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Issues with work programme - jobsearch record and victimisation


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Hi, I am on JSA and am currently with a work programme provider. I have two issues I hope someone can help me with. First I have been told that I need to attend their (the work programme provider) site for regular jobsearching on their system, but I was also told I need to leave a written record of jobs I have applied for with them at the end of the session (telling me this is mandated for everyone with them on JSA by the DWP). I am sure I have read in this forum somewhere that I do not have to leave this written record for data protection and other reasons, does anyone know where I can find this information, preferably with some sort of evidence/proof that I can take along to my next jobsearch?

 

Second I suffer from anxiety and have brought either my partner or a family member with me to many of my meetings. I am also sure I have seen other clients doing the same thing. My current advisor (like previous advisors I have had with them) appeared to be understanding with this and even put me on a self help course. However literally only minutes after I tried to defend what I believe to be my rights concerning the written record, I was told for health and safety, blah blah, insurance, blah blah etc that I cannot bring anyone along who is not a registered carer with me from now on. This is already very stressful for me even with bringing someone along, does anyone have any advice on this. I feel a little victimised considering the timing of this sudden change and feel they are trying to punish me for standing up for my rights.

 

Thanks in advance for any Help.

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Hi I had a similar problem with the JCP. Anxiety is the fashionable illness of our generation - just go on ESA it'll get them off your back for a while and is impossible to prove or disprove.

Perfect!

Good luck

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you have the right to a companion at any dealings with the dwp and should they refuse then you want the regional managers contact details so you can make a formal complaint.

 

http://www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk/node/32 will help. there are links etc to follow to allow u to find the info you need

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The SabreSheep, All information is offered on good faith and based on mine and others experiences. I am not a qualified legal professional and you should always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your position.

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@Glorian - many thanks for the reply, I was hoping to stay off ESA for personal reasons (at least for now) I was just hoping I'd be able to tackle these two issues directly.

 

@SabreSheep - many thanks too, however both issues were with the work programme provider not the dwp, the link looks useful but only seems to apply to dwp interviews.

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Hi I had a similar problem with the JCP. Anxiety is the fashionable illness of our generation - just go on ESA it'll get them off your back for a while and is impossible to prove or disprove.

Perfect!

Good luck

 

Just...stop it.

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The idea that all politicians lie is music to the ears of the most egregious liars.

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Hi I had a similar problem with the JCP. Anxiety is the fashionable illness of our generation - just go on ESA it'll get them off your back for a while and is impossible to prove or disprove.

Perfect!

Good luck

 

Really? Actually to many people anxiety is an awful reality which overshadows everything. Some people are unable to work because of it. Some people (myself included. If you were to meet me, I am probably someone you wouldn't think was on antidepressants) would actually find being away from work makes things worse- time to sit & brood on things. Take it from me, anxiety & depression is no walk in the park.

 

Yes, it is easy to fake but not everyone with the diagnosis is faking it. Nor is everyone swinging the lead using anxiety.

Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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[...[ however both issues were with the work programme provider not the dwp, the link looks useful but only seems to apply to dwp interviews.

 

All work programme providers are answerable to the DWP. The WP provider should have given you a copy of their complaints procedure, which you should follow. If they didn't give you this information, then that would be a separate complaint to direct at the DWP.

 

Please have a look at this document from the DWP: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/444786/wp-pg-chapter-16-v8.pdf

 

What the WP provider told you about your companion being a registered carer to comply with their H&S and insurance policy is, putting it politely, hogwash. Lodge a formal complaint with them, send a copy addressed to the Third Party Provisions Manager at your local JCP/DWP office, and to complete the trio, another copy to your MP.

 

If this job search "activity" is mandatory as they claim, then you should be provided with a Mandatory Activity Notice in writing detailing what is involved.

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What the WP provider told you about your companion being a registered carer to comply with their H&S and insurance policy is, putting it politely, hogwash. Lodge a formal complaint with them, send a copy addressed to the Third Party Provisions Manager at your local JCP/DWP office, and to complete the trio, another copy to your MP.

 

Many thanks for your helpful reply. As well as following this complaints route, what could I say (or show) to the WP provider at my next meeting/jobsearch session so that they wouldnt throw out my partner, and when would I be able to next bring them in without fear of consequence?

 

If this job search "activity" is mandatory as they claim, then you should be provided with a Mandatory Activity Notice in writing detailing what is involved.

 

I have a MAN about attendance to the jobsearch sessions though there is no mention on that about details. Is there any evidence that I am not obliged to leave any paperwork for these sessions as they might decide to add that to the MAN for later sessions if I point out it wasnt in the current one (they seem to send them to me on a week by week basis).

 

Possibly just my anxiety speaking, but I am also worried about victimisation, with the possibility that the WP provider will be looking for other ways to "punish" me for trying to stand up for myself.

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Many thanks for your helpful reply. As well as following this complaints route, what could I say (or show) to the WP provider at my next meeting/jobsearch session so that they wouldnt throw out my partner, and when would I be able to next bring them in without fear of consequence?

 

One of the documents that can be found via the link that SabreSheep posted should suffice: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/196795/response/486014/attach/3/Response%20634.pdf

 

If the "adviser" in question wishes to dispute the presence of your companion, then he/she should be instructed to telephone their DWP contact for guidance. You may have to firm on this and try not to be intimidated. Don't forget to record the conversation (covertly if needs be): Most mobile phones have an app for that.

 

Possibly just my anxiety speaking, but I am also worried about victimisation, with the possibility that the WP provider will be looking for other ways to "punish" me for trying to stand up for myself.

 

I had the same concerns myself, so I recorded every conversation, and when they claimed I had swore at and abused staff, I had the evidence to prove otherwise. If you suspect that you may become a target for victimisation, start the process of collecting evidence now. Keep all letters, record all conversations, and take a witness.

 

Going back to your original post: If they are asking for evidence of vacancies applied for during the job search session, but have not specified how many jobs to apply for, there is one way out. Simply state that "no suitable vacancies found". It helps if any suitable vacancies that you did find, you have already applied for from home and recorded in your JCP file.

 

When involved with these clowns (before it became the Work Programme), I would refuse any "supervised job searches" on the following grounds:

 

  • I had free and unfettered access to the internet at home.
  • I had a printer and copious quantities of stationary at home.
  • ALL of my personal & confidential information (eg: CV) was stored on a secure computer (again, at home).
  • My emails could only be accessed from my home computer.
  • The environment they provided was not conducive to task in question.

By that stage, I suspect I had been marked down as a disruptive influence, so the subject was never raised again.

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One of the documents that can be found via the link that SabreSheep posted should suffice

Many thanks again for taking the time to reply. The link you gave refers specifically to anxiety, although the reason is the same I have not been officially diagnosed and wanted to avoid that path as I dont want that kind of diagnosis attached to my history - is there something similar which applies to all customers? The original link from SabreSheep seemed as general as that, but only applied to dwp meetings.

 

I had the same concerns myself, so I recorded every conversation

I will see if this is possible, but I don't currently have a phone (although I might be able to borrow one if necessary). I think there is a notice up about not being allowed to record conversations which (unless i am legally allowed to override this?) would mean I could only use such evidence once - I doubt any persecution would stop at that point :(

 

and take a witness.

Unfortunately my partner and other family members aren't available for every session.

 

Going back to your original post: If they are asking for evidence of vacancies applied for during the job search session, but have not specified how many jobs to apply for, there is one way out. Simply state that "no suitable vacancies found". It helps if any suitable vacancies that you did find, you have already applied for from home and recorded in your JCP file.

I really like this idea :) However from how they seem to operate I can see them putting up with that only for so long before telling dwp eg that I wasn't making enough effort to find work or being deliberately "disruptive to the task" etc. Is there anything official I could use for a longer term solution for not having to leave evidence eg relating to data protection etc?

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As all work programme providers are under contract to the DWP, any rules that apply to JCP/DWP offices also apply to WP premises. They are, after all, funded by the tax payer, so they have to sing the same tune as any other government office.

 

As for recording conversations, either covertly or openly, you are keeping records for your own personal use. As long as you do not publish the recordings or pass them on to anyone else, you are not breaking any criminal law (including the Data Protection Act). The worst that you could be accused of is trespass which is a civil matter. If the signs have never been pointed out to you, plead ignorance and state that you were unaware of any restrictions.

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A snippet from a withhold consent letter I gave to my work program provider at the start of my sentence,seems relevant to your issues.

 

“A Work Programme provider may ask you to provide evidence of your job search as part of their support they give you but they cannot mandate you to provide it and you will not be sanctioned if you do not provide it”

From: DWP Central FoI Team – 28 February 2014

 

https://consentarchive.wordpress.com/workfareconsent/

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@Mr.P re recording conversations not knowing about the signs would still only work for one use of using the recordings as they would highlight any policy to me afterwards - how could I continue to make recordings after that if they continued to do things to make this advisable?

 

@trebormoinet - many thanks this looks very helpful :) If I had declined signing the consent/data waiver letters (following advice I read from other threads on this forum) would I still need to send them this letter? Also the quote you gave is perfect - but I can't find it from the link you gave or the links from that link.

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re recording conversations not knowing about the signs would still only work for one use of using the recordings as they would highlight any policy to me afterwards - how could I continue to make recordings after that if they continued to do things to make this advisable?

 

The DWP has procedures in place should any "customer" wish to record meetings. Advice has been drawn up and passed on to Work Programme providers to enable them to work to the same standard. Regardless of any signs, the "correct procedure" is to request (demand) a private room so that the conversations of other customers can not be overheard. When a WP provider receives a request for a private room, they must endeavour to provide suitable facilities.

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My apologies that was an earlier version, this is the link to the latest version from which I quoted.

 

Many thanks for the update :)

Many thanks for everyone's help, hopefully I have enough now (although I'm curious how you managed to avoid the jobsearches altogether, both the JCP and WP provider seem to think this isn't avoidable - there have been a few changes recently though which might make this no longer possible)

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I'm curious how you managed to avoid the jobsearches altogether

 

Difficult to say if me handing in the letter at the start of my sentence had any effect on the fact that 9 months in on the work programme I have not been mandated to conduct a supervised job search, I am not saying it is not possible they will do in the future and if mandated I will have no choice but presently they have not mentioned it to me.

 

I think they will find it difficult to justify why I would need this kind of help when I have all the resources at home and able and capable of conducting my own search without supervision.

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Never had to hand in any records to the WP and didn't see any others doing that either

Plus I'm sure you can bring a friend/partner to your appointments for moral support or which ever requirement you have - maybe this one doesn't want that so you comply with them and just obey

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Hi, I might add more to this later, but I wanted to give an update following my WP meeting and ask for any more advice.

 

The WP provider continued to refuse to allow my partner into the meeting (even having said last week that this one meeting was going to be ok) - I told them they need to contact their dwp contact but they insisted the dwp had already told them the opposite. They were going to give me a supporting document for this but this somehow got overlooked.

 

They also stated that the advice I had received re leaving written documentation was misguided (ie I had received bad advice from the dwp) and even added that I need to apply for 6 jobs and leave them a written record on my Action Plan. Is it safe to ignore the addition to the Action Plan?

 

I am going to follow up on the advice of complaining to the WP provider, the Third Party Provisions manager and the MP, but any advice either on the wording or any additional steps I should or should not do would be welcome.

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Here is a relevant document, issued in response to a Freedom of Information act request. A couple of years ago, a Jobcentre in Edinburgh called the police (!!!) to evict a person who had accompanied a JSA claimant to an interview. This establishes that the JCP was wrong to do so, and that claimants have the right to be accompanied to interviews at the Jobcentre. Since your WP provider is acting as an agent of the Jobcentre, the same rules apply to them as well.

 

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/199828/response/490264/attach/3/Reply%20955.pdf

 

With regard to the Action Plan and the WP provider stating that you have received incorrect advice from JCP, I would not accept such a claim without further evidence. My understanding would be that the WP provider can ask you to show them evidence of your jobsearch, but not insist that you let them keep it or copy it for their files. Perhaps Mr P has some thoughts about this?

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Many thanks for your reply

 

Since your WP provider is acting as an agent of the Jobcentre, the same rules apply to them as well.

 

I understand this makes logical sense but is there any evidence to directly support this that I could use at it seems to be this very point that the WP provider is challenging?

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My understanding would be that the WP provider can ask you to show them evidence of your jobsearch, but not insist that you let them keep it or copy it for their files.

 

Most employees of Work Programme providers have been designated as "employment officers" by the Secretary of State and consequently have similar powers bestowed upon them as a JCP advisor. Fortunately, most of them are ignorant of this, but it does give them the power to ask for evidence of job searches.

 

Having been designated "employment officers", the Work Programme "advisers" are bound by the same conditions as any other JCP/DWP representative. In other words, if the JCP is required to allow a claimant to be accompanied, so are all Work Programme providers. If they want to claim breach of Health & Safety, counter it with the Social Security Act, Jobseeker's Allowance (Schemes for Assisting Persons to Obtain Employment) Regulations, and the Wefare Reform Act. Alternatively, instruct them to contact their DWP handler for further guidance.

 

If asked, you should be prepared to provide the evidence of job searches requested or run the very real risk of a benefit doubt being raised.

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Most employees of Work Programme providers have been designated as "employment officers" by the Secretary of State and consequently have similar powers bestowed upon them as a JCP advisor. Fortunately, most of them are ignorant of this, but it does give them the power to ask for evidence of job searches.

 

If asked, you should be prepared to provide the evidence requested or run the very real risk of a benefit doubt being raised.

So a doubt is still a possibility? I thought this had been covered by trebormoinet's link - or has this changed since Feb 2014? Also would showing the evidence be sufficient as with JCP advisors instead of their taking away a copy?

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it does give them the power to ask for evidence of job searches.

 

If asked, you should be prepared to provide the evidence requested or run the very real risk of a benefit doubt being raised.

 

Forgive my ignorance but I declined to provide my job search to the work provider quoting the FOI request and they accepted my response, I know rules change and it is difficult to keep up to date with them has something changed recently to nullify this FOI reply?

 

“A Work Programme provider may ask you to provide evidence of your job search as part of their support they give you but they cannot mandate you to provide it and you will not be sanctioned if you do not provide it”

From: DWP Central FoI Team – 28 February 2014

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I know rules change and it is difficult to keep up to date with them has something changed recently to nullify this FOI reply?

 

“A Work Programme provider may ask you to provide evidence of your job search as part of their support they give you but they cannot mandate you to provide it and you will not be sanctioned if you do not provide it”

From: DWP Central FoI Team – 28 February 2014

 

I was basing my comments on recollections of reading the various bits of legislation when the Work Programme was introduced. If the DWP FoI team has given this advice in 2014, then it should be relevant in 2015. Print it out and slap a copy on the "adviser's" desk and tell them to supply something more recent.

 

most of them don't have the ability to play poker and/or fall to pieces if you call their bluff.

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