Benefit Sanctions: What can you do?
Jayden was studying at college whilst living in sheltered accommodation and claiming Universal Credit.
Unfortunately he had to miss a Universal Credit appointment as he had an exam.
As a consequence of this, he was given a minimum of 20 days benefit sanction.
Jayden said: “Without my benefit money I am at risk of losing my flat and will not be able to buy food and essentials for the month.”
Jayden is not the only one put in a precarious position by a benefit sanction. There were 296,000 Universal Credit sanctions between August 2015 and August 2017.
Additionally, there have been over 2 million Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) sanctions in the last five years, almost 100,000 Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions in the same period and 7,900 Income Support sanctions in the last six months.
Sanctions can have devastating consequences for those who receive them; including debt, rent arrears, foodbank use, mental health issues, and destitution.
Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, said: “We routinely hear from people who are affected by sanctions.
“They are desperately looking for clarity on what their rights are and help to make ends meet.”
What can you do if you’ve been sanctioned?
If you have been sanctioned, the first thing you need to do is ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to rethink their decision – this is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. This should be done in writing and can be sent/handed into your local jobcentre. It is advisable to keep a copy of this application.
You can challenge a sanction based on the decision to give you a sanction and the length of the sanction period.
If the DWP refuse to change their decision, then you can make a formal appeal. You should contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or a local law centre for advice before appealing. Use the Find an Adviser tool to locate your nearest source of advice.
Thirdly, you can apply for a Hardship Payment. This normally pays around 60% of your usual benefit payment. However it could be more and you may have to pay it back.
For more information, see the following Turn2us information resources: