Feedback has it that Jobcentre Plus is trying to push as many people through on to New Deal courses as possible regardless of the actual legal implications of them being unable to put through a lot of them – they are still hoping to catch people out who are unaware of the rules and are happy to participate in order to secure benefits. So much for the “passive receiver” trend the DWP and MP constantly claim.
This will result in a lot of people nationwide (especially in Ipswich) to be stuck in places such as Dencora House Detention Centre to spend 13 weeks wasting away and being mistreated. This is because the New Deal contracts end soon as the scheme is being replaced with Flexible New Deal with it’s contracts starting this October 2009.
It is then of great pleasure for me to announce the following guide I have prepared to empower you in to avoiding being stuck on a New Deal course that contradicts with the promise they make towards you of support finding and securing employment. I hope you find it useful: links to and comments welcome!
1. Period of Jobseekers Allowance Claim
If you have claimed Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) less than 6 months you are not required to do a New Deal course. If you have been selected to go on an New Deal course you have every right to refuse to – but make sure you do before being signed on to the course.
The New Deal course guidance states:
“If both you and your personal adviser decide that it is best, you may even be able to join if you have been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for less than 6 months.”
Please Note: It states if you “both”: you and your Personal Adviser, decides that it is best. It is common protocol for them to automatically decide which is best without consulting you. So if you have been invited to a New Deal appointment remember the first thing you need to mention is that you have not been on Jobseekers Allowance for over 6 months and you are not legally required to do that course.
When it says “have claimed Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)” it refers to your latest claim.
It doesn’t matter if you have claimed Jobseekers Allowance for 4 years, got a job then later been made redundant and been on the dole for a few weeks or if you had your claim terminated for whatever reason and you have been claiming for several years non-stop. Basically, if you made an application for Jobseekers Allowance less than 6 month ago and your application were successful then you have been claiming less than 6 months and do not have to do New Deal.
If you are over 25, to be eligible for New Deal 25+ (ND25+) you have to be receiving Jobseekers Allowance for over 18 months. If, for the same reasons as above, you have not been claiming that long you don’t have to go on New Deal. Also realise that period can be dropped if they force you into accepting that you wish to go on the course – you need to make sure it is clear that you don’t agree that it is in your best interest to go on New Deal.
2. Take advantage of “Taster” sessions
I couldn’t find any information on this for the New Deal 25+ or New Deal 50+ courses so seems to only apply for those on New Deal Young People (NDYP) – but you could always try it.
“Helping young people make the right choice by providing ‘Tasters’
11. As a provider you have a responsibility to enable a young person to make an informed choice about the Option they may be entering. A ‘Taster’ should be a snapshot of your provision and may take the form of a discussion with you, a visit to a placement or a meeting with existing participants or students.
12. ‘Tasters’ can help to minimise the ‘drop out’ rates and encourage sustained attendance/participation on the Option.
13. For each young person that attends a ‘Taster’, you will need to complete form ND13 (Action Plan Review Record) and return it to the NDPA.
14. Although a ‘Taster’ provides an opportunity to market the Option, you should not formally agree to start the young person on the Option at the ‘Taster’. The young person should be referred back to their NDPA, who will discuss with them whether the Option is appropriate and refer them accordingly.
Referral to the Option
15. If the young person wishes to join the Option, either directly or following a ‘Taster’ or as a result of attending an ‘open day’, the NDPA will formally refer the young person to you for an interview. Young people attending ‘Tasters’ and referral interviews with you do so voluntarily and they can attend as many as is required before they make their choice.”
Your New Deal personal Adviser (NDPA) will not tell you about the “Taster” option so you will have to tell them before you commit yourself to the option. You don’t get told about this option due to the inhumane conditions imposed on New Deal participants – it allows a “loop hole” to avoid going on the programme – once you have signed on to the Programme the only 3 ways out of it are: 1) being exited, 2) securing employment (signing off) or 3) death.
- You are not obligated to sign up for a New Deal for Young People (NDYP) Option until you have had a “Taster” session (or attended an Open Day).
- A Taster session is designed for their basis to prevent “drop outs” – apparently.
- You can attend as many “Taster” session and referral interviews as you want.
- To sign up to the option, it can’t be against your wishes – even though it is compulsory – signing any documents without first having a “taster” session warrants your direct approval and wishes to want to do the course – you must not do this until you have your “taster” session.
- You can only refuse a New Deal for Young People option on human right grounds if you have not formally been referred to that option.
Don’t mingle in with Induction peeps – that’s the highlight. You will spend 12 times longer confined to job search room. You therefore must, to get a fairer view, join those doing job search then discover whether you really want to do 12 weeks of that instead of what you were promised as those people in that room are those who are doing the same course as you and have done the Induction week.
A “taster” session can also be just talking to the provider or a past participant who has been vetted from telling the truth. You must make sure it involves your attendance at their premises to get a realistic snapshot of their provision. Other methods are not reliable: The Provider’s employee isn’t going to say anything negative about the course and they wouldn’t approve a participant who has had a bad experience there to speak with you.
3. Gateway and Gateway 2 Work (GtW/G2W)
Before being entered on to a New Deal course you will be placed on the first stage of the New Deal which is called “Gateway” which lasts up to 16 weeks and includes a “Gateway 2 Work” course. You are assigned a New Deal Personal Adviser (NDPA) who you will meet with weekly to help you find and secure employment.
You are entitled to their support and not just be stuck on the Second Stage of New Deal (the “Options”) because it is near the end of its life.
During these 16 weeks – most commonly less – you will be place on a 2 week course called Gateway 2 Work (GtW) which is designed to improve your employability chances by writing a new CV, filling in mock Application Forms, writing Covering letters and Speculative letters in addition to interview techniques and sometimes occasionally 2 days work experience. This course is much better than the 13 week course in to helping you gain employment.
4. Other Options
There are other options to go on for New Deal than just the VS Option. Depending what you are looking for there is New Deal for Musicians and New Deal for Self-Employed – which might be of greater interest to you.
Even though Jobcentre Plus refuses to do this under law you are entitled to change option at any time.
Outside New Deal, if you refuse New Deal regardless of the validity of the reason they will claim you aren’t doing enough to look for work, there are various options you could negotiate instead:
- Work Trial: up to 30 working days at a real employer. Voluntary, however gives real work experience as opposed to any (if you are lucky) with a placement on New Deal. You keep your benefits while doing Work Trial.
- Volunteering: Keep your benefits while doing work for the local community. Work Trial would be better.
5. Reasons why not to go on New Deal (if all the above fail)
Numerous reasons exist for not going on New Deal VSO courses such as Dencora House in Ipswich.
The “loop hole” here is:
“If you are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, and you are aged 18 to 24, you must take part in New Deal for young people to carry on getting some of your benefits unless you have a good reason for not taking part.”
You cannot just turn around and refuse to do New Deal otherwise your benefits will be affected. You must have a good reason to not take part, and this good reason cannot be because you read this blog or heard others experiences – they have to be your own.
You must get a “taster” session (don’t just sign away) to be able to get that experience of the poor conditions without formally joining the course. If you join you will not be able to get out of it (unless you get exited or signed off – either way you risk losing your benefits).
“What is New Deal?
New Deal aims to help you get a job if you are out of work. It will give you the chance to train, learn and do work experience so that you: • get more confident • get new skills • can be worth more to people looking for staff, and • can find and stay in work.”
Taking the words in the New Deal for Young People (NDYP) leaflet it reads:
“What is New Deal for young people?
New Deal for young people will help you find and keep a job or start to work for yourself. It will help you improve the skills you have and learn new skills. While you are on New Deal for young people you will get help and support from your personal adviser. They will help you look at what you can do, and to build on the skills you have.”
“We will help you: • work out the steps you can take towards getting a job, and set these out in your own action plan • work out what jobs you could apply for • fill in application forms and write a CV • get advice on careers • find other support if you need it, and • pay for some of your costs, such as bus fares or train fares.”
Please notice the “will” and not “may”, “could”, “should” or “aim to”. The above snippets are altered to bold some words and bold and underline other words – other than that they are exact quotes.
From mine (and numerous other people to mention) people were not offered the chance to learn new skills, train for a career or even do work experience. Most people got less confident since going on the course and became depressed. No one learned new skills – only exercises were based on naming the logo or working out television advertisement slogans. No one became more worthy to employers – applying for jobs were no different to doing it at home other than waiting to share resources. No one supervised job search sessions nor offered any support in finding work and definitely did not help secure sustainable employment.
I think it helped sustained unemployment more than anything.
Jobcentre Plus is just over promoting a course different to the actual one offered for deception in to fiddling with unemployment figures.
6. Follow-up on Taster session
Now you have attended a taster session – you should know the conditions you will be spending your time in.
Before signing up to the course – you must incorporate your diary of the “taster” session (I don’t have a diary neither but take notes on your experiences, your first impressions and how you thought the day went) in to reasons why you don’t feel the course is right for you. You should tackle it from every possible angle and be observant. Your reasons can involve the other participants – not just reasons personal to you.
I don’t want to give examples to seem to stick words in people’s mouths and as when they are aware of this article your argument could be wasted if they match in whole or part.
Of course, if your experience was good – let us know!