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Sanctions can be applied to some benefits if you fail to do certain things.  A sanction is when the benefit is stopped or reduced and this can happen for reasons such as not attending an interview or not doing enough to look for work.

The most common reasons for having your benefits sanctioned are:

  • not turning up to a meeting at the Jobcentre
  • not doing enough to look for work
  • not taking part in an employment or training scheme.

Sanctions are being applied more and more and affecting the most vulnerable. Sanctions can have a damaging effect on households already struggling with financial difficulties, as well as disability and ill health.  How much you’re sanctioned and how long it lasts depends on:

 your age; whether you are single or a couple; which benefit it is; how serious your non-compliance is; whether it is the first time sanction or a repeat.

Many claimants accept sanctions without questioning if they are unreasonable, unfair or harsh.

If you are sanctioned, we would advise to ALWAYS APPEAL THE SANCTION. 

In 2015, 47% of sanction decisions were reversed or cancelled due to appeals (UK Government statistics 2015).  Our full time Welfare Rights Assistant, Leigh Marinelli, can assist with sanction appeals.  Also if you have been sanctioned, Leigh can assist accessing other funds.

What help is available if benefits are sanctioned?

You can apply for a hardship payment of ESA, JSA or Universal Credit.  You should, but may not be, told about hardship payments by the Jobcentre when you are sanctioned. 

-          JSA hardship payments:  To qualify for hardship payments if JSA is sanctioned you must either fall into a ‘vulnerable group’ or prove that you will ‘suffer hardship’ if not paid JSA.  You are deemed to be in a ‘vulnerable group’ if for example:

  • you, or your partner, are pregnant;
  • you are responsible for a child under 16 or a qualifying young person;
  • you or your partner have a chronic health condition;
  • you are caring for a severely disabled person

There are also other circumstances under which you could be considered vulnerable.  If you are not in any of these groups and consider yourself vulnerable then please contact our Welfare Rights Service who can offer advice and information on this.  If you do fall under one of these groups you are entitled to hardship payment from the first day to the last day of your sanction. 

If you are not in a vulnerable group, you can only get hardship payments from the 15th day of the sanction if you can show that you or your partner will suffer 'hardship' unless JSA is paid. If your JSA sanction is because you do not satisfy the job-seeking conditions, you can only get a hardship payment if you are in a vulnerable group.

You cannot get a hardship payment if you could qualify for income support (IS), so if this is the case, you should claim IS instead. If you have a health condition or impairment, you may be able to claim employment and support allowance instead. You do not need to claim a hardship payment if you are aged 16 or 17 because your sanctioned JSA is paid at the same rate as a hardship payment.

Hardship payments are payments of income-based JSA, so you also need to satisfy the means test and other conditions of entitlement. You cannot get a hardship payment of contribution-based JSA.

**If you are claiming JSA while awaiting the outcome of a mandatory reconsideration for ESA then you should speak to a disability adviser at Jobcentre Plus to have your Claimant Commitment changed to take account of your sickness/disabilities.

-          ESA hardship payments: You must satisfy the DWP that you or a member of your family is, or will be, in 'hardship' unless a hardship payment is made to you. Unlike JSA, there is no list of ‘vulnerable groups’ – all ESA claimants are effectively treated as being in a vulnerable group and potentially entitled to a payment from the first day of a sanction.

Sanctions do not apply to claimants in the Support Group of ESA.

-          Universal Credit hardship payments:  These are very different from JSA or ESA hardship payments as it is usually a LOAN and you must repay this.  The Jobcentre will usually get the money back by taking an amount of money from your Universal Credit payment each month until it’s paid off.  You can only get a hardship payment if you meet all the following conditions:

  • You must be 18 or over (16 if your payment is reduced because of fraud).
  • You must be struggling to meet your basic needs or the basic needs of a child or young person you’re responsible for. 
  • You must have made every effort to stop spending money on non-essential things.
  • You must have done everything you can to get money from other sources before you can apply. The Jobcentre should be reasonable about what you can do in your circumstances.
  • You must have done all the work-related activities that you were supposed to do in the 7 days before you apply for a hardship payment.

IF IN DOUBT, ALWAYS MAKE A CLAIM FOR A HARDSHIP PAYMENT – the worst that can happen is that DWP refuse to make a payment and you can challenge such a refusal by requesting what is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’.

How to apply:

  • In person at your local jobcentre.
  • In writing by filling out the necessary application form which relates to your benefit and posting it to the DWP.
  • Through our Welfare Rights Service. Our Welfare Rights service can assist with all aspects of applying for hardship funds and appealing any refusals.

If you are not eligible to apply for hardship payment, you can also apply for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF).  This is done through Glasgow City Council and you can apply online or via telephone.  Our Welfare Rights Assistant, Leigh Marinelli, can assist with applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund for crisis grants.

There may also be help available through the Social Work Department, especially if you are currently working with a social worker or known to them.  There is a very limited amount of cash or ‘in kind’ assistance available and so this should usually be used as a last option.

Easthall Park are also distributors of food bank vouchers.  If you have been sanctioned and require a foodbank voucher, you can call the office or pop in and ask to speak to a member of the housing management team.  Private appointments are available for this.

We would encourage any resident who has had their benefit sanctioned to get in touch with us urgently to make an appointment with our Welfare Rights Assistant Leigh.