What to do if you've been sanctioned while on Universal Credit

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

If you haven't done one of the activities in your claimant commitment, you could be sanctioned. This means your Universal Credit payments will be temporarily reduced.

Apply for a hardship payment

If you're struggling with money  because of the sanction, you can:

If you think you've been unfairly sanctioned

You can ask for the DWP to rethink their decision if you think you've been sanctioned unfairly. This is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’ - the contact details will be on the letter sent to you about your sanction.

You'll need to tell them why you think the sanction was wrong. You can prepare by:

Your nearest Citizens Advice can help you.

What happens next 

You'll get a letter telling you about your decision - it may be changed or you may get an explanation of why the sanction is upheld. 

The letter will tell you how you can appeal to a tribunal if you're still unhappy with the decision.

How to avoid another sanction

Getting a claimant commitment that’s right for you

You should talk to your work coach about getting your claimant commitment changed if you're struggling to meet the conditions you signed up for. 

Read our advice on changing your claimant commitment.

If you can't make it to a Jobcentre appointment

If you can’t get to an appointment at the Jobcentre, ring them to let them know as soon as you can - explain your reasons and ask to rearrange. Keep a note of the date and time of the call, who you speak to and what was said.

If you need help with the cost of travelling to appointments, ask the Jobcentre what support is available.

Keep a diary each week of what you’ve done to meet the conditions of your claimant commitment. For example, the date you did an online job search and how long you spent doing it. If there’s something you haven’t been able to do, be prepared to explain why. If there’s a reason, try and get evidence of it to show the Jobcentre. For example, if you were ill get a note from the doctor.

Reporting changes in circumstances

Make sure you tell the Universal Credit helpline of any changes in your personal circumstances straight away.

Universal Credit helpline

Telephone: 0800 328 5644

Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744

Textphone: 0800 328 1344

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 328 5644

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Video relay - if you use British Sign Language (BSL).

You can find out how to use video relay on YouTube.

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.


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Page last reviewed on 19 June 2018