factchecking myths and misconceptions about universal credit

“They can’t take away my rent money if I’m sanctioned”

The short answer:

It's kind of true … but it may feel like they’re taking your rent money

Your entitlement to universal credit in respect of your housing costs is not protected, so in some circumstances it may be used to cover a sanction.

How much is a sanction?

A sanction is usually equivalent to the standard allowance for a person or a couple of your age (it is less if you are 16 or 17, or are only expected to take part in a work-focused interview and have no other work-related requirements).

Why can housing costs be used to pay for sanctions?

If you receive less than the standard allowance in addition to your housing costs - for example because you have other income that reduces your entitlement, or the DWP are making deductions from your benefit such as for advance payments or utility arrears payments - some of your entitlement to housing costs will be withheld to cover the sanction amount that cannot be covered by what is left of your standard allowance.

Law and case law:

Regulations 110 and 111 of the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 set out how the amount of the sanction is calculated.

Official guidance:

Chapter K1 of Advice for Decision Makers looks at sanctions, and paragraph K1101 explains about the amount of the reduction.

Need more help?

If you need help in finding out more about your rights and the options available to you, do consider contacting a local independent advice organisation. 

Enter a postcode on our advicelocal site to find details of advice organisations in your area. They will usually be able to offer free advice and support, and help to answer any questions you have.

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