Job seekers allowance sanctions; an increasing problem

When you claim Job Seekers Allowance  you are obliged to agree to  and follow a certain set of rules in return for receiving your benefit e.g. apply for a certain number of jobs every week. It is important  to keep records / proof of all your efforts.

If you break any of these rules, the DWP can  and usually do stop (sanction) you   for  between 4 weeks and 3 years.  Over the last 9-12 months we have noticed a marked increase the number of people being sanctioned : often for minor infringements. The most common reasons  for being

  • Sanctioned by the Jobcentre is being late or not turning up for meetings.
  • Not applying for enough jobs
  • Refusing to apply for a suitable job
  • Not being available for work
  • Not attending a compulsory training or employment scheme
  • Leaving a job voluntarily or being sacked for misconduct


For most offences, such as not turning up for an interview at the Jobcentre, not applying for enough jobs, or not taking a job that you’re offered, you will be sanctioned for four weeks. If the same thing happens again within a year, you’ll get sanctioned for 13 weeks for each further offence.

If you leave a job voluntarily, get sacked for misconduct or refuse to take part in the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme, you’ll get sanctioned for 13 weeks for a first offence. A second offence carries a 26-week sanction; a further one within a year means you’ll be sanctioned for three years.

This year we see at least 2-3 people being sanctioned every week. If it happens to you then do contact us. Remember

  • If you money has stopped ask the Job centre why
  • If you have a good reason you should be able to avoid a sanction  : tell the Jobcentre as soon as possible why you have not kept to the agreement – ie give your mitigating circumstances .
  • you’ll get a decision letter explaining the sanction. If this isn’t clear, you can ask for a written explanation. You should do this as soon as possible
  • If you believe the decision to be unreasonable you can, within one month of the date on the decision letter,   ask for the decision to be reconsidered do this
  • If you’re still not happy with the decision, you can appeal: currently it is takes approx 2-4 months for a hearing
  • Even if your benefit has been stopped, keep turning up to the Jobcentre for meetings and keep applying for jobs, or you risk being sanctioned for longer.
  • If you get help with paying your rent  or council tax , this will be affected by the sanction: you must contact Ealing council straight away to inform them of a change of circumstance
  •  you should be able to get a hardship payment (reduced level of JSA to cover the basics) e waiting for your JSA to start up again