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Wayne C

ESA ( Work related activity group ) question

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Have been on ESA for three months now due to be deemed to unwell to work currently at the medical for a multitude of reasons both physical and psychological , yesterday I was phoned by a person at the job centre for my second interview as going to the job centre increased my anxiety levels a great deal, I was told that a plan needed to be put in place to offer me support, not forcing me to do work exactly but seeing if anything can be done to help me get over my long term and chronic problems, the lady didn't seem to listen to me at all on the phone, I told her I wasn't ready or feeling well nough to do the things she suggested , She then said good as if she was hearing the exact opposite from me?, Ie, as if I was saying great I'm ok with that ( which I wasn't ) , she mentioned that I would get a referall to these people

 

http://bootstrap.org.uk , who can offer advice.

 

I said I felt my doctor was there to try and help me over my problems, and I feel that other intervention now would make things more difficult . Can anyone offer advice, I feel this lady wasn't listening at all, and was hell bent on doing what she thought was best and not the other way around , can anyone advise what to do, I've been up all night worrying about this.

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you can always ask for another job advisor if you feel she is being to pushy or there is a breakdown is communication

 

or if you feel you cannot work fully due to your illnesses then you can always put in a change of circumstances if you feel your illnesses have gotten worse and you think you now meet the descriptors for the support group

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If your prognosis on ESA is 18 months or over you cannot be forced to take up any form of courses or work related activity unless you volunteer to do so. Neither can you be forced into employment.

 

If your prognosis is less than 18 months you are required to do what they tell you and that includes attending WFI and other courses recommending to you

 

Check your ESA award letter or call the DWP and check your prognosis period

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:Wayne C:

 

Your referral's probably under one of the Government's intervention schemes to address barriers to work. For now I'd try to keep an open mind until you know exactly what's involved. Mandated activity has to be reasonable to your circumstances and you can't be asked to do anything that's contraindicated by the reasons you've limited capability for work. If there's an impasse over what's reasonable, it'll be referred to a Jobcentreplus decision maker to decide whether you've good reason for not taking part.

 

http://www.bootstrap.org.uk/into-work/

 

If you've not already got it, a copy of the ESA85/85A report from your Atos assessment (which shows the interval before reassessment) is available on request from your benefit delivery centre. You can't be mandated to undertake work experience or apply for jobs.

 

All claimants in receipt of employment n support with the work related activity component can be mandated to work focused interviews and courses for building confidence, education, training, etcetera. Claimants with recommended intervals of eighteen or twenty four months before reassessment, or contribution flavoured awards, can't be mandated to the work programme.

 

Best wishes, Margaret. :panda:

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Hi Wayne, I'm going through the same thing as yourself although have not been referred to that company. This week will be my 5th WFI in just over 4 months. I was under the impression it was 6 appointments spread out over the year.

 

I too am getting support from various other places to help me get better...all mental health as my physical problems are permanent and only going to get worse over time...but being forced to attend these appointments is all I can think about from one month to the next and is holding me back. I'm sure you feel the same?

 

The only break I got was when I was going through a course of CBT so if anything like that is available to you through your GP or support network take it if you can as this is classed as work related activity so I was told. Also things like counselling, support groups etc.

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Hello apologies for not updating this but I have been having a hard time in general and not been able to concentrate on doing such things as this.

 

If I may retrace my steps a little.

 

I went for my initial work focused interview with a lady who was very considerate to my needs and was very helpful knowing that my Heath difficulties and psychological problems were the essential thing in my life at the current time she said my second meeting would be a telephone interview in 3 months.

Three months went by and the First Lady herself was sadly off work Ill, so I was transferred to the second advisor who phoned me up and discussed all the things mentioned at the beginning of this post ie, this Work Programme stuff and bootstrap, I said I didn't feel up to it at the moment at all but she said, my name had flashed up on the screen , whatever that meant ?? And that she had to get a programme sorted for me as I was in the WRAG group and only being given a 12 month or less period, and that such things were deemed essential to assist me in small steps on the road to work.

 

I'm not ashamed to say that I suffer with anxiety to a profound degree and think deeply and become worried about things and this conversation brought on panic attacks and negative thoughts, I had to go to my GP and she was very concerned about how this had affected me and prescribed medication, which quite frankly didn't do any good what so ever, the advisor actually phoned me up to re in force what she said whilst I was sat in the Doctors waiting room!, I told her this and she said she has had to post me alotted time in her work schedule and can't be phoning me up and not being able to speak to me!! About what is going to happen, she then said she would have to send me an appointment to come in to the job centre at a later date, which was yesterday.

 

I went to see her yesterday and she asked me once again what my problems were ( I told her again but felt that she wasn't really listening to me, and must have known them already if she had any information from the previous visit ), she said that she herself had had problems with anxiety years previous and had managed to combat it and that she felt I was capable of the same!!, I felt this was in formation I didn't really need to know to be honest!!, as two people ain't a like and just because one person managed to get over it doesn't mean we all can. She then mentioned the work program, I said I had issues with going and that it was a tremendous strain for me to even come into the private room in the job centre she had booked. She then got a sheet out which she said was for claimants of JSA but had some reference to people on ESA WRAG in a paragraph which mentioned not having to do work or look for work but taking little steps on the road to work.

 

I've been up all night worried about this and do t know what to do, I told her I didn't feel up to this and was hoping my doctor was going to refer me for CBT again to help me in these so called little steps.

 

I feel pressured and extremely upset by this ladies actions, she said that she personally thought ESA was a wonderful thing, far better than incapacity benefit as it didn't leave people all alone on benefits for years getting no where please help if you can folks.

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I have previously posted a question around this subject but I feel i directed that wrongly and have decided to revisit the same theme if I may?

 

I am on ESA WRAG and have been for around 16 months , having my second medical 2 months ago and gaining 15 points at Medical and therefore being deemed not able to work.

 

Fast forward one month had an appointment ( Work Focused interview ) at job centre told I would be contacted in a couple of months for another appointment , attended that wasn't well enough to attend but did as these appointments are mandatory ( benefits will be cut if you don't attend ) told I would be put in touch with Bootstrap Enterprises to look at the Work Programme.

 

Was advised that this wasn't to help me look for work, but was to help me with my health problems to eventually hopefully get me back in time on the road to full employment , was told that I didn't have to find work as I wasn't deemed able to, but due to being on WRAG would be referred anyways.

 

Now I am totally confused, before becoming Ill with my various physical and psychological problems which have lead to me being deemed not capable of working in the first place I had a good job and was a qualified Nurse and a qualified children's nurse.

 

Can I ask what is this work programme supposed to be directing ?, if I was able to work I would be able to get a job without any help from the work programme for these bootstrap people, I cannot work currrently , wish I could but if I could I'd be able to get a job tomorrow ??.

 

Why do thy refer ill people to these agencies whom are on ESA and therefore ain't required to look for work?

 

Any help?

 

I got a letter saying I need to go to an appointment , I am currently not well enough to go, I phoned saying as such ( not trying to pull a fast one as I'm genuinely not well ) lady said if I didn't come then my benefit would be cut or potentially cut as a consequence , so now they are bullying and forcing ill people to go to meetings they ain't capable of .

 

If I may add the lady at the job centre who referred me to the Work Programme people said you won't be asked to particulate in work or to look for work but they may be offer help in addressing your health issues etc , CBT etc, I am on a waiting list for CBT and seeing a psychologist on a 1-1 , I feel this new intervention rather than helping me is putting my recovery back , rather than forward.

 

Also it says in the Work Programme Provider Guidance notes from the Government that Providers cannot ask people on ESA to look for work or carry out work either paid or voluntary or be directed for medical treatment so can I also ask what these people are expecting they can do for someone. Currently deemed not able to work??

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If your prognosis was 12 months or less, you have to attend the WP, for two years I am afraid. As for the WP addressing your health issues, forget about it, the muppets are barely literate, let alone medically qualified. Other posters will advise you on this no doubt, do you have a CPN or other mental health worker who you could call on for support?

 

The other thing to remember is that the WP people often can't distinguish between ESA and JSA claimants, which causes confusion and rancour, believe me, I know! I wish you the best, but it ain't gonna be pretty.

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I cannot understand what purpose this will achieve ?, I have worked all my adult life prior to becoming ill and been placed on ESA it's not as If I have never worked and avoided work?, they are asking me to bring a CV ?, for what purpose heaven knows, I can't currently work so what in Heavens name are they hoping to do ??

 

My way of thinking is that I hope to combat my issues myself for the major part some things cannot sadly be sorted due to being chronic illnesses, I'm now 49 and I feel this is totally wrong there are no jobs around these parts even for the young people who have just left school how they intend to offer me help when apparently they can't ask me to look for work is very confusing ??.

 

Can I ask what you mean it ain't gonna be pretty , what can these people do of they can't tell you to look for work or ask you to do work either paid or un paid due to illness what's the point??

 

Oh and thanks for answering by the way I appreciate your input , cheers. I'd just like to know this agencies purpose as regards ESA claimants if they can't ask you to look for work or do work what exactly can they do??

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I am 57 and in the WRAG group this is my 3rd year.

 

I cannot overly complain at the way I have been treated (and if honest) I think my WP have realised I am not going to find a job easily (maybe not at all) so the appointments have been manageable, (and up until my last appointment nothing has been asked of me) now they want to try and get me to attend their in house work groups (aimed at people like me) with depression and anxiety to build their confidence blah, blah, blah.

 

The whole concept of this idea fills me with horror but sadly, unless they accept my view that is not something for me, I am stuck.

I agree, there is nothing they can do - but you have to go to these appointments regardless (as to how bad it all can get, really is down to who you see and how they view your illness.

How bad it makes you feel, is not part of the consideration.

 

My CPN wrote a letter for me, my DOC just told me to keep my head down and do as asked and then they will leave you alone.

 

They do seem to struggle (or some of them do) between JSA and ESA claimants, they can tend to lump us all together and some hold the view we all need to get off our backsides and find work.

 

I know a lot of people on here have raised a lot of issues with their WP, I have opted for just getting on with it, (but then I am not one to overly complain) plus my illness sort of rules that out, I withdraw into myself at these meetings, so I listen answer the few questions they ask me, and then go home (and like I say so far they have never pressured me).

I am not out to win, defeat them - just to be left alone to try and get on with my life in some way I can handle.

 

You can take someone with you if you have anyone - but as for not attending, unless you have a hospital appointment, then very little else will get you out of attending.

 

I cannot understand what purpose this will achieve ?, I have worked all my adult life prior to becoming ill and been placed on ESA it's not as If I have never worked and avoided work?, they are asking me to bring a CV ?, for what purpose heaven knows, I can't currently work so what in Heavens name are they hoping to do ??

 

My way of thinking is that I hope to combat my issues myself for the major part some things cannot sadly be sorted due to being chronic illnesses, I'm now 49 and I feel this is totally wrong there are no jobs around these parts even for the young people who have just left school how they intend to offer me help when apparently they can't ask me to look for work is very confusing ??.

 

I have never completed a CV (it is a standard letter you have been sent) so do not overly worry.

You might be one of the lucky ones, and they will sort of 'park' you, once they have seen you, (almost as they have with me) so do not take the letter to its full conclusion.

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Was advised that this wasn't to help me look for work, but was to help me with my health problems to eventually hopefully get me back in time on the road to full employment , was told that I didn't have to find work as I wasn't deemed able to, but due to being on WRAG would be referred anyways.

 

None of the Work Programme providers are qualified, experienced, or have the facilities to provide help & advice with any health issues. They can not direct you to seek alternative treatments, nor can they prescribe a particular course of action. Their sole purpose is to elicit payments from the government (either from the DWP or from the ESF) in any way they can.

 

If your participation in the Work Programme is voluntary, most here, myself included, would advise you to decline any opportunity to engage with these providers.


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None of the Work Programme providers are qualified, experienced, or have the facilities to provide help & advice with any health issues. They can not direct you to seek alternative treatments, nor can they prescribe a particular course of action. Their sole purpose is to elicit payments from the government (either from the DWP or from the ESF) in any way they can.

 

If your participation in the Work Programme is voluntary, most here, myself included, would advise you to decline any opportunity to engage with these providers.

 

 

So if I say I do not want to attend one of their (in house welfare/training/confidence building) courses will that be the end of it - or will they then up the anti.

It is not that I do not want to, it is I cannot.

The courses start at 9.30 I live 25 miles away and would have to get the 7.45 am bus, that would mean getting up at 6.00am every day for 2 weeks, plus I would have 45 minutes to then kill once I got into town before the course started.

This would be (not impossible) but so screw me up, mentally and physically.

Then there is the course itself and being with other people (strangers) it would NOT help my confidence at all, rather the opposite.

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Lilly_Monroe: Unless you are a voluntary ESA WRAG participant, if you have had a correctly worded letter mandating your attendance, then your options for getting out of this activity are limited. You could argue that the 1hr45min journey is unreasonable and that you require them to provide (and pay for) a taxi each way for the duration.

 

If you consider this "course" to be unreasonable in your current circumstances, argue your case and get them to retract the offer.


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I have not been mandated to the course at the moment - my next appointment does not mention any course, (it does not mention anything) other than I have to attend.

I was told at last appointment (and given some literature) to read about the courses and told that one of these might well help me in my search for work.

 

I think one of the reasons they do not call me into see them that often is the cost of my fare, they are not likely to make anything out of me, so they are doing the minimum they have to, before handing me back to the JC!

 

A taxi would break their bank:)

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Sadly, that is the point Wayne, the idiots think you are capable of work, when clearly you are not. The stupid f***ers will encourage you to go on courses that they think will make you employable in the near future, when you suddenly feel well again. It is a complete and utter lie, with the necessary deterrent of a sanction if you fail to comply. The whole shambolic process makes me incredibly angry and frustrated!

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Well I went to my first appointment with the Work Programme people ,

didn't feel up to it at all but managed to get someone to drive me there and wait for me outside in their vehicle and it was a rather eye opening experience to be honest, when I got to the floor where they operated ( which was open plan with lots of desks ) there were many young men waiting to have interviews I thought , all in their early 20's ,

 

I was very anxious but tried my best to keep calm and sit still and not give those others waiting cause to consider there was something wrong with me ( hoping ) , a lady came across to this group of men and said in a loud voice to one of them

 

"I told you to come dressed smartly in a shirt and tie and you've come in your street clothes" she didn't seem to care that this remark was insulting and made this young chap look embarrassed in the wider group!!, I really thought this was not on to be honest and it made me even more anxious as to what was in store for me!!.

 

My name was called and I made my way to a desk ,

the lady asked me a few questions but to my surprise gave me her own views on the process,

she said that she herself thought it was ridiculous that the DWP were sending ill folk whom would obviously easily be able to get work if they were well ( my feelings entirely ),

 

I did though take this apparent empathy with a pinch of salt, thinking in my head that it may be genuine then again it may be a tactic to rope me in and make me feel comfortable.

 

She said that she thought this was completely wrong ethically, she advised me that any further appointments may be conducted on the phone but if I get a mandatory appointment I must come in as they will for sure stop my benefits or take a % out of what meager money I have coming it.

 

I was in around 20 mins she knew I wasn't well and tried to get the appointment over as quickly as possible for me.

 

I hope this isn't all just hogwash to rope me in but I did feel at last someone was showing compassion and understanding.

 

Will have to just wait and see now what occurs.

 

I must thank those who have added comments thus far l think they have been a great help to me.

 

I just feel that as has been mentioned a few times that these agencies ain't geared up to deal with ill people and probably feel that they can't make much money from those whom don't have to look for work and attend work interviews / placements by force. Those waiting along with me I think were there for an en masse interview probably for any old job the job Programme feel will give them their money from the Government as quickly as possible.

 

None of the Work Programme providers are qualified, experienced, or have the facilities to provide help & advice with any health issues. They can not direct you to seek alternative treatments, nor can they prescribe a particular course of action. Their sole purpose is to elicit payments from the government (either from the DWP or from the ESF) in any way they can.

 

If your participation in the Work Programme is voluntary, most here, myself included, would advise you to decline any opportunity to engage with these providers.

 

Unfortunately I have to go as have been given a 12 month Prognosis , apparently you are chosen at random not everyone gets mandated to go on this work programme , if your name flashes up , your picked it's a lottery , I know others on ESA who are on WRAG same as I am and they don't even get any demands place on them, they are asked " do you feel well enough?, no?, let's just leave it at that then " , were as some like me get the full bullying tactics.

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[...]she didn't seem to care that this remark was insulting and made this young chap look embarrassed in the wider group!!, I really thought this was not on to be honest and it made me even more anxious as to what was in store for me!!.

 

First impressions count - This works both ways.

 

At my first ever meeting with one of these outfits, within minutes of entering the building, I got the impression of a chaotic disorganisation staffed by headless chickens. Future engagements proved my initial assessment to be correct - Record keeping, knowledge of key legislation, ability to read and write, and acceptance of their own failings, all lacking from the front desk through to senior management. Oh, and when the truth was inconvenient, they were more than happy to fabricate their own.


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MY providers seem out of their depth, I think they know there are NO jobs for many of us so are at a loss what to do with us.

Some times the place is almost empty.

 

I travel a round journey of 50 miles for a 15 min interview of which they get nothing new from me, not because I am being evasive, more because they hardly ask me anything.

 

It seems a complete waste of their time and only adds to my stress levels - the whole scheme is madness.

 

Often I see some members of staff just apparently sitting at their desk doing nothing.

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Echoing the comments made by others, I can honestly say the providers are utterly clueless on how to deal with their so called "customers". At Seetec, where I had the misfortune of being sent for my sentence, the whole organization was a complete joke from start to finish. No computers available for use, rude and arrogant staff, claiming travel expenses was a torturous process at the best of times and the inane courses they send you on is nothing short of farcical. As Lily says - the whole scheme is madness!

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Claiming travel back is horrendous, often they have NO money left in the kitty, this can be at 11.00am many times I have been paid the whole amount £10.80 in 10p coins, several times had to wait until next interview and claim double.

 

When you think how much all of this must be costing, OK it gave some people work, but they had already laid off countless JC staff, when they did not renew their contracts - so the point of all of this escapes me!

 

The JC staff already had the knowledge and contacts in place, why set up new agencies with staff who did not/do not know how the system works.

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They know how many "clients" are turning up on any one day and approximately how much each one should be reimbursed. A few buttons on a calculator would be all that is required to work out how much should be in the travel kitty for that day - It isn't rocket science, just basic forward planning..... If they had the temerity to offer debt and budgeting advice, I would have some pithy retorts to make :madgrin:

 

If the kitty is empty by 11:00am, then the manager needs a kick up the backside and sent off to the bank to withdraw sufficient funds for the day ahead.


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On the subject of travel expenses, one of the coaches suggested I travel by bus instead of train (cheaper obviously), needless to say I never did. Always got reimbursed! :wink:

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To be fair, the provider guidance does suggest that claimants should use the most economical means of transport in their circumstances.

 

So if there is a parallel bus service at a lower cost that would still get you there in under 90 minutes, you should be encouraged to use it.


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You are only allowed to use the cheapest method where I go but then I only have the option of the bus as I do not drive any more.

 

Belfaster does your journey take 90 mins each way.

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No it never used to, when I was on the WP. The fact that I was so disgusted by Seetec and their advisors, I felt almost justified in taking the more expensive form of transport. Luckily I only did a year on the WP, before personal circumstances made me relocate to N Ireland, where mercifully the WP does not exist and never will, as N Ireland has its own rules regarding training, back to work schemes etc.

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