New briefing on the DWP’s statistics for it’s punitive JSA and ESA sanctions campaign

View briefing online – Original .docx file

“This briefing deals with the statistics released by the DWP on 14 May 2014, which include figures for a further three months, namely October to December 2013, and give revised figures for every earlier month back to April 2000.

Highest numbers and rates of sanctions to date

The punitive campaign by DWP ministers and officials has continued to intensify, so that in spite of the fall in the numbers of JSA and ESA claimants, the numbers of sanctions have risen to new highs”

5 June 2014

Dr David Webster – Honorary Senior Research Fellow – Urban Studies – University of Glasgow http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/staff/davidwebster/

Former Jobcentre Plus adviser tells of a “brutal and bullying” culture of “setting claimants up to fail” – “The pressure to sanction customers was constant,” he said. “It led to people being stitched-up on a daily basis.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/stitching-up-claimants-part-job-says-3537051

More sanctions imposed on jobseeker’s allowance claimants http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/may/14/more-jobseekers-allowance-claimants-subject-benefit-sanctions

28 April 2014 benefit changes: Lone Parent Conditionality, Workfare, Jobsearch, Sanctions & more

“…high-level overview of changes that are being introduced from 28 April 2014″

  • Quarterly Work Search Interviews
    (20 minute Quarterly Work Search Interview every 13 weeks)
  • English Language Requirement (in England only)
    (This will affect all new JSA claimants…It applies equally to UK nationals, European Economic Area (EEA) and non EEA nationals)
  • Increasing Lone Parent Conditionality
  • Day One Conditionality
    “Prior to their Initial Work Search Interview, they will be requested [can be mandated following at an interview, if "appropriate"] to:

    • set up an email address
    • prepare a suitable CV
    • register on Universal Jobmatch”
  • Weekly Work Search Reviews
    (It will apply to 50% of all pre-Work Programme JSA)
  • Help to Work Package: Every person who remains on JSA following completion of the Work Programme will be provided with rigorous support tailored to their needs
    Help to Work offers three intensive support options for Work Programme completers. Work Coaches in Jobcentres will work with claimants to understand their needs, and refer them to one of the following:

    • Mandatory Intervention Regime where Coaches have more time to spend with
      claimants
    • Daily Work Search Reviews
    • Community Work Placements
      (Community Work Placements, where claimants undertake work placements of community benefit for up to six months alongside provider-led jobsearch)

    Discuss at:http://unemploymentmovement.com/forum/benefit/9220-important-read-this#38491

Copies of 17 submissions to JSA sanctions review

http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/oakley-sanctions-review-responses-other-organisations

Act Now For Autism
Broadway and St Mungo’s
Citizens Advice Scotland
Child Poverty Action Group
Community Links
Crisis
Dr David Webster, University of Glasgow
Drugscope and Homeless Link
Gingerbread
Glasgow Advice Service
National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers (NAWRA)
Norfolk Community Law Service
Nottingham CVS
Oxfam
Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
Single Parent Action Network
Unemployed Net

Universal Credit benefit sanctions to last indefinitely, not just 3 years

[ Resources to effectively appeal benefit sanctions and survive financially ]

1) JSA and ESA sanctions
2) What about Hardship Payments (HP) and Universal Credit (UC)
3) Hardship Payments and recovery from ‘other’ Social Security benefits?
4) Hardship Payments and recovery from direct attachment of employee earnings/wages?
5) Other Universal Credit elements? (children, childcare, carer, housing, health and disability)

1) JSA and ESA sanctions

Under the current Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) sanctions regime the maximum benefit ban is 3 years (“156 weeks“) for failures to meet requirements. Anyone sanctioned can apply for means tested reduced JSA called Hardship Payments. (HP). Under JSA and Employment Support Alowance (ESA) HP is not recoverable.

2) What about Hardship Payments (HP) and Universal Credit (UC)

All HP under Universal Credit are recoverable, meaning they are treated like a debt by the DWP. Therefore if someone gets a 3 year UC ban and applies and gets HP, repayment can be made through UC. Put more simply this means UC sanctions (aka reduced benefits) can effectively last far longer than 3 years.

“All Universal Credit hardship payments are recoverable.”
From: ‘Hardship Payments being recovered?’ – DWP Central FoI Team – 17 January 2014
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/190998/response/471780/attach/html/3/WDTK%205966.pdf.html

3) Hardship Payments and recovery from ‘other’ Social Security benefits?

The DWP has also made provision for UC HP payments to be recovered via deduction in “other Social Security benefits [unamed] they may receive in the future (with the exception of Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance)”.

“The recovery of the amount paid as hardship can only start once the single claimant’s, or a couple’s, award of Universal Credit is no longer subject to a sanction or fraud loss of benefit penalty reduction.  The amount recoverable each month depends on what other deductions are being made from a person’s Universal Credit.  The maximum is 40 per cent of the standard allowance.  For example, a single person aged 25 or over receiving £311.55 a month could have £124.62 deducted as repayment of hardship provided other deductions are not in place.

The total amount paid as hardship can be recovered from Universal Credit (including any
arrears), or other Social Security benefits they may receive in the future (with the exception of Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance). “
From:  ‘Hardship Payment recovery through benefits?’DWP Central FoI Team  – 27 January 2014 https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/193577/response/474808/attach/html/2/FoI%20277%20wdtk.pdf.html

4) Hardship Payments and recovery from direct attachment of employee earnings/wages?

Direct Earnings Attachments: an employers’ guide
“Where the Secretary of State has been unable to recover monies owed to the DWP from
customers not in receipt of a benefit, and who have not voluntarily agreed to repay, those
monies may be recovered by deduction from the customer’s earnings. “

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/direct-earnings-attachments-an-employers-guide

5) Other Universal Credit elements?

Depending on your situation, you may receive extra support in addition to the Standard Allowance, for example:

There are separate rules explaining how you may qualify for these elements.

http://about.universalcredit.service.gov.uk/kms/Pages/Standard_Allowance_for_Universal_Credit.htm

YMCA utter nonsense on JSA Hardship Payments and benefit sanctions

A hardship payment in Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance is not subject to repayment. The Universal Credit guidance about Recoverable Hardship Payments and Resources is in the  Advice for Decision Making guidance, chapter L1
From: DWP Central FoI Team – 11 July 2013
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/167257/response/407896/attach/2/FoI.3136.RESPONSE.pdf
b

The YMCA are one of the greatest apologists for workfare and can’t even properly advise young people of their benefit sanctions rights. It’s young people’s sanctions guide goes as far as telling young people that if they are made destitute by JSA sanctions that they have to pay back means tested Hardship Payments. This is utter nonsense.

Remember, any [JSA] Hardship Payment you get will need to be repaid after your sanction ends. They will normally be paid by reducing your benefit payments when they start again.
[This is utter nonsense.]

From: YMCA England, Young Peoples Sanctions Toolkit – 05/11/2013
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.ymca.org.uk/component/docman/doc_download/76-sanctions-guide

No one has to pay back a JSA or ESA Hardship Payments by having reduced benefits once a sanction ceases, that would mean Hardship Payments would be treated as a loan/debt to be recovered through benefits, which for young people would just be a sanction of lesser benefits by another name. YMCA Providing such misleading information further bullies young people to undertake Jobcentre Back to Work schemes.

View of a copy of the JSA/ESA Hardship Payment claim form, internal DWP guidance and details on how to challenge any Jobcentre sanction decision. If you object to YMCA as a religion based provider of Back to Work schemes, you can request the Jobcentre to include a restriction on your Jobseekers Agreement.

At present [30/11/13] nothing on the JSA/ESA Hardship Payment Claim form or DWP guidance that indicates payment is recoverable.

Universal Credit (UC) Hardship Payment is recoverable?

For UC a recoverability regulation for Hardship Payments does exist.

The Universal Credit Regulations 2013
Part 8, Chapter 3, Recoverability of hardship payments, Regulation 119
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/regulation/119/made

Universal Credit: DWP decision makers guide: Hardship Payments
“What are recoverable hardship payments”?
https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/246209/Chapter_L1_-_Hardship.pdf

Rolling online picket of YMCA England

The Vile Hypocrisy of Workfare Exploiters the YMCA

YMCA Attempt Workfare Whitewash – Who Benefits From This New Charity Campaign?

The Side Of Workfare That The YMCA Don’t Want You To See

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

Letter to DWP: Your Conscientious Objection, Religion, Jobseekers Allowance and Back to Work schemes

Below is a draft letter for anyone who holds a sincerely held Conscientious Objection (CO), this example concerns organised religion and wanting this to be recognised as part of a JSA* claim. DWP guidance and other examples of CO and can be found at: http://refuted.org.uk/2013/11/17/conscientious/

1) Draft letter
2) CO and a new claim for JSA
3) CO and getting your existing Jobseekers Agreement amended
4) DWP Benefits: How to Appeal or Dispute a Decision from 28th October 2013

1) Draft letter

[Please adapt and amend to personal circumstances]

Dear [Named Jobcentre Adviser/Coach]

RE: Conscientious objection

I am writing to ask you to include in a new or revised Jobseekers Agreement (JSAg) a restriction on employment and Back to Work schemes with organisations and employers associated to organised religion on the basis of my sincerely held conscientious objection. I consider this restriction still means I have  reasonable prospects of obtaining employment. If you require further explanation please put your request in writing for my consideration and to enable independent advice to be sought.

This formal JSAg request is being made under Section 9 of The Jobseekers Act 1995 and
Section 13 of The Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 1996.

If you are unwilling to accede to this reasonable request, please refer the matter to a Decision Maker (DM) in accordance with my rights under Section 9 (6) of The Jobseekers Act 1995.

My request engages The Equality Act 2010, Chapter 1 Protected characteristics, Section 10. Religion or belief. As well as the The Human Rights Act 1998.

Please transcribe a full copy of this letter onto my personal LMS records and keep a copy of it in my clerical records for the duration of my JSA claim.

Yours sincerely

—end—

*A letter is under development for Universal Credit.

2) CO and a new claim for JSA

Jobseekers Agreement Referral to a Labour Market Decision Maker
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rights_and_responsibilities_clai#incoming-456340
From: DWP Strategy FoI team 3 December 2013

If the Jobcentre Adviser/Coach does not want to include the CO restriction in a new JSAg, which must be signed for a new JSA claim to start, you or they can refer if to a DM to adjudicate on whether the CO restriction is reasonable. This is likely to cause a delay in the start of a new JSA claim.
(These observations are under investigation to clarify the process and implications of a CO registration being referred to a DM)

3) CO and getting your existing Jobseekers Agreement amended

Jobseekers Agreement Referral to a Labour Market Decision Maker
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rights_and_responsibilities_clai#incoming-456340
From: DWP Strategy FoI team 3 December 2013

“Either party (claimant or Jobcentre Plus adviser) can seek changes to the Jobseeker’s
Agreement at any time. Hopefully the claimant and their adviser will be able to agree on the revision but if they cannot, the case will be referred to a Decision Maker to consider whether or not the terms of the original JSAg should be revised.

If the Decision Maker determines that it would be reasonable to expect the claimant to do
what is in the revised JSAg, they will give a decision to that effect. The Decision Maker will
also issue a direction to the claimant detailing the terms which must be included on the
JSAg, to enable the claimant to satisfy the JSA conditions of entitlement.

The claimant then has 21 days (including the date on which the Decision Makers decision
was issued) to comply with the terms of the direction. If the claimant agrees to the terms
directed by the Decision Maker, a JSAg that conforms to these terms is drawn up.
However, if the claimant does not comply with the terms of the direction within the 21 days
period, the case is referred back to a Decision Maker to consider terminating the original
JSAg.

A claimant’s JSA will not be stopped until after the Decision Maker has made a decision to
terminate the original JSAg. In these cases, the JSAg will come to an end on the date that
the Decision Maker decides to terminate the JSAg.”

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/172189/response/419011/attach/html/3/WDTK%203741.pdf.html

Decision Makers Guides
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/decision-makers-guide-vols-4-5-6-and-7-jobseekers-allowance-and-income-support-staff-guide

4) DWP Benefits: How to Appeal or Dispute a Decision from 28th October 2013

http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/27/appeals/

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

Specimen (blank) JSA Claimant Commitment

.Below is text extracted from a blank JSA Claimant Commitment

Name

National Insurance Number

In return for my Jobseeker’s Allowance I will do everything I reasonably can, each week, to give myself the best prospects of securing employment.  The activities I have agreed in this Claimant Commitment will offer me the best chance of doing so.

My types of work:

Where I will work:

Restrictions?

I will look for work that I can travel to within

My availability for work:

I’m available to attend a job interview

I’m available to start work

Restrictions?

minutes each way from home.

I know if I am not available as agreed above my Jobseeker’s Allowance and / or National Insurance Credits will be stopped.

If I make a new claim to Jobseeker’s Allowance after such failure, I may not get paid benefit for:
four weeks, or  13 weeks if it has previously been decided on one or more occasion that my Jobseeker’s Allowance  should be stopped because I was not available for or actively seeking employment within 52 weeks (but not within 2 weeks) of my last failure.

I understand that detailed planning for how I will undertake these activities is essential to give myself the best chance of success.  The ‘My Work Plan booklet’ will help me to plan and manage how I will do these things and anything else I think will help improve my chances of moving into work.  My Coach will work with me on this.

I know I must show that I have done all that is reasonable to give myself the best prospects of securing employment.  I will keep evidence of what I have done and take this with me every time I go to the Jobcentre.  My Work Plan booklet will help me do this.

If I cannot show I have done everything that I reasonably can, each week, to give myself best prospects of securing employment, I know my Jobseeker’s Allowance and / or National Insurance Credits will be stopped.

If I make a new claim to Jobseeker’s Allowance after such failure, I may not get paid benefit for:
four weeks, or  13 weeks if it has previously been decided on one or more occasion that my Jobseeker’s Allowance should be stopped because I was not available for or actively seeking employment within 52 weeks (but not within 2 weeks) of my last failure.

My rights

I know if there is a disagreement about my Claimant Commitment, I can ask for this to be reviewed. I also know that if there is any dispute about my benefit, my case may be sent to a decision maker, which could result in the loss of my Jobseeker’s Allowance and / or National Insurance Credits. If this happens I will be told. If I am not satisfied with the decision I can ask for it to be explained or reconsidered. If I am still unhappy with the outcome I know I have the right to appeal.

Changes in my circumstances

I will tell Jobcentre Plus straight away if my circumstances change in any way which could affect my Jobseeker’s Allowance. I understand that if I give false information or do not tell DWP of something I should, I could be liable to repay any overpayment of benefit and I could be taken to court.

My Claimant Statement

I have read and understood my Claimant Commitment.
I will do everything I reasonably can to give myself the best prospects of securing employment.
I understand that my Coach is there to support me but ultimately getting work will be up to me; and putting more into this will help me get a job sooner.
I understand Jobcentre Plus will give me help and advice to do the things set out in my Claimant Commitment.
I understand I must attend the Jobcentre when required to do so.
I understand my Coach may require me to take other specific actions to improve my chances of finding work.
I understand Jobcentre Plus may seek feedback from employers about any jobs they have told me to apply for.
I understand this Claimant Commitment is my Jobseeker’s Agreement for the purpose of section 1(2)(b)  of the Jobseekers Act 1995.
Claimant signature
Signed  ……………………………………………………………                              Date
Coach signature
Signed  ……………………………………………………………                              Date
This Jobseeker’s Agreement is treated as made on
Name
National Insurance Number
The types of work I am  most likely to get:
I believe this because:
My qualifications are:
My employment strengths and skills are:
My experience is:
My circumstances:

From: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/jsa_claimant_commitment_october#incoming-449646

JSA Claimant Commitment: DWP internal guidance disclosed, 45+ documents
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/11/13/jsacommitment/

JSA Claimant Commitment: DWP internal guidance disclosed, 45+ documents

New JSA Regime devised by UK psychological State aka Nudge Unit? See DWP Good Practice guide. From: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/claimant_commitment_4#incoming-449632
[ The rise of the psychological state in the UK > Nudge Unit aka Behavioural Insights Team > Nudge theory ]

- Initial Work Search Interviews guidance
– Claimant commitment guidance
– Conducting split Initial Work Search Interview guidance
– Example Claimaint Commitment (View text of commitment)
(To view, download and open in your own device’s PDF software)
– Blank JSA Claimant Commitment
(To view, download and open in your own device’s PDF software)
“Districts will start to phase in the JSA Claimant Commitment for new JSA Claimants and Work Programme  completers from 28 October 2013. “
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/jsa_claimant_commitment_october#incoming-449646
Further 33+ DWP guidance docs:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/claimant_commitment_4#incoming-449632
and more at:
On JSA “Legally, the Claimant Commitment is the Jobseeker’s Agreement”
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/11/07/agreement/

On JSA “Legally, the Claimant Commitment is the Jobseeker’s Agreement”

Content and completion of the Claimant Commitment
24.  Legally, the Claimant Commitment is the Jobseeker’s Agreement and
therefore, it must contain everything that legislation says a Jobseeker’s
Agreement must contain.
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/181706/response/447589/attach/html/3/Claimant%20commitment%20guidance.pdf.html

Initial Work Search Interviews guidance

Conducting split Initial Work Search Interview guidance

From: DWP Central FoI Team – 07 November   2013

About FOI request:

“Rugby and Inverness will be the first Jobcentres to put the
Claimant Commitment into practice for new claimants of Jobseeker’s
Allowance, as such email me the guidance Jobcentres Advisers will
use for a Commitment.”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/rugby_and_inverness_will_be_the#outgoing-307258

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)

JSA Claimant Committment guidance published

Content and completion of the Claimant Commitment
24.  Legally, the Claimant Commitment is the Jobseeker’s Agreement and
therefore, it must contain everything that legislation says a Jobseeker’s
Agreement must contain.
http://refuted.org.uk/2013/11/07/agreement/

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/ or by using the website search facility (top right)