A survival guide to benefit sanctions
Advice Now published a detailed step by step survival guide to benefit sanctions. The guide focuses on sanctions that may be enforced for beneficiaries of Universal Credit, but the techniques it puts forward will be helpful to those claiming Job Seekers Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance sanctions.
A ‘sanction’ may be given if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) think that the conditions for the benefit have not been met. The benefits system is similar to a contract between the claimant and the government, through which the claimant agrees to meet certain conditions set out in their ‘Claimant Commitment’. Missing interviews at the Jobcentre, being late for an interview or a job or failure to comply with anything else in the Claimant Commitment may lead to a sanction.
The Advice Now guide states that what may sound as a reasonable reason not to comply with the Claimant Commitment will not be taken lightly by the Jobcentre and beneficiaries of Universal Credit must ensure they are as organised as possible in order to avoid being sanctioned.
After providing a series of tips on how to avoid being sanctioned, the guide details the legal process of appealing a sanction. The initial appeal takes the form of a letter to DWP entitled a ‘Request for Mandatory Reconsideration’. Examples are being provided of appropriate reasons for reconsideration. If that is denied, the claimant can proceed with an appeal and attend a court hearing.
The guide includes numerous real examples which can help claimants better understand their situation and compare their outcome to others finding themselves in a similar position.