Category Archives: Benefits

Ring the DWP for FREE

Use the following numbers to contact the DWP for free.

 

ABBREVIATIONS

JCP – Job Centre Plus

NISSA – Northern Ireland Social Security Agency

PDCS – Pensions, Disability & Carers Service

TPS – The Pension Service

 

AA – Attendance

DLA – Disability Living Allowance

ESA – Employment & Support Allowance

IB – Incapacity Benefit

IS – Income Support

PIP – Personal Independence Payment

 

UPDATE 15-12-2016 *Many of the freephone numbers have been pulled by the DWP who now want you to pay for your enquiries! Numbers which have been cancelled are deleted with a strikethrough.

 

08009177777

TXT

PIP New Claims Textphone

0800220674

NISSA

Benefit Enquiry Line for AA, DLA, Carer’s Allowance & Carer’s Credit


08007317339

TXT

State Pension Textphone


08000234888

TXT

Jobcentre Plus Textphone


08000181888

 

Jobcentre Plus – Welsh


0800882200

 

DLA / AA Main Benefit Enquiry Line


0800991234

TPS

Pension Credit Application Line


08000224250

 

Customer First Line


08000556688

JCP

First Contact New Claims


08000121888

JCP

First Contact New Claims – Welsh


08000327952

JCP

New Claims Crisis Loans


08000328355

JCP

New Claims Crisis Loans – Welsh


08000856318

NISSA

ESA Fresh Claims


08000856528

 

Customer Payment Centre – Shared Services


08000857075

PDCS TPS

Method of Payment Reform


08006783682

 

DWP Emergency Line


08006783696

 

DWP Emergency Line – Welsh


08006783717

JCP

New Claims Crisis Loans


08007314811

PDCS TPS

Pension Credit


08007317898

PDCS TPS

State Pension New Claims


08007317936

PDCS TPS

State Pension New Claims – Welsh


08081002658

NISSA

State Pension New Claims


08081006165

NISSA

Pension Credit New Claims


08001690096

NISSA

IB (IS) Re-assessment


08000121573

NISSA

PIP Fresh Claims
(not operational until PIP goes live in NI)


08009172222

 

PIP New Claims Service Line


08006783675

JCP

Emergency

 

This list is currently being reviewed and is expected to be slightly amended/updated in the near future

 

FREEPHONE DIRECTORY ENQUIRIES

Did you know that there is STILL a freephone number for directory enquiries? It’s run by 118 and if you can just put up with a little advert, then you can place a free enquiry. The number is:

0800 118 3733

 

Need Extra Time Form Filling?

Remember, you are allowed an extra 2 weeks extension on form filling but you’ll need to request this first by phoning the appropriate number. This may give you extra time to contact health professionals or consultants who can support your application. If you can get support from a doctor – fantastic; but if you can get the support of a consultant – or someone higher up in the medical profession – then you stand a better chance of winning your claim.

Stop the scrapping of contributory based ESA & JSA: Benefit Petition.

Make benefits fair for those that have paid into the system with National Insurance contributions.

We are asking that the DWP does not scrap contributory based ESA & JSA as they are currently planning to.

Currently claimants that have paid enough national insurance contributions can get these benefits with little means testing; DWP analysis suggests 30% of claimants, over 300,000 families, would be £80 per week worse off if these types of benefit were scrapped. DWP predicted saving £1.3billion in 2018-19.

Imagine paying into an insurance system that promises to pay back a certain amount should you fall sick or loose your job. Now imagine that the insurance company goes back on it’s promises and pays you only a base rate. This is what the DWP is proposing by scrapping contributory based ESA & JSA. If the DWP were a company, it would be breaking the law.

According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, “Entitlement to contributory ESA & JSA depends not on income, but on one’s history of national insurance contributions. They are remnants of Beverage’s vision of social insurance in a working age social security system in which 80% of spending is now means tested. This is an area of which the coalition has made cuts, limiting the duration of contributory ESA claims (except for the most disabled claimants) to a year from April 2012. A total of£5bn a year is now spent on contributory ESA and JSA, however, abolishing them would save only a fraction of that amount since most recipients (those with low incomes) could claim an equivalent amount in means tested benefits instead. The BBC report suggests the saving could be £1.3bn a year with over 300,000 households £80 a week worse off.

This reform would represent another stage in the slow demise of the contributory benefits system: which in itself is contrary to major European countries that are more generous and reward the workers for paying into to the system: we are 8th out of ten major European countries in generosity of benefits, source EuroStat, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development.

Why are these changes unfair?

According to the ONS the poorest 20% have the equivalent of £2000 in wealth each compared to the richest 10% that are 8,500% richer on average. It’s the governments duty of care to ensure adequate food, shelter and adequate living conditions to each and every citizen. (We have in the UK signed up to the to the international convention on economic and social rights in 1976 that says the UK must provide every citizen adequate food of sufficient quality, and the stopping of benefits to at least buy food is tantamount to breaking this international agreement).

The proposal to stop contributory ESA and JSA makes a mockery of the governments rhetoric of rewarding working people, which is gross double standards and gross hypocrisy. Also the Council of Europe has criticised the UK for its welfare reform and the inadequate level of benefits.

The UN has launched an investigation of the UK’s treatment of disabled people.

The grossest hypocrisy is rewarding the bankers with a subsidy of £30bn a year according to the new economics forum through quantitative easing etc. showing their loyalty to rewarding greed.

NEED Not GREED!

Relative Spending on Benefits across Europe

or “How tight-fisted is our government with benefits?”

After its victory in the United Kingdom general election, 1945 the Labour Party pledged to eradicate the Giant Evils of society*, and undertook policy measures to provide for the people of the United Kingdom “from the cradle to the grave.”

*The Beveridge Report of 1942 had identified five “Giant Evils” in society: squalor, ignorance, want, idleness and disease. Beveridge recommended a national, compulsory, flat rate insurance scheme which would combine health care, unemployment and retirement benefits.

Around the same time other Western European Countries saw similar measures being taken out, and soon national insurance schemes became de rigueur across the continent.

Spending on these schemes has gradually risen over time but in many European countries the actual amount given in benefits is a hotly debated subject – generally the conservative right-wing has discouraged a welfare system, arguing that such systems are open for abuse and that they make people less independent more reliant on the state. The more socialist and liberal opinions feel that welfare systems are necessary for maintaining basic human rights and that benefits should, at the very least, provide subsistence payments to the most needy in society.

It doesn’t take much analysing to see how meagre the benefits system is in our country – considering that we are one of the richest countries in Europe. It seems that continental Europe are willing to give their citizens what amounts to a fair standard of living, whereas in the UK, we see repeated attacks on the poorest in society – taking back billions from the budget in the name of ‘austerity’.

On the continent – when workers are unfortunate to lose their jobs, or to become sick; the state are willing to continue to pay them the majority of their wage, until they are able to find work again.

Thanks to the Coalition Government, Britain now has some of the lowest benefits in Europe

benefits

Petition: Come clean about cuts affecting disabled people

Petition to Ian Duncan Smith and the DWP created by DPAC;

Disabled People have had enough…..

“I say to those watching today and who are genuinely sick, disabled or are retired. You have nothing to fear. This government and this party don’t regard caring for the needy as a burden. It is a proud duty to provide financial security to the most vulnerable members of our society and this will not change. This is our contract with the most vulnerable.”

Iain Duncan Smith – October 2010 http://conservative-speeches.sayit.mysociety.org/speech/601437

As disabled people we’ve spent the last five years enduring attack after attack-we’ve fought back in any way we can. But fear and anxiety are now part of everyday life. Over the past five years we’ve seen our support and whatever security and peace of mind we once had being slowly and methodically being stripped from us .Through a combination of ‘reform’ and the notion of austerity we have been hit by cuts and have borne the brunt of the Coalitions ideological determination to reduce the welfare state.

Basic Human Rights

There’s plenty of statistical evidence to show how the abolition of the Disability Living Allowance, the proposed closure of the Independent Living Fund, the Work Capability Assessment, sanctions and savage cuts to local authority budgets have removed our basic human rights and tried to remove our dignity and fight-and these are just some of the cuts. We’ve also been hit by cuts to our rights to inclusive education,cuts to legal aid, cuts impacting on the right to a home,cuts to our travel support, NHS cuts and many more.

Disabled people are targeted 9 times more than most citizens

Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform has calculated the scale of the unfairness, saying simply that when it comes to cuts,‘Disabled people are targeted 9 times more than most citizens. People needing social care are targeted 19 times more than most citizens.’ http://www.centreforwelfarereform.org/library/by-date/briefing-on-how-cuts-are-targeted.html

We have been dismayed at the lack of opposition to these cuts, from some politicians and from some of our fellow citizens. However, we believe the public has fallen prey to a propaganda campaign which has led them to believe that many of us are scroungers and fraudsters. Remember when Grant Shapps said that almost a million people had dropped claims for disability benefit to avoid being assessed, the implication being that they were all fraudsters? This was headline news in the Daily Mail, but when the UK Statistics Authority rebuked Shapps for completely misrepresenting the situation, there was very little coverage, so people were left with a totally false impression.

“grave and systematic violations” of the Human Rights of Disabled People

In 2014 we learned that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is said to be conducting a confidential inquiry into the “grave and systematic violations” of the human rights of disabled people in the UK. https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/britain-faces-un-investigation-over-systemic-violations-of-disability-rights

Welfare Reform Deaths

Every week we learn of more people who have lost their lives due to government policies. We try to keep a records http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2014/10/21/uk-welfare-reform-deaths-updated-list-october-21st-2014/ although we know there must be more, and we know that these deaths represent just the peak of a mountain of misery that is being heaped upon people whose lives are already difficult. We believe that if they knew the truth, the ordinary people of this country would be appalled at these policies and their results.

We know there are more cuts to come, both the Tories and Labour have vowed to continue their notion of austerity. The Tories have said there will be 12 billion pounds of further cuts

​The IFS have said we face cuts of 21 billion by 2020.​ Leaks say that again these will target disabled people and what’s left of the vital welfare support that many of us have contributed to so that there is a welfare state and safety net in place for all when they need it. We’ve had enough…

Its time all political parties came clean on further cuts to disabled peoples support, instead of false promises and lies

Please, oppose any further cuts to vital support for disabled people and those with chronic health conditions by signing with us below.


March for the Homeless 15 April 2015

 

JOIN THE PROTEST!

Protests going on all over the UK:

GLASGOW | NEWCASTLE | NORWICH | BRIGHTON | LONDON | MANCHESTER | LEEDS | HUDDERSFIELD | HULL

For more information visit: https://marchforthehomeless2015.wordpress.com/uk/

 

MAKE SOME NOISE

If you can’t make it to any of the demonstrations on the day, then why not motivate discussion about the shocking state of homelessness in the UK and abroad. Remember: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social media sites are all good strategies for getting the message across. Why not email your local MP? Use this link to find out their email address: https://www.writetothem.com/.

 

PETITION WARWICK DISTRICT COUNCIL

Join this local petition on change.org made by Leamington Claimants Union to Warwick District Council. We asked the council to: “Be Aware of your Duty of Care to the Homeless and Vulnerably Housed.” This is a petition to ask Warwick District Council to either abolish the Spare Bedroom Tax and the Council Tax for benefit claimants in the Warwick District area (they are, after all, totally draconian stealth taxes) – or – Set up a Night Shelter.* Follow the link below to SIGN THE PETITION…

 

homeless-family-2

#marchforthehomeless2015

#NoMoreDeathOnOurStreets

 

*In Warwick District, if you are homeless, there are a few services which may be able to help you: A Night Shelter for two nights a week – Wednesday & Sunday nights – Radford Road Methodist Church – Run by volunteers. Rough Sleeper Outreach Team – Run by Midland Heart and the Way Ahead Project – Street Homeless support – Run by Salvation Army. THERE IS CURRENTLY NO NIGHT SHELTER OPERATING ALL WEEK.

How to Handle an Obnoxious Jobcentre Adviser

Too many people are being mistreated at the hands of obnoxious, incompetent, and often malicious advisers. If you have ever had to claim benefits then you probably know the type I mean.

This Welfare Survival Guide gives you tips on how to handle an obnoxious adviser and counteract any unlawful behaviour targeted against you.

Always Record Any Interaction

This is the single most important tip I can recommend. I strongly recommend covertly recording as this prevents any further hassle for you from the Jobcentre Plus/DWP staff and security, it also allows the adviser to feel more secure in displaying the behaviour you are trying to prevent.

You are entitled in law to both covertly and overtly record video and audio in a public place. There are exceptions to this law where children and other vulnerable individuals are involved, however, filming an adviser in person or over the phone is entirely permissible in law.

This Freedom of Information request, shown on the excellent What Do They Know? website, clearly show that recording is allowed (also see the comments by John Slater).

Also, the police have released this useful guide, which also shows the police have no powers to interfere with members of the public who record or take photos in public places, such as the Jobcentre Plus.

No matter what anyone else may say, you are within your lawful rights to covertly record at the Jobcentre Plus. Never tell the staff that you are covertly recording and if they attempt to assault you by grabbing your recording device, call the police immediately, or give them a clear warning that if they attempt to assault you again you will act in self-defence.

Stay Calm, Speak Softly, Annoy Them

For those advisers who are maliciously targeting people, nothing annoys them more than staying calm and non-aggressive when they try to “agitate the customer” in order to unlawfully sanction them.

All customer facing DWP staff have professional training in how to handle “obnoxious” claimants in order to set them up for a sanction or a benefit stoppage. I have had this confirmed on good authority. This means all the reports we hear of the targets is true and the DWP are specifically targeting those they see as “easy targets”, such as those suffering cancer, mental health issues, or simply those whom forget to take their job search diary.

Stay calm, no matter how the adviser is trying to agitate you. Remember, this is a battle of wills and you have the upper hand because you can simply refuse to play their game. If you feel you may not be able to remain calm, take someone with you who can act as a calming influence should you become harassed by the adviser.

Speaking softly shows that you are not being verbally aggressive and this will annoy the adviser no end. If they ask you to speak up, simply request that they lean closer. Never raise your voice or they may use this as a reason to eject you from the building.

Annoy them by refusing to play their game and asking them obnoxious questions back. You can be as sarcastic as you like as long as you are calm, speaking softly and refraining from profanity.

Arm Yourself With Knowledge

If you can read up on the relevant legislation and find out in-depth knowledge specific to your case, you will probably know more than most advisers. I aren’t saying it is all their fault because a lot of their incompetence comes from improper training (or deliberately improper training) and bad management, however, if you have more knowledge than the adviser, you will win 10 times out of 10.

It can be difficult to know how to interpret the relevant legislation, however, the Freedom of Information requests found on What Do They Know? are invaluable sources of welfare information which relate to the many issues suffered by benefit claimants.

Advice given by http://www.thesanctionedjobseeker.co.uk/.

 

A list of completely ridiculous benefit sanctions

  • You work for 20 years, then because you haven’t had the process clearly explained to you, you miss an appointment, so you get sanctioned for 3 weeks. (source: Councillor John O’Shea)
  • You’re on a workfare placement, and your jobcentre appointment comes round. The jobcentre tells you to sign on then go to your placement which you do. The workfare placement reports you for being late and you get sanctioned for 3 months. (Source: DefiniteMaybe post on Mumsnet forums)
  • You’re five minutes late for your appointment, you show the advisor your watch which is running late, but you still get sanctioned for a month (source: Clydebank Post)
  • You apply for more jobs than required by your jobseeker’s agreement, but forgot to put down that you checked the local paper (which you’ve been specifically instructed to do via a jobseeker’s direction) so you get sanctioned (source: Steve Rose on twitter – part 1 . part 2)
  • You’re on contributions based JSA (which is JSA paid on the basis of National Insurance you’ve paid in, not on your level of income) and get your appointment day wrong and turn up on Thursday instead of Tuesday so you get a four week sanction (source: Cheesy Monkey comment)
  • It’s Christmas Day. You don’t do any jobsearch, because it’s Christmas Day. So you get sanctioned. For not looking to see if anyone has advertised a new job on Christmas Day. (source: Poverty Alliance)
  • You get an interview but it’s on the day of your nan’s funeral. You have 3 interviews the day before, and you try to rearrange the interview, but the company reports you to the jobcentre and you get sanctioned for failing to accept a job. (source: @TSAAPG on twitter – part 1 . part 2)
  • You get given the wrong forms, get sanctioned for not doing the right forms. (Source: Adventures in Workfare blog )
  • You’re sick and miss an appointment, but you’ve already missed one so you get sanctioned (Source: @thinktyler on twitter. Rules actually state you can miss a grand total of two appointments for illness each year – particularly harsh if you’re sick and have been wrongly kicked off ESA by ATOS)
  • You don’t apply for an IT job that needs skills you don’t have so you get sanctioned. (Source: Geminisnake on Urban75 forums )
  • You volunteer in a youth club. For some reason the jobcentre thinks this is paid work so they sanction you. (source: @ukeleleKris on twitter )
  • You attend a work programme interview so you miss your jobcentre appointement and get sanctioned (Source: CAB )
  • You’ve got no money to travel to look for work so you get sanctioned (source: CAB)
  • You have an interview which runs long, so you arrive at your jobcentre appointment 9 minutes late and get sanctioned for a month (source: jsdk posting on Consumer Action Group forums)
  • You’ve been unemployed for seven months and are forced onto a workfare scheme but can’t afford to travel to the shop. You offer to work in a different branch you can walk to but are refused and get sanctioned for not attending your workfare placement. (Source: Caroline Lucas MP)
  • You attend a family funeral and miss your jobcentre appointment so you get sanctioned. (Source: Derek Twigg MP)
  • You have a training appointment at the same time as your jobcentre appointment, you tell the jobcentre you won’t be coming but they say you have to, and to get a letter from your new training organisation. Your training organisation says they don’t provide letters. (Source: Russell Brown MP)
  • You are easily confused or have poor English language skills, you will be disproportionately targetted for sanctions (Source: Fiona Taggart MP)
  • You retire on the grounds of ill health and claim ESA. You go to your assessment and during the assessment you have a heart attack, so the nurse says they have to stop the assessment. You get sanctioned for not withdrawing from your assessment (Source: Debbie Abrahams MP)
  • You get a job, isn’t that great? The job doesn’t start for two weeks, so you don’t look for work in those two weeks, and get sanctioned for it. (Souce: The Guardian )

 

 

JSA and ESA sanction appeals and claiming Hardship Payments

+1) JSA or ESA claimant and sanctioned?

Are you a JSA/ESA claimant and have you been sanctioned? If so, it’s important to take effective action promptly. You have a right to appeal. Currently only one claimant in three appeals a sanction. This is far too few, because the statistics show that the success rate of appeals is currently over 50 per cent. In other words your chance of success is better than evens. In fact, everyone should appeal, because even where sanctions are legally justified, the penalties have become unreasonably harsh.
If you don’t appeal and you then get another sanction within 12 months, the next one will be longer. So you MUST appeal every sanction even if you think you can cope with it.


+1.1) Types of sanction

A) JSA legislation

  • higher level sanctions (for example for leaving a job voluntarily) will lead to claimants losing all of their JSA for a fixed period of 13 weeks for a first failure, 26 weeks for a second failure and 156 weeks for a third and subsequent failure (within a 52 week period of their last failure)
  • intermediate level sanctions of 4 weeks for a first failure, rising to 13 weeks for a second or subsequent failures (within a 52 week period of their last failure) may be applied following a period of disallowance for not actively seeking employment or not being available for work
  • lower level sanctions (for example for failing to attend an adviser interview) will lead to claimants losing all of their JSA for a fixed period of 4 weeks for the first failure, followed by 13 weeks for subsequent failures (within a 52 week period of their last failure)” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/benefit-sanctions-ending-the-something-for-nothing-culture

B) ESA legislation

The Employment and Support Allowance (Sanctions) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
(Summary and explanatory note: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/2756/note/made)

“The new sanctions regime for people on ESA in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) was introduced from 3 December 2012. Under the new rules ESA claimants in the WRAG who fail to comply with the conditions for receiving benefit receive an open ended sanction, followed by a fixed period sanction when they re-comply. The fixed period sanction will be 1 week for a first failure, 2 weeks for a second failure and 4 weeks for a third and subsequent failures in a 52 week period.” https://www.gov.uk/government/news/benefit-sanctions-ending-the-something-for-nothing-culture

C) Decision Makers Guidance: JSA DMG 37/12

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/decision-makers-guide-memos-staff-guide (Contains examples of how sanctions are applied and ended)

64. Application of a sanction to a new award.

Example: “A sanction decision has been made on Karen’s award of JSA. This sanction is due to a disallowance on availability grounds on a previous award of JSA. The sanction is due to end on 12.11.12 but Karen finds remunerative work and her award of JSA ends on 26.10.12. Karen’s temporary job comes to an end and she makes a new claim for JSA with a date of claim of 8.11.12. This award of JSA will be sanctioned with a sanction running from the date of claim to 12.11.12 because there was still an outstanding sanction on her last award of JSA…

Exceptions

68. From 22.10.12 if a claimant becomes re–entitled to JSA after being in employment for

  1. 26 weeks or more or
  2. more than one period of employment where the total of those periods amount to at least 26 weeks

the balance of the most recent sanctionable failure will be lifted and not applied to the new award.


+2) Mandatory reconsideration (Appeal first stage)

The process of appealing to the first stage, after the DWP has sent you their Decision Letter, is an internal ‘mandatory reconsideration’ by DWP. It is simple and doesn’t cost anything apart from telephone calls, stamps or fares. https://www.gov.uk/appeal-benefit


+2.1) Reconsideration time frame

You have to contact the DWP within 1 month of the Decision Letter to ask for mandatory reconsideration, or 1 month and 14 days if you also asked for written statement of reasons for the sanction. The DWP does not have to respond within any set period, but you should contact them if there is a delay of more than a month to make sure your request is being progressed. Although you should try to keep to the appeal timetable, you may be able to make a late appeal up to 13 months after the original decision.


+3) Written statement of reasons

It’s quite common for the Jobcentre to stop your money without sending you a letter telling you the reason for the sanction. If this happens, or if the reason is unclear, request a written statement of reasons immediately. You cannot draft an effective appeal without knowing for certain why you have been sanctioned. If you ask for a written statement, you get an extra two weeks (14 days) to lodge your appeal. But in any case, if you have not been sent a decision letter, that will be grounds for a late appeal.


+3.1) Be wary of the telephone

The DWP Decision Letter will contain a contact telephone number. But even if you discuss the issue over the phone, you should make sure that you submit any Mandatory Reconsideration appeal in writing, in order to have a clear record. Should the DWP telephone and ask you whether you are going to request reconsideration, you should state that you are considering appealing and you will only be responding in writing.
Giving your appeal reasons by telephone risks misinterpretation by the DWP or – worse – you might give the DWP information that appears to support its decision to sanction.


+4) Second opinion

Don’t try to appeal without getting a second opinion from someone else as it is vital to say exactly the right things in your appeal statement. There are probably several good sources of advice locally: your Council’s Welfare Rights Team, the Citizens Advice Bureau, or a Law Centre. (See item 11) If you can’t get to one of these, then ask whoever you know who you think can help you the best. There are many grounds of appeal, for instance if you had a good reason for what you did or didn’t do, and your adviser is quite likely to suggest grounds that you hadn’t thought of.


+5) Complain to your MP

If you have been treated unreasonably, then you should make a point of complaining to your MP (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mps/) and insisting that they should fight your case on your behalf. There is no evidence on how many sanctioned claimants are going to their MP, but there is a lot of evidence that the DWP is very afraid of MPs and that once they are involved, it backs off imposing sanctions. The DWP is desperate to keep MPs’ support for the sanctions system. Making sure that your MP knows how unfairly sanctions are being applied is one of the best ways of helping your fellow claimants. The sooner Parliament faces up to the scale of abuse in the system, the sooner it will be reformed.


+6) Hardship payments

Even if you are sanctioned, you may still be entitled to ‘hardship payments’. Make sure you get the information on these from the Jobcentre immediately and get your claim in on time. If you apply late you may be able to get backdating. You will only get hardship payments if you continue to sign on for JSA or ESA. Hardship payments are also available under Universal Credit, although there are some differences in the rules.


+6.1) DWP guidance, leaflet and specimen claim forms

Explanatory leaflet (JSA), Claim forms (JSA/ESA/Universal Credit) and DWP guidance http://refuted.org.uk/2014/10/10/hardshiprecoverable/



+7) Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction/Benefit

You must also contact your Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction office immediately you know you’ve been sanctioned. Even if you are sanctioned, you remain entitled to Housing Benefit/CTR, but you may need to make a new claim. There is lots of evidence that many sanctioned claimants are running up big rent arrears as a result of having their Housing Benefit cut off, and not being able to get it backdated. This is an extra penalty you simply don’t need and don’t deserve.


+8) Keep claiming

If you are unemployed, you should keep claiming. This means you must keep signing on, and meeting jobsearch requirements, even while you are not getting benefit due to a sanction. There is one possible exception to this, in that even while sanctioned you could be subject to another sanction for not meeting requirements. This would be serious as the Coalition has now introduced a more rapidly escalating scale of penalties for repeat ‘failures’. If you feel your Jobcentre adviser/coach is abusive or cannot be trusted, you should therefore make a complaint about them straight away.


+8.1) Application of a sanction to a new award

If you stop claiming but later need to claim again, you may have to serve any balance remaining on the sanction, if the time period for the original sanction has not passed when a new claim is made. For exceptions, examples and explanations: http://refuted.org.uk/sanctions/newregime/


+9) Jobcentre adviser is abusive?

If you feel that your Jobcentre adviser/coach is abusive or cannot be trusted, then seek advice immediately from your Council’s Welfare Rights Team, the Citizens Advice Bureau, or a Law Centre (See item 11) or your MP, who should help you to make a complaint and get transferred to another adviser.


+10) Tribunal (Appeal second stage)

If you are unsuccessful at the ‘mandatory reconsideration’ stage, then you have the right to make a further appeal, to an independent Tribunal. If you have a strong case and intervention by your MP has not worked, then you should definitely go on to the Tribunal stage. This may sound intimidating, but it is quite informal, There are no fees and you can claim expenses. You have the right to attend in person and you should always do so as many cases are decided on the ‘balance of probabilities’ and the judge is likely to believe what you say even if you cannot prove it. If you are not there, the judge will not be so sure whether to believe you. If at all possible, you should have a representative from your Council’s Welfare Rights Team, the Citizens Advice Bureau, or a Law Centre. (See item 11) as they will know the law better than you do and will help you make the best arguments. There are no fees and you can claim expenses





+12) Other points for consideration

DWP Contractors & Requests for Personal Information held about you (Subject Access Requests) If your sanction involves a DWP contractor you can also submit a request for your personal information (Subject Access Request) for copies of any forms or information about you submitted by them to the Jobcentre. See https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/personal-information-charter

You can also request copies of any provider letters that notified mandatory activity. Support provided by refuted has more often than not shown these forms, letters and information contain significant mistakes or fail to follow DWP provider guidance or are simply confusing, which can lead to sanctions being overturned or process stopped. However, DWP only has to respond to a Subject Access Request within 40 calendar days. This means that it is not worth waiting for the result before submitting your request for mandatory reconsideration. Any information it reveals will have to be given to your MP or used at a Tribunal.

Jobseeker Directions/Jobseeker Agreements/Claimant Commitments

If your sanction is based upon alleged non compliance with any Jobseeker Directions/Jobseeker Agreements/Claimant Commitments, it is suggested you seek an independent opinion as to whether they are reasonable to your personal circumstances. They can also be formulated in ways that are contrary to DWP guidance or written in ways that are confusing. If they are found to be unreasonable, contrary to DWP guidance or simply confusing, this can lead to sanctions being overturned. The question an appeal Tribunal will look at is whether what you did was reasonable.

Complaints

There are a number of ways in which you can make a complaint about the DWP.
Complain about Jobcentre Plus https://www.gov.uk/complain-jobcentre-plus
Got a complaint about a DWP Work Programme Provider? http://refuted.org.uk/2013/10/13/providercomplaint/
However, you should bear in mind that all of these complaints procedures move very slowly and the amount of compensation, if any, that you eventually receive is likely to be small. You are likely to need help in making a complaint from your CAB. Therefore you should concentrate on making sure that you get your request for reconsideration in, and if necessary complain to your MP.


+13) Emergency help: Food Banks and Council Welfare Assistance

Food Banks

Council Welfare Assistance Schemes

Notes: Welfare rights law and DWP guidance, in particular, changes frequently. You may find more recent information via http://refuted.org.uk/category/

 

Information from: http://refuted.org.uk/2014/08/06/sanctionstips/