Advice if your benefit is sanctioned

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can apply sanctions to various benefits if they believe you have not met the rules for claiming. A sanction means that your benefit will be stopped or reduced for either a fixed or open-ended period of time. Examples of when a sanction can be applied include:

  • Failing to attend or take part in a work-focused interview without good reason.
  • Failing to take part in compulsory work-related activity without good reason.
  • Not keeping to the Jobseeker's Agreement and not taking enough steps to find work without good reason.
  • Not being available for work without good reason.
  • Not attending an adviser interview without good reason.
  • Refusing or failing to apply for a suitable job.
  • Leaving a job voluntarily.

How long do sanctions last?

This will vary depending on whether it is the first time and will also be different depending on which benefit has been sanctioned.

Examples include:

  • Employment and Support Allowance sanctions can either be open ended or can last for one, two or four weeks depending on the circumstances.
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions can last for four, 13 or 26 weeks (but can be up to a maximum of three years). How long they last depends on what the Jobcentre Plus feels you have done or failed to do, and how many times you have acted in this way within the last year.

What can I do if I disagree with the sanction?

If you think the decision to sanction is wrong or you don’t understand it you can:

  • Ask the DWP to explain the decision and/or look at it again.
  • Ask to be sent a written statement of reasons about the decision.
  • Appeal the decision. You need to request an appeal in writing within one month from the date on the letter informing you of the sanction.

How will I support myself during the sanction?

Anyone who loses benefit due to a sanction and has no other source of support may be able to claim a hardship payment from the DWP.

To get these payments you are required to prove you are at risk of hardship and have no other money available. Hardship payments are made if you can show that you cannot buy essential items, including food, clothing, heating and accommodation.

If you are in a vulnerable group you may be entitled to a hardship payment. You are in a vulnerable group if you or your partner:

  • Are pregnant.
  • Are looking after children.
  • Are single and looking after a 16 or 17 year-old.
  • Have a disability.
  • Have a long-term physical medical condition.
  • Are caring for someone who is long-term sick or disabled.
  • Are a young person who has left local authority care in the last three years.
  • Are aged 16 or 17, subject to certain rules.

If you are refused a hardship payment, the Benefits Maximisation Service can offer advice and support.

Alternative help and support may also be available under the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme.

Housing Benefit/Council Tax Support/free school meals

You should inform us as soon as you receive a sanction so that we can make sure that your Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support and free school meals continue as these benefits are not affected by a benefit sanction.

Help and advice

Our Benefits Maximisation Service can provide advice, guidance and assistance with the full range of welfare benefits.

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