What if I don’t stick to it?

CORONAVIRUS: During the Coronavirus outbreak, you will only have to attend interviews at the JobCentre if they are essential. But you must stick to your claimant commitment and can be sanctioned if you fail to do so.

What if I don’t stick to my commitment?

If you fail to do what you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment without good reason, your Universal Credit payments may be reduced for a set period. This is called a sanction.

There are different levels of sanctions and they’re decided based on the reason for the sanction. If you have had previous sanctions, this may mean new sanctions will be for a longer period.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple and only one of you has been sanctioned, you will still see a reduction in your Universal Credit payment.

If you run into difficulties you can apply for a Hardship Payment.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.

Example:
David, 27, has been sanctioned for failing to apply for a job that his Work Coach asked him to apply for.
He has been sanctioned for 182 days as he was sanctioned for a similar reason earlier in the year.
His Universal Credit is made up of Standard Allowance £342.72 and Housing Costs Element £396.00. He has no income or other deductions so his monthly Universal Credit is normally £738.72.
The sanction means that for 182 days the Standard Allowance included will be nil so his monthly UC for this period will be £396.00.

Will I be told that I’m being sanctioned?

You should get a ‘sanction notification’ from the DWP on your online UC account, or, if you have been allowed to be ‘offline’ in a letter.

You should be told:

  • Why you’ve received a sanction.
  • The date of the ‘failure’.
  • How long the sanction will last.
  • The date the sanction decision was made.

IMPORTANT: If it says ‘to end this sanction you need to complete this action’ – then the sanction will last for as long as it takes you to complete the action required. So if you are going to struggle to complete it, contact your Work Coach to explain why.

What if I’m not happy with being sanctioned?

You can appeal against a sanction if you think it’s wrong- there’s no time limit, and you might be able to apply for a hardship payment.
See I’ve been sanctioned for more information.

Has the right level of sanction been applied to me?

Whether you can be sanctioned, by how much, and how long for, depends on what ‘work related requirements group’ you’re in and what it is that you’ve done or not done.
See What do I have to do? for more information on the different requirement groups.

There are four levels of sanctions:

Higher, Medium, Low, Lowest.

Higher: If you’re 18 or over, these are for a fixed period of:  

  • 91 days for the first time you don’t keep to your Commitment
  • 182 days for the next and following times (so long as there’s more than 14 days and less than a year between them)

Medium: These are for a fixed period of: 

  • 28 days ( or 7 days for 16/17 year olds) for the first time you don’t keep to your Commitment 
  • 91 days (or 14 days for 16/17 year olds) for the next and following times (so long as there’s more than 14 days and less than a year between them).

Low: These continue until you do whatever it is you’ve been sanctioned for not doing, but with an additional fixed period of

  • 7 extra days for the first time you don’t keep to your Commitment
  • 14 extra days for the next time you do/fail to do the same thing (so long as there’s more than 14 days and less than a year between them).
  • 28 days for any following failure to comply (so long as there’s more than 14 days and less than a year between them).
  • If you’re 16 or 17 there’s no extra period for the first time, and 7 days for the following times.

Lowest: These are open-ended – they stop when you do whatever it was that you didn’t do.

The sanction level applied depends on what work related requirements group you are in, and what you have done or failed to do:

Frequently Asked Questions