Money help if your universal credit is sanctioned

What is a universal credit sanction?

Your universal credit can be reduced or stopped if you do not meet a condition in your claimant commitment. 

This is called a sanction.

You might need help if you do not have enough money for rent, food or heating while you're sanctioned.

Only your standard allowance can be reduced – not your housing element payments.

Help you do not have to pay back

You could get emergency financial help that you do not have to pay back from your council's homelessness team if you cannot pay your rent.

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

You can also use the emergency grants search tool on the Turn2Us website.

Read our advice on grants, loans and money help if you cannot afford things like rent, food or energy bills.

What are hardship payments?

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

They have to be paid back.

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.

You repay the money though deductions from universal credit payments.

You can ask the DWP to reduce the amounts it takes.

When you can get a hardship payment

You can only get a hardship payment if you:

  • meet all the conditions in your claimant commitment in the 7 days before you apply

  • have considered 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.

If you are refused a hardship payment

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

Citizens Advice explains how to ask for a mandatory reconsideration

If you can't meet your claimant commitment

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

Citizens Advice tells you how you can change your claimant commitment

If you want to challenge a sanction

Citizens Advice explains how to challenge a sanction


Last updated: 3 March 2022

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