UNIVERSAL Credit claimants could see their payments STOPPED if they make several common mistakes.
As the cost of living bites, plenty of Brits rely on the money boost from the government, and can't afford to miss out as soaring bills stack up.
But recent figures show that in the latest month as many as 38,244 sanctions were imposed on those claiming the benefit, according to The Mirror.
That means they were refused their payout, or may have had their entitlement reduced.
It's a rocketing figure as at the same time last year a mere 488 were reported in contrast.
When you claim the benefit you sign yourself up for commitments that you have to meet in order to get the financial support.
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This may be from showing you're actively looking for a job to being on time to appointments.
But fail to do the things you've promised in that agreement and you could see the benefit money swiped away from you.
Exactly how much you'll have taken off your claim depends on what you've done – or not done.
Here's all the reasons why your payments could be stopped altogether though:
Not applying for work
In order to claim unemployment support, you have to show you're trying to look for work.
If you don't bother, you may have your benefits cut.
The same goes if you're not putting the hours in too look.
Part of the commitment you sign onto includes spending 35 hours a week looking for work, which you will need to keep a record of doing to show your work coach.
If your Jobcentre work coach doesn't feel you're doing enough to get back into work you can be sanctioned.
Refusing a job offer
If you've been offered a job, you're expected to take it – so long as it's suitable.
Refusing a job offer just because you don't want it will see you sanctioned at the highest level.
Quitting your job
Quitting your job without a good reason could see you sanctioned too.
There's no set definition of what a good reason is, but it might include unaffordable childcare costs.
You might have your benefit payments reduced though, if you made the decision to leave what work your are in.
If you're late to Jobcentre appointments and interviews you could see payments cut.
Often, you'll be required to attend these appointments to update your work coach on your commitments to finding work.
If there's a good reason why you can't attend a meeting then you should let the Jobcentre know immediately.
But if you fail to turn up to a meeting you'll likely be sanctioned until you visit your next review.
Not updating your information
The amount of Universal Credit you are entitled to depends on many factors surround your individual circumstances.
That might be how many hours you work, or how many children you have.
But failing to report a change in circumstances, like moving house or getting a new job, could see you sanctioned.
In the worst cases, you may be committing benefit fraud and could even face legal action.
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Remember that any penalties you might face will only apply to the standard element of your claim – so extra cash you get through the housing or childcare elements will still be paid.
And there's always extra help out there, from the likes of the Household Support Fund, and more, that can ease some of your money pressures without applying sanctions on what your get.
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