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    • What about?   Dear Sir / Madam I dispute your ' parking charge'. I deny any liability or contractual agreement and I will be making a formal complaint about your predatory conduct to my MP.   You are no doubt aware that Southend airport is subject to byelaws 1997. This is not and cannot be a civil debt. Should you proceed with a civil case an application will be made to strike it out as the civil court lacks jurisdiction to hear such cases.   Having been warned that such an application will be made I will hold you fully responsible for all and any fees associated with this and apply for all costs due to your unreasonable behaviour.   Yours faithfully
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Jobcentre advise needed - Signing appointments & training funding

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Hi there. My son and his partner are joint claiming Jobseeker's Allowance. I hope someone who has Jobcentre experience can help me out. We have a two part question - first part is relating to appointment scheduling, and the second is about funding for training. I'll stick to the question about scheduling in this post.

 

Their normal signing day is on a Tuesday in the a.m. However, at their last appointment 2 weeks ago, their Jobcentre adviser told them that he was going to be absent from their next scheduled fortnightly appointment due to a training course he had to attend.

 

So, he said the next appointment would be scheduled for the following Friday. He wrote in both of their "My Work Plan" booklets, on the appointment timetable, that their appointment was set for Friday 25/07/2014 at 09:00 and signed his name.

 

Fast forward to today 23/07/2014 and my son telephoned their adviser directly to speak about funding for a training course. Adviser said he was "just about to call" himself as my son and his partner had missed their Tuesday signing appointment.

 

Son explained what he had told them, and also what he wrote in their work booklets, at their last Jobcentre appointment. First of all, the adviser did not comment on this. He simply stated "You should have come in on Tuesday. You need to sign every 2 weeks."

 

My son kept his cool and repeated why they had not attended. The JC adviser then sounded a bit flustered and gave two "sorry"s in the middle of a garbled sentence about their being some confusion. He then asked if my Son & partner could attend later today - they confirmed this was convenient and attended.

 

At the appointment, adviser said "they have some paperwork to do. But not to worry - it's for me, not you!". He clicked onto a screen on his monitor and then posed the question to them "Why did you fail to attend your last Jobcentre appointment?" then paused for a verbal response from son.

 

Again, son repeated what he had just explained on the telephone. He also directed the adviser to the page in their booklet with Friday's date/time and his signature.

 

Adviser then typed a paragraph or two summing up what had happened. The title of the screen on his computer was something akin to "Give the reason why you failed to attend your last appointment".

 

At this point, son asked adviser if this could negatively impact their claim for JSA? Adviser said (cheerfully) "Very possibly!" and that after he had typed this up, it would be sent to a decision maker and it was now out of his hands!

 

Son then asked, given that the Jobcentre now informs them that they should have attended on Tuesday, should they also attend Friday's scheduled appointment? Adviser laughed and said no, "we wouldn't make you come twice in a week!".

 

What should we think about this? Adviser said the decision should be made soon and we would hear back reasonably quickly. It's totally unfair and it seems like constructive dismissal to me.

 

Any advise would be very gratefully received as we would like to get a head-start in case of a sanction.

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It sounds like it was confusion, but the adviser should have been made a much better effort to be clear.

 

Even if the adviser was not available for an additional appointment, JSA claimants should always assume they need to sign at their regular time and day. If more extensive appointments are needed, the adviser should make every effort to schedule those on the claimant's regular signing day to avoid having someone needing to trek to the JC twice in one week and also to avoid the JC having to pay travel expenses for that extra appointment. Also, if an appointment is on a claimant's regular day but not at the same time as usual, the claimant should not be expected to attend twice on the same day if at all avoidable.

 

If a sanction is applied then the first stage would be to request mandatory reconsideration on the grounds that the adviser gave unclear information. He did not make clear the difference between an additional adviser appointment (the Friday one) and a regular signing day.


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My son and his partner are claiming JSA and have attended a few 1 day courses at the local college (First Aid, Health & Safety). These were funded by the Jobcentre and son & his partner did not have to pay a penny.

 

My son has been applying for jobs on rural estates. He has great experience in related areas. The employers have so far all said that the job involved a fair amount of tree felling and to be considered he needs a certain chainsaw certificate, and if possible, a qualification. The course for which costs from £500-600 pounds and is a 5 day short course.

 

My son has been in touch with his Jobcentre adviser for close to a month about the possibility of securing placement. At first, the adviser was wholly positive - telling my son to find a training centre which is on their "funding list" and then he could enroll, and funding would be arranged.

 

Now, after some confusion due to scheduling which resulted in my son and partner missing a supposed appointment (the fault of the Jobcentre adviser, it seems) the attitude of the adviser has markedly changed.

 

He now tells my son that in order to secure funding for this course & exam, he must provide written proof from a future employer that if my son acquired this qualification, then he will 100% be employed. This sounds absolutely impossible, as no employer would make such a promise when hiring a candidate. Of course, you wouldn't unquestioningly promise a job to someone who may or may not pass an exam.

 

It seems to me that since my son's last appointment at the Jobcentre, the JC adviser & his management have had a weekly team meeting and the idea of funding was bounced around.

 

As I understand it, having worked for the council as an NVQ Assessor, they should not be allowed to discriminate or obstruct people who legitimately have a need for funding for training to improve their job prospects.

 

At the start of these conversations with his adviser, the only stipulation for funding was that the course must be a part-time, short course and that the training centre must be on the Jobcentre's funding list (i.e - the training centre has secured a contract with the Jobcentre). My son has found two listed training centres which offer this course within a reasonable travel time, and now feels like he is being actively prevented from bettering himself.

 

I would like to ask if a) you think this is reasonable from the JC and b) what my son can do to challenge this.

 

Many thanks in advance for your help!

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Just to be clear, the adviser did not want them to attend both appointments on Tuesday AND Friday. They only needed to attend a single signing appointment, which the adviser had postponed until Friday (due to his own absence).

 

The adviser changed their appointment date/time, THEN later told them regardless of this specific instruction, they should have attended on Tuesday (their normal signing day).

 

He also stated they do not now need to attend on Friday.

 

It makes no sense!

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Just to be clear, the adviser did not want them to attend both appointments on Tuesday AND Friday. They only needed to attend a single signing appointment, which the adviser had postponed until Friday (due to his own absence).

 

The adviser changed their appointment date/time, THEN later told them regardless of this specific instruction, they should have attended on Tuesday (their normal signing day).

 

He also stated they do not now need to attend on Friday.

 

It makes no sense!

 

If the adviser specifically told them that they did not need to attend on the Tuesday then that is the first place to start when fighting any sanction. It was wrong of the adviser to tell them this if he wasn't going to set up the notes in the system to explain their non-attendance on Tuesday.

 

Apart from anything else, regular payment would not have been triggered without attendance on the regular signing on day unless some special arrangement had been made.


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Yes, that's another thing which adds to the confusion...

 

He told them at the signing appointment that their JSA would be processed as normal and should appear in their banks on Monday. Therefore, they (allegedly) failed to attend their signing appointment, yet still the payment for this fortnightly period has been triggered as normal.

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Yes, that's another thing which adds to the confusion...

 

He told them at the signing appointment that their JSA would be processed as normal and should appear in their banks on Monday. Therefore, they (allegedly) failed to attend their signing appointment, yet still the payment for this fortnightly period has been triggered as normal.

 

That's a strong point in their favour - payments are not normally triggered without attendance, so the fact that their money was sent as normal strongly suggests that special arrangements had been made. In order to release a payment, someone has to actually press a button on the computer. If they'd been expected to show up and hadn't, that button would not have been pressed - but it was, suggesting that they were not expected on Tuesday.


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That is good to hear. Thank you very much for your insight, antone. We will wait to hear the outcome of the decision now. Thanks again.

 

It seems that both of my Jobcentre related posts have been merged by the mods into this one thread now... so if anyone has any knowledge of applying for training funding through the Jobcentre please can you help. My question is in the 3rd post of this very thread...

 

Basically, my son is claiming JSA and wants to do a chainsaw safety qualification. He found a training centre which is registered on the Jobcentre's funding scheme list. His JC adviser has been very positive about it all, until his last JSA signing appointment when the adviser's tone had changed and now demands that my son provides a letter from a future employer stating 100% that IF son acquires this chainsaw qualification, then he will be offered a job.

 

This seems like an intentionally impossible task because no employer is going to make a firm job offer to someone who may or may not pass an exam, when they have many other candidates applying for the position as well.

 

Also, there is no way an employer could enforce an offer of work upon my son even if he does pass his chainsaw qualification.

 

It seems to be very discriminatory and unfair. What can we do? Do we have grounds to launch a complaint?

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A claimant’s signing on day will depend on the last two numbers of their National Insurance Number:

 

00 to 19 --- Monday

20 to 39 --- Tuesday

40 to 59 --- Wednesday

60 to 79 --- Thursday

80 to 99 --- Friday

 

In my own case, where my signing-on day falls on Monday, if it falls on a Bank Holiday Monday I am excused signing-on for 4 weeks, the next fortnightly signing–on day. Money gets paid in as usual give or take a day, usually earlier. It must be triggered automatically but nothing interferes with a claimants allotted day. It has been set this way by law since 2009.

 

In your son’s case either his adviser is an idiot or he was being set up for a sanction. Fortunately you have written evidence that can only lead to one conclusion. Idiot.

 

 

 

 

 

Re: funding for training:

 

Back in 2011 they appear to have had something called ‘Jobcentre Plus Flexible Support Fund’. It would seem to be just what your son and/or his partner might benefit from.

 

There appears to be little or no recent information or details about it though. It seems that back in 2011 the DWP were throwing millions at companies in the London area to get their snouts in this fund. If you’re a Northerner, tough ****, mate.

 

Anyway here’s the link, check it out.

 

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/SN06079/jobcentre-plus-flexible-support-fund

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In my own case, where my signing-on day falls on Monday, if it falls on a Bank Holiday Monday I am excused signing-on for 4 weeks, the next fortnightly signing–on day. Money gets paid in as usual give or take a day, usually earlier. It must be triggered automatically but nothing interferes with a claimants allotted day. It has been set this way by law since 2009.

 

In your son’s case either his adviser is an idiot or he was being set up for a sanction. Fortunately you have written evidence that can only lead to one conclusion. Idiot.

 

 

Payment is triggered automatically on bank holidays because the computer knows what days those are. On other days manual input is required.

 

It would be nice to have more input from a person with direct JSA experience as to what might have happened. We even used to have some around the forum, but they've all disappeared because people kept calling them and their colleagues "idiots".


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Payment is triggered automatically on bank holidays because the computer knows what days those are. On other days manual input is required.

 

It would be nice to have more input from a person with direct JSA experience as to what might have happened. We even used to have some around the forum, but they've all disappeared because people kept calling them and their colleagues "idiots".

Thanks for the clarification Antone.

 

I thought you had a smattering of Job Centre experience yourself, your input, on the whole, is invaluable. It would be an awful loss to see you go, but then nobody would call you anything other than a conscientious dispenser of pearls of wisdom.

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Thanks for the clarification Antone.

 

I thought you had a smattering of Job Centre experience yourself, your input, on the whole, is invaluable. It would be an awful loss to see you go, but then nobody would call you anything other than a conscientious dispenser of pearls of wisdom.

 

Oh, I have been called some...interesting things in my time here :wink:

 

I do have JCP experience, but as an ESA processor and later an ESA DEx (Dialogue Expert - guy who knows how to get the computer to do what you want, basically). Of course, I know some of the JSA processes and rules, which is why I advised as I did in this thread, but it would be nice to hear from someone who could help us understand what went wrong here.


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An update:

 

Today my son and his partner both received a letter each from the DWP/JSA.

 

The letter addressed to my son says "We have looked at your claim following a recent change. From 23 July 2014 your allowance will be £72.40 a week. ABOUT MS PARTNER This is because we recently told you that a decision would be made about a doubt: on whether you failed to attend an interview with an Employment Service adviser or officer on the date specified. We have now decided that you failed to attend this interview and that you did not have sufficiently good reasons for doing so. This decision applies from 23 July 2014 to 19 August 2014."

 

The letter addressed to son's partner (an Estonian national who has been living in the UK with my son since 2012) says "We have looked at your claim following a recent change. We cannot pay you an allowance from 23 July 2014 to 19 August 2014. ABOUT MR SON This is because we recently told you that a decision would be made about a doubt..." (letter then follows much the same as my son's)

 

23 July was the last time they attended the JC to see their adviser for a signing appointment. So, basically, they have temporarily reduced their claim from a joint one, to a single one in my son's name, for 4 weeks as a punishment for failing to attend. Of course, we disagree with everything about this decision.

 

What is the best course of action to follow now?

 

We noticed that their last JSA payment, following their 23 July visit to see their adviser, was paid in full on 29 July 2014. So, as someone hinted at in this thread, someone at the Jobcentre indeed pressed a button on their system to release their payment despite accusing them on failing to attend.

 

To recap, we have written evidence that the JC adviser postponed the date of their next scheduled signing appointment, pushing it back from their normal signing day of Tuesday 22/07 to Friday 25/07, because he himself was not able to attend the JC due to his own training commitments. He signed this amended date & time in the appointment timetable in their My Work Plan booklets. He gave no other verbal or written instruction that, despite this new Friday 25/07 scheduled appointment, they should indeed attend on the Tuesday. Indeed, such an instruction would have been contradictory and illogical.

 

On 23/07, after being asked to attend the JC ASAP via telephone, my son asked the adviser if they still needed to attend the JC on Friday 25/07. They both witnessed him confirm that they didn't need to attend twice in one week.

 

They have been set-up to fail by their JC and they are furious to learn that they will now be financially punished.

 

Can anyone advise please? Thank you

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Just to add, they called the DWP JSA telephone line and the agent said that in fact both my son and his partner were being sanctioned, and that neither will be receiving any JSA money from 23rd July to 19th August.

 

Again, this just adds to the confusion.

 

A decision maker will be calling them in a few hours to go over all of the details again, and reconsider if necessary but they don't hold much hope at this stage.

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If necessary, after they have spoken to the DM they need to ask in writing for mandatory reconsideration, with a copy of the written change to their signing day. If this is also declined they will then need to submit an appeal.

In the meantime, I believe that they can apply for something like a hardship payment, but it's not something I know anything about so it could now be called something else.


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Yes, there are two things to do now:

 

1) Apply for hardship payments. This can be done in person at the Jobcentre, and it should be done ASAP because it can't be backdated beyond the date of application. Hardship payments are 60% of the normal rate of benefit, and are not payable, in most circumstances, for the first 14 days of a sanction period. There are exceptions if someone in the household is classed as "vulnerable", such as a pregnant woman, parent of young children or a disabled person.

 

2) Request, in writing, a Mandatory Reconsideration of the decision to sanction. Include as much evidence as possible - the decision will be reviewed by a DM, and not the DM who made the first decision. If this is not successful then, as reallymadwoman says, the next stage is to appeal to the independent tribunal, whose decision is binding on the DWP unless they choose to appeal to the Upper Tier Tribunal on a point of law, which they rarely do.


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Hi reallymanwoman, thanks for your reply.

 

During their conversation with the Jobcentre Enquiry Line agent, they asked if they could immediately request a Mandatory Reconsideration instead of waiting to speak to, and hear from, a DM.

 

The agent skirted around the question and "strongly advised" that they should first agree to speak to a DM, who would listen to their side of things and immediately give them a decision there and then, on the phone. He argued that the DM department had already viewed their case, and had taken a dim view of their side of things, and therefore he did not want to unnecessarily prolong matters... especially if they are struggling for money due to the JSA sanction. The agent was firm and "very strongly" advised that they should wait to receive a callback from the DM, which they agreed to.

 

So, after waiting 3 hours for a call this afternoon, the person calling from the DM department listened to their argument, but declined my son's offer to send scanned copies of the timetable in their My Work Plan booklets (hard evidence) saying that she would submit my son's argument to the real decision maker - who would then take anything up to a MONTH to reach a decision and inform them in writing - in the meantime, they should apply for a hardship fund which they may or may not be eligible for. Disgusting.

 

They have been recording their phone calls to the DWP since the start of this problem, so they do have evidence of everything said so far.

 

In your opinions (which I value more than anyone who is acting on behalf of the DWP, at this stage!) should they call again and demand a Mandatory Reconsideration? They certainly cannot afford to be led on for months while faceless, unreachable Decision Makers decide their fate.

 

Is writing to our MP likely to have any effect?

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antone, you posted just as I was writing the last message.

 

Thanks. We will look into the proper procedure for applying for Mandatory Reconsideration then.

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I would always advise doing everything in writing with DWP, sent by recorded delivery so they can't deny receipt either.

 

When this is sorted, they could consider complaining about being misadvised.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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It can't hurt to have a try with your MP and hopefully he's sympathetic to what's happened

From what others say about MPs - if they help then they are pretty useful

It does sound like they are messing you r son and his partner about though

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So, today they both attended a Hardship Payment interview at the Jobcentre. They were asked to submit a bank statement.

 

At the time of the interview, they had £275.00 in their bank account as they received their last joint claim payment only 8 days ago, and the pair of them are very careful not to waste or frit away any of their JSA money from week to week. They always try to save a good piece in case of an emergency, or an interview comes up for a job in their field of work and they would have to travel by train, as they don't currently have a car.

 

In fact, they were trying to save up, little by little, to pay for driving lessons so they could realistically apply for jobs further afield (we live in the sticks with terrible public transport).

 

So, because they have £275.00 (now less than £200.00 due to the purchase of groceries and necessities) the Jobcentre adviser decided they were not eligible to receive ANY Hardship Payment for the remaining 2 weeks of their sanction.

 

They will survive, of course. I imagine a lot of, if not most people, would REALLY struggle if they didn't have family support.

 

As per the advice here, they have written to their MP and are also considering writing to the national press (maybe the Mirror would be a good place to start) and the local newspaper.

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Well, just to update, our local MP has been immensely helpful so far.

 

My son sent him a (very long) e-mail, detailing exactly what happened, and asked for help . He attached scanned copies of the hand written documents as evidence.

 

Our MP immediately responded saying he was on the case. The next day he updated us with an e-mail he had sent to the regional Jobcentre office.

 

Few days later he updated us with a prompt reply from the Jobcentre office manager. They basically re-stated everything already said, and noted the decision would be made after the Mandatory Reconsideration in another 2+ weeks. They also said the MP's correspondence would be forwarded to the decision maker.

 

It's obvious that the MP's attention has really made the Jobcentre stand up and take notice of my son's dispute. For that reason alone, I would recommend contacting your MP to anyone going through a similar situation.

 

Get everything in writing from the Jobcentre/DWP, and audio record any telephone/Jobcentre staff interactions if possible. Promptly send a Mandatory Reconsideration request, then politely get in touch with your MP and carefully detail everything.

 

We'll update this thread when we hear back from the Mandatory Reconsideration DM. If they still claim my son & partner failed to attend without a good reason they will appeal to the First Tier Tribunal, as they truly believe this has been a set-up. Thanks to everyone's helpful comments in this thread. This website is a goldmine for anyone in trouble.

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