JSA Sanctions: A Guide.
This has been signaled to us (hat-Tip: NB)
It is an extreemly clear and well-written guide from Benefits and Work.
Sanctions against claimants have reached record levels and it is very clear that they are being imposed for the tiniest deviation from agreements or even for no good reason whatsoever. They are now affecting not just JSA claimants but also ESA claimants – particularly those forced onto the work programme.
Below we’ve given our top tips for avoiding sanctions and some of the most outrageous examples of unfair sanctions that we have come across.
We also explain how to sue the DWP or work programme provider if they make an activity mandatory and it is unreasonable because of your health condition or disability
But we’d very much like to hear from you about your experience of sanctions, or threats of sanctions, and also any advice you can give fellow claimants on how to avoid or challenge unfair sanctions.
Top tips for avoiding sanctions
Don’t assume that your personal adviser has any knowledge at all about your health conditions or disabilities, if you have any. Instead, give full details in writing of the effect your health has on your everyday activities and your ability to move towards employment.
Ensure that your jobseeker’s agreement or claimant commitment is as realistic as possible and takes into account any specific health or disability-related limitations you have. Be as confident as you can be in negotiating the agreement – take a friend or relative for support if possible. Make an official complaint if your adviser won’t reach an agreement with you.
Try to get to every appointment early. People are unfairly sanctioned just for being a few minutes late.
Always ask for everything in writing, where possible. It’s much harder for the DWP or private sector provider to blame you for their mistakes if you have evidence that, for example, an appointment time was changed.
If something is agreed over the telephone, write or email confirming it. When you write confirming what has been agreed ask for an immediate response if your understanding is not correct.
Keep every bit of paper, text and email you receive. You might need them as evidence.
Record every telephone call if you can. It’s not illegal and you don’t have to inform the DWP or private sector provider that you are doing it.
If you’re given an unreasonable instruction, use the jobcentre plus complaints procedure immediately. Most people don’t complain, possibly because they think it will make things worse. But all the evidence is that Jobcentre Plus staff have targets to meet and they are looking for easy victims, not people who will cause them problems.
If you’re unfairly threatened with a sanction, or actually sanctioned, immediately complain in writing to your MP’s office. Send a copy to jobcentre plus and the private sector provider so that they know that your MP’s office is now involved. Complaints where an MP is known to be involved are taken much more seriously.
If you are unfairly sanctioned then challenge the decision via the mandatory reconsideration and appeal process. There is a very high success rate for appeals against sanctions, around 50% are successful and it’s likely that many more are resolved in the claimant’s favour before they ever get to a tribunal hearing.
If you don’t do something in your agreement which was mandatory, always explain in writing if you had good cause for not doing it. The decision maker has to take your explanation into account when deciding whether to impose a sanction. However, personal advisers are instructed that they should never ask if you have good cause, but only take details if you volunteer the information without being prompted. Good cause for not carrying out a mandatory activity could include, for example: a medical appointment; caring responsibilities; transport problems; unreasonably high travelling or childcare costs if you did as required.
Read more here.