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Hardship payments

Hardship payments are for people with benefits sanctions.

A sanction is when your benefits reduce or stop.

Read about emergency help with money and food if you need money now.

What is a hardship payment?

Hardship payments help people who:

  • Have had a benefits sanction, and
  • Cannot pay essential bills

Hardship payments apply to the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Why did I get a sanction?

When you apply for benefits, your Jobcentre work coach agrees a set of "responsibilities" with you.

These might include:

  • Applying for work
  • Attending training courses

Your benefits can be reduced or stopped if you do not do these.

You can also get a sanction for:

  • Being late
  • Missing interviews
  • Missing appointments at the Jobcentre

Will I have to pay the money back?


Hardship payments are a loan.

  • You need to pay them back
  • Repayments are taken from your benefits
  • Your benefits will be lower until the loan is repaid

How do I claim a hardship payment?

To claim a hardship payment, you need to:

  • Be age 18 or older
  • Show you tried to get money somewhere else (like from friends or family)
  • Show you are only spending on essentials

Claiming on Universal Credit

Contact the Universal Credit helpline to apply if you are on Universal Credit.

Claiming if you are on JSA or ESA

Contact the Jobcentre Plus if you are on JSA or ESA.

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Check you are not missing out on benefits. Use our free online benefits calculator.

How much can I get from a hardship payment?

Hardship payments give you just over half of what you lost in the sanction.

The total is 60% of your daily benefit times the number of days the sanction lasts.

For example:

  • Let’s say you usually get benefits of £500 every 28 days
  • But your benefits are sanctioned for seven days
  • That means you normally get about £17.85 a day
    • 60% of that is £10.71
    • £10.71 x 7 days of sanction= £74.97
  • Your hardship payment is around £75

A hardship payment is limited.

You have to apply again for more after it runs out.

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What can I spend a hardship payment on?

Hardship payments should be used for important things like:

  • Rent
  • Heating
  • Food
  • Hygiene essentials

Can I apply for other hardship funds or grants?

There is other support for people on low income, Universal Credit or benefits.

These include: