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ESA WRAG lifeskills?


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I am currently on ESA and in the WRAG, i haven't been attending any appointments because according to them they didn't have the facilities in my area. Previously i have been doing telephone appointments once every 2 weeks or once a month.

 

After about a year i got a phone call telling me there will no more telephone appointments and i have to attend a work related activity interview.

 

I attended this interview and they said they are a private company ( life skills ) doesn't seem to be any info online about them. Anyway, they said because my work capability assessment was last July the clock is ticking and i technically should be considered fit to work.

 

I had to sign a document that looked like a sign on book you do at the job center when on JSA and was given another appointment letter for in 2 weeks. I was told that i can look for jobs etc despite being on ESA and not JSA. Why should i have to look for jobs?

 

All very bizarre, not sure what is going on. If i am now on the work program? Guess i am. :???:

 

Any info on this WRAG and work program would be appreciated.

 

Thanks

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I assume you have been press ganged in to the Work Programme, if not, the following should still apply. From Chapter 3a of the Work Programme guidance:

[...]although mandatory ESA participants can be supported towards employment they cannot be mandated to:

 

  • apply for jobs, or
  • take up work
  • Mandatory ESA participants cannot be required to undertake medical treatment

So.... Whilst you can be asked to look for work, you do not have to apply for any vacancies. If you get told to "look for work" again, ask the "adviser" if he/she is aware of the different conditionality rules that must be applied to ESA claimants. Follow this up by asking how this fits in with the goal of being "supported towards employment".

 

If you have difficulty in challenging these people, do you have a friend who can accompany you to one of these meetings ?

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Hi Mr P, I am assuming i am now in the work program although they never said at my interview.

 

Does the above chapter 3a apply to people in the work program that are on ESA in the WRAG? Or just people that aren't in the work program, can you be in the WRAG and not on the work program? I don't know.

 

If i am on ESA in the WRAG i am not mandated to apply for any jobs during work program?

 

I will challenge these people i am just very confused by the whole thing it seems to be just JSA people that attend this place. I even told them i am moving house soon to a different area and they said they would 'transfer me'. Whatever that means.

 

At my next meeting i will tell them i am not searching for jobs as i am on ESA and see what they say. They seem to be trying to pressure me into it but i won't allow it to happen.

 

Also i don't think i should be going every 2 weeks when on ESA.

 

Sorry for all the questions.

 

Thanks for the advice.

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The Work Programme is targeted at JSA, ESA, Income Support, and Pension Credit claimants - Some groups, such as JSA and ESA WRAG, participation is compulsory, whilst others can attend on a voluntary basis. Chapter 2 of the provider guidance details the different groups. It is worth reading all the published guidance so that you know what to expect. e.g. Providers are responsible for reimbursing travel expenses (with no strings attached). They also have a duty to protect client confidentiality and provide private rooms for meetings.

 

Frequency of mandatory appointments are down to the discretion of the "adviser" you have to deal with. He/she could force you to attend on a daily basis, or just make one appointment every six months. Not much you can do about that I'm afraid apart from challenging the "adviser" as to it being reasonable in your circumstances.... However, mandatory appointments must be made in writing, and the letter either handed to you or posted in good time. The letter(s) must also comply with current guidance (there are templates in Chapter 3a) and include the word "mandatory" along with other key phrases. The letters should also display the Job Centre Plus and ESF logos to be fully compliant.

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Interesting and helpful reply Mr P thanks.

 

The letter i got handed to me from them doesn't say it is a mandatory appointment or threaten any sanctions if i do not attend. It doesn't have any logos from the JCP or any other logos on it. The guy only told me verbally if i can't attend, phone them ahead of my appointment or they'll 'have to 'tell the job center'.

 

Here s what the letter says:

 

Dear XXXXX

 

Important information - your next appointment

 

This letter contains the details of your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you again and continuing to support you to find the right job.

 

My appointment will be:

 

On: XXXXX

At: XXXXX

 

Location: XXXXX

 

With: XXXX

 

It is very important that you attend all appointments. If you cannot attend, you must contact us as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made for a new appointment.

 

So no mention of it being mandatory and no logos. It also doesn't mention the 'work program'.

 

As i mentioned in my original post i had been getting telephone appointments and after looking at the letters i got for them mentioned the 'work program' and that they were 'mandatory' appointments. It also had a 'lifeskills' logo on the top and threatened sanctions if i didn't 'attend'.

 

I must of already been on the work program, i will have to find out how long i have been on it and how long i have left. The man mentioned i have 12 months + prognosis and the 12 months are up, so i am guessing it isn't voluntary for me to be in this, as im ESA WRAG.

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To be compliant with current Work Programme guidance, that letter should contain the following phrases:

 

 

  • As part of your participation in the Work Programme, I am writing to inform you of an appointment which you are mandated to attend.
  • Please note that if you do not undertake the activities required in this notification your benefit could be affected.
  • This activity forms part of your work-related activity action plan.

If you are taking part in a different mandatory DWP funded programme, I would still expect the appointment letters to contain those phrases - If you can find out exactly which programme you are on, it would help us to direct you to the relevant guidance.

 

On the assumption that you are indeed on the Work Programme, the letter you quote is just an "invite to attend" - If you feel unable to attend, a courtesy call to inform them of your absence would be in order. They may try to raise a benefit doubt, but you don't want the stress of having to fight a sanction, so point out that the letter is not compliant and take it from there.

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Thanks for that. I will ring them on Monday and find out if i am actually on the work program.

Where would be the best place to find this out? Should i ring the number on my appointment letter or is it the DWP or JCP i have to contact?

 

Thanks for the advice.

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Well i rang the JCP and they said they'd call me back tomorrow about my query. I'm hoping they will be able to tell me if i'm in the work program or not, and if i am in it, hopefully they can tell me how long i have been in it for and how long further i am mandated to be in it for. Then i'll know how long i have left in the program, as right now i have no idea.

 

I learnt a couple of new things about my claim today though when i rang the ESA number, according to them i'v been in the WRAG since January so assuming i have been on the work program since then it will be coming up for a year and i'll have a year left as most people seem to be mandated to the work program for 2 years from what i'v read. The most worrying thing they told me was i have a ''Work capability assessment referal'' on my file because i'v been on ESA for 24 months. They told me to expect a letter with the date for my WCA but right now they are ''waiting for one to become available in my area''.

 

I thought ATOS no longer existed and WCA had been scrapped? I'm sure i read something like that. I have only had one WCA in the 24 months i have been on ESA, but it was horrible. All this uncertainty and stress has made my condition worse, i hate having these people on my back and the confusion and anxiety it brings.

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Although ATOS no longer conduct the WCA, the company is still around. Another outfit has been awarded the WCA contract, the name may be familiar to some here - Maximus - They have their fingers in the Work Programme pie, so don't expect anything better than the last one you had to endure.

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Well i rang the JCP and they said they'd call me back tomorrow about my query. I'm hoping they will be able to tell me if i'm in the work program or not, and if i am in it, hopefully they can tell me how long i have been in it for and how long further i am mandated to be in it for. Then i'll know how long i have left in the program, as right now i have no idea.

 

I learnt a couple of new things about my claim today though when i rang the ESA number, according to them i'v been in the WRAG since January so assuming i have been on the work program since then it will be coming up for a year and i'll have a year left as most people seem to be mandated to the work program for 2 years from what i'v read. The most worrying thing they told me was i have a ''Work capability assessment referal'' on my file because i'v been on ESA for 24 months. They told me to expect a letter with the date for my WCA but right now they are ''waiting for one to become available in my area''.

 

I thought ATOS no longer existed and WCA had been scrapped? I'm sure i read something like that. I have only had one WCA in the 24 months i have been on ESA, but it was horrible. All this uncertainty and stress has made my condition worse, i hate having these people on my back and the confusion and anxiety it brings.

 

I know exactly how you feel. Oh to be in work and independent, even if is just part time, would be a dream for me.

But these people the government / the DWP just don't get it. They are wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers money trying to bully people off benefits !!!

They would actually save money just letting the country fester on benefits for life! (Though obviously I do not agree with that idea!)

But there must be some sort of common sense system which would work better than the current one

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The JCP phoned me today and told me they don't know if i am on the work program and i'd have to ring the ESA enquiry number. They said i'd have to attend all the appointments if i am in the WRAG though, despite not being able to tell me if i am in the work program or not. I rang the ESA number and they told me to contact the JCP, i rang the JCP they told me to ring the ESA number. What a joke this is, round and round in circles.

 

:!::!:

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Write to the JCP, head the letter "complaint" - State that you asked a simple question and have been given the run round and that you require an answer by return of post.

 

While they are contemplating a reply, send a Subject Access Request to the DWP asking for all information held by them and any/all subcontractors - There is no fee for this and it should provide an answer and also give you a pile of additional information should you need it in the future.

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Write to the JCP, head the letter "complaint" - State that you asked a simple question and have been given the run round and that you require an answer by return of post.

 

While they are contemplating a reply, send a Subject Access Request to the DWP asking for all information held by them and any/all subcontractors - There is no fee for this and it should provide an answer and also give you a pile of additional information should you need it in the future.

 

I decided to ring JCP again before i sent a letter and they said they'd say i am still a work program participant because i have been in it since July 2013 and its over a 2 year period. So it looks like i am part of the work program till July 2015.

 

I will still do the subject access request to see what they have on me though. Excellent advice.

 

So i am part of the work program but they haven't written on my letter its mandatory for me to attend the appointment, so i think i will carry out the advice given in post #6 as it seems to be an invite to attend?

 

Thanks.

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So it looks like i am part of the work program till July 2015.

 

[...] but they haven't written on my letter its mandatory for me to attend the appointment, so i think i will carry out the advice given in post #6 as it seems to be an invite to attend?

 

You have our sympathies, but hopefully when your time is up, we will have some decent weather to look forward to.

 

As for the appointment, be aware that they could try to raise a benefit doubt which might result in a sanction being imposed. If you decide not to attend, it would be wise to give them a call and get them to confirm that it is only an invite - Refer them to Chapter 3a of the WP provider guidance if you need to and point out that they must follow correct procedure.

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You have our sympathies, but hopefully when your time is up, we will have some decent weather to look forward to.

As for the appointment, be aware that they could try to raise a benefit doubt which might result in a sanction being imposed. If you decide not to attend, it would be wise to give them a call and get them to confirm that it is only an invite - Refer them to Chapter 3a of the WP provider guidance if you need to and point out that they must follow correct procedure.

 

I'm guessing you're a glass half full type of guy Mr.P? :smile:

 

I'll ring them tomorrow about the appointment.

 

When doing the subject access request to the DWP will i get all the info this lifeskills work program provider company have on me as well, or do i have to do a separate one for them?

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When doing the subject access request to the DWP will i get all the info this lifeskills work program provider company have on me as well, or do i have to do a separate one for them?

 

The DWP is the "data controller" for these subcontracted programmes, so just the one SAR is sufficient - You do need to demand all data held by third parties including Lifeskills.

 

As for the "glass half full", just a cynical b****d that is all to aware of the kinds of tricks these outfits pull.

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The DWP is the "data controller" for these subcontracted programmes, so just the one SAR is sufficient - You do need to demand all data held by third parties including Lifeskills.

 

As for the "glass half full", just a cynical b****d that is all to aware of the kinds of tricks these outfits pull.

 

Just rang them there, told them i was unable to attend the appointment because i'm going away for 2 weeks. The guy told me that he'd have to notify the job center and i could be sanctioned. As the appointment was showing as mandatory on their system. Said they don't make the decisions if my benefit is affected or not, just fill in the paperwork so he can't say if my benefit will be affected or not.

 

Said if the letter doesn't say its mandatory then i have nothing to worry about as i could use this as 'proof' when appealing. I told him the letter didn't say its mandatory but he insisted he has to notify the job center anyway if i'm unable to attend the appointment. I don't understand why they have to notify the job center and raise a sanction doubt if i'm unable to attend and have told them in advance.

 

Was on the phone for 15 minutes saying its doesn't say its mandatory but he wouldn't listen, said regardless if you don't attend, the job center will have to be notified and he can't say if my benefit will be affected as they don't make the decisions.

Edited by Lisbon67
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Just rang them there, told them i was unable to attend the appointment because i'm going away for 2 weeks.[...]

Was on the phone for 15 minutes saying its doesn't say its mandatory but he wouldn't listen, said regardless if you don't attend, the job center will have to be notified and he can't say if my benefit will be affected as they don't make the decisions.

 

They do have the choice as to whether they notify the DWP, and they must take steps to ensure a benefit doubt is only raised for a properly mandated activity (see Chapter 6 of the provider guidance). It is quite possible that the DWP will impose a sanction before sending you a letter asking for "good reason", so keep an eye on your bank balance and be ready to fight if the payment doesn't turn up at the usual time.

 

If/when the "good reason" letter turns up, send it back with a copy of the appointment letter and ask for a mandatory reconsideration on the basis that the activity was not mandatory and Lifeskills failed to follow correct procedure.

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They do have the choice as to whether they notify the DWP, and they must take steps to ensure a benefit doubt is only raised for a properly mandated activity (see Chapter 6 of the provider guidance). It is quite possible that the DWP will impose a sanction before sending you a letter asking for "good reason", so keep an eye on your bank balance and be ready to fight if the payment doesn't turn up at the usual time.

 

If/when the "good reason" letter turns up, send it back with a copy of the appointment letter and ask for a mandatory reconsideration on the basis that the activity was not mandatory and Lifeskills failed to follow correct procedure.

 

I might just attend the appointment rather than have the stress of fighting a sanction in the follow up to Christmas, or i could try and ring them tomorrow and see if they will accept me emailing a photo of the letter as proof doesn't say its mandatory, seeing as they don't seem to believe me.

 

The appointment is on Wednesday.

 

They don't know their own rules it would appear. I might attend and show it doesn't say its mandatory then walk out after they give me my travel expenses. :evil:

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I think i they may of sneaked into signing the data sharing form, i stupidly signed something without reading it. It could of been that.

 

How do i find out if i signed the agreement for them to share my personal data and if so how do i remove my consent?

 

Thanks.

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You should be able to do a subject access review. You may have to pay for it though.

 

Yes, a SAR would (hopefully) reveal everything you (the OP) signed up to. But as the DWP is the 'data controller', their rules apply in regards any fees payable - As long as the request is made via the DWP, it is free of charge.

 

Tip: Hand the SAR in at your local JCP office and get them to mark a copy as received along with the date. They then have 40 calendar days to comply.

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I attended the interview yesterday but made it clear i was doing so on a voluntary basis and showed them the letter and that it didn't say it was a mandatory appointment. I recorded the interview and told them i wouldn't be applying or searching for jobs and they agreed they can't make claimants on health related benefits do this.

 

My next appointment i have to complete a CV and email them it or fill in a form that will help create a draft for a cv. I'm wary of doing this as i don't want them to have my CV in their possession, they could end up sending it off to employers without my knowledge. So my plan is to complete my own CV and bring it in to show them without allowing them to keep a copy.

 

I'm feeling better about this appointment than the last one now i know more about my rights. The only thing is, they said i might have to do group sessions which i wouldn't be comfortable with, due to my health condition, hopefully i can't be mandated to do this. I also wasn't very comfortable in the open plan office environment, i could hear peoples conversations and they could hear mine. So next time i will ask for a private room on a one to one basis.

 

I still plan to send the SAR request to the DWP, thank you for the advice i have been given in this thread, its been a great help.

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