If you are a disabled job seeker, or in the ESA WRAG, you can view and download this important information leaflet here
‘3Ds’ Leaflet Launched to Help Disabled Job Seekers Receive Fair Treatment
In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the country, on May 15 a partnership of Suffolk organisations launched a guide aimed at ensuring fair treatment for citizens with disabilities or with long-term sicknesses who are also claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA).
The guide is the result of the Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) and the Ipswich & District Citizens Advice Bureau (IDCAB) coming together to form the ‘3Ds’ Project.
The ‘3Ds’ in question are: Disability + Disadvantage = Duty.
This partnership was formed after ISCRE had identified problems being experienced by disabled or long term sick JSA claimants in looking for work because of their disability.
Because of this, many were being ‘sanctioned’ (losing benefits) for not complying with their job seekers agreements. Nationwide, the number of claimants sanctioned has increased by 64% with one in four of these identified as being disabled or long term sick. A total of 11% of JSA claimants in the East of England have been sanctioned.
Under the Equality Act 2010, the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled or long term sick claimants to overcome difficulties that are not faced by people who are not disabled.
The leaflet is aimed at both DWP staff and the jobseekers and their friends and family. It defines the meaning of disabled under the Equality Act, explains the legal duty of the DWP and includes a tear-off form for claimants to take to the job centre explaining their disability and any reasonable adjustments that should be made to their job seekers agreement.
Allen Larke of Ipswich has experienced the unfairness of how the current system works. “One of the things that would need looking into is the amount of time a person is allowed to be ill during one year whom has a serious disability. On my experience as having unstable type 1 diabetes, it is hard to gauge when it plays up”.
“This year I had to miss a signing on and personal adviser, and was told that next time I would be sanctioned if I missed due to my illness. Also people are penalised for being a few minutes late to sign on and threatened with sanctions”.
“There is no real help with having advisers as they do not listen to problems for disabled people finding work. In my case employers don’t want to employ people with diabetes as they think time will be needed from work”.
“This has caused me problems as being unemployed for 5 years, do not get JSA and informed by JCP that I have not paid enough NI contributions, but when you sign on they inform you that contributions being paid”.
According to ISCRE’s Legal Director, Audrey Ludwig “the Equality Act helps people with disabilities get changes to policies and practices to overcome their disabilities and therefore fully participate in society. The leaflet informs and reminds Job Centre Plus of their duty to make reasonable adjustments to job seeking agreements. Many changes carry no costs like changing the timing of appointments but can prevent the claimants having their benefits stopped unjustly and suffering real financial hardship”.
Deputy Manager of IDCAB, Nelleke van Helfteren, has championed this project from the start “we are very grateful to the Suffolk Foundation and the Vineyard Church who both awarded us funding for this very worthwhile project. We are so pleased to be working with other agencies in Ipswich on behalf of these vulnerable clients who suffer real financial hardship when their benefits are sanctioned through no fault of their own”