Already claimed

3. Sanctions

In return for receiving Universal Credit you will need to do certain things. If you are able to prepare or look for work, this will include attending appointments with your work coach.

These can take place by phone, video call or in person at a Jobcentre.

No matter how your appointment is due to be held, it’s important that you attend. If you are asked to attend an appointment but don’t attend and don’t have a good reason why, your Universal Credit payments will be affected.

If there is a good reason why you can’t attend, let us know as soon as possible.

Face coverings are no longer a legal requirement in England, Scotland and Wales, however, government guidelines do advise continuation of wearing one to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

You do not need to come to the jobcentre unless we ask you to do so. If you need to contact us, the quickest way to do this is online or by phone. If you do need to visit a jobcentre, they are open and one of our colleagues will be able to assist you.

You still need to tell us if anything changes – use the ‘Report a change of circumstances’ link in your online account. If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and think you may have been affected by coronavirus, please contact your work coach as soon as possible.

DWP will never text or email asking for personal information or bank details.

What is asked of you will depend on your situation, and will be recorded in your Claimant Commitment

If you fail to do what you have agreed in your Claimant Commitment without good reason, your Universal Credit payments may be reduced for a set period. This is known as a sanction.

If you are asked to attend a work search review but don’t attend and don’t have a good reason why, you will receive a sanction until you arrange and attend another work search review.

There are different levels of sanctions and they’re decided based on the reason for the sanction. If you have had previous sanctions, this may mean new sanctions will be for a longer period.

If you claim Universal Credit as a couple and only one of you doesn’t meet their responsibilities, you may receive a sanction to your joint payment.

Read more about sanctions and the debts and deductions that can be taken from Universal Credit payments.


If you receive a sanction and you think this is wrong, you can ask for it to be looked at again. This is known as a mandatory reconsideration

If the decision is not changed, you can appeal to an independent tribunal. You can get help with this from Citizens Advice

Help if your payment is stopped or reduced

You can ask for a hardship payment if you have received a sanction and can’t pay for basic needs such as rent, heating or food.

You will need to pay back your hardship payment a bit at a time from your future Universal Credit payments, so they will be lower until you pay it back.

To apply for a hardship payment you’ll need to:

  • be 18 or over
  • show that you’ve tried to find the money from somewhere else, and
  • show that you’ve tried to only spend money on essentials

To ask for a hardship payment call the Universal Credit helpline