Hardship payments after a universal credit sanction

Find out about hardship payments if you're sanctioned while on universal credit.

What is a universal credit sanction?

Your universal credit can be reduced or stopped if you don't meet a condition in your claimant commitment. This is called a sanction.

Conditions during coronavirus

Jobseeking conditions were relaxed temporarily from 30 March due to the outbreak.

From 1 July 2020, depending on your personal situation and where you live, you may be expected to:

  • start looking for work

  • be available to start a job or attend an interview

  • meet other work preparation conditions such as training or updating your CV  

Check what's expected of you in your claimant commitment. 

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

Read more about changing your claimant commitment from Citizens Advice

If you've been sanctioned 

Find out how to challenge a sanction from Citizens Advice

What are hardship payments?

You can ask for a hardship payment if you've been sanctioned and you can't afford basics like food, rent or heating bills as a result.

A hardship payment will be less than what you’ve lost because of the sanction. Usually you’ll only get around 60% of the amount of money that was taken.

Hardship payments are interest free loans from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

You repay the money through deductions from future universal credit payments.

When you can get a hardship payment

You must meet all the work related conditions in your claimant commitment in the 7 days before you apply.

You must have considered ways to get help from other places, for example food banks or your 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 to hand and 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.

If you are refused a hardship payment

Check other options for emergency help.

You can ask for a formal review of the decision. This called a mandatory reconsideration.

Find out more about the mandatory consideration process from Citizens Advice.


Last updated: 29 June 2020

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