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Money help if your universal credit is sanctioned

A sanction is when your universal credit (UC) payment is cut or stopped because the jobcentre thinks you did not do something that is in your 'claimant commitment'.

For example, you missed a meeting with your work coach or did not apply for a job.  

You might need help if you do not have enough money for rent, food or heating while your UC payment is sanctioned.

Only your standard allowance can be cut – not your housing element.

Help you do not have to pay back

Use the emergency grants search tool on the Turn2Us website for more about grants help.

You could get help from your council's homelessness team if you're facing eviction because cannot pay your rent.

For example, they might talk to your landlord about ways to pay back rent arrears so you can stay in your home. They sometimes have money to help prevent people from becoming homeless.

The council might ask if you have tried to get help from family or friends first.

You can make a homeless application to the council if you are facing homelessness.

Find out about emergency grants, loans and money help if you cannot afford things like rent, food or energy bills.

Hardship payments

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) can give you hardship payments.

Hardship payments are loans. They have to be paid back. They are interest free.

Hardship payments are lower than the amount you lose because of a sanction. You only get around 60% of what is taken for the sanction.

When you can get a hardship payment

You can only get a hardship payment if you:

  • do everything in your claimant commitment in the 7 days before you apply

  • have looked at other ways to get help – for example, friends or family

How to apply

Contact the universal credit helpline on 0800 328 5644

Tell the adviser if you're in rent arrears or struggling to feed your children.

Have bank statements ready. Make sure you know how much you spend on things like food, gas and electricity.

You normally get a same day decision. You can be paid on the same day.

Paying back a hardship payment

You have to pay back hardship payments. The DWP usually takes money out of your monthly UC for this.

The DWP might agree to reduce or cancel the money it takes. For example, if you cannot afford food or to top up a prepayment meter.

They should pause taking the money if you start earning above a set amount of money. If you earn above this for 6 months, they should stop taking the money out.

Find out what to do if you have deductions for hardship payments or other debts.

If the DWP will not give you a hardship payment

You can ask for a formal review of the decision. The DWP call this a 'mandatory reconsideration'.

Citizens Advice explain how to ask for a mandatory reconsideration

Ask to make your claimant commitment easier

You can ask your work coach to make the conditions easier for you in some situations. 

Citizens Advice tell you how to change your claimant commitment

If you want to challenge a sanction

Citizens Advice explain how to challenge a sanction

Last updated: 1 April 2024

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