Tagged: jobseekers

Nearly Two Million Jobseekers Could Be Forced To ‘Sign On’ Every Week

Jobseekers could be forced to “sign on” every week to continue receiving benefit payments, under new plans being considered by the Government.

Currently, only benefit claimants who are deemed not to be doing enough to find a job are required to visit a Jobcentre every week.

Trials in East London and parts of the West of Scotland, where claimants signed on every week instead of every fortnight after the 13th week of their claim, found that unemployed people spent “at least an average of 2.6 fewer days on benefits than fortnightly signers”.

Other approaches to the analysis suggest that jobseeker’s spent an average of six fewer days on benefits, but the DWP said they have “less confidence in the higher figure”.

However, the DWP is said to be taking the findings “very seriously” and could eventually force all of the UK’s 1.91 million Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants to sign on every week.

Researchers also tested “speed signing” in other parts of the UK, where claimants had shorter fortnightly jobsearch reviews.

Flexible signing” was also trialled, giving Jobcentre Plus Work Coaches the flexibility to change how often JSA claimants were asked to sign on.

Speed signing had “no effect”, while flexible signing resulted in one day more on benefits. A figure which the DWP says isn’t “statistically significant”.

Pilots lasted for 52 weeks following random assignment. Participation ended sooner where individuals were referred to the Work Programme or where they ended their claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Unions have condemned the idea, with the PCS union – who include Jobcentre staff among its members – accusing the Government of “punishing the jobless”.

The plan would also require “massive investment in Jobcentres and staff”, said PCS.

A PCS spokesperson said weekly signing “doesn’t appear to be designed to help claimants, it’s just another way for the Government to turn the screw”.

Source – Welfare Weekly, 02 Feb 2015

http://www.welfareweekly.com/nearly-two-million-jobseekers-forced-sign-every-week/

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Midwinter Greetings

Wishing our readers a happy midwinter festival of their choice (or none at all, if that’s your preference).

But don’t forget, Jobseekers, you’re still supposed to be looking for jobs today. It may be a public holiday but if you’re unemployed you are set apart from nice, hard-working people and deserve to be punished.

But while you’re busy chasing those non-exitant vacancies, have a listen to David Sedaris‘s account of his job as an xmas elf in a New York department store… and know that, yes, things really could be worse.

500,000 Sanctioned Jobseekers ‘Disappeared’ From Unemployment Figures

Hundreds of thousands of jobseekers could have ‘disappeared’ from official unemployment figures after having their benefit payments docked, figures suggest.

According to research from the University of Oxford, up to 500,000 unemployed people closed their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claim soon after being sanctioned by the DWP.

Rather than moving into employment, these people are simply disappearing from the benefits system entirely and no one has a clue where they’re ending up.

This means that unemployment could be 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than figures suggest. If true, it would mean that as many as 1,000,000 people would have been claiming JSA in August 2014, rather than the 970,000 widely reported in the press.

It’s also important to note that some groups aren’t included in the claimant count – one measure used to calculate unemployment – including sickness benefit claimants, some working age students and early retirees – among others.

Professor Stuckler, who analysed data from 375 local authorities, said:

“The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.”

The death of a diabetic former soldier after his benefits were slashed sparked a Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry. More than 210,000 people signed a petition calling for the inquiry.

David, 59, was found dead at his home in Hertfordshire in July 2013. Penniless, David could not afford money for electric to keep his insulin refrigerated and died of fatal diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication caused by lack of insulin.

At the inquiry held last week, Labour’s Debbie Abrahams MP told the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP:

Hundreds of thousands of people have had their benefits stopped for a minimum of four weeks and then approximately a quarter of these people, from the research that I’ve seen, are disappearing.

“They are leaving and we don’t know where they are going. That’s an absolute indictment of this policy and it’s a little bit worrying if we’re trying to tout this internationally as a real success story.”

Iain Duncan Smith responded:

“Well I don’t agree with any of that. I actually believe the sanctions regime as applied is fair, we always get the odd case of …”

Not giving Mr Duncan Smith a chance to complete his sentence, a furious Debbie Abrahams retorted:

People are dying because of these sanctions!”

Jobseekers who fail to comply with strict requirements imposed upon them risk having their benefits docked, or ‘sanctioned’. Some unemployed people claim their benefit payments have been stopped or reduced for trivial or harsh reasons. Such as failing to turn-up to a Job Centre appointment, even though they have informed staff they were in hospital.

After the Select Committee hearing Debbie Abrahams said:

“It’s incredible that the minister can simply brush aside the mounting evidence that inappropriate use of social security sanctions is having on vulnerable people.

> Well, glad you’ve noticed it’s happening. The rest of us have known this since Day 1.

“We’ve already heard from a whistleblower who left his job as a JCP advisor because he refused to apply sanctions when people had done nothing wrong.

“And recently, over 200,000 people have signed a petition to look into the death of an ex-soldier and diabetic, from Stevenage, who died after having been sanctioned.

“He was found dead surrounded by job applications, penniless and with an empty stomach according to his post-mortem. He couldn’t even afford to run his fridge so couldn’t keep his medicines cold.

“Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled. And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.”

Source –  Welfare Weekly,  12 Nov 2014

http://www.welfareweekly.com/500000-sanctioned-jobseekers-disappeared-unemployment-figures/

Zero-hour Contracts In New Benefits System Will Be ‘Enabling’, Claims McVey

This article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Thursday 8th May 2014

Zero-hours contracts will actually be “enabling” for workers under the coalition’s new benefits system, the Tory employment minister, Esther McVey, has claimed.

The minister said the new universal credit scheme – which rolls all benefits into a single monthly payment – would be beneficial for workers on the controversial zero-hours contracts, even though the use of such contracts has been fiercely criticised for not guaranteeing people minimum hours or pay.

It comes after the Guardian revealed that jobseekers could lose their benefits for three months or more if they refused to take zero-hours contracts for the first time under the new system. Previously, jobseekers have not faced penalties for refusing to apply for or accept the contracts, which have been blamed for creating insecurity in the labour force.

Speaking at an event on women and politics, McVey defended the coalition’s policies, saying: “Universal Credit is going to turn not only employment on its head but benefits on its head because every hour you work, you will get money for. You won’t be penalised. You will be supported, you will constantly be on benefits but you will get more money.

> Eh ?  “you will constantly be on benefits but you will get more money” ?

“That is the single biggest thing. There was zero hours. We know there were zero-hours, they came in under Labour, they’ve been there since 2000. But by changing the benefits system, it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours. So that every hour you work you will get some money and we will protect you and give you benefits.”

> Eh ??   “ it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours” ?  What is she talking about ? 

At the same event, which was organised by Asda, McVey also acknowledged the need for politicians to talk in a clearer way, saying those who talk in “fancy language” might be trying to hide something or may not actually understand their own policy.

> Ha ha ha !  You said it. McVile – “it’s no longer zero, it’s enabling hours“…

We do have to listen. And I think what Storm [a mother in the audience] said may be at the heart of it too. She said: do us a favour: use language that we understand. Sometimes fancy language in a fancy way could be because you’re trying to disguise something or could it be that you don’t quite understand it yourself?

“I think understanding that basic language really is key and explaining to people … Never has the world been so complex. A woman’s life is complex, whether we are a mum, there may be a single mum and then looking after a teenager, then coming back into the workplace, and then looking after your elderly parents. How do we get all those complexities into law, which have usually been so rigid, so linear and that is difficult.”

Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed the number of contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours of work or pay but require workers to be on standby had reached 1.4 million.

More than one in 10 employers are using such contracts, which are most likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65. The figure rises to almost half of all employers in the tourism, catering and food sector.

The change in policy under universal credit was revealed in a letter from McVey to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore, who had raised the issue of sanctions with her.

The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, JobCentre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts”, although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.

The Department for Work and Pensions said jobseekers would not be required to take a zero-hours contract that tied them exclusively to a single employer. The government is already consulting on whether to ban this type of contract altogether.

Source – Welfare News Service  08 May 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/zero-hour-contracts-new-benefits-system-will-enabling-claims-mcvey/

Jobseekers Being Forced Into Zero-Hours Roles

This article  was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for The Guardian on Monday 5th May 2014

Jobseekers face losing their benefits for three months or more if they refuse to take zero-hours contract roles, a letter from a Conservative minister has revealed.

For the first time, benefit claimants are at risk of sanctions if they do not apply for and accept certain zero-hours jobs under the new universal credit system, despite fears that such contracts are increasingly tying workers into insecure and low paid employment.

 Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed the number of contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours of work or pay but require workers to be on standby had reached 1.4 million.

More than one in 10 employers are using such contracts, which are most likely to be offered to women, young people and people over 65. The figure rises to almost half of all employers in the tourism, catering and food sector.

Currently, people claiming jobseekers’ allowance are not required to apply for zero-hours contract vacancies and they do not face penalties for turning them down.

However, the change in policy under universal credit was revealed in a letter from Esther McVey, an employment minister, to Labour MP Sheila Gilmore, who had raised the issue of sanctions with her.

The senior Tory confirmed that, under the new system, JobCentre “coaches” would be able to “mandate to zero-hours contracts”, although they would have discretion about considering whether a role was suitable.

> Oh well, that’s all right then. We can rest assured that the fact that they’re chasing targets and bonuses wont affect their judgement as to whether a role is suitable.

Quite obviously, if a job doesn’t guarantee a  weekly income, its suitable to very few people indeed – mainly people who don’t eat or have bills to pay presumably…

Separately, a response to a freedom of information request to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) published on its website reveals: “We expect claimants to do all they reasonably can to look for and move into paid work. If a claimant turns down a particular vacancy (including zero-hours contract jobs) a sanction may be applied, but we will look into the circumstances of the case and consider whether they had a good reason.”

Higher level sanctions – imposed if a jobseeker refuses to take a position without good reason or leaves a position voluntarily – will lead to a loss of benefits for 13 weeks on the first occasion, 26 weeks on the second occasion and 156 weeks on the third occasion.

Asked about the issue by the Guardian, the DWP said jobseekers would not be required to take a zero-hours contract that tied them in exclusively to work for a single employer. The government is already consulting on whether to ban this type of contract altogether.

The change has been made possible because universal credit will automatically adjust the level of benefits someone receives depending on the number of hours they work. This means claimants should not face periods without the correct benefits when their earnings fluctuate or they change job.

> Universal Credit still does not work. It may never work, judging by its progress so far. Why would anyone trust it to “simplify” the system ?

However, critics raised concerns that the new policy will force people into uncertain employment and restrict the ability of claimants to seek better work while still placing a burden on many to increase their hours.

Sheila Gilmore said she was concerned about the situation because JobCentre decision makers already do not appear to be exercising enough discretion before applying sanctions under the old regime.

While I don’t object to the principle of either universal credit or zero-hours contracts, I am concerned about this policy change,” she said.

“I also fear that if people are required to take jobs with zero-hours contracts, they could be prevented from taking training courses or applying for other jobs that might lead to more stable and sustainable employment in the long term.”

> Oh, I see. She’s not against the principle of either universal credit or zero-hours contracts, just that it might prevent someone taking part (for which read : being made to take part under threat of sanctions) some other pointless “training” course.  Labour – the people’s friend…

Andy Sawford, a shadow minister who has pushed for reforms of the contracts with his zero-hours bill in parliament, also expressed concern about the change, as universal credit will require many people on low hours to try to increase their work. Those below a “conditionality earnings threshold” – normally 35 hours at the minimum wage – may be asked to “carry out relevant actions” to raise their earnings, or again face sanctions.

“How can you commit to training, undertake a proper job search or agree to participate in interviews when you are on a zero-hours contract and may be required to work at any time?” Sawford said.

“Requiring people to take zero-hour jobs is a big change from the past. It will create further insecurity for many of the lowest paid people.”

Labour has promised to crack down on abuses of zero-hours contracts, with leader Ed Miliband saying their use has reached “epidemic” proportions in some industries. He wants to see workers with irregular shifts and pay getting a contract with fixed hours if they have worked regularly for the same employer for a year.

The TUC has also expressed worry that they are “no longer confined to the fringe of the job market”.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “As now, if there’s a good reason someone can’t just take a particular job they won’t be sanctioned. But it is right that people do everything they can to find work and that we support them to build up their working hours and earnings. The average zero-hours contract provides 25 hours of work a week – and can lead to long-term opportunities.

“Universal credit payments will adjust automatically depending on the hours a person works to ensure that people whose hours may change are financially supported and do not face the hassle and bureaucracy of switching their benefit claims.”

> We don’t believe you…

Source – Welfare News Service   06 May 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/jobseekers-forced-zero-hours-roles/

635,000 Sign New ‘JSA Claimant Commitment’ As Arbitrary Sanctions Continue To Hit Jobless

Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and collated from the Labour Market System (LMS), show that a total of 635,000 jobseeker’s signed the new Claimant Commitment pledge between 14 October 2013 and 11 April 2014.

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) Claimant Commitment was launched by the coalition government in October 2013 and described as “the start of a redefinition of the relationship between the welfare state and claimants”, by the then Employment Minister Esther McVey.

Under the new regime jobseeker’s are required to sign a claimant commitment, or work plan, to “agree regular specific tasks and training opportunities and the penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work will be clearly spelt out”.

These ‘tasks’ could include agreeing to apply for a certain number of jobs each week, taking part in ‘training opportunities’, furthering their education and other ‘tasks’ set out in a personal work plan.

The DWP say that a total of 26,300 Jobcentre staff have been trained to deliver the new JSA Claimant Commitment with the majority of those being in central England and London area’s.

Unemployed people on Universal Credit are also required to sign a claimant commitment as a means of supporting them back into work ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

The new JSA Claimant Commitment has been partly blamed for a shocking 60 per cent rise in the number of jobseeker’s having their benefits sanctioned; where a claimant can see their benefits cut or stopped completely for weeks, months or even years for failure to adhere to the jobseeker’s agreement.

Far from helping unemployed people back into work, the Citizens Advice Bureau say benefit sanctions can create  barrier to employment.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:

“People need a system that can take into account their situation, set suitable work search requirements and where necessary apply sanctions at a level that won’t limit their chances of employment.

“Whilst it is vital that people receiving taxpayers’ support do their utmost to find work, the model needs to work and not make it harder for claimants to find a job.”

> I do wish people like the CAB would remember that everyone receiving benefits is also a taxpayer – be it Council Tax, Bedroom Tax, or VAT, being on benefits does not exempt anyone from paying taxes.

Young people have been hit particularly hard by the new JSA Claimant Commitment and subsequent benefit sanctions.

Despite only making up 27 per cent of all JSA claimants, young people have received 43 per cent of all benefit sanctions dished out by sometimes overzealous Jobcentre staff.

Perhaps even more shocking are the DWP statistics which show 38,969 of these decisions were later overturned following an appeal.

Many jobseeker’s, particularly young people, say they do not understand why their benefits were sanctioned, despite having signed the JSA Claimant Commitment.

Some sanctions have been for what most people would regard as ridiculous reasons: such as failing to turn up for a Jobcentre appointment despite already informing staff that they were attending a job interview.

Benefit sanctions, and the JSA Claimant Commitment, have also been blamed for a 163 per cent surge in the number of people turning to food banks in the past year.

Around 31 per cent of those who had been referred for food parcels from the Trussell Trust say their benefit payments had been delayed, mainly due the draconian sanctions regime introduced by the coalition government.

The Trussell Trust Chairman, Chris Mould, said:

“In the last year we’ve seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low-incomes. It’s been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions.

“Unless there is determined policy action to ensure that the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low-incomes we won’t see life get better for the poorest anytime soon.

A more thoughtful approach to the administration of the benefits regime and sanctions in particular, increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and looking at other measures such as social tariffs for essentials like energy would help to address the problem of UK hunger.”

Source – Welfare News Service  24 April 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/635000-sign-new-jsa-claimant-commitment-as-arbitrary-sanctions-continue-to-hit-jobless/

Work Programme Creates Just 48,000 Long-Term Jobs In Three Years

This article was written by Kevin Rawlinson, for The Guardian on Friday 21st March 2014 19.29 UTC

Just 48,000 people have found long-term jobs under the government’s flagship work programme during its near three-year life, official figures have revealed.

 

The statistic calls into question the efficacy of a system the government has insisted would help millions back into work

 

The 48,000 figure – revealed in data published by the Department for Work and Pensions – refers to the number of people who have found jobs through the scheme and stayed in them long enough to merit the maximum bonus paid to contractors for their remaining in employment.

 

 

But figures released by the department in November last year showed that in the year to October 2013, unemployed people were sanctioned for “misconduct” 242,973 times.

 

The sanctions imposed in the 12 months after the DWP overhaul of the system in October 2012 were for “failure to participate in a scheme for assisting person to obtain employment without good reason”.

 

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, sanctions usually involve jobseekers allowance payments being stopped for periods of between four weeks and three years. It added that, in some cases, the payments can be reduced instead.

 

Under the work programme, the DWP pays its contractors “job outcome payments” when claimants find work. It then pays greater bonuses – called “sustainment payments” – the longer the claimant stays in a job, up to a maximum figure.

 

The department’s data showed that the maximum available sustainment payment has been made nearly 48,000 times since the work programme was launched in June 2011. That represents only 3.2% of the 1.5 million people the DWP said have been referred to the work programme in total.

 

Its report said: “A proportion of these achieved this within 104 weeks of referral and left the scheme, with the others remaining in employment after the 104-week point.”

 

It added that, in all, 352,000 claimants have completed their 104 weeks on the programme, but remained on benefits at the end and went back to their jobcentres. The DWP pointed to figures showing that it paid nearly 252,000 job outcome payments to reward contractors who helped move claimants into jobs overall – albeit for shorter periods.

 

“Ministers have very serious questions to answer about this scheme, not least why there have been five times more sanctions applied than jobs found for people,” said the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, Mark Serwotka.

> Perhaps he should  be telling us why his members in Jobcentres are also dishing out sanctions like they were going out of fashion ?

 

He added: “The privatised work programme has been an unmitigated failure and has actually hampered the chances of people finding work, not helped.”

 

A DWP spokesman said: “More than a quarter of a million jobseekers have escaped long-term unemployment and found lasting work – normally at least six months – through the work programme. That’s a quarter of a million people whose lives have been transformed.”

> A job lasting 6 months will transform your life ? I’ve done them – they don’t.

 

Employment Minister Esther McVey added: “As the economy continues to grow, the work programme is successfully helping people to turn their lives around so they can look after themselves and their families.”

Source – Welfare News Service, 22  March 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/work-programme-creates-just-48000-long-term-jobs-in-three-years/

Universal jobmatch – the choice of scammers everywhere

Fraud squad detectives are probing claims jobseekers were conned out of cash in an elaborate ‘Hustle-style’ scam from luxury city centre offices.

Applicants were interviewed by ‘Options 4 Families’ at a rented office in the Manchester One building on Portland Street, but heard nothing from the company after paying £65 for background checks upon offers of employment.

The £18.5k-a-year ‘trainee child counsellor’ jobs were even advertised on the government’s own Universal Jobmatch website – but the Department of Work and Pensions has since removed the adverts and has sent a warning to those who applied.

> Maybe they want to take a look at all those non-jobs that clutter up UJ – leaflet distributors, etc. But I suppose if they did, they’d have virtually nothing left – few respectable advertisers use UJ.

Other candidates are understood to have left their current jobs after being offered positions.

Burnley-based businessman John Sothern, 44, interviewed candidates at the start of January and is understood to have offered at least 12 people roles based in Manchester city centre following two days of interviews.

He is now at the centre of a police investigation – but denies any wrongdoing.

Greater Manchester Police were called to Manchester One by an interviewee on January 8 but Mr Sothern had fled the premises by the time officers arrived.

The M.E.N has spoken to jobseekers who were told they would begin their roles – which would increase to £34k-a-year after a training period – at the start of February but have still not heard from the company six weeks after transferring money.

Lancashire Police confirmed allegations regarding the Manchester-based jobs were passed to them by national agency Action Fraud on January 28.

It is understood a fraud probe into Mr Sothern’s activities is currently examining around 70 alleged offences across the north west.

A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “We can confirm officers have received a report in relation to an allegation of fraud. An investigation has been launched and enquiries are on-going in relation to this matter at this time.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of those employers offer genuine roles for jobseekers to apply for – however we won’t hesitate to ban anyone who tries to break the rules and post fraudulent jobs. When possible, it can – and has – led to criminal prosecutions.”

Options 4 Families was dissolved as a limited company in 2010.

 Matthew Bourton, 24, thought he’d finally ended his two-year search to find work when he was offered a ‘trainee child therapist’ job by Options 4 Families.

He applied through Universal Jobmatch and was interviewed just hours before police were called to the office on January 8.

Matthew, who has been out of work since leaving university, was offered the position the following day. He was then asked to provide a ‘refundable’ payment of £65.60 for a Disclosure and Barring Service background check to be carried out.

Six weeks later, he’s had no contact from the company.

Matthew, of Wigan Road, Leigh, said: “The job itself seemed too good to be true, but I’m so desperate to find work I was ready to believe everything I was being told. John Sothern was very friendly and charming. I gave my details for the bank transfer and that’s the last I’ve heard from them.

“I tried to get in touch with them but the number was a dead line. There was no mention of them on the internet apart from their own website and I came to the realisation that I’d been had. I feel taken advantage of and totally devastated.”

Businessman John Sothern insists job offers with Options 4 Families were genuine and he has done ‘nothing wrong’.

Mr Sothern is aware of a police investigation into the interview process at Manchester One but insists applicants will be given the jobs they were offered with Options 4 Families. He intends to contact candidates ‘within seven to 10 days’.

He said: “We’ve applied for funding with different organisations, including the Big Lottery Fund, and with private investors. As soon as we get that funding through, we’ll be in a position for people to start those jobs. We’ve had to put everything on hold but those people offered jobs will be getting e-mails – the jobs are still open. Background checks are standard industry practice and those people will get their money back.”

Source – Manchester Evening News,  03 Mar 2014

Welfare State Presides Over ‘Culture Of Fear’, Charities Say

This article  was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Tuesday 18th February 2014

Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions is presiding over “a culture of fear” in which jobseekers are set unrealistic targets to find work – or risk their benefits being taken away, leading charities have told an official inquiry.

Hostel residents with limited IT facilities are being directed to apply for 50 jobs per week, while single parents are being told they must apply for full-time jobs to continue receiving jobseeker’s allowance, the charities say in evidence to an official inquiry. On Wednesday, new figures are expected to show a record number of claimants have had cash withheld.

The weight of evidence also supports controversial claims by Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, in the week he is due to be made a cardinal by the pope. “Something is going seriously wrong when, in a country as affluent as ours, people are left in that destitute situation and depend solely on the handouts of the charity of food banks,” Nichols said on Tuesday.

The Department for Work and Pensions acknowledged mounting concerns about the increasing use of benefits removal – a process known as sanctioning – by appointing a former Treasury official, Matthew Oakley, to look at how the DWP is operating its tougher regime. His review, due to be published next month, has been criticised for its limited terms of reference, but nevertheless it has been swamped by criticism of how the unemployed and the disabled are being driven off benefits, often due to poor communication, bad administration or unexpected expectations being placed on the vulnerable.

In evidence to the Oakley inquiry, the charities Drugscope and Homeless Link warn that “the current sanctions regime creates a culture of fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. That may in fact lead to further benefit dependency and harming engagement with employment services, as vulnerable clients fear having benefits removed and never being reinstated.

Crisis, the homeless charity asserts: “People who have been sanctioned are already on very limited incomes and face a significant further reduction, meaning they are left facing decisions between buying food, paying for heating and electricity and paying their rent. Debt is common and many face arrears, eviction and in the worst instances homelessness”.

In its evidence, Gingerbread, which lobbies for the rights of single parents, also warns: “While sanctions may be necessary for a small minority of claimants who deliberately evade their jobseeking responsibilities, the current high levels of sanctions across all [jobseeker’s allowance] claimants reveal a system in crisis and one that is systematically failing single parent jobseekers.” It says single parents are being told they must work full-time.

The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers says “claimants are being sent on schemes with no discussion about whether they are appropriate to their needs and no opportunity for them to make representations about it . Adequate notification is also not routinely being given”.

It says some claimants have been told: “You need to spend 35 hours per week doing job searches and show evidence of 50 to 100 job searches or job applications per week.”

The evidence acts as a counterpoint to those who suggest welfare claimants are seeking a life on benefits. The government has been sufficiently embarrassed by the allegations that it has conceded it will look at a further inquiry into sanctions once the Oakley review has completed.

The number of sanctions in the year to 30 June 2013 was 860,000, the highest for any 12-month period since statistics began to be published in their present form. The figures due to be published on Wednesday cover the year to September 2013, and are likely to show a further increase in the number of claimants debarred from receiving benefits for as long as three years.

Disabled people are losing access to jobseeker’s allowance at the rate of 14,000 a month, the charities say. In total, the number of them having their benefits sanctioned each month has doubled since the regime was toughened in October 2012.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “The point of the review is to ensure the way we communicate with claimants is as clear and straightforward as possible. It is looking at where a sanction has been issued, the clarity of the information provided to the claimant about their sanction, and the options they then have including applying for hardship payments, and an explanation of the review and appeals process.”

Since 2012, benefit payments can be suspended for a minimum of four weeks and for up to three years where a claimant fails to take sufficient steps to search for work, to prepare themselves for the labour market or where they turn down an offer of employment or leave a job voluntarily.

A survey by Manchester CAB found 40% said had not received a letter from the jobcentre informing them of the benefit sanction, and almost a quarter did not know why they had been sanctioned.

Source – Welfare News Service   18 Feb 2014

The world doesn’t owe you a living

The end of politics

“People who are successful do not owe you a living. Stop jealously coveting the success of others, get off your backside, and work at being successful yourselves, instead of expecting government to steal the fruits of other peoples’ labour for your consumption.”

“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again.”

“We’re in the middle of a recession, it’s an employer’s market, and the world doesn’t owe you a living.
we paid the education when there was grants.we did’nt claim dole because we were brought up with a strong work ethic.we did’nt need self help books,we had common sense,and iniative.many of us fought for all the things you now take for granted.the world does’nt owe you a living.”

The above are all comments…

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