No Halt to Sanctions Over Christmas.
Oor Wullie on the DWP.
As Woody reminds us, the 35 Hours a week Job Search – one of the more cretinous demands people on JSA face – has to be carried out over Christmas.
The Government has created a special web page to make sure you toe the line.
This includes making sure you:
- are available for work and agree to do the things in your Claimant Commitment (Jobseeker’s Agreement )
- go to meetings on time with your work coach and take part in interviews
- apply for suitable jobs your work coach tells you about
- do everything your work coach tells you to do to find work, such as attending a training course or updating your CV
- take part in employment schemes when your work coach tells you to – you’ll need to:
- meet your employment scheme provider on time and do the things they tell you to do to find work
- still meet your work coach and do what they tell you to do
- do all you can to find work.
Under Universal Credit:
Your Claimant Commitment
When you claim Universal Credit you will need to accept your Claimant Commitment.
In most cases your Claimant Commitment will be drawn up during a conversation with your work coach at your local jobcentre.
Your Claimant Commitment will set out what you have agreed to do to prepare for and look for work, or to increase your earnings if you are already working. It will be based on your personal circumstances and will be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. Each time it is updated, you will need to accept a new Claimant Commitment to keep receiving Universal Credit.
Tailored to your situation
Universal Credit changes as things change in your life. Your responsibilities will vary depending on such things as your family, your health and your potential for future earnings.
|If you are earning as much as can be expected||You will receive financial support without any other conditions to increase your earnings.|
|If you are able and available for work||You will need to do everything you reasonably can to give yourself the best chance of finding work. Preparing for and getting a job must be your full time focus. If you do not do this without a good reason, you will have a cut to your Universal Credit, known as a sanction.|
|If you currently have limited capability for work, related to a disability or health condition, but this is expected to change over time||You will be supported until your circumstances improve and you can work. You will be expected to prepare for work so far as you are able.|
|If you have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working||You will not be asked to work, and will be supported through Universal Credit.|
This is what can happen if somebody decides you have not fulfilled this:
WELFARE Secretary Damien Green has refused to halt benefit sanctions over Christmas, despite pleas for hard-pressed families to get “a little breathing space”.
Hannah Bardell, the SNP MP for Livingston, wrote to the senior Tory begging him to put the punitive regime on hold after a heart-breaking visit to a foodbank in her constituency.
She is calling on the UK Government to display “some level of compassion” by reinstating a period of clemency at Christmas – a policy which was officially abandoned last year – as thousands of Scottish families are living on the breadline this December.
She said: “This week I visited a local food bank, which was a timely yet devastating reminder of the impact sanctions have on the people who rely on these services both, in my own constituency of Livingston, as well as other places up and down the country.
“Over 70% of constituents who have come to me with benefits sanctions cases have had their decisions overturned, but the mental and emotional impact is distressing and longer lasting for those affected. At Christmas time, the impact is even more acute.”
The Department for Work and Pensions can sanction those claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Income Support if staff deem that person has not done enough to look for work.
But the MP said many claimants are the working poor, just getting by on low-paid jobs. She said Christmas should not be “business as usual” for DWP because emotions are running high for Scottish families and cash is desperately short.
The MP also said she has also spoken to senior Job Centre sources who voiced fears for the safety of staff forced to cut benefits over the holidays.
“So I plead with you [Mr Green], you take the time to consider what it would be like for a family or vulnerable person who were sanctioned at Christmas,” she said.
“Putting in place special measures to ensure no one is sanctioned over the Christmas period is sensible and fair. It will give people, be them DWP workers or claimants, a little breathing space. It would show at least some level of compassion.
“We heard much in Parliament this year about the punitive sanctions and the impact on the people in our communities. My party and I have challenged your sanctions at every turn from my colleague Mhairi Black MP’s recent Private Member’s Bill to attempting to amend the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.”
But the DWP said last night it was not prepared to consider a few days of clemency over the season of good will.