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1) What is a sanction?
Sanctions are when your benefits are stopped or reduced to a lower amount.
You can be sanctioned for different lengths of time from 4 weeks up to 3 years.
You can be sanctioned if you are claiming:
1) Jobseeker’s Allowance
2) Universal Credit
3) ESA (and you’re in the work-related activity group)
4) Income Support
If you are claiming any of these benefits you will have signed a document called a claimant commitment.
This lists all the things you agreed to do and what the sanctions will be if you don’t do them.
If you don’t have a claimant commitment, your responsibilities (what you agreed to do) will be in your Job Seeker’s Agreement, your action plan or your appointment letter.
You cannot be sanctioned if you are in the ESA support group. Only people in the work-related activity group can be sanctioned.
The most common reasons for having your benefits sanctioned are:
1) not doing enough to look for work
2) not turning up to a meeting
at the Jobcentre
3) Not taking part in an employment or training scheme.
2) What do do if you are sanctioned
Impact on other benefits:
If you are sanctioned and you also claim Housing Benefit and council tax reduction you must tell your local council straight away.
They will need information from you otherwise they will also stop those benefits.
Asking the Jobcentre to reconsider their decision:
You can ask the Jobcentre Plus to look again at their decision to sanction you if you think it is unfair. This is called mandatory reconsideration.
You have to do this before you can appeal.
The time limit for asking for a mandatory reconsideration is one month of the date of the decision.
This deadline may be extended if there are reasons why you could not apply within the time limit.
The DWP decision letter telling you that you have been sanctioned will say whether mandatory reconsideration applies and tell you how to ask for it.
You will usually be able to ask for a reconsideration over the phone or in writing, but it is best to apply in writing or to confirm your phone call in writing.
3) Appealing against a sanction
If Jobcentre Plus refuses to change their decision, you can appeal against it.
To do this you must send a written appeal directly to HM Courts and Tribunal Service, not to the DWP.
This is known as “direct lodgement”.
If you decide to appeal, your appeal must arrive at the Tribunal Service within one month of the date on your mandatory reconsideration notice.
This time limit can only be extended in special circumstances.
When the DWP sends you the outcome of their reconsideration, it will include two copies of a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.
You will need to send one copy to HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) with your appeal form.
Your appeal won’t be accepted without the Mandatory Reconsideration Notice.
To appeal, you need to fill in form SSCS1. If you can’t download the online form, you can get a paper copy from a Citizens’ Advice Bureau or other advice agency.
There is a link for this form in our links section below or you can click here to open it in a new tab.
4) Hardship payments
A hardship payment is a reduced amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance which you may be able to get if your benefit has been stopped, because you have been sanctioned (see under Jobseeker’s Allowance and sanctions).
If you want more information about hardship payments, and how to apply for them, you should ask in the Jobcentre Plus office for form JSA 10, ‘Jobseeker’s allowance hardship application’.