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Employment and Support Allowance sanctions

Information about sanctions including duration and amount and what you can do if you are sanctioned.

Your Jobcentre Plus personal adviser may recommend activities like training courses or a work placement. These are classed as work-related activities, and you may be sanctioned if you fail without good cause to take part.

Any work-related activity that you are required to participate in must be reasonable in light of your health condition and capability.

If you are in the support group for Employment and Support Allowance you will not have to take part in any work-related activities, unless you volunteer to do so.

Sanction periods

If you are in the work related activity group, and you fail to comply with a work-related activity, an open-ended sanction will be applied. Open-ended means it will last until you carry out the action required.

When the open-ended sanction is lifted, there will be an extra fixed-period sanction lasting:

  • One week for a first failure
  • Two weeks for a second failure
  • Four weeks for a further failure within 52 weeks.

The amount of the sanction

The amount of the sanction will be 100% of the basic personal allowance for a single person. Other amounts like the extra amount paid for a partner if you are in a couple, the work related activity component or premiums, will not be affected.

Good cause

No sanction should be imposed if you can show good cause for not doing the activity which led to the sanction being applied.

All decisions to apply a sanction can be appealed if you disagree.

Hardship payments

If you are sanctioned under these rules, you can apply for hardship payments from the first day of the sanction. The hardship payment rate is 60% of the basic personal allowance for a single person.

When deciding whether to award hardship payments a decision maker will take into account:

  • whether you or a member of your family is disabled
  • your other resources without hardship payments, including whether you can seek assistance from family or friends
  • the difference between your other income (excluding Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit) and the amount of a hardship payment which could be made
  • the risk that your household will not have access to essential items (such as food, clothing or heating) or will have access to such essential items at considerably reduced levels without a hardship payment
  • the length of time this will continue.