Hello and welcome to my November blog! One very important area of Universal Credit I’ve not covered yet is what to do if you receive a sanction.

A sanction is when your Universal Credit payments are suspended. Usually, this will happen if you fail to meet the work-related activities in your claimant commitment. If you're struggling to complete your work-related activity and are worried about being sanctioned, be sure to read my last blog, which covered how you can change your claimant commitment.

If you’ve already been sanctioned, however, please try not to panic; this blog will cover what you can do to get through the situation.

Appealing against a sanction

If you believe that you’ve been unfairly sanctioned, you can request a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ from the DWP. To appeal, you’ll need to explain why you believe the sanction is unfair; this guide from Citizen’s Advice can give you an idea of the arguments you can bring to your appeal.

You’ll be told how long you have to challenge the sanction, either by letter or in your online journal. If you miss the deadline, you should still request a mandatory reconsideration. You will need to provide a good reason as to why you missed the deadline and evidence to back this up.

Once you’ve submitted your appeal, you'll receive a letter confirming whether the sanction has been removed or upheld and the reasons why. The letter will also tell you how you can appeal to a tribunal if you're still unhappy with the decision.

Coping during a sanction

If your sanction is upheld, you will need to make temporary adjustments to your spending until your payments are reinstated. You can use this helpful budget calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll need to adjust.

You should also look into alternative income to get you through the sanction. Options worth exploring include:

  • A hardship payment: this is a short-term, emergency payment which can contribute towards your bills and basic supplies, like food.
  • Other benefits: A benefits calculator can help you find other benefits you may be able to claim.
  • Grants: a number of charities provide non-repayable funds to families and individuals in financial difficulty. You can find out more about these through Turn2Us.

Preventing future sanctions

Receiving a sanction can cause a great deal of stress and create a difficult financial situation. To try to get back on track, there are things you can do to prevent future sanctions. In addition to requesting a change to your claimant commitment, as mentioned earlier, you should also:

  • Report changes to your circumstances to the DWP
  • Keep a physical record of your work-related activity (this can be as simple as getting a diary and writing the activity you did and how long you spent on it each day or week)
  • Call the jobcentre in advance if you can’t make an appointment. You’ll also need to provide a good reason for your absence and evidence to back this up (e.g. if you’re ill, you should explain your illness to the jobcentre and bring a doctor’s note to your next appointment)

 Get in touch

I hope that you have found this blog helpful, and that it has offered some reassurance for anyone anxious about a sanction. If you would like some more information or one-to-one advice, please do not hesitate to contact me.

You can get in touch by clicking here, sending a message through Southway's Facebook page or calling 0161 448 4200. You can also drop into Southway's office and make an appointment with me in reception.

I look forward to hearing from you.