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Citizens Advice calls for ‘genuine’ yellow card system for benefit sanctions

22 October 2015

Citizens Advice has called for a genuine yellow card system to be introduced for benefit claimants facing a sanction.

As the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today announced changes to benefit sanctions policy the national charity says that the culture of ‘sanction first, ask questions later’ must end.

In the last twelve months Citizens Advice helped people with over 10,000 benefit sanction issues.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“This must be the beginning of the end of ‘sanction first, ask questions later’.

“A fair and effective sanctions regime does have a role to play in the welfare system, but it mustn’t make it harder for people to find a job. New guidance for Jobcentre staff is a positive step towards an ‘intelligent’ system of conditionality which is less punitive and more likely to support people into work.

“A 14 day period to give evidence that a sanction should not be imposed should lead to fewer people being unfairly sanctioned, as they have time to ensure that the Jobcentre has the full picture about their circumstances. However there is still room for a genuine yellow card system, where people are given a warning but are not sanctioned the first time they don’t meet the conditions of their claim.

“While it is good news that hardship payments will become easier to access, it is still worrying that vulnerable people being sanctioned still have to jump through administrative hoops to get financial support. Citizens Advice would like to see a fairer system where there is a limit to how much of a vulnerable person’s benefit that can be sanctioned. This would ensure that no vulnerable person sanctioned while on JSA or ESA is left entirely without income”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.