Ask CPAG Online - What other benefits can be claimed during a sanction?
You may be able to claim another benefit during a sanction. For example:
- if your jobseeker's allowance (JSA) has been sanctioned, you may be eligible to claim employment and support allowance (ESA) or income support (IS) if you satisfy the normal conditions of entitlement;
- if your ESA has been sanctioned, you may be eligible to claim IS or JSA if you satisfy the normal conditions of entitlement.
It may also be possible for your partner to claim income-based JSA, income-related ESA, income support or pension credit for you both, if s/he satisfies the normal conditions of entitlement.
Note, however, that if you live in a universal credit (UC) 'full service area' or a 'gateway area' and satisfy the gateway conditions, you may have to claim UC instead of income-based JSA or income-related ESA (see Universal Credit Natural Migration for details).
What happens to housing benefit (HB) during a sanction?
In most cases your HB should continue to be paid as normal during a benefit sanction. This is because:
- for JSA, regulation 2(3)(a) of the HB Regulations 2006 treats you as being on income-based JSA (and therefore entitled to maximum HB) while you are not paid because of a sanction. Note, however, that this may not apply to an ‘actively seeking work’ sanction, or where entitlement to JSA ceases because you are not available for or actively seeking work;
- for ESA, regulation 63(3)(a) of the ESA Regulations 2008 states that an ESA sanction cannot reduce your income-related ESA to below 10 pence per week, allowing you to retain your entitlement to maximum HB.
Despite this, it has been common practice for the DWP to notify local authorities (LAs) when JSA or ESA payments stop because of a sanction and for LAs to then suspend or terminate HB claims. This problem was highlighted in the recent Oakley Report on JSA sanctions.
The Government response to the report ‘accepts that the HB of claimants should not be stopped following a sanction…’. and the DWP says this should no longer be happening and issued an urgent Bulletin to LAs to this effect in September 2015.
You should always notify your LA as soon as your JSA or ESA stops because of a sanction, and refer to the appropriate regulations and the Bulletin if your HB stops as a result. You can challenge any decision to stop your HB by requesting a revision or appeal.
Note that you can be entitled to maximum HB on the basis of a ‘nil income’ and that hardship payments of JSA or ESA should ‘passport’ you to maximum HB.
If your council tax reduction stops because your JSA or ESA stops due to a sanction, you should contact your LA to ensure it is reinstated on the basis of your current circumstances (e.g. ‘nil income’ or hardship payments of JSA or ESA).