Mandatory Work Activity, Workfare and Sanctions.
Boycott Workfare states,
As things currently stand following the ruling by three judges in the Court of Appeal on 12th February, our understanding is that:
1) If people are currently under sanctions from the unlawful schemes, these sanctions should be lifted immediately and they should be put back to first tier sanctions. If you are currently under sanction from one of the unlawful schemes but it has not been lifted, please get in touch.
2) Unless people have been sent updated notices under reg 5 of the new regulations then there cannot be a requirement for them to attend any of the schemes they have been sent on (except Mandatory Work Activity). As Public Interest Lawyers put it:
“The DWP made it clear in submissions to the court that the immediate effect of the judgment was that they would be unable to require people to attend affected schemes and that must be the case. Until lawful Regulations are passed and new notifications are sent out I struggle to see how attendance can be required on the affected schemes.”
3) Unless the government wins the right to appeal to the Supreme Court and wins that appeal, then people who were sanctioned on any of the unlawful schemes should be paid the benefits that were withheld. However the government has indicated it will not consider paying this until the appeal decision has been made. We will make sure people know how to get their money back as soon as we find out.
So, for anyone say on a 6 month sanction that sanction should be immediately lifted, their benefits reinstated and they should then go back to the first tier of sanctions (they cannot impose the longer sanctions until there has been the repeated failure to participate).
Ipswich Unemployed Action adds,
Some people have tried to find ways out of Manadatory Work Activity (MWA)
This appears to be the position regarding MWA,
Freedom of Information request for MWA guidance dated 13 January 2013:
“Claimant ceases to claim JSA between point of referral and start date of MWA placement
52. In this scenario the Advisory Team must ensure that the provider is aware of the claim closure reason and updates PRaP accordingly. The Advisory Team may also wish to record the circumstances of the case (e.g. as an LMS Conversation) so that should the claimant return to JSA, consideration can be given to returning them to MWA.
53. If the claimant returns to JSA, the Advisory Team must consider if it is appropriate to make a subsequent MWA referral. Unless there has been a significant change in the circumstances which led to the original referral, the claimant should be referred again to MWA; any such referral must be treated as a further ‘initial’ referral.
54. Advisory Teams should also consider if the claimant ceasing to claim JSA between being referred to MWA and the start date of their placement (and subsequently returning to JSA) indicates fraudulent activity; this should be explored and, where appropriate, tested (e.g. via More Frequent Attendance).
NB If, when the new claim is made, the claimant is approaching or has reached their Work Programme entry point, a referral back to MWA (where appropriate), must take precedence over the Work Programme referral i.e. a temporary exemption, using the criterion ‘customer on other suitable provision’, must be applied to the Work Programme referral.”
This appears to mean ‘no easy way out’.
At present a correspondant placed on MWA adds this,
I signed-off on Monday 4 February, and my booklet was filled in correctly and legibly. However at the moment (Thursday 14 February) I cannot obtain confirmation that my claim is closed down, and that I will receive my outstanding payment. The benefit centre (not my local one) I am dealing with, that decides whether or not you are entitled to benefit, the amount etc.
When I phoned them (Monday 11 and Wednesday 13 February), two different persons said that they could not get into my claim on the computer system. One said that there was a problem on my side, i.e. I assume from my local Job Centre. Another one said it was clerical, “it had been done on paper”. On Monday 11 February a third person from the same benefit centre phoned me back, saying that they “could not get through”.
Whatever that means; I don’t think the person would have had any trouble phoning me. Furthermore something like “paperwork slow”, that the paperwork it would be dealt with on Tuesday 12 February, and that it would be sent out the same day. At least that is what I thought they said. However I have had nothing in my mail about this, at least up to Thursday 14 February.
At the moment I seem to caught up in some state of limbo, and I don’t have a good feeling about this. Hopefully a letter stating my claim is closed, will arrive tomorrow (Friday 15 February). If not, I will panic. Personally I think it possible that my local Job Centre is behind this, maybe they are trying to stop me from signing-off or trying to delay it. Any advice would be most welcome.