Universal Credit Sanctions: what you may have to pay in 2022

18 November 2022 by Robin - 8 minutes of reading time

universal credit sanctions

What are Universal Credit sanctions? What will sanctions do to my Universal Credit payments? If you do not do what is expected of you, you may receive less Universal Credit. There are different levels of sanctions that could be imposed on you. Then, there are different requirements linked with them. Your Benefits will tell you everything you need to know about Universal Credit sanctions.

What are Universal Credit Sanctions?

Getting Universal Credit has conditions. Otherwise, you may have sanctions. In fact, you often have to look for a job and take part in work coach meeting to keep getting the benefit. Otherwise, your payments may be reduced or stop. In fact, this is what is referred to as sanctions. Attending appointments with your work coach is imperative.

You have to attend meetings with your work coach. This can be done in person, by phone or video. You can have a good reason to not attend a meeting. However, if you do not, your Universal Credit payments are likely to be impacted. This will last until you meet them again.

Furthermore, you need to report things such as change of circumstances. In fact, if you do not, then you may have sanctions apply to you. Indeed, this means that you could see your Universal Credit payments be reduced or stop entirely.

You may claim Universal Credit as a couple, and receive a joint payment. If one of you is affected by Universal Credit Sanctions, then this would impact the entire joint payment.

There are different types of sanctions. Moreover, they could be thought of as different levels. What determines the level that applies to you is the reason for which you had Universal Credit sanctions.

What are the types of Universal Credit sanctions?

If you receive Universal Credit, you likely have a Claimant Commitment. If you do not follow the Claimant Commitment, you may have Universal Credit sanctions apply to you. This means that your payments could be reduced. The less you meet requirements, the higher the sanction.

Universal Credit sanctions reduce how much Universal Credit standard allowance you receive. However, this does not include extra amounts, like to cover housing and childcare costs.

Sanctions can reduce your payments by 100% for single claimants, and 50% for each person in a couple. Those in the all work-related requirements conditionality group are not impacted as much. Furthermore, you can get the following with the Universal Credit standard allowance:

Universal Credit standard allowance rates in 2022
Your personal circumstance Standard allowance rate (per month)
You have a partner, and at least one of you is 25 years or older £509.91 (for the couple)
You have a partner, and you are both younger than 25 years old £403.93 (for the couple)
You are younger than 25 years old and single £257.33
You are 25 years or older and single £324.84

The government will tell you what sanction applies to you if you are affected. In fact, they will tell you what you need to do to limit the sanction, how long it will last as well as how long it will be if you did what the letter said. There are also 4 different types of sanctions. They are as follows:

  • Lowest;
  • Low;
  • Medium;
  • Higher.
You may be informed by a medical professional that you have fewer than 12 months to live. In this case, you cannot be impacted by sanctions.

What are low level Universal Credit sanctions?

What are Universal Credit Sanctions?

The lowest level sanctions are enacted if you do not attend a work coach meeting, and if that is your only requirement. To stop lowest level Universal Credit sanctions, you only have to attend a meeting with your work coach.

The low level sanctions last until you do what you did not do, which led to the sanction. Additionally, you will have to wait 7, 14 days or 28 days more days for your first, second and third sanctions respectively. This is the case if one of the following applies, you:

  • Did not do specific things to obtain a paid job, or to increase how much you receive from your job;
  • Did not do a required training course;
  • Failed to go to a work-focused interview, but a low level sanction would not be appropriate.

What are higher level Universal Credit sanctions?

The medium level sanctions will apply for 28 or 91 days for your first and second medium level Universal Credit sanctions respectively. Indeed, this is true if:

  • The ‘work availability requirement’ apply to you, and you cannot do interviews or start working;
  • The ‘work search requirement’ apply to you, and you do not take steps to get a paid job, or fail to increase how much you get at your paid job.

The higher level sanctions are the highest level of Universal Credit sanctions. This will last for 91 or 182 days, for your first and second high level sanctions respectively. This is the case if one of the following applies to you:

  • Before you claim the benefit or while you receive it, you voluntarily or involuntary leave it or work less hours (including because of ‘misconduct’);
  • The ‘work availability requirement’ apply to you, and you do not take a job offer that is offered to you;
  • The ‘work search requirement’ apply to you, and you to not apply for certain work when you needed to.

What else should I know about sanctions?

Two sanctions cannot apply to you all at once. However, one Universal Credit sanction can start when the previous sanction stops. Furthermore, the reductions are applied after counting unearned income and earnings. 

Your Universal Credit sanction may be higher than how much you are paid through the benefit. In this case, your payment would be reduced to 0, and the sanction for that payment would be considered as fully paid.

Note that if Universal Credit sanctions apply to you, you still stay entitled for the benefit. As such, you will still be able to receive passported benefits like free prescriptions.

Lastly, you may disagree with your Universal Credit sanction. An option is challenging a sanction. You need to ask for a mandatory reconsideration within one month of receiving your decision. In fact, you need to write to the same office that gave the decision, explain why you think the decision is wrong, with evidence.

Mandatory reconsideration on a sanction decision

What are the types of Universal Credit sanctions?

You may receive Universal Credit. Then, to ask for a mandatory reconsideration, you can do so on your journal. This can be done on your Universal Credit account on the GOV.uk website. 

You may not be able to ask for a mandatory reconsideration online. Then, you can phone the Universal Credit helpline, fill out and send a ‘mandatory reconsideration form’ (found on the GOV.uk website), or send a letter to the address that sent the decision.

You may want to apply for a mandatory reconsideration by phone. In this case, you would need to contact the Universal Credit helpline. Then, you can call them on 0800 328 5644. You can text them on 0800 328 1344, or call in Welsh on 0800 328 1744. They are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday through Friday.

You may not know what benefits you are eligible for. Then, Your Benefits can help. In fact, we provide a number of articles which explain benefits and their introcacies. Do not hesitate to visit them with the top drop down menu, or by visiting the links featured in this article.

What is Universal Credit?

You may wonder what Universal Credit is. In fact, in order to have Universal Credit sanctions apply to you, you need to apply for this benefit first, and receive it. Then, this benefit will let you cover daily expenses, which you will receive weekly. 

There are different conditions that need to apply for you to be eligible for Universal Credit. For example, you need to be on a low income. Otherwise, you could be eligible if you are unable to work, do not currently work, or you do have a job and some things apply to you.

Furthermore, you may not have a lot of money available to you. As such, you may want to receive your first Universal Credit payments ahead of time. Then, you can ask for a Universal Credit advance payment

You may receive a ‘legacy benefit’, which Universal Credit is replacing. If this is the case, and you received a letter to transition to Universal Credit, you can benefit from the transition protection. This means that you would receive the same in Universal Credit as you did with your previous benefit.

There are even more benefits you could be eligible for, like Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or the NHS Low Income Scheme. Then, Your Benefits can help. Do not hesitate to visit the articles linked throughout to learn more about this and more benefits.

Additionally, you could apply for a hardship payment. Then, you could receive an amount of money if you are in duress or need money. Furthermore, you can learn more with Citizen Advice.

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

Ask our experts a question

Your questions
  • kelly-marie moore

    my son is under going asd assements he struggles with even relatives looking after him. work is not paying me my minimum wage and when im asking im getting thobbed off. im depressed and stressed with the whole situation i struggle with people looking after my children and i am still undergoing domestic violence courtcase i dont feel safe and im always left on my own in the shop were its open shutter in a centre are my reasons good enough to leave my job? will i loose my univeral credit payment for my rent?

    • Robin


      I does sound like you could receive universal credit while not working. I would recommend calling the Universal Credit helpline.

      Hope this helps,

Our algorithm calculates which grants you are eligible to apply for.

Simulate your benefits