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 doesnt 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.)
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 – a 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 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!
Read Frank Zola Blog below;
Update…….. “The Article originally produced by SKWAWKBOX. Claiming to that Disabled Persons could only claim UC for 24 months, is a mishmash of quotes from Gen William Taggart, who was actually talking about an Early ‘Draft’ of the Welfare Reform Acts. At no time did Gen. T directly associate this with Disabled Persons, in fact it was just a heads up for activists/advocates etc, to remember not to get complacent about the Statutory Instrument placed within the Welfare Reform Acts. “
Further confirmation from DWP to my FOI
My FOI response
“Claimants on JSA or UC, who are expected to look for and be available for work, must do all
they reasonably can to find and take up a job. However, the DWP sets no specific time limit for
how long a claimant is given to find a job.
Sanctions are only used in a minority of cases when people fail to attend work-search reviews;
fail to meet the work-related requirements they have agreed in their Claimant Commitment;
fail to apply for work or take up an offer of work; or leave a job, without good reason.
The DWP does not have any statutory powers to sanction or reduce benefit payments solely on the basis
that a claimant has been trying but has been unable to find work within 2 years.”