How Universal Credit sanctions work: What to do if you don’t think payments should stop

BUSINESS

Universal Credit is a payment which may be paid to those eligible in order to help with their living costs. A person may be able to claim the money if they’re on a low income, or are out of work. The payment is made up of a standard allowance, which is paid monthly in England and Wales and paid either monthly or fortnightly in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The standard allowance amount depends on circumstances such as whether one is claiming the payment as a single person or a couple, and whether they’re under 25 or not.

Eligible applicants are required to create an account online and then make a claim.

There will then be an assessment period, which includes an interview with Jobcentre Plus.

At this time, the claimant will be required to make an agreement known as a “Claimant Commitment” with one’s work coach.

What is required will depend on their situation, and this could include carrying out activities such as writing a CV, looking and applying for jobs, and/or going on training courses.

Gov.uk also highlights how it may be that a person will also need to pay their own rent and other housing costs, and/or report any changes in one’s circumstances.

It may be that a Universal Credit payment is stopped or reduced, if a person does not meet their responsibilities or what they’ve agreed in the Claimant Commitment.

The government website explains that there are different levels of sanctions, which are decided based on what has happened, and how frequently it has occurred.

Should a claimant receive Universal Credit as a couple, but only one partner does not meet their responsibilities, then half a sanction will be applied.

There may be some instances where a person disagrees with a sanction.

Gov.uk highlights how it is possible to appeal the decision.

“You can appeal a sanction if you think it’s wrong,” the guidance states.

“Citizens Advice can help with challenging a sanction.”

Gov.uk’s “Appeal a benefit decision” guide explains appeals are decided by the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal.

“Before you can appeal to the tribunal you must ask for the decision about your benefits to be looked at again – this is called ‘mandatory reconsideration’,” the website states.

“Appeal to the tribunal within one month of getting your mandatory reconsideration decision. If you start your appeal after a month you’ll have to explain why you did not do it earlier. Your appeal might not be accepted.

“After you submit your appeal, you can provide evidence to the tribunal. Your appeal will be decided at a tribunal hearing.”

Universal Credit is replacing six benefits – known as legacy benefits – with this move being known as “managed migration”.

These are:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said earlier this year that a managed migration pilot scheme will take place in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, in July 2019.

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