Jul 192017
 

Thank you to Gail Ward who put this together. You can read her blog here https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/the-2-yr-job-rule-for-disabled-on-universal-credit-is-not-true/ and follow her on twitter at @blueannoyed

 

In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesn’t mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts!

Those who will be put on Universal Credit (UC) will have to sign the claimant commitment regardless, some will be subjected to full conditionality some will have their conditionality limited depending on the circumstances, and subject to sanctions if they fail to comply with the agreed commitments they agreed with work coach via the Work Plan,My 4 steps,My Values documents.  (Document links provided at bottom of the blog.)

This is the article in question. Responses by DWP staff are in italics, and comments about the response in bold

As promised last night, the SKWAWKBOX has been looking further into conflicting reports from DWP insiders concerning the WRAG (work-related activity group) category into which the government, more or less arbitrarily, places some disability benefit claimants and the possibility of sanctions after a fixed period of two years under the Universal Credit (UC) system if claimants have not found work.

Some activists insisted that this was part of the UC system and this was initially confirmed by long-term DWP employees. Others subsequently disputed it. The only thing all were agreed on was that the rules are ill-conceived and extremely confusing.

The SKWAWKBOX contacted a PCS union official who specialises in UC for clarification and received this response: 

I’ve been looking at the regulations and I can’t find anything that refers specifically to a fixed time limit in which to find employment.

That is right, because no fixed time limit exists in the regulations

 

The ‘disabled’ argument, as I’m sure you are aware, is notorious because ultimately the Department through the provide contractors are essentially able to define who is fit or not for work.

For example, a claimant maybe moved from ESA to UC on the back of a WCA [Work Capability Assessment]. The claimant may disagree with the decision but they are stuck.

If they are adamant they are not fit for work, they could refuse employment in an environment they believe will affect their health.

If they have been found to have no Limited Capability for Work, they cannot refuse employment. The fact that claimants think they are unfit for work has been the main issue with the flawed WCA since 2008

 

This is where the sanction process comes in – a 13wk, 26wk and 156wk sanction could apply (although similar regs existed prior to UC and the 2012 Welfare Reform Act if not as harsh or severe).

In this case you’re looking at failure to apply, not accepting work or leaving on one’s own accord. Their argument is they aren’t fit, the department will still look at sanctions.

The circumstances described here apply to somebody who has not been found to have Limited Capability for Work.

 

The sanction regime is clearly arbitrary, deeply unfair and dangerous – but there is no rule mandating a fixed time-limit for a claimant to find work.

Again no time limit

 

However, another PCS/DWP source warned that while the rules don’t include such a limit, the way they are applied may not be as clear cut:

I can tell you that we have received complaints from WRAG claimants about having their ESA revoked after two years. And now they are treated as JSA claimants because they are ‘fit for work but not necessarily their precious occupation(s)’.

ESA cannot be revoked. It simply cannot be claimed after a claimant has been found fit for work. Previous occupations are not a consideration. That has always been the case.

 

Sanctions have been applied because the claimant has not fulfilled their requirement to find work. The purpose of the WRAG was to enable people to return to work despite being disabled, but this component has now been removed as WRAG claimants are now treated as jobseekers.

WRAG claimants under UC are described as having Limited Capability for Work.. They are not required to search for, be available for and start work, and cannot be sanctioned for not doing so, but they are required to accept work preparation requirements within their commitment and attend WFIs.

 

Other WRAG claimants have been booted off ESA or the sickness element of UC after a period of two years because they failed their WCA – deliberate decision to bully them back to work.

Some claimants will fail their WCA after 2 years. Others after 6 months, 12 months  etc.

2 years is actually a defined prognosis period, meaning a number of people are reassessed at this stage. Unless there is any evidence of a pattern, this period of 2 years is meaningless

 

Thanks too to Anita Bellows who has worked with me on this 🙂

 

So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts! 

https://www.scribd.com/document/353594773/4c-ESAHWC1

https://www.scribd.com/document/353595852/CC-O18-E15

https://www.scribd.com/document/352833734/CC-Work-Preparation-Activities-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/353603319/1359203507-UJcompanyleafletJCP

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185048/CC-Requirement-to-Accept-a-Claimant-Commitment-v2-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185364/cc-commitment-not-accepted-v1-0

https://www.scribd.com/document/354185650/My-4-Steps-Template

https://www.scribd.com/document/354187257/1816-my-values-1-pdf

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517725/UC-Claimant-Committment

https://www.scribd.com/document/349520361/FTS-FTP-in-WFI-and-Failure-to-Undertake-Work-Related-Activity

https://www.scribd.com/document/349517543/Handout-08-01-Commitment-Pack-v7-7

https://www.scribd.com/document/354182466/Dealing-With-Sanctions-Facsheet-4

https://www.scribd.com/document/353627563/HWC-Exemptions

 

Read Frank Zola Blog below;

https://mrfrankzola.wordpress.com/2017/07/18/disability-rights-uk-disrightsuk-questions-why-dwp-esa-health-work-conversation-mandatory-foi/

[suffusion-the-author]

[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 18:31

  5 Responses to “The 2 year job rule for disabled people on Universal Credit is not true!”

  1. Hi Guys, when is somebody going to actually talk to me in respect of that Article?

    Let us be clear about a few things.

    1. This originates from IDS’s early drafts of the Welfare Reform Acts (I never stated it was current legislation).

    2. I did not give this to skwawkbox, it was my usual heads up as I publish every year about this time, concerning not being complacent in respect of the Statutory Instrument put in place by Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith within the Welfare Reform Acts, as it allows extremely draconian rules to be introduced with no scrutiny from the house.

    3. I was talking to Gail from the earliest stages after I became aware of the skwawkbox article. Yet there is no mention of that here, or the fact that it originates from an early draft of the Welfare reform Acts.

    Although what is presented on her blog, is mostly correct, it has nothing to do with what I presented.

    4. Several years ago whilst Gail and I were looking through this early draft of the Welfare Reform Act, I noticed some rather unusual wording in the Full Conditionality section (UC equivalent of ESA), to paraphrase, it referred to a 24 month time limit for these claimants were if they did not gain work to meet the minimum required hours, that they would lose entitlement to the housing benefit component for 12 months.

    Even though I am a very experienced Advocate and am known for my ability to decipher the most complex of legislative papers, I asked her to read it as well and she came to the same conclusion.

    Gail does not have the curse of an Eidetic memory (wish I didn’t as well), so she only has a vague recollection of this, but other have come forward who read it at that time as well.

    5. At no time did I ever state that this would affect Disabled/Sick persons directly if it ever made it to the SI stage and on to legislation, it would only affect the aforementioned groups, if

    a) They were wrongfully assessed and placed in level 4, full conditionality.

    b) The Job Coach decided to down grade them from partial conditionality of Level 2 or 3 to the full conditionality of Level 4.

    6. Although skwawkbox ran with this misquoted sensationalist article via a third party and I had no input at all, I have been apologising to peeps, as my disclosure should never have been used like this to cause so much distress. (it has never been my style).

    7. skwawk box, have left my rebuttals and corrections to their articles in permanent moderation (so it’s not visible to the public), and I did challenge Gail directly over her comment there protecting skwawk box (the blogger) which falsely claims that the source was wrong, not the blogger. (she did state that was not her intention, but I am not entirely sure, as she knew the truth at the time of her post).

    8. A number of media outlets have pretty much tried to hang me out to dry, only to be left with egg on their face. Quite simply they trusted skwawk box, and I have to admit I have tried to protect them in the past, but after this sensationlist story, I will never trust them again.

    skawkbox refuse to reply, even on twitter over their actions and the fact they knew this was misquoted and pretty much stretching the truth to the extremes, before they even went to first publication.

  2. The problem seems to be the application of the ‘All Work Test’ which has existed since the year dot.

    The extension is one of applying this test to applications and job search i.e. if a job exists even if very rarely a specified number of hours a week must be spent searching for it. There seems to be an attitude that if one doesn’t get a job in a ‘realistic’ time frame one isn’t trying.

    The worst example I have come across is that of a friend who is profoundly dyslexic who was threatened with sanctioning for not doing enough ‘job-search’ online. The latest brain wave is to send him on an IT course. His clear statement ‘But I can’t read’ is just ignored.

    ‘Just following orders’ and ‘Work will make you free’ are the quotes that come to mind.

  3. believe action t4 culling the stock through benefits denial but believe the dwp hmmm

  4. Yet!

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