Update 6 – Benefit Sanctions.
When you claim Universal Credit as a job seeker, you will be required to sign an agreement that will form the basis of your job availability and job search commitments - usually called ‘work related requirements’. These are a requirement of receiving your benefit and you will be expected to fulfil your commitments. If the job centre decides that you haven’t complied with the rules, and you have failed to do something without ‘good reason’ they can apply a ‘sanction’ to your benefit. Sanctions can be applied at different levels and for different periods of time, depending on the reason for the sanction. Common reasons for being sanctioned include failing to apply for a job, leaving a job without good reason, or failing to attend a training scheme - although there are many other reasons.
If you are sanctioned, you need to first find out why and ask for the full decision. If you believe you have had good reason for acting as you did, you can ask for a reconsideration. If this is unsuccessful you can the request an appeal. If the reconsideration or appeal is successful the decision can be revised and you can be paid any backdated money.
You should remember that before applying a sanction, the job centre should act reasonably. They should take your personal circumstances and any good reasons for your actions into consideration. Possible good reasons include; Domestic violence; Sickness, disability and health reasons; Learning difficulties, poor literacy or numeracy; Legal reasons – for example failing a CRB decision; Family or personal circumstances; Child care responsibilities; A temporary change in circumstances; Religious or conscientious belief.
In some circumstances you may be able to claim a hardship payment if you are sanctioned, and there are also other limited sources of help. If you need any advice or information on what you can do if you have been sanctioned or need assistance to challenge a decision, please call the Breathe Team on 0121 384 2333, or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of the Breathe Community Advice Programme, we offer group sessions, for both professionals and local community groups. We can tailor these to your group or team. If you would like to discuss this, please contact the Breathe Office.