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JSA sanction after bad advice from Job Centre staff


BupBupBup
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I was referred to the mandatory work programme in Feb and was given a placement which started on 25th Feb.

 

 

A family member was due out of hospital 6 days later (3rd March) and would need someone to look after them for a short time.

I contacted the placement provider and explained the situation,

and they agreed that it didn't make sense to attend the placement for three days

and then have to take an unknown amount of time off.

 

 

They told me that an alternative start date could be arranged,

but that I would need to contact the Job Centre as they were the only ones who could change the placement date.

 

I visited the Job Centre that afternoon.

My usual case advisor was not there so I spoke to someone else.

I explained the situation as before and she agreed that it was a reasonable request,

made some notes on the computer (she did not show/tell me what),

and told me that I would be removed from the placement

and that another placement would be arranged at a later date.

 

 

She told me my advisor would be in touch if there were any problems.

 

The 25th Feb arrived and I did not attend the placement - having been told I did not need to.

 

 

At my next meeting with my advisor (13th March) she made no mention of the placement, or of any alternative dates.

Nor did she say there were any problems with my claim.

 

On 16th March I received a letter telling me I was being given a 13 week sanction for not attending the placement on the 25th Feb.

This adds up to my losing just shy of £1000.

I asked for the mandatory reconsideration I was entitled to

 

 

about a week later received a long phone call where I was told the original reason was not satisfactory

and that I should have attended for three days and then requested time off.

This is the exact opposite of what staff at both the provider and the Job Centre told me, and I had no way of knowing this.

 

I am now at the stage where I will have to make an appeal to the HMRC tribunal, and could use some advice.

 

 

Does the relevant legislation have any kind of allowance for "acting as a reasonable person could be expected"

or "acting based on information you believe to be true", or something like that?

 

 

I have nothing in writing saying my request had been approved, only verbal conformation (from two sources).

 

 

I have requested copies of my records from the Job Centre, but do not yet know what (if any) information they contain.

So at the moment it comes down to my word against theirs.

Edited by BupBupBup
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I was told the original reason was not satisfactory

 

This bit confuses me, did they base this answer on information they have on record or information you gave them during the phone call ?

 

Your advisor at their discretion can suspend joining the work program for a period of time, I guess what is reasonable to one, might be unreasonable to another

 

But if the person you originally saw believed it was reasonable then I would presume that decision stands.

 

I would go and see the adviser that you originally made the request to, if possible, explain your situation and try and get them to correct the problem.

 

If there is no record of your request and the adviser suffers from dementia then I think it would be impossible to overturn the decision.

 

I hope someone responds with some decent information how best you can progress in this, £1000 pound fine for someone else's clerical error is beyond a joke, just another example of why the sanction regime should be scrapped, but when 78% of the general population believe the sanctions regime is a good idea it is not going to happen any time soon.

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In fact I would go armed with a recording device, look for the advisor that you originally saw, and just casually say with a warm smile on your face,

" hello there, can you remember when you postponed my work program appointment ? " and keep the warm smile like you want to thank them for something, then hopefully they might be more inclined to say yes, lol, then go in for the kill, metaphorically speaking of course.

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Very useful links,

 

As I see it though, the issue is, did the original adviser use their discretion to suspend the work program allocation.

 

As it is a discretionary power I believe they do not need to follow the guidlines on what is good cause, and for whatever reason failed to update the system correctly, if this can shown to be the case then surely it should not be sent to a decision maker in the first place.

 

If there is no way to get the situation reversed then those links provide an excellent resource on the best way to approach your defence and what evidence you might need although in my opinion is does not look good if this is the route you have to take.

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You can always appeal the decision at local level first, then they will state you can appeal to the tribunal and then you may get the original decision overturned at tribunal, then you will get the money back and then any new information may affect the level of benefit you can claim as an extra.

 

 

The idea is to sanction people for any reason and save money for the department, but at the expense of the claimant, going back to post #1 you stated the advisor agreed that your request was reasonable, this was maybe inputted in to the system, ask them for clarification if need be.

 

 

You will need to remember that every time an advisor accesses a claimants file their PID will leave a trace of their visit. Use this to show that you did indeed have that time with the advisor on that date. If the advisor did something wrong this will/may be picked up on review. Just a thought here ok....

 

 

As an afterthought I would now be recording all calls from the JCP/DWP for accuracy and security of information given, you do not need to tell them you are recording the call just get in the habit of doing so from now on...

If I have been of any help, please click on my star and leave a note to let me know, thank you.

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Have a read of sections K1-K9 here[...]

 

Thanks, that gives me a place to start at least. K2021-23 seem to cover my situation, but I'll be sure to give everything a thorough read.

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You may also find this link of interest http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmworpen/814/81405.htm#a5

 

 

See this quote

 

"15. JSA sanctions should not be applied where the claimant can show "good reason" for not fulfilling the mandatory requirement in question. The relevant guidance for Decision Makers lists a number of circumstances, including illness and family bereavement, which can be considered to constitute good reason, but these are not defined in legislation."

If I have been of any help, please click on my star and leave a note to let me know, thank you.

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