Feature

A selection of especially stupid benefit sanctions

Cruel, arbitrary and ridiculous reasons why people have their benefits stopped.

You’re a 60-year-old army veteran who volunteers to sell poppies for the Royal British Legion in memory of fallen comrades. You’ve applied for dozens of jobs – including the supermarket where you sold the poppies – but without success. You are sanctioned for four weeks.

Source: Daily Mirror


You get a job interview. It’s at the same time as your job centre appointment, so you reschedule the job centre. You attend your rearranged appointment and then get a letter saying your benefits will be stopped because going to a job interview isn’t a good enough reason to miss an appointment.

Source: Daily Mail


Your gran dies during the night. The next morning your partner calls the job centre and asks if you can come in the following day instead. The centre agrees, and you sign in the next day. Then you get a letter stating that you failed to sign in and would be sanctioned if you don’t reply within seven days. You reply, explaining the situation. The job centre gives you a six-week sanction for not replying.

Source: Mari-claire M at Netmums


You’ve signed in on time, been to interviews and applied for work. Your job centre advisor suggests you make a two-line change to your CV, which you do, but fail to give the updated CV to the job centre (you weren’t told you had to). You are sanctioned for four weeks.

Source: nciaw36 at MoneySavingExpert


You work for 20 years and then miss a job centre appointment because you haven’t had the process clearly explained. You are sanctioned for 3 weeks.

Source: Councillor John O’Shea


You get a job that starts in two weeks time. You don’t look for work while you are waiting for the job to start. You’re sanctioned.

Source: The Guardian


You are forced to retire due to a heart condition, and you claim Employment and Support Allowance. During your assessment you have a heart attack. You are sanctioned for not completing your assessment.

Source: Debbie Abrahams MP


It’s Christmas Day and you don’t fill in your job search evidence form to show that you’ve looked for all the new jobs that are advertised on Christmas Day. You are sanctioned. Merry Christmas. 

Source: Poverty Alliance


You are given a training appointment that clashes with your job centre appointment. The job centre is unwilling to rearrange its appointment and tells you to get a letter from the training organisation. The training organisation says it doesn’t provide letters.

Source: Russell Brown MP


You apply for three jobs one week and three jobs the following Sunday and Monday. Because the job centre week starts on a Tuesday it treats this as applying for six jobs in one week and none the following week. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks for failing to apply for three jobs each week.

Source: Pontefract and Castleford Express


You miss your job centre appointment due to the funeral of a close family relative. You are sanctioned.

Source: Derek Twigg MP


You’ve been unemployed for seven months and are forced onto a workfare scheme in a shop miles away, but can’t afford to travel. You offer to work in a nearer branch but are refused and get sanctioned for not attending your placement.

Source: Caroline Lucas MP


You have a job interview which overruns so you arrive at your job centre appointment 9 minutes late. You get sanctioned for a month.

Source: jsdk at Consumer Action


You can’t afford to travel to look for work so you get sanctioned.

Source: Citizens Advice Bureau


Your job centre advisor suggests a job. When you go online to apply it says the job has “expired” so you don’t apply. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks.

Source: Penny at Yahoo! Answers


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