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It’s important to know what to do if your benefits have been stopped or cut due to a sanction. Try not to panic – make sure you understand why this has happened and get help until your payments start again.
This is when a benefit is stopped or reduced because you miss an appointment or don’t do what you’ve agreed to do.
Benefits can be sanctioned if you don’t:
There are 4 levels of sanctions that last for different lengths of time. The level will be linked to the reason for your sanction. If you’ve been sanctioned before, the next sanction might last for longer. Citizens Advice has more about how long sanctions last.
Any benefit with a claimant commitment can be sanctioned. These are:
If you’re on Council Tax Reduction or Housing Benefit, you can still get these even when another benefit has been sanctioned. But they’ll usually be stopped unless you contact your council.
So it’s important to speak to the council as soon as you know you’ve been sanctioned. They’ll tell you what information they need to continue with your Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefit.
You shouldn’t get a sanction if you can show you had a good reason for what happened. This isn’t specifically defined – it’s up to you to show why your actions were reasonable. Good reasons could be:
If you think a sanction is unfair, you can challenge it. You’ll need to explain why you think it’s unfair and give evidence if you can. Citizens Advice has some useful advice about challenging sanctions, including arguments you can make.
You might be able to get a smaller amount of benefit to help you cover essential household expenses – called a hardship payment. This is normally 60% of your usual benefit payment. If you’re pregnant or seriously ill, you might get 80%. As a parent, you’ll be classed as ‘vulnerable’ and should get the payment immediately.
To get a hardship payment:
If you get Income Support, you won’t be able to claim a hardship payment.
To apply, contact your nearest jobcentre. If you’re getting Universal Credit, new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance or new-style Employment and Support Allowance, you can also call the Universal Credit helpline.
When you apply, you’ll need to share:
Our page on managing financially has more suggestions for boosting your income.
If you’re claiming Universal Credit, new-style Employment and Support Allowance or new-style Jobseeker’s Allowance, you’ll need to pay back your hardship payment when your sanction ends. Your benefit will be reduced each month until it’s paid back. If this is going to create serious problems for you, your payments can be reduced or even cancelled. Call Citizens Advice for help with this.
If you get income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, you don’t have to pay back a hardship payment.
Date last updated: 18 May 2023