I have just received a ‘Good Reason Letter’ from the Jobcenter stating:
“We have been told that on 11/06/2014 you were notified to attend a Work Programme on 02/07/2014 but that you failed to do so. Will you please contact me at the above address before 04/08/2014 to explain why you did not undertake this activity. You should note that unless you can provide a good reason for not undertaking this activity, your benefit may be affected.”
What happened is, my Work Programme advisor and I agreed that i should sign up for a training course that they were running. I had no problem with this at the time, but there were 2 different sessions to choose from; one starting on 02/07 and one starting on 16/07.. He signed me up for the one starting on 02/07 but for some reason i had it in my head that we had signed me up for the second one which started on 16/07. I recognise that this is my own fault and i should have paid more attention to the Mandatory Activity Notice that he gave me.
I got a call from my advisor on 01/07 to remind me about the training which was due to start the next day. At this point i realised my mistake.
Normally i would still have been able to attend this training despite my mistake, but at the time i was doing some online programming courses (which i paid for) and had a lot of coursework to complete. I know that if i attended the work programme training i would not be able to complete the coursework for my online classes (which are much more likely to help me get a job than the work programme training my advisor had signed me up for).
Another extenuating circumstance is that i had a lot of work on my hands taking care of relatives. My wife has severe depression and i require a certain amount of time each day to do housework and cook 2 meals per day for us. I live next door to my grandmother so i can help take care of her, and week before my training appointment i found her collapsed in the hallway of her flat after having a seizure, she had been laying there all night in a confused state and had to be rushed into hospital. My aunt who usually does a lot of the work taking care of my grandmother was also in hospital that week because she had to have some procedures done due to an ongoing issue she is having with blood clots, so i had the extra responsibility of taking care of my grandmother after she was released from the hospital as she needed someone with her at all times in case she had another seizure. My aunt could not be there due to her own health problems.
Anyway i explained all this to my work programme advisor and asked if we could reschedule the training, he said yes no problem we will discuss it at our next appointment.
I contacted my advisor today after receiving the letter from the Jobcenter and he said that he was obligated to tell them that i did not attend the training but that he did not recommend that any action be taken to punish me for not being able to attend.
I am not sure what to do now, they say they want me to provide them with a good reason but im not sure what they consider to be a ‘Good Reason’.
Perhaps they have already decided to sanction me but are required by law to warn me ahead of time. The term “Good Reason” is vague enough that it seems like it would be totally up to their discretion as to what would qualify as such and that they are probably inclined to reject most things.
Does anyone have experience with dealing with this sort of situation? Do people often/ever succeed in avoiding benefit sanctions by explaining their reason for not attending a mandatory activity (if they have a valid reason of course).
I was under the impression that the fact that i contacted my advisor before hand and that he agreed to reschedule my training that it should have been fine. Now i’m not sure what to think.
If i do end up being sanctioned, does anyone know for how long it would be etc..?
Sorry for the long post, and thank you in advance to anyone who is willing to help me.