Benefits Expert: Will I be sanctioned for missing an interview?

Your questions answered by our Benefits Expert.
Your questions answered by our Benefits Expert.

Q. I have missed my Work Focused Interview with my adviser at Jobcentre Plus yesterday.

I am claiming Universal Credit and I am looking for work, but I had a fall and was taken to hospital to be checked over.

Will I be sanctioned for not attending?

A. Generally if you miss a Work Focused Interview with an adviser you could be sanctioned for seven days, plus however long it takes for you to have the appointment with your adviser; for example, if you contact your adviser and they reschedule your appointment five days later, your sanction would be five days plus seven days.

If this was your second sanction, it would be for five days plus 14 days and a third sanction would be for 5 days plus 28 days.

However, as you have a good reason for missing your appointment you should make your adviser aware of this as soon as possible and have your appointment rearranged.

If the good cause is accepted then you will not face a sanction.

If you find that you are sanctioned then you can challenge the decision by requesting a Mandatory Reconsideration within one month from the date on the decision letter.

Q. I work as a lunch time assistant and I do 12 hours per week during term time.

I was in a car crash recently and I’m not able to return to work for around six weeks, according to my doctor.

My employer has told me that I don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to my wages, but I’m on a low income and I live on my own, but I don’t know what else to claim.

A: To qualify for SSP your normal weekly earnings must be £113 or more.

If you are earning less than this then you will not be able to claim SSP from your employer, but there may be other benefits available to you.

If you are unable to work then you may qualify for Employment and Support Allowance.

Employment and Support Allowance is paid either based on you having a low household income or based on your National Insurance contributions.

If there is no other income in the household and no savings or capital over £6,000, then Employment and Support Allowance would be paid at £73.10 per week.

You should also be entitled to help with your rent (if you are in rented accommodation) and council tax.

If you live in a full Universal Credit area such as Hartlepool and South Shields then you will only be eligible to claim Employment and Support Allowance if you have been paying National Insurance over the past 2 years, but you will need to apply for Universal Credit to help with any rental payments.

If you have not paid National Insurance throughout that time then you will need to submit a claim for Universal Credit only which would then cover your personal allowance to support your living costs and also any amount towards your rent, rather than having to claim Housing Benefit separately.