Over 20 million Brits rely on vital benefits to live day-to-day and with the pandemic experts believe this number will only rise.
But many will be unaware that the Department for Works and Pensions can sanction payments being made to struggling households.
A benefit sanction is what the DWP calls it when they reduce or stop a payment for a period of time.
Benefits that can be stopped or reduced include Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support.
If you claim benefits you will have signed a Claimant Commitment that sets out all the responsibilities you must follow to ensure you keep getting your support.
The most common reasons for having benefits sanctioned include:
- Not doing enough to look for work
- Being late for appointments or interviews
- Not turning up to a meeting at the Jobcentre
- Not taking part in an employment or training scheme
- Not applying for suitable jobs your work coach tells you about
- Not doing everything your work coach tells you to do to find work, such as attending a training course or updating your CV
Sanctions can last for anywhere between four weeks and six months, but no change can last for longer than 182 days.
Sanctions last depending on your circumstances, according to the Government website.
There are lower, intermediate and higher sanction levels.
The length of a section will depend on what you have done, whether you have tried to find work for example or if you have already had a sanction in the last 12 months.
A lower sanction might be enforced of you do not take part in interviews, or ignore advice to go on training courses or update your CV.
You could also be sanctioned for not providing evidence when asked for it, or not signing on when you’re supposed to.
An intermittent sanction, which is between 4 and 13 weeks, could be enforced if you haven’t actively looked for work.
A higher sanction, which can be between 13 and 26 weeks, would be enforced if you were sacked for misconduct or you quit for no good reason.
You can also be given a higher sanction if you fail to accept a job that has been offered to you.