsibilities or requirements they need to meet in order to continue receiving the full amount. These responsibilities could include things like attending job interviews, actively seeking employment, or participating in training programs. If someone doesn’t meet these requirements without a valid reason, their Universal Credit payments might be reduced or stopped temporarily. This is called sanctioning,

Changes to conditionality

In March 2023, The Chancellor announced changes to conditionality:

  • There is now an increase to the number of hours you will be expected to work to receive Universal Credit. You will now be expected to work at least 18 hours per week.
  • The Administrative Earnings threshold will also increase. The Administrative Earnings Threshold is the amount you are expected to earn. This threshold is going up to £812 per month, so anyone earning below that will be expected to look for more work.

In the past, single parents would have limited or no work search requirements if their working hours and income fell below this threshold. These new changes mean there is now more intensive work search requirements. If you do not meet these requirements there is a chance your benefits could be sanctioned.

What does this mean for you?

  • Single parents who are not in paid work and whose youngest child is age 3 you will now be required to seek employment or face potential sanctions to their benefits.
  • This will also apply to single parents who are working & claiming Universal Credit.
  • There is now an expectation that parents will be looking for work that pays a minimum ‘earning threshold’. This means that any employment you undertake will be expected to pay at a certain level

How will they calculate if my job pays enough?

  • The new UC rules will be calculated by applying an ‘earnings threshold’. The equivalent of a 35-hour week on the national minimum wage (currently £212.80).
  • Workers who fall below this threshold must increase their work with their current employer, or look for an additional job or for a new one.
  • The threshold for single parents with a child under 13 will be about 20 hours with gross pay of £120 per week. This means if you are a single parent with a child under 13 you would be expected to work at least 20 hours a week and be in a job that pays over £120 a week.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. If you would like more information on how these changes will affect you and your family, our helpline advisors would be happy to speak to you.