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Challenge It: Benefit Sanctions

This summer [2014], CABs across Scotland are raising the issue of benefit sanctions. The 'Challenge It' campaign aims to raise awareness of the right to appeal against sanctions. 

National messages are being spread and local work undertaken. Citizens Advice Scotland has published a report based on CAB evidence about the suffering sanctions are causing. A summary of the report, named Sanctioned: what benefit?, and the work in full can be read here: Sanctioned: What Benefit? 

All CABs in Scotland have been issued with 'Challenge It' postcards and mini-cards, offering tips both on how to avoid being sanctioned and what to do if you are.

Fourteen local 'survival guides' are being produced by CABs across the country. The guides offer detailed help for those who have been sanctioned, as well as listing local sources of assistance and aid. Read more on our local work page

Key messages 

The campaign will raise awareness of sanctions: ensuring people understand how to prevent their benefit being sanctioned, and also providing information on what to do if they feel the sanction has been unfairly applied. Evidence from bureaux in Scotland shows that people often feel powerless when sanctioned. This campaign aims to empower people by supporting them to avoid being sanctioned in the first place, and also lists actions they can take if they feel the sanction is unfair.

Prevent sanctions – self help

  • If you are set job search targets you can’t manage, say so, or tell a CAB advisor.
  • Keep a careful record of everything you do to try and find work. If you are unable to look of work at any point, keep a note of why not.
  • Have you missed an appointment? Tell the Job Centre why within 5 days and keep your own record.

If sanctioned – take action

  • Ask for a mandatory reconsideration within a month. If you don’t get your first sanctions reversed, later ones could be for longer.
  • If that fails, your local CAB can help you appeal through a free, independent tribunal.
  • When you money is stopped, you can apply for hardship payments from the Job Centre.

Campaign materials are available to download from the foot of this page.

A local example 

 Among the CAB groups producing Survival Guides is the Western Isles Citizens Advice Service (WICAS). WICAS also made a video highlighting related issues, which can be viewed here:

Western Isles Poverty Action Group - Survival Guide launch from CAS Community Action Team on Vimeo.

Back the Campaign: Resources 

Posters, postcards and mini-cards are included beneath this page. Paper copies are available from Citizens Advice Scotland.

Email signatures, Twitter and Facebook banners are also available for download below.