UNIVERSAL Credit claimants who fail to find work or turn up for interviews can be sanctioned and have their benefits stopped.
Being sanctioned essentially means your benefit payment will be docked.
A three-month ban on Universal Credit sanctions was introduced by the government back in March, but as of July 1 these penalties can once more be handed down.
How much you'll have taken off your claim depends on what you've done (or not done as the case may be), and in some cases the standard element of your benefits can be stopped altogether.
Sanctions only apply to this standard element of your claim. Any housing or childcare elements will still be paid.
Sanctions are split into four categories; lowest level, low level, medium level, and high level.
How long your sanction lasts depends on these categories as well as the number of previous failures within a year.
The number of people claiming Universal Credit currently stands at more than 4million.
We explain more on sanctions below.
Why might I be sanctioned?
Below, we round-up a list of reasons why you may have been sanctioned and which category level these fall into:
- Failure to attend or take part in a work-focused interview (lowest level)
- Failure to attend a training course (low level)
- Failure to apply for a particular job vacancy (low level)
- Failure to sign on or to report work-related changes such as losing pay (low level)
- You meet the work availability requirement, but failed to be available to attend an interview or start work (medium level)
- Failure to take all reasonable action to get paid work, more paid work or better paid work.
- You refuse a job offer offer (highest level)
- You stop working without good reason (high level)
- You take a pay cut without good reason (high level)
Note that claimants in what's referred to as the "no work requirements regime with limited capability for work related activities" can't be sanctioned.
How long will sanctions last?
Below we round-up how long sanctions last, although it's worth adding that these will be less if you were under 18 when the offence took place.
This sanction lasts until you attend or take part in a work-focused interview, or until you get a job, or until you're given an exemption for attending an interview.
This sanction lasts until you do what you previously failed to do, or because either the requirement is no longer appropriate or you've met an alternative condition instead.
If this is your first low level sanction across 12 months you'll get a seven day sanction, it's 14 days for your second offence or 28 days for your third or any subsequent failures.
It's unclear what happens if you're on more than three offences – The Sun has asked the Department for Work and Pensions to clairfy.
This sanction lasts 28 days for the first medium sanction in any 12 month period, and 91 days (approximately three months) for any subsequent medium level sanctions.
This sanction lasts for 96 days for the first high level sanction in any 12-month period, and 182 days (approximately six months) for a second or subsequent sanctions.
Can I appeal a sanction?
Yes, you can contact the DWP and ask for a "mandatory reconsideration" if you think it's made the wrong decision.
You have one month from when you were notified about the sanction to do so.
See our How to appeal sanctions guide for more information on this.
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