Why is this important?
Employment and Support Allowance sanctions get tougher
Date: 23 November 2012
If you are getting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the work-related activity group, you may have to attend work-focused interviews at the JobCentre Plus. You may also be asked to attend a work-related activity, to help you prepare for work, for example you may be asked to go on a training course. If you don't do one of those things, and you don't have a good reason why you haven't done it, your ESA can be reduced. This is called a sanction.
Sanctions are getting tougher from 3 December. You could lose more money and for longer if you are sanctioned after that date. The JobCentre Plus is writing to everyone who could be affected to tell them about how the new sanctions will work. If you get this letter, it doesn't mean you have been sanctioned – it is to help you understand the new sanctions.
Up to now, your ESA would only be sanctioned until you went back and attended your work-focused interview or started doing an activity the JobCentre asked you to do. Your ESA could be reduced by either £14.07 or £28.15 a week, and would be lifted once you complied with your obligations.
This is changing from 3 December. If you don't comply with what JobCentre asks you to do, without having a good reason, your ESA could be cut by £71 a week until you comply. After you have complied, your ESA will continue to be cut by the same amount for at least one more week. The sanction could last longer than that - for two more weeks if this is the second time you haven't complied, or for four more weeks if it's your third time.
If you are facing a sanction and have a good reason why you haven't complied, for example if you were too sick to go to your interview, it's important you tell the JobCentre Plus. They shouldn’t sanction you in such a case.
If you are sanctioned, you can appeal against that decision. You can also apply for a hardship payment to help tide you over while you're appealing, or until your sanction stops.
If you need more help to understand how the new sanctions will work, you can call the helpline number shown in your letter about sanctions from the JobCentre Plus.
- You can also find more information on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website at www.dwp.gov.uk.