Ask CPAG Online - Challenging JSA and ESA Sanctions

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+ What sanction decisions can be challenged? - What sanction decisions can be challenged?

Any decision to impose a benefit sanction by reducing benefit entitlement can be challenged.

+ How can a benefit sanction be challenged? - How can a benefit sanction be challenged?

A sanction can be challenged in the same way as any other type of social security decision i.e. by requesting a revision (‘mandatory reconsideration’) and then appealing to an independent tribunal. Note, however, that:

  • There is no right of revision or appeal until a decision to impose a sanction has been made. Where, for example, you are unhappy about a particular work-related requirement but have not yet been sanctioned, or jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) has been suspended while the DWP decide whether to impose a sanction, you can only make representations to get the requirement withdrawn, the suspension lifted, or a decision issued to you.
  • You have a legal entitlement to be given a written decision if a sanction is applied, but it may be necessary to chase this up. Following the Oakley review on sanctions , the Government has confirmed that benefit should never stop due to a sanction prior to you being given notification of the decision. It also pledged to abolish the procedure whereby JSA was suspended pending an ‘actively seeking work’ sanction" decision.

+ Is benefit payable while a decision is being challenged? - Is benefit payable while a decision is being challenged?

There is no provision for payment of the sanctioned amount of benefit while a sanction is being challenged, but you may be eligible for another benefit, a hardship payment or local welfare assistance.

+ On what grounds can a sanction be challenged? - On what grounds can a sanction be challenged?

A sanction can be challenged on the grounds that:

  • there was no legal basis to impose a sanction on you (e.g. because there was no power to impose the relevant work-related requirement on you);
  • you were not properly notified about a requirement;
  • the alleged failure to carry out the requirement did not occur;
  • you had ‘good reason’ or ‘good cause’ for the alleged failure;
  • the amount of, or length of, or the start date of the sanction was contrary to the law (e.g. where there is a dispute about whether and when there was a sanction in the previous 52 weeks)

Note that the 52 week period during which a second sanction occurs runs from the date of the previous ‘sanctionable action, and not from the date of the sanction decision. It may be possible to challenge an earlier sanction which could result in a shorter later sanction. It is often helpful to go through a checklist of the above points when considering possible grounds for challenging a sanction. The rest of this section examines common grounds for challenging different types of sanctions.

You can find more information about the ways that you can challenge a decision to sanction your benefit in this section. Click on the links below for more information:

A sanction can be challenged on the grounds that:

  • there was no legal basis to impose a sanction on you (e.g. because there was no power to impose the relevant work-related requirement on you);
  • you were not properly notified about a requirement;
  • the alleged failure to carry out the requirement did not occur;
  • you had ‘good reason’ or ‘good cause’ for the alleged failure;
  • the amount of, or length of, or the start date of the sanction was contrary to the law (e.g. where there is a dispute about whether and when there was a previous sanction)

Note that the 52 week period during which a second sanction occurs runs from the date of the previous ‘sanctionable action, and not from the date of the sanction decision. It may be possible to challenge an earlier sanction which could result in a shorter later sanction. It is often helpful to go through a checklist of the above points when considering possible grounds for challenging a sanction. The rest of this factsheet examines common grounds for challenging different types of sanctions.

For information on challenging universal credit sanctions, see Challenging universal credit sanctions.