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Universal Credit & a Newbie


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Hello everyone,

 

I will be claiming Universal Credit as from Wednesday 9th , i have no idea what this is & if possible i could do with some help & advise on how to proceed . I tried looking around but in all honesty i found the amount of information overwhelming , that`s not a criticism its just i don`t understand a lot of it & feel a bit vulnerable. Is there a UC section that i can get the advice on please?.

 

Sorry if i have asked a very common question , i am very nervous about the whole thing after 25 years of continuous work i am now unemployed & in my mid 50`s , for the first time in my life i feel very worried about my future prospects of employment & i want to start as i mean to go on if that makes sense.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.

 

Harry.

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Hi, and welcome to CAG.

 

We can offer some general information, although you've asked a very broad question. We'll try to give you the basics, and if you have any more specific questions please feel free to ask us.

 

Anyhow, as you may be aware, Universal Credit (usually abbreviated to UC here) is a benefit that is designed to replace certain other means tested benefits such as Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (for those with a medical condition that limits their ability to work) and Income Support, as well as a few others. At the moment it is really only being paid to single, healthy unemployed people.

 

To give the best answers to your questions, the following information would be helpful:

 

  • Are you fit for work, available for work, and seeking work?
  • Do you have a partner?
  • If so, does she work?
  • Have you paid National Insurance Contributions for the last few years while you were working?
  • Were you previously self employed?
  • Do you own the place you live, or is it rented?

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Thank you for your reply antone.

 

I have been through a telephone questionnaire , the questions were as above & have been informed i will be on UC while i am looking for work & signing on . Not sure how to approach this & if anyone could give me some do`s & don`ts regarding what i am legally obliged to do & what i can do to protect myself from any possible sanctioning i would be very grateful. It has been a very long time since i needed government assistance & the rules have changed but it seems very draconian , that may just be my initial impression & my trepidation though.

 

Harry.

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For a start don't allow access to UJM as they will use that against you and it's your choice and not theirs

Expect to be treated like dirt and that they'll will seek to break you and berate you and may even blackmail you

You will be expected to obey and comply

You will get blamed for being unemployed and treated like it's your fault

Prepare to be be treated abysmally

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I posted this on another thread but this will give you some idea of what to expect at your first appointment. The below is what i have to do.

 

Had my UC interview. Tried to get me to allow access to Universal Jobmatch which i refused. Demanded me to explain why i have not allowed access. Told me that i have to record all my jobsearch activitys on Universal Jobmatch which i wasn't happy with but agreed to do although i am also going to keep a paper record as well in case UJ dosnt work the day i sign on. Also have to log in to UJ every day. If my internet isn't working have to go to the local librarylink3.gif.

 

I also have to attend the jobcentre once a week. I do not ever have to sign to receive payment of UC as in they don't need me to sign any piece of paper or electronic signing.

 

Have to do 35 hours jobsearch and was told not to just click on jobs on various job sites. Advisor would prefer that i do 10 proper job applications rather than just click on 50 jobs on job sites.

 

Have to contact agencys once a week. Send 3 spec letters/ emails a week.

 

Advised to register with linkedin and Twitter which i was not happy about.

 

Also expected to take any job including temp and part time work.

 

Basicly anybody signing on UC make sure you stick to your claiment commintment.

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Don't forget that you could without money for up to 7 weeks.

 

You can apply for an advance payment and you will repay this over a period of up to 6 months.

 

Don't forget to notify your LA that your benefits are changing and payment may change.

 

When going on to UC you will get your rent paid directly to you too. Inform your LA as well that your rent maybe late for a while due to the transfer to UC.

 

If the landlord (LL) knows now then the should take this in to account.

 

The same may be for your Council tax (CT) you should inform as many of your creditors as you can to stop them writing to you making g demands for money...

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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Thank you all for taking the time to reply , it really is appreciated.

 

i am very worried about this & there is not point in pretending otherwise. I will heed the advise above , it would seem that it is now an exercise in catching the claimant out & making it so unbearable that they just give up but i have no alternative at the moment . I will not be giving them access to my UJM account , is there any rules regarding the " claimant agreement " , i assume wee don`t really enter into a discussion on what i would think is reasonable or helpful but thought i would ask. Hours of job search for instance, types of employment & wage requirements. I won`t be joining twitter / Linkedin or any other such nonsense . I am a man is his mid 50`s with engineering & manufacturing experience & qualification but in my area it is a dying industry, if not completely gone. I did have an interview last week but they haven`t got back to me so i assume i was unsuccessful , i was hoping to spare myself from all this by getting the position but it looks like i will have to enter the gladiators den . It seems that the job center is a battle ground now instead of one that is actually there to support & help find work , a far cry form the last time i needed one. Thanks again everyone

 

Harry.

 

PS . I have just ordered a small USB recording device from Amazon & intend to record every meeting & interaction with the JC, i never in my wildest dreams would have thought i would come to this.

Edited by Harry77
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Unless it's different with UC they let you choose the areas of employment you seek and then expect you to take anything with any hours in any field after 6 months or longer

Plus they probably won't be interested in listening too you

Recording is an excellent idea

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Look at the bus timetables for the services that operate in your area. Select the earliest reliable bus (remember, many bus companies quite often fail to run the first bus of the day), add two hours to this time and use this as the start of your working day. If the buses run fairly late in to the evening, then you can work eight hours per day Monday to Friday. If you have your own transport, do not tell the DWP that.

 

If you get told to use the internet daily, point out that if your connection goes down, the local library is not open on a Sunday. Stand your ground, and insist on something along the lines of "will search on-line X times (or days) per week". Don't allow yourself to be bullied in to doing more than you think is reasonable.

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EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 

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Off & running,

 

i tried to fill out the claim form for UC online but it kept crashing, so i rang them & did it over the phone. The lady i spoke to was nice enough but it is a big shock from the last time i had to claim any benifits . I am now waiting for them to ring me to arrange an appointment at the job center, i only gave them my home number, i refused to give a mobile number or email address . I don't have a car as of now [ thank you Mr P ] .

 

Can i ask about this agreement & what i have to do in regards to show my job search please. I am actively seeking work , i want to be back in work but i have certain skills & wage requirements, obviously that may change according to the jobs available but for now i would like something in my field or close to it , its not the best time of year to be looking for a decent job but i will get through Xmas & hopefully i will get off this thing altogether. What can i expect in regards to showing my job search. I am happy to show applications , confirmation of applications but what else will they require?. I will not allow access to UJM , so i think it will mark me down as a problem " customer " but i want to protect myself from sanctions & find out what they won`t tell you as in a legal sense. Once again , thank you all so much for all the advice.

 

Harry.

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Off & running,

 

i tried to fill out the claim form for UC online but it kept crashing, so i rang them & did it over the phone. The lady i spoke to was nice enough but it is a big shock from the last time i had to claim any benifits . I am now waiting for them to ring me to arrange an appointment at the job center, i only gave them my home number, i refused to give a mobile number or email address . I don't have a car as of now [ thank you Mr P ] .

 

Can i ask about this agreement & what i have to do in regards to show my job search please. I am actively seeking work , i want to be back in work but i have certain skills & wage requirements, obviously that may change according to the jobs available but for now i would like something in my field or close to it , its not the best time of year to be looking for a decent job but i will get through Xmas & hopefully i will get off this thing altogether. What can i expect in regards to showing my job search. I am happy to show applications , confirmation of applications but what else will they require?. I will not allow access to UJM , so i think it will mark me down as a problem " customer " but i want to protect myself from sanctions & find out what they won`t tell you as in a legal sense. Once again , thank you all so much for all the advice.

 

Harry.

 

It normally takes 2 or 3 days before the Jobcentre contact you to arrange your first appointment.

 

At my very first appointment with my work coach (hate that term) the first thing she said was "Is there a reason why you are not allowing acces to UJM" Spent the first few minutes after that arguing about it. Every thing i do to look for work has to be writen down on UJ. I also keep a paper copy as well as i don't trust UJ and i could see me going in to sign on and when the work coach looks at what i have done it has all disappeared off UJ. I normally just print out and show what jobs i'v applied for.

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Hello Dazza ,

 

thanks for replying, if i don`t allow access to the UJM account how do they know i have used it. Is there a log or something, please forgive me if that is a stupid question but i am very new to all this. I do & will continue to search Reed, Indeed + all the rest of the web sites, i have applied for 3 jobs this morning & have the confirmation email replies. Just to clarify , we do have the legal right to choose if we want to give them access ? . I expect they will try to put pressure on if we refuse but if it is a legal right then ultimately it is our choice. Can we claim money for printing off our job search as i will use my local library & get a receipt rather than use my own & at my cost. What about bus fares & travel costs ?, as i no longer have a car [ ahem ] i will be out of pocket in this respect too.

Thanks once again for your help.

 

Harry.

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Harry,

 

Your principle concern appears to be the enforced acceptance of Universal Jobmatch (UJ), providing DWP access to it, and having any reference to it on your Claimant Commitment (CC) as a condition for eligibility to the Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) aspect of Universal Credit (UC).

 

The following notes are a broad outline of how to avoid registration with UJ. Claimants who have already registered may use the same arguments to avoid providing DWP/Jobcentre staff with access to their UJ Gateway/Jobmatch Accounts.

 

You may put the points set out in this outline to the adviser at your initial interview, or subsequent interviews to discuss your CC if you press your right to have it reconsidered/reassessed. Should your adviser disregard the points you raise then obviously no agreement on your CC can be consensually agreed, in which case you can have your case forwarded to a Decision Maker (DM).

 

If you feel that the stage where your adviser is going to point blank ignore your point of view and a DM is going to have to become involved it would be prudent to have a formal letter ready to send to your Jobcente manager and/or the Decision Maker again outlining the points in dispute. It would also be invaluable to you at this stage to have recorded the interview with the adviser. His/her initial responses to the points you raised could be very telling and could provide evidence of how far they are prepared to go to break their Code of Conduct and the law. Also, identify the advisers you dealt with by name making it perfectly clear that you hold them responsible for their incompetence and ignorance, and that you expect appropriate action to follow.

 

 

I am unable to register on the Universal Jobmatch (UJ) website, or to allow continued access to any account I may have already created on it, for the following reasons:

 

1. Under Data Protection, Privacy and Human Rights legislation I have the right to have my personal/private details protected and secured. Since registering with UJ requires that I accept a DWP/Jobcentre liability disclaimer that cannot guarantee those rights, I would, in effect, be waiving those rights and exposing myself to identity/property fraud and/or theft with no avenue for redress. Any insurance policies I might have to recoup resultant losses may be nullified if I agreed to expose myself to, and be the instrument of, such losses.

 

The Liability Disclaimer:

 

"5. Disclaimer

 

5.1 While we make every effort to keep the Universal Jobmatch website up to date, we don’t

provide any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to the accuracy of the information on the site.

 

5.2 We don’t accept liability for loss or damage incurred by users of the website, whether direct, indirect or consequential, whether caused by tort, breach of contract or otherwise. This includes loss of:

 

- income or revenue

- business

- profits or contracts

- anticipated savings

- data

- goodwill

- tangible property

 

or wasted management or office time in connection with our site or in connection with the use,

inability to use, or results of the use of our site, any websites linked to it and any materials posted on it. This condition shall not prevent claims for loss of or damage to your tangible property or any other claims for direct financial loss that are not excluded by any of the categories set out above."

https://jobsearch.direct.gov.uk/Account/InfoTermsConditions.aspx

In response to a Freedom of Information request the DWP stated the following:

 

“…The disclaimer on the Universal Jobmatch (UJ) service forms part of the Standards of Behaviour which are for jobseekers’ information. A jobseeker is not required to accept the Standards of Behaviour when they receive a Jobseeker’s Direction to create a UJ profile…”

 

The DWP response can be seen in full here:

 

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/155118/re...se%20v1%200.pdf.html

 

And again:

 

“The disclaimer forms part of the Jobseeker Standards of Behaviour which jobseekers are not required to ‘accept’.”

 

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/152647/re...%20Response.pdf.html

 

As stated in the response, the Standards of Behaviour are for information only and thus cannot be made mandatory. However, there is a tick box for the Standards of Behaviour on the UJ registration page that must be ticked to enable registration.

I do not (as allowed) accept the Standards of Behaviour, cannot therefore tick the box, and consequently am unable to register with UJ.

 

 

 

 

2. There is a tick box for a “mandatory” equality questionnaire.

 

This is the DWP’s own message (from the UJ FAQ) regarding this:

 

“DWP requests equality information to help it monitor and continually improve the services it provides to the public. To help us to do this, we would like you to complete this questionnaire. Providing equality information is strictly voluntary. If provided, this information may be used only in accordance with applicable law and will not be shared with employers. If you do not want to answer any of the questions, please select Prefer not to say."

 

It is not possible to register with UJ without ticking the “mandatory” equality questionnaire box but, as clearly evinced in the DWP’s own statement, the equality questionnaire is “strictly voluntary”.

 

To be clear, being given the option to select “Prefer not to say” once in the questionnaire is not acceptable as, from a legal perspective, this constitutes a response to the questionnaire, i.e. taking part in it, and is in direct contravention to the “strictly voluntary” nature of the questionnaire. Clearly registering for UJ cannot be made conditional on taking part in a “strictly voluntary” activity.

 

I do not wish to take part in the equality questionnaire and so, until I can register without having to tick this box I am unable to register with UJ.

 

 

3. The Welfare Reform Act 2012, chapter 2, section 17(3)© states:

 

(3) Action which may be specified under subsection (1)(b) includes in particular—

creating and maintaining an online profile

This is the only legislation relating to online job-searching and it is clearly very generic. There is no mention of UJ, nor can there be as it would be anti-competitive and therefore illegal. Therefore, to demand that a jobseeker registers with UJ, particularly under threat of a possible sanction if not complied with, is not reasonable and would fail the Wednesbury principles’ test of reasonableness.

 

Several online profiles may be maintained through the many other job-search websites that are available. Similarly, email addresses may easily be created without having to involve or inform UJ. This is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of the Act and obviates the need to register with UJ which, as a job-finding service, adds nothing which would enhance the job-finding processes and activities undertaken).

 

It is also recognised by the DWP that other job search engines are a sufficient substitute for UJ:

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/167039/re.../FOI%203016.pdf.html

"Whilst those claimants for whom it is reasonable will be required to register with Universal Jobmatch, the Department also recognises that there are other job sites on which profiles can be created and maintained for the purposes of work search activity. Work search expectations will differ for each claimant depending on their individual circumstances and job goals and advisers will tailor requirements for each claimant."

 

As a consequence, any adviser or work coach issuing a Jobseeker's Direction mandating a jobseeker to register with UJ would have to demonstrate why it is reasonable (Wednesbury principles) to single out UJ amongst the many other equally good, and usually better, job search websites.

 

 

4. The enforced acceptance of cookies is illegal.

 

The DWP has attempted to subvert the Data Protection Act by accepting cookies on Internet access devices (IADs) in Jobcentres. This is illegal. The requirements Under EU Data Protection Regulations (Directive 95/46/EC) are unequivocal. Consent must be informed, explicit, specific and freely given (for both the subscriber and the user). By accepting cookies on a jobseeker’s behalf on Jobcentre IADs the ability for the jobseeker (the user) to consent freely to their use is removed. I would point out that this is a matter of common sense if nothing else. It is the individual user of the UJ website (the jobseeker) who is affected by the use of cookies and not the DWP. Which particular machine or device they are accepted on is immaterial. It is the act of accepting the cookies that is salient and to which the user’s consent, freely given, must be explicitly obtained. Pre-accepted cookies clearly subvert that right.

 

Specifically, DIRECTIVE 2002/58/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 12 July 2002 in point (17) states:

 

“For the purposes of this Directive, consent of a user or subscriber, regardless of whether the latter is a natural or a legal person, should have the same meaning as the data subject’s consent as defined and further specified in Directive 95/46/EC. Consent may be given by any appropriate method enabling a freely given specific and informed indication of the user’s wishes, including by ticking a box when visiting an Internet website."

 

You will see that whereas the “subscriber or user” phrase can be misinterpreted, as the DWP have chosen to do because it benefits them, the above makes it clear it is the “user’s wishes” that are paramount.

 

The DWP are of the mistaken belief that the subscriber (the DWP) can accept cookies on a user’s behalf on the IADs. It is in your interest to know that because the IADs are reset after each user a new set of “clean” cookies is used for each new user. These cookies monitor a uniquely identifiable jobseeker using UJ (as evidenced, for example, by an adviser’s ability to monitor the log in times of a user even if that user has not given full access to his account). The cookies are therefore user based and not subscriber or, more generically, terminal based. For this reason the DWP must explicitly obtain the freely given consent of each user to accept cookies as per Directive 95/46/EC.

I do not consent to the use of any cookies and consequently will not be able to use UJ.

 

 

 

5. The protocol for obtaining consent from the jobseeker has not been followed because it enforces consent through threats of penalties, i.e. sanctions.

 

DWP definition of consent:

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/copy_of_d...docu#incoming-225710

 

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on cookie consent:

www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/privacy...mmunications/consent

 

 

 

6. It is not mandatory for a jobseeker to reveal his email address to the DWP. This is confirmed in this DWP FOI response:

 

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/169236/re...%20response.pdf.html

 

“Providing a CV, email address or telephone number is not mandatory, therefore is not

sanctionable.”

 

Creating a Government Gateway account and registering with UJ both require an email address to be provided and that email address is made available to the Jobcentre even if the jobseeker does not give permission to access his UJ account (as evidenced by the default method of locating a new UJ registrant’s account by their unique email account per the UJ Toolkit). Therefore a jobseeker who does not wish to reveal his email address cannot be mandated to register with UJ.

 

 

7. The UJ site is insecure and has advertising disguised as jobs etc. anyone can set up as a business because there isn’t even basic checks done.

 

 

8 I have not signed a data protection waiver (for which the Jobcentre has a form) and therefore retain my DPA rights to my personal information.

 

 

 

 

9. Use of Internet Access Devices (IAD) not mandatory:

 

“A3. Claimants will not be mandated to use IADs available in Jobcentre Plus offices and

will, therefore, not be sanctioned if they refuse to use them. Use of IADs by claimants is

voluntary.”

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wireless_technology_safety

 

There's plenty there to inform your advisers and persuade them.

 

You could conclude your submission/request for reconsideration, as appropriate, as follows:

 

"On the basis of the DWP’s enforcing of consent through misrepresentation, intimidation and threats of penalties contrary to the principles of the Data Protection Act and disregard for privacy of home life and correspondence in accordance with the Human Rights Act, not to mention their own Codes of Conduct, please be advised that this is an official notification requesting that the contents and/or changes to my Claimant Commitment, to which I have not given consent, be referred to a Decision Maker and comprehensive details of the adviser's opinions as to their appropriateness be attached. I also insist on being given the opportunity of forwarding to the Decision Maker my objections and why I regard them as inappropriate.

 

Due to the matters in dispute and the reconsideration sought, officers, agents, servants or others of the Secretary of State may not issue a direction, amend my Jobseekers Agreement or make demands or impose penalties in regard to changes or allowing access to my Universal Jobmatch Account.

 

Further, I wish to notify you that I do not consent to my personal data being shared or disclosed without my prior explicit and written consent. Consent may not be deemed by digital submission. Personal data is any data that can be used to identify an individual. Consent may be obtained on application."

 

I hope this helps you, or at least give you some ideas as to how to proceed.

 

You have raised some other issues too and those will be addressed in due course.

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Hello Dazza ,

 

thanks for replying, if i don`t allow access to the UJM account how do they know i have used it. Is there a log or something, please forgive me if that is a stupid question but i am very new to all this. I do & will continue to search Reed, Indeed + all the rest of the web sites, i have applied for 3 jobs this morning & have the confirmation email replies. Just to clarify , we do have the legal right to choose if we want to give them access ? . I expect they will try to put pressure on if we refuse but if it is a legal right then ultimately it is our choice. Can we claim money for printing off our job search as i will use my local library & get a receipt rather than use my own & at my cost. What about bus fares & travel costs ?, as i no longer have a car [ ahem ] i will be out of pocket in this respect too.

Thanks once again for your help.

 

Harry.

 

I am not sure about travel costs. I have only just signed on to Universal Credit. I am going to ask my work coach when i am at the jobcentre Monday. When i was claiming JSA i would get travel money back for any appointment that was not my signing on appointment.

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4. The enforced acceptance of cookies is illegal.

[...]

Creating a Government Gateway account and registering with UJ both require an email address to be provided [...]

 

To crate a Government Gateway account requires the acceptance of cookies. If you set your web browser to reject any/all cookies, you will get a wonderfully cryptic error message when accessing the GG portal. Print a screenshot off and show it to a DWP representative, and they will be totally flummoxed. :-)

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING

EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 

No... you can't eat my brain just yet. I need it a little while longer.

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I had my meeting this morning & it has all changed.

 

When i was asked to produce my ID documents , i presented my driving license & passport plus utility bills . At this point the lady said " but you`re Irish " , i replied yes. Turns out that if you are not a British subject then you go on JSA, i made my claim over the phone & clearly stated i was Irish so not sure why they did`t move me then . So i have had to go through the whole process again.

 

What is the difference between the two ?, i was not aware there was two different forms of claiming unemployment . The lady at the job center did say i was lucky to be going on to JSA as it is not as strict as UC . She also said that it would be rolled out as UC by 2017 for everyone but at this moment it is JSA & UC .

 

Harry.

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UC is supposedly all the benefits in one plus monthly payment with ridiculously strict conditions to keep you doing less job search and more leaping through hoops and IDS' failed baby

JSA is everyday jobseekers and a lot less complex and stupid and the one you should count your blessings to be on.

As for the error -to be expected these days plus I bet they didn't apologise for wasting your time

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