Universal Credit and Sanctions

What are sanctions?

Sanctions are where you get some or all of your money stopped if you are on: Employment and Support Allowance, (ESA), Job Seekers Allowanace, (JSA), or Universal Credit, (UC). They of were brought in by the Labour Government, but there has been a spike in the use sanctions since 2010 when the Tory/Lib Dem coalition came to power.

Evidence suggests that a claimant on Universal Credit is 3 times more likely to be sanctioned, than someone on Job Seekers Allowance.

The rules for the level of Universal Credit sanctions are based on the rules for JSA and ESA sanctions. Anyone who receives Universal Credit can be sanctioned and the level of the sanction depends upon the conditionality, (availability for work),group that you are placed in.

UC JSA sancGraph taken from leftungagged.org showing the difference between UC sanction use and JSA.

The following information comes from this article

http://benefitsaware.centralenglandlc.org.uk/universal-credit-sanctions/


Highest Level Sanctions

Highest level sanctions can only be applied to people who are placed in the full conditionality group.

You can be sanctioned if:

  • You lose your job through misconduct
  • You leave work voluntarily
  • You fail to do mandatory work activity
  • You fail to apply for or to accept paid work
  • You lose pay if you are in paid work (without a good reason)
  • The last of the above is a new reason for being sanctioned which has been introduced under Universal Credit.

There are three fixed increasing sanctions:

  • 13 weeks for the first failure
  • 26 weeks for the second failure within 52 weeks of the previous failure
  • 3 years for the third failure within 52 weeks of the most recent failure (please note this is not the date of the decision)

Medium Level Sanctions

Sanctions apply to people who are in the full conditionality group.

You can be sanctioned if:

  • You fail to be available for work
  • You fail to take all the actions expected to get paid work

The fixed sanction periods are

  • 4 weeks for the first failure
  • 13 weeks for the second failure and any more failures after this

Low level sanctions

Low level sanctions apply to people in the full conditionality group, and in the work preparation and work focused interview group.

  • You fail to attend a work focused interview
  • You fail to comply with a work search requirement
  • You fail to comply with a work-related requirement
  • You fail to take a particular action to get paid work (full conditionality group only)

The fixed escalating sanction periods are:

  • Until you comply with the requirement and a penalty period of 7 days
  • Until you comply with the requirement and a penalty period of 14 days for the second failure
  • You fail to take a particular action to get paid work (full conditionality group only)
  • The fixed escalating sanction periods are:
  • Until you comply with the requirement and a penalty period of 7 days
  • Until you comply with the requirement and a penalty period of 14 days for the second failure
  • Until you comply with the requirement and a penalty period of 28 days for the third failure

Lowest level sanctions

Lowest level sanctions apply to people in the work focused interview group only.

You can be sanctioned if you

  • Fail to attend a work focused interview

Your benefit will be sanctioned at a 40% rate until you attend the interview each time you are sanctioned for this failure.

If you have a second sanction while the first sanction period is still running this period will be added on to the end of your current sanction. Any further sanctions continue to be added on until the length of the outstanding sanction is 3 years (1095 days). This is the longest time you can be sanctioned for.

If you have a Universal Credit sanction it is important that the decision is challenged through a Mandatory Reconsideration as quickly as possible. You will need to argue that you have good cause for the action which you took.


what_next.jpg

So you’ve been sanctioned, what next?

If you have no other income you will need to ask for Hardship Payments during your sanction. You may also need to be referred to a Food bank.

The rate of the sanction will be 100% of your standard Universal Credit Allowance for a single person or for a couple where one person only has been sanctioned it will be 50% of the couple personal allowance.

The rate of the sanction will be reduced to 40% of this amount if:

  • You are aged 16 or 17
  • You are the carer of a child under one
  • You are pregnant and have less than 11 weeks before the baby is due
  • You have had a baby in the last 15 weeks (including if the baby was stillborn)
  • You have had an adopted child placed with you in the last 52 weeks
  • Your claimant commitment requires you to only attend work focused interviews
  • The rate of the sanction is reduced to nil if you have no work related requirements in your claimant commitment because you have limited capability for work and for work related activity.

Hardship Payments can be claimed by people who have had Universal Credit sanctions. However it will be more difficult to get a Universal Credit Hardship Payment than a Hardship Payment when other benefits, eg JSA, have been sanctioned.

Hardship Payments are paid at the rate of 60% of the benefit which has been stopped if:

  • You cannot meet your most immediate and basic needs for accommodation, heating, food and hygiene
  • You have made every effort to access other sources of support and stop any spending on other needs
  • You have met all the work related requirements in the last 7 days
  • You have applied for and given the evidence needed to the DWP in connection with the application.

You will be expected to make a new application for Hardship Payments each month during your sanction period before the first day of each of your monthly assessment periods.

Universal Credit Hardship Payments are also loans and have to be repaid by deductions from your benefit at the end of the sanction period.

In some situations you might also qualify for a Discretionary Housing Payment.


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Examples of reasons for being sanctioned

You get a job interview. It’s at the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment.

Daily Mail June 2013

You’ve signed in on time, been to interviews and applied for work. Your job centre advisor suggests you make a two-line change to your CV, which you do, but fail to give the updated CV to the job centre (you weren’t told you had to). You are sanctioned for four weeks.

Source: nciaw36 at MoneySavingExpert


You are forced to retire due to a heart condition, and you claim Employment and Support Allowance. During your assessment you have a heart attack. You are sanctioned for not completing your assessment.

Source: Debbie Abrahams MP


Your job centre advisor suggests a job. When you go online to apply it says the job has “expired” so you don’t apply. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks.

Source: Penny at Yahoo! Answers


These are just a few examples. You can find many more by simply searching online. Please note I am not offering any advice just a collection of facts. Always ensure you try to do what your work coach says. If you are sanctioned you should appeal it straight away to avoid delays.

I will be providing more on Sanctions soon including what they can and cant take when you are sanctioned.

This article was compiled by @Paulineandbeans and edited for publication by Alex aka @RespectIsVital

If you’d like to donate towards my project to raise awareness about Universal Credit failure you can do so below.

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