At times it is easy to get confused about what a Benefit Sanction is compared to a Disallowance of Benefits or Supsension of Benefits. Today the DWP responded to an FOI request thus:
“What is the difference for benefit claimants between a sanction, a disallowance and a suspension of benefits?
How does each of these actions affect entitlement to Housing Benefit on grounds of low or nil income?
Sanction: This has the effect of either reducing benefit or terminating entitlement to benefit consequent on a claimant taking or failing to take action contrary to commitments entered into both when claiming a relevant benefit and as amended during the award: eg. not applying for work, or refusing to attend a training course when in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Disallowance: This applies where a claim for benefit does not meet the conditions of entitlement for the benefit claimed – the claim is disallowed. Benefit is never put into payment. (This is a term that is sometimes used when entitlement ends after it has been awarded – we will sometimes say that the claim has been disallowed because a change in the claimant’s circumstances means there is no longer any entitlement to the benefit in payment. It has the same meaning as entitlement terminating in this context).
Suspension: This applies is where payment of benefit is stopped, in part or in full, because there is a doubt about the correctness of the award in payment or a doubt about the actual entitlement to the benefit eg the department receives information about unreported income. Whilst investigating the accuracy of the report payment is suspended to prevent any possible overpayment.
The effect of JSA or ESA sanctions on Housing Benefit depends on whether the sanction means that entitlement to JSA or ESA ceases.
Where income-based JSA or income-related ESA is sanctioned, Housing Benefit would be unaffected, so long as entitlement to the sanctioned benefit remains.
Where a sanction results in cessation of entitlement to JSA or ESA, Housing Benefit would need to be reassessed to take into account the fact that there is no entitlement to JSA or ESA: entitlement to Housing Benefit might then continue on low income grounds.
Where a benefit is suspended Housing Benefit can continue unaffected, although Local Authorities can suspend Housing Benefit if they have a doubt about the correctness of the award in payment or a doubt about the actual entitlement to Housing Benefit. ”
The background to this request is from: “We’ll “disallow” your housing benefit for two weeks when you’re sanctioned” http://www.katebelgrave.com/2015/02/well-disallow-your-housing-benefit-for-two-weeks-when-youre-sanctioned-wtf-is-going-on-here/ another FOI request seeks associated clarification https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/sanctioning_housing_benefit#incoming-619192.