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Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions get harsher

Date: 24 October 2012

If you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Jobcentre Plus expects you be looking for work and do certain other things that your Jobcentre adviser ask you to, for example to go on specific training courses or apply for jobs they point out to you. If you don't do these things, they can sanction you. This means that they stop or reduce your JSA for a period of time.

Starting from 22 October, Jobcentre Plus will be able to apply much tougher sanctions if you don't do certain things they asked you to.

Up to now, you could be sanctioned for between 1 and 26 weeks. But under the new sanctions, your JSA can be stopped for between 4 weeks and up to 3 years, depending on what you did. It will also depend on whether this was the first, second or third time you behaved in that way.

However, in most cases, Jobcentre Plus can't sanction you if you had a good reason for your behaviour. For example, you didn't apply for a job they pointed out to you, but this was because it is too far away for you to travel. This would usually have to be further than an hour and a half each way.

They also can't sanction you if you didn't actually do what Jobcentre Plus wants to sanction you for. For example, you didn't refuse to take part in the Work Programme.

If you have been sanctioned and you think the decision is unfair, you can challenge it. You may be also able to get hardship payments.

More on JSA sanctions and how you can challenge them.

You can also get more information on the new sanctions from the Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk.

Citizens Advice

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