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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123152

All

Thanks for any advice on this below – its a complex situation and I am not sure how to resolve it.

Basically I am being completely oppressed by the work programme to coerce and force me to end my ESA claim.

I have been doing permitted work since March of this year, earning £95 per week for doing 15 hours. My contribution based ESA ended in the middle of May and as my permitted work earnings would have counted against my ESA I was looking at the options prior to that of perhaps going self employed and gaining disabled working tax credits.

I had a meeting with the self employment person at my work programme to discuss this but ultimately given my health conditions, I decided that a wait and see approach was probably the best approach not knowing whether the work would continue indefinitely and realising it was a lot to give up.

This is when the self employment advisor’s attitude changed. He threatened to get me one hour of work a week in order to force me to close my claim. When I told him that he didnt have the right to do that he claimed that he did and that was going to be the way it would be.

Because of this I decided to allow my ESA contribution based claim to lapse in mid May and to change to credits only (ie national insurance contributions) so as to render any sanctions meaningless. My housing benefit is based on my low wage so would be unaffected by any sanctions that they would place on me.

Having not been called into any sessions since March, following that I was called into weekly sessions in June of this year. I have also been placed in groups with JSA claimants and when I queried this, I have again been told this is a “management” decision/

I had a review with my usual advisor following this in early June where I outline the fact that I felt they had been dishonest and were looking to coerce me into ending my claim. He said that being placed on the sessions was a “management” / “head office” decision and nothing to do with him.

I outlined in detail how I felt about this, the numerous falsehoods which the work programme had told me and also how I felt betrayed and had no confidence in them. They admitted that had no right to force ESA clients to take a job or to apply for jobs.

Subsequently, despite the fact I am receiving no benefits (although I can apply for income related ESA I am currently not doing so as leverage on the work programme), they are now calling me in twice weekly throughout and my new advisor (the previous one having been replaced) is now reiterating the “remember it will only take one hour a week to end the problems you are having” line.

These sessions consist of being forced to sit at a computer for 90 minutes doing a “job search” which they have no right to do and also an “employability course” which involves a group chatting with an advisor which are of no practical use whatsoever.

The whole situation is causing me huge amounts of distress with mental and physical health as well as interfering with my permitted work. My employer has written in support of this to express his concerns.

I have had some contact with DWP and they have advised me to reapply for Income related ESA and appear sympathetic to my case and concerns. They have suggested that I write to Claims Maintenance in Belfast, is this the correct course of action.

Also someone sympathetic at the Work Programme has suggested I write to the local manager with evidence attempting to get this situation resolved.

I am also in touch with my doctor and considering an appeal to get myself placed in the support group. However although they are not supposed to take my permitted work into account, I feel that they might although I have significant health issues which they would hopefully take into account.

I have received my Atos medical report which is full of aberrations and does not reflect the medical at all. Despite letters sent prior to the medical and a repeated insistence during the medical, they failed to contact my doctor as well.

I now wish I had challenged this then but I decided to engage with the work programme to see if it could be of assistance.

This is an abridged version of what has gone on, but I hope it conveys the difficulties I am facing.

Although I am financially worse off around £60 per week, I am confident that much of this can be backdated due to the situation (DWP have said this) but consider it best to keep the leverage for as long as I am able on the work programme.

I am finding it very difficult and wondering what the best course of action might be here – any advice gratefully received.

Ideally I would like to get out of the work programme and was hoping that by going on credits only ESA I might be able to do this. However that would not seem to be currently the case.

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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123159

persona1973

Contact your JC+ advisor, as you are only receiving NI Credits you are not required to participate in any Work Related Activity, which includes attending at your Work Programme Provider.

Further, you cannot be required to work or even to seek work either by the WP provider or the JC+, although they can require to do work placements.

If this does not help then make a formal complaint to the DWP

Complaining to the DWP

and involve your MP

Contacting your MP

Gordon
The following user(s) said Thank You: persona1973

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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123169

Gordon

Thanks for this - also they have asked me to complete a national careers service questionnaire which I am worried to do in case they try to mandate me going on a bunch of courses.

Also do you have a link as to where it says that NI credits only claimaints are not required to attend the work programme, this would be most helpful.

Thanks again.

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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123173

Also I do have a good relationship with my JC+ advisor.

Would this mean that my association with the work programme would cease and what would happen if i was then to apply for Income Related ESA with a backdate.

Am considering all the angles here - do you think complaining to the managers at Seetec is a viable option or not?

Thanks again for all assistance.

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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123184

Also I do have a good relationship with my JC+ advisor.

Would this mean that my association with the work programme would cease and what would happen if i was then to apply for Income Related ESA with a backdate.

Am considering all the angles here - do you think complaining to the managers at Seetec is a viable option or not?

Thanks again for all assistance.


Yes, your association with Seetec would cease, however, if you then claimed ESA(IR) it would be re-activated.

You can certainly make a complaint to Seetec, I don't have there complaints procedure but it should be on their web site.

Gordon

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Problems Work Programme Coerce End ESA Claim 6 years 11 months ago #123196

Gordon

Thanks for this - also they have asked me to complete a national careers service questionnaire which I am worried to do in case they try to mandate me going on a bunch of courses.

Also do you have a link as to where it says that NI credits only claimaints are not required to attend the work programme, this would be most helpful.

Thanks again.


This proved to be more complicated than I first thought :(

My difficulty is that these circumstances are not actually referenced in either the legislation or the DWP guidance, we did have some thoughts on the latter, but I now believe that these are not relevant.

Technically, when your ESA(CB) payments ceased due to the time limit, your ESA claim was closed, if you are not in receipt of ESA then you cannot be compelled to participate in WRA or to attend the Work Programme. A failure to attend cannot be sanctioned as you are not in receipt of any payment in the first place and sanctions can only be applied to the Personal Allowance and not your NI Credits.

The DWP know this and should be able to contact WP Provider to stop them harassing you.

Gordon

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