Avoiding and Challenging Benefit Sanctions
Due to recent changes to the welfare system, an increasing number of people are seeing their benefits reduced or stopped due to sanctions. The effects of sanctions are wide-reaching, leaving many confronting destitution, poverty, and homelessness as likely outcomes. Sanctions affect particularly individuals and families in vulnerable situations, such as people with mental health needs, for whom it is challenging to navigate the complex system around benefits.
With this context in mind Law for Life has developed an online information guide focused on helping people understand and build the skills needed to avoid unnecessary benefit sanctions. The guide aims to help people address issues at an early stage and prevent unnecessary hardship. Where this isn’t possible, the guide explains how to deal with a benefits sanction, including how to appeal. After a drafting process that drew on generous input from claimants, intermediaries, advisers and others, we were pleased to publish the new online guide: A survival guide to benefit sanctions.
In April we also held two workshops for the staff of the Bridge Mental Health Support, a charity offering mental health and wellbeing support in Greenwich. The workshops were delivered in partnership with the Public Law Project. The training addressed the basics of Universal Credit, the different groups of claimants on UC, their commitments, how they might get sanctioned and for how long, and how they can avoid and challenge sanctions. Many had a grasp of the problems claimants face while on UC and were shocked at the length of time sanctions can be imposed for. The guide and the workshops were funded by the National Lottery Community Fund (previously Big Lottery Fund).