Help from Bristol's Citizens Advice Bureau: A problem shared ... Jobseekers Allowance
I'M currently out of work and receiving Jobseekers Allowance. I've applied for loads of jobs but can't get an interview. Now I'm really worried because a friend's told me they can stop my benefit without warning. Is this true?
IF you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), Jobcentre Plus expects you to be looking for work and to do certain other things that your Jobcentre adviser asks you to, for example to go on specific training courses or apply for jobs they point out to you. If you don't do these things, they can sanction you. This means that they stop or reduce your JSA for a period of time.
Under new much tougher sanctions, you can lose JSA for between four weeks and up to three years if you don't do certain things they ask you to. The length of time will depend on what you did and whether this was the first, second or third time you behaved in that way.
However, in most cases, Jobcentre Plus can't sanction you if you had a good reason for your behaviour. For example, you didn't apply for a job they pointed out to you, but this was because it is too far away for you to travel. This would usually have to be further than an hour and a half each way.
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They also can't sanction you if you didn't actually do or fail to do what Jobcentre Plus wants to sanction you for. For example, you didn't refuse to take part in the Work Programme.
If you have been sanctioned and you think the decision is unfair, you can challenge it. You may be also able to get hardship payments.
You can get more information on the new sanctions from the Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk. If you need further help or advice contact your local CAB or advice agency.