Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

The Power to Sanction Drives People Mad.

with 28 comments

New regime for JSA from October 2012

From October 2012, new sanctions rules for JSA were introduced:

  • 3 categories of sanction – ‘higher’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘lower’ – depending on the nature of the offence
  • different levels of sanction for first, second and third offences
  • changes to the date a sanction starts

These new rules broadly align the rules for JSA sanctions with the rules for Universal Credit.

Previously, a sanction started from the beginning of the benefit week after the Decision Maker (DM) decided to impose the sanction. However, to ensure that claimants see the consequences of their actions or inactions sooner, the new rules enable DMs to impose sanctions at a time closer to the offence. The new sanction period begins either:

  • on the first day of the benefit week in which the offence occurred, if the claimant has not been paid JSA for that week
  • on the first day of the benefit week following the date the claimant was last paid JSA

Sanctions can be enforced for a variety of reasons but we will concentrate on this,

The first situation is when claimants fail to comply with the most  important jobseeking requirements, these are:

  • through misconduct loses employment as an employed earner
  •  without good reason – voluntarily leaving employment; refuses or fails to apply for, or accept if offered, a situation in any employment which an employment officer has informed him is about to become vacant; neglects to  avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of employment; and fails to  participate in Mandatory Work Experience.
  •  Failing to attend an adviser interview at the Jobcentre;
  •  Failing to participate in schemes to assist claimants in obtaining employment under section 17A of the Jobseeker’s Act (other than Mandatory Work Activity), this includes the Work Programme and Skills Conditionality;
  •  Refusing or failing to comply with a reasonable opportunity to take part in a training scheme or employment programme;
  •  Refusing or failing to apply for or accept a place on a scheme or programme; or
  •  Giving up a place, failing to attend a training scheme or employment
    programme or losing a place through misconduct   More here.

In reality the most important criterion is having to prove that you’re actively seeking work and the list of activities you fill out in the Jobseeker’s Agreement.

Always be careful, when you think you’ve done all you can, have satisfied the normal people who make up the majority of people you deal with in the Jobcentre, there may be a nit-picker or a plain nasty individual amongst the Advisers.

Unfortunately that is also the person who is the Decision Maker able to sanction you.

This JobCentre Adviser, or ‘Job Coach’ has, potentially, a lot of power.

That is, regardless, of all the potential for  appeals, all the safeguards, and so on, it’s up to the first Decision Maker to make….the first decision.

This is one result.

Kate Belgrave posts this: 

You must do your JSA jobsearch online, even though we know you can’t

Iain Duncan Smith, planner extraordinaire, aims to have the majority of Universal Credit claims made online. Here’s an example of someone who will be completely excluded from claiming because of that:

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article about Eddie (name changed) and the problems that he was having with his online jobsearch. I’ve met twice with Eddie since then.

Eddie is a 51-year-old Kilburn man who has mild learning difficulties. He struggles to read and write. At the moment, he signs on for jobseeker’s allowance. He has worked for most of his life as a catering assistant in hotels, pubs and in kitchens, but was made redundant about four years ago. He has been unemployed ever since. He is very keen to get another job, but has not been able to find one. He wants someone to help liaise with potential employers on his behalf – to ring people who take staff on, put him forward as a candidate, promote him and his work history and to talk through any problems that employers may have with his literacy difficulties. Eddie has taken CVs into businesses all over Kilburn. He never gets called back.

The upshot of all of this is that Eddie must go to the jobcentre every fortnight to sign on and to show that he’s searched for at least 14 jobs. This post will show you how difficult and pointless this jobsearch exercise is for him. One of Eddie’s main problems is his struggle to read and write. He can write letters out if people tell him which ones to choose (for example, he asked me how to spell “Customer Service Advisor” when applying for one job, then wrote it as I spelled it out), but has trouble with more complex words. He also finds computers challenging. He doesn’t have a computer at home, which means that he rarely uses one. He wasn’t sure what a browser was when I took my laptop around to his flat to help him with his jobsearch (you’ll see some of this in the videos below).

Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago, Eddie’s jobcentre adviser instructed him to choose and apply for at least three jobs online as part of his fortnightly quota. He was given this sheet of paper – you’ll see that it lists job ads and links…

See the rest of Kate’s post and weep: here.

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Written by Andrew Coates

October 15, 2014 at 9:01 am

28 Responses

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  1. Vulnerable individuals have as much right to participate in the world as the rest of us. With a little support, a little assertive advocacy, anyone can thrive. It disgusts me beyond words that this is the world we have where so many who need just a little bit of help are stamped on relentlessly.

    I need new swearwords, the existing ones just aren’t up to the job anymore.

    I’m glad that “Eddie” has some support from Kate, but so many have no support at all.

    The organisations set up to support the vulnerable are too often just parasites living off the back of the individuals they were set up to help. They set conditionality upon the person needing help that too frequently is all about control, infantilising and oppressing, just to get the box ticked and the funding claimed.

    Often all that is needed is kindness, patience and a willingness to help another person. But even when that is present, the DWP/JCP seem to have everything covered by way of adding torment and punishment to the mix.

    Destroying people is the default setting of this rancid government.

    Lucy

    October 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

    • It seems completely wrong that a single Adviser can have so much power over somebody’s life in the first place.

      Andrew Coates

      October 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

      • It is completely wrong. Beyond wrong. Civil servants spend a lot of time bound by micromanagement style, rules and regulations. The introduction of the sanctions regime, must have seemed like all their birthdays coming at once. An easy way for them to take out their bitterness on those without work who are vulnerable.

        Lucy

        October 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

    • I have tought many people like Eddie with computers, I understand how they miss out of things because of what many people think about them, I still teach a few for free of course.

      enigma

      October 15, 2014 at 8:55 pm

  2. DISABLED NOT WORTH THE MINIMUM WAGE – LORD FREUD

    A major row has broken out because of remarks made at a fringe event in Birmingham by Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud saying disabled people are not worth the minimum wage.

    Labour has called for his resignation.

    The news has just been announced on the ‘World at One’ programme on Radio 4 today.

    Tobanem

    October 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    • Lord Fraud is the fly in the ointment. His very presence undermines Democracy. Freud must go!

      Landless Peasant

      October 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm

  3. I’m getting past caring now. If they want to sanction me they can fucking get on with it. I have nothing much to live for, and no fear of death, so nothing to lose. I just wish I had access to a machine gun.

    Landless Peasant

    October 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm

  4. Here is the predictable “apology” from Lord Freud over the disabled not being worth the full minimum wage:

    http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/10/lord-freud-offers-full-and-unreserved-apology-for-disability-comments/

    Tobanem

    October 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    • Beneath contempt.

      Andrew Coates

      October 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

  5. Lord Freud has apologised for suggesting that disabled people were not ‘worth’ the minimum wage.

    According to The Spectator, he has said:

    “I would like to offer a full and unreserved apology. I was foolish to accept the premise of the question. To be clear, all disabled people should be paid at least the minimum wage, without exception, and I accept that it is offensive to suggest anything else.

    “I care passionately about disabled people. I am proud to have played a full part in a government that is fully committed to helping disabled people overcome the many barriers they face in finding employment. That is why through Universal Credit – which I referred to in my response – we have increased overall spending on disabled households by £250m, offered the most generous work allowance ever, and increased the disability addition to £360 per month.

    “I am profoundly sorry for any offence I have caused to any disabled people.”

    Those of you who are disabled will no doubt be extremely interested – if not entertained – by the second paragraph of the above, in which Lord Freud fantasizes about his role in the Conservative-led Coalition’s policies of impoverishing them and forcing them towards death in the gutter or suicide before they get that far.

    It is easy to see how ‘Lord Fraud’ got his nickname.

    Let’s have a poll: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/10/15/poll-lord-freud-has-apologised-should-he-keep-his-job/#pd_a_8376042

    Vote in Poll to kick him out!

    Andrew Coates

    October 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    • We know of course he would think the same of able people because they too are on benefits, hopefully this will be his downfall, lets also hope that others will be found to have said something they shouldn’t! while a recording is taking place.

      Meanwhile at the local food bank, more and more lone parents appearing, most because of sanctions, and just lately a few disabled people.

      enigma

      October 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.

    A6er

    October 16, 2014 at 11:39 am

  7. HELP:

    Calling super ted, enigma and everyone reading this.

    I was told by my work coach today that I will have to do a 4 week MWA if I can’t find any part-time voluntary work to do locally, i.e. in my village.

    Do you have any ideas as to how I can avoid an MWA and avoid a sanction as well. I seem to recall you guys you telling someone when they get to the provider’s office not to sign anything and refuse to consent to share your personal data with them. If I were to do this; that is, not give my consent to share any of my personal data with them then they would refer me back to the Jobcentre who would almost certainly sanction me, which I really can’t afford.

    Any advice on what to say, do and write would be appreciated.

    orange juice

    October 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    • Volunteer in your village. I volunteer in the local food bank.

      enigma

      October 16, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    • Interesting post their orange juice.

      This is the first time I personally have heard of an advisor saying find voluntary work or face MWA. Maybe its the must serve the community part of MWA or CWP or the soon to be outted I hope of how providers have failed to find a significant amount of community placements so are supplying firms (social enterprises that sprung up as a result of WP,MWA) with up to 10 placements at a time.

      Whatever the cause you are better off choosing your own so the question is, “when they say part time, how many hours is that exactly?”.

      As your not bound by the community rule, contact trades your interested in, fancied trying in the past. The smaller the firm, the better the chances so target small to medium firms.

      gaia

      October 17, 2014 at 6:01 am

    • Thanks for that but I’ve just been in contact with several local charities and none of them require any more volunteers at the moment. Well, at least not until the new year anyway. Any suggestions about how to avoid doing an MWA, in the meantime, would be appreciated.

      orange juice

      October 17, 2014 at 8:43 am

    • Hmm. That’s funny. My adviser said the same thing to me recently. She told me if anyone is unemployed for more than three years now then they have to do some kind of voluntary work. They are given the option to find something for themselves near where they live or they will be referred to a provider who will put them on a 4 week MWA.

      This is the first I had heard about it. I have to say though, she didn’t sound very convincing. I thought there weren’t enough MWAs around for WP attenders to go on, let alone putting WP returners on to them. If that were the case then surely you’d be referred back to the provider after completing the WP.

      I think the Jobcentre are just trying to pull a fast one. Has anyone else heard anything about this?

      jj joop

      October 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      • It also begs another question: Are 4 weeks MWAs about to bite the dust?

        jj joop

        October 17, 2014 at 3:39 pm

  8. I am currently waiting to see whether I am sucessfully of landing myself a eight week placement with help from the Disability advisor team at the job centre (at a company) I know one or two other people have also been put forward, even though there is only one place at a time.

    The other problem is the PWPS advisor hit squad what he or she may want me do even though I been on it nearly a year and slightly worried how long I be with the PWPS advisor (hit squad) for.

    I am hoping I get paid employment soon, I have took some good advice on this site over the last two years,

    one_more_name

    October 16, 2014 at 7:35 pm

  9. HOUSING BENEFIT FRAUD ON THE BLOCK

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-29650651

    They targeted the unemployed in the past and now are going after the remaining 3 million who work for a living. I say this as it would be hard for DWP to defend claimants brought in for JSA/ESA fraud, not being thoroughly investigated at the time.

    Basically from a yearly housing benefit payments of 23.9 billion we are talking a mere 1.4% that is said to be fraud as i don’t take claimant or official error as fraud.

    WHEN ARE WE GOING TO GO AFTER TAX FRAUDSTERS AND EVADERS WHO GENERATE THE MOST FRAUD IN THIS COUNTRY INSTEAD OF GOING AFTER THE SMALL FRIES?

    gaia

    October 17, 2014 at 6:17 am

  10. Azure Cards

    A little word out of the blue (Azure) on the subject of pre-paid benefit cards.

    Here’s a Guardian article from several years ago:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/nov/06/asylum-seekers-azure-card

    And here’s an article from today’s Evening Times in Glasgow detailing the failings in these cards from the past experiences of asylum seekers and advising against their use for benefit claimants:

    http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/pre-paid-benefits-will-stigmatise-the-poor-184728n.25586139

    Tobanem

    October 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

  11. * contains strong language

    The Laughing Stockbrokers

    October 17, 2014 at 10:17 am

  12. Sack Lord Freud from Government after he remarked Disabled People were not worth the minimum wage.

    Lord Freud was caught commenting that disabled people are not worth the minimum wage and deserve to be paid a lot less. This comment is prejudicial, reinforces the notion that disabled people are not able to contribute to society in the same way as others and is, we believe, a hate crime. We cannot see how he could remain a Government Minister whilst holding this extreme and unacceptably prejudicial opinion.

    http://www.change.org/p/sack-lord-freud-from-government-after-he-remarked-disabled-people-were-not-worth-the-minimum-wage

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    October 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm

  13. The torys haven’t a clue how to deal with the unemployed and neither will Labour if we have to suffer all the new crap which will surely be poured over us all from a great height should they get in.

    george

    October 29, 2014 at 3:53 pm

  14. I also am expecting MWA or MWE (I exited the PWPS 24/414, so CWP doesn`t apply…yet) as a result of having gone through all the most obvious/immediate ‘training courses’ available at my local JCP.
    At my last appt. my ‘Work Coach’ was trying to get me to sign up for a 2-day/wk for 3 wks hospitality/catering course, which is basically all that`s left that I haven`t done/don`t need.

    BarneyT

    November 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm


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