Universal Credit Sanctions


Overview

When you claim Universal Credit, the DWP can sanction you under certain circumstances. These sanctions mean that you will have some money deducted from your benefit for a set period.

Examples of sanctions:

  • If you do not complete a task on your to journal do list

  • You break any part of your claimant commitment

  • You resign from a job without a good reason

How much is a sanction?

If you are single and over 25, the sanction will be £10.60 per day for as long as your sanction lasts.

If you are single and under 25, the sanction will be £8.40 per day for as long as the sanction lasts.

Your sanction should not be more than your standard allowance. If you get additional elements for Universal Credit, you will carry on getting them. If you get money in your Universal Credit to help with your rent, it is important you carry on using it for your rent.

Couple

If you are in a couple and one or both of you is over 25, the sanction will be £8.30 per day if only one of you has been sanctioned.

If you are in a couple and are both under 25, the sanction will be £6.60 per day if only one of you has been sanctioned.

Your sanction should not be more than half your standard allowance. If you receive additional elements for Universal Credit, you will carry on getting them. If you receive money in your Universal Credit to help with your rent, it is important you carry on using it for your rent.

Exceptions

  • You might have less money taken off your Universal Credit if:

  • You are 16 or 17 years old

  • You are only supposed to take part in work focused interviews – this mostly applies to people caring for young children and people with disabilities

  • You are someone who does not have to do anything to get your Universal Credit (no work related requirements), because:

    • You are the carer for a child under one

    • You are pregnant and your baby is due in less than 11 weeks

    • You had a baby less than 15 weeks ago

    • You are adopting a child and it is less than one year since the child was placed with you.

How long are sanctions?

The length of the sanction depends on what you are expected to do to get your Universal Credit and what you did to get the sanction.

Low level sanctions

Most other failures to do what you are expected to do to get your Universal Credit will mean you get a low level sanction. Examples include:

  • Not going on a course that has been recommended as part of your work preparation

  • Not signing on when you are supposed to

  • Not providing evidence that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has asked for

  • Not attending a work focused meeting

A low level sanction is made up of a fixed period of time (usually 7 days) and the time it takes you to correct the failure.

For example, Mariam was supposed to sign on Monday but she forgot to go. She doesn’t have a good reason. She goes to sign on Friday instead. This is the first time she has been sanctioned. Her sanction period will be 7 days + 4 days = 11 days.

Medium level sanctions

If you do not do enough to look for work or are not available for work, you may get a medium level sanction. Medium level sanctions usually last for 28 days. If you have had a medium level sanction in the past year, the sanction might last for 91 days.

High level sanctions

If you fail to apply for a job or fail to accept a job that is offered to you or if you leave your job without a good reason, you may get a high level sanction. High level sanctions usually last for 91 days. If you have had a high level sanction before in the past year, the sanction might last 182 days.

16 and 17 year olds

If you are 16 or 17 years old, a high level sanction will usually last 14 days (or 28 days if you have had a high level sanction in the past year). If you are 16 or 17 years old, a medium level sanction will usually last for 7 days (or 14 days if you have had a medium level sanction in the past year).

Can I challenge a sanction?

If you do not think you should have been sanctioned, you should challenge the decision.

There is a two-step process for challenging decisions.

  1. Request a mandatory reconsideration. You can do this through your journal or over the phone, or complete the form. You should explain why you think you should not have been sanctioned. You only have one month to do this so you need to do it quickly. If you have missed the deadline, you should still ask for the decision to be looked at again.

  2. Appeal to an independent tribunal if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not change its decision. Again, you only have one month to act in, so you need to submit your appeal as soon as you can. If you have missed the deadline, you should still try to appeal, but your appeal might not go ahead.

Reasons

If you had a good reason for failing to do what you were supposed to do, you should explain it in detail in your request for mandatory reconsideration.

If you failed to do what you were supposed to do because the expectations were always unreasonable, you should explain this in your request for mandatory reconsideration. This can be a good reason for failing to do what you were supposed to do. For example, if you have caring responsibilities that your work coach knew about but they weren’t taken into account when setting your claimant commitment.

Help during a sanction

If you have been sanctioned and are struggling to manage without your full Universal Credit payments, you can apply for a hardship payment.

A hardship payment is a loan from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which you will have to pay back through deductions from your benefits once your sanction ends.