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Benefit sanctions


What is a sanction?

If the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) thinks that you have not met the conditions for your benefit they can reduce or suspend payment of your benefit for a period of time. This is known as a sanction.

Sanctions only apply to the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support (IS)

The sanction means that the DWP will stop your benefit from being paid for a fixed period of time, as a consequence of whatever you have done or failed to do.

This could be, for example, for failing to attend an interview or for failing to take part in a work focused interview or compulsory work related activity for ESA.

What to do if your benefit has been sanctioned and you are struggling to meet your basic needs

If you have been sanctioned and as a result are struggling to meet your basic needs (such as your food, heating and accommodation) you can apply for a hardship payment by contacting your local Jobcentre Plus office.

If you are getting Universal Credit you can apply for a hardship payment by contacting the Universal Credit helpline for free on 0800 3285644.

You must have done all the work-related activities that you were supposed to do in the seven days before you apply for a hardship payment.

If you are awarded a hardship payment it will only cover a limited period of time up to your next normal benefit payment date and it needs to be repaid. It will be recovered from your future benefit payments.

If you are refused a hardship payment and cannot meet your basic needs or the basic needs of a child or young person you are responsible for you can contact the Scottish Welfare Fund and apply for a crisis grant.

Page last updated:
18 Nov 2021

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