How to Complain to the Jobcentre or DWP

 

dole-queue(photo: Johnny Void)

As a jobseeker or if you are on ESA, claiming  benefits can often unfortunately be problematic. Problems claimants experience include delayed benefit payments, behavioural issues with Jobcentre staff and long waiting times to get through to the DWP’s helpline.

We encourage you to make a written complaint.  The ‘official’ DWP advice (see below web links) says that you can complain in person or on the phone to the Jobcentre. However, this often goes wrong, as you do not have your own written proof that you made the complaint.

So, we advise you to take the following easy steps:

  • write down your complaint in an email
  • include a sentence where you offer to verify this email i.e. show it is from a ‘real’ person. The DWP have a policy to ignore emails that cannot be verified. For this reason, we recommend that you state the following in your complaint email:
    “I am happy to verify this email in person with my ID.”  Don’t forget to add your National Insurance number and personal address to identify your claim.
  • write ‘Complaint’ in the subject line of your email
  • copy in a friend who you can trust in the email
  • send the email to the DWP Complaints Resolution Team (CRT) for your region
  • In their response to our Freedom of Information request (FOI346 / VTR899 from 26 April 2016), the DWP released the following email addresses for CRTs (if the complaint relates to working age benefits like JSA) *
London Home Counties – Working Age lhc.crtteam1@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Central England – Working Age centralengland.complaintsresolutionteam@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Southern – Working Age: Berkshire surrey & Sussex and greater Wessex work seg.operationscorrespondenceteam2@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

*Please note: these contact points are only for London and parts of the South-East that are within our project’s remit

Tips for writing your complaint:

  • don’t swear
  • don’t make unfounded allegations (i.e. be sure to have something to back up what you are saying)
  • describe what happened to you (calmly like a neutral witness)
  • explain what should have happened
  • explain what you request should happen now (to resolve the situation), or simply ask them to rectify the situation.

Why Complain?

Because it is important to inform the DWP about problems, so that they can understand that improvements are necessary. By doing so, and by copying in a friend or somebody who you can trust, you are creating a written record of your case and evidence of what you said and when, and it will be harder for the DWP to ignore your complaint or claim that they never received it. You CAN get results!

Further stages for complaints

If this first stage of complaint does not work for you, you can then complain to the Independent Case Examiner and through your MP to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. These stages are explained in the DWP ‘Complaints procedure’ weblink below.

OUR ADVICE:

If you do not receive a response from the DWP within 15 working days, we recommend to wait a few extra days and then to take your complaint to your local MP, and complain about the delay. The MP irrespective of what party they belong to have a duty to help in matters such as this, and we recommend you ask the MP to write to the Director General of the DWP about the delay of your complaint.

If you do receive a response from the DWP, but are not happy with their decision, you can escalate it for a final response from the Director General by emailing: correspondence@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Then again, if after 15 working days they have not responded, you should contact your MP.
If you get an unsatisfactory final response (or you don’t get one because the DWP take more than 15 working days) then you can complain to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) e.g. by emailing: ice@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
If you are not happy with the response from the ICE then you can take the complaint through your MP to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). If they find in your favour, the PHSO can award compensation money.

Further help: 

Due to our limited resources we are unfortunately not able to do casework. But please contact your local CAB, Law Centre, trades union or other advice agency if you need further help with writing the complaint or with casework. A list of some local advice agencies can be obtained from Unite Community.

Relevant links:

http://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions/about/complaints-procedure

http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/about-the-dwp-our-service-standards-leaflet

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/complaints_and_responses#incoming-802719

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/complaints_processing#incoming-803514

The DWP also released the following contacts:

DLA Child midlandsdbc.complaints-resolutionteam@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Attendance Allowance aaunit.crmteam@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Social Fund socialfund.complaintresolutionteam@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
National Employer Services nept.customerservice@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Fraud and Error Service crt.fescrtspoc@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

 

For other comments, such as compliments or feedback, the DWP gave these contacts:

Contact Centres ccscustomerfeedback.handlingteam@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
Helpline helpline.customerservices@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Have you experienced issues with the DWP or Jobcentre as a jobseeker? Comment below or tweet us @LUSACTION and share your views.

London Mayoral Elections and The Housing Crisis

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As Thursday 5 May rapidly approaches, it’s essential to understand the crux of the manifestos of the main candidates in the running for London Mayor and the direct impact they will have on you. The vital issue in this election is resolving the London housing crisis. How will the candidates protect and create homes for the vulnerable? So, let’s see how they all measure up and how your vote will count:

Zac Goldsmith – The Conservative Party

  • will tackle the housing crisis by ‘doubling home building to 50,000 a year by 2020’, giving Londoners the first chance to buy new homes built in the city.
  • Ensuring a large number of new homes built are for rent and not for sale.

For full manifesto, please see https://backzac2016.com/

Sadiq Aman Khan – Labour Party

  • will give Londoners ‘first dibs’ on affordable housing, promotes the fact he grew up on a council estate and therefore claims to understand the support needed in this area.
  • Ensuring renting becomes more reasonable and protecting the green belt.

For full manifesto, please see http://www.sadiq.london/

Caroline Pidgeon – London Liberal Democrats

  • Will ban ‘unfair letting agent fees’ and give tenants more rights.
  • Will build 200,000 new homes.

For full manifesto, please see http://www.londonlibdems.org.uk/plan

Sian Rebecca Berry – Green Party

  • Promises ‘truly affordable homes’ created by housing associations and local councils, claims to understand the needs of private tenants as a private tenant.
  • Providing London with more green, affordable energy for their homes.

For full manifesto, please see http://www.sianberry.london/

Thursday 5 May 2016 is for you to use your voice as you see fit. Please contact your local electoral office for further information on voting hours.

Let us have your views – Tweet us at @LUSACTION, comment below or follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/LUSACTION.

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‘KILL THE BILL’ DEMO ON HOUSING A HUGE SUCCESS

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20160313_113840 Members of Southwark Stand Up For Your Rights, Unite Community and other housing activists set off for the demoJIM AND TANYA CROPPEDJim Kelly (Unite ) and Tanya Murat (Defend Council Housing) address the rally20160313_130713

10,000 people protested yesterday against the Tory Government’s Housing Bill which could spell the end of  secure council housing at a rent that unemployed and low-paid Londoners can afford.

You CAN make a difference and stop this Bill before it becomes the law. There are many organisations that you can join. Contact us via nickplus007@gmail.com.  Or you can go direct to Defend Council Housing:

http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch/

Or Unite Community:

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/our-campaigns/housing-is-a-human-right/

 

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST SANCTIONS

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LONDON UNEMPLOYED STRATEGIES, SOUTHWARK STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS  AND LAMBETH AND SOUTHWARK UNITE COMMUNITY joined forces today outside Peckham Jobcentre to protest as part of the National ‘No Sanctions’ campaign.

Vulnerable people on JSA and ESA are increasingly falling victim to sanctions, especially nowadays those imposed by heavy-handed Work Programme Providers like PeoplePlus. We are determined to take up these issues locally and nationally as part of the campaign to scrap sanctions.

DO YOU LIVE IN LONDON AND HAVE YOU BEEN UNFAIRLY SANCTIONED BY PEOPLEPLUS OR OTHER WORK PROGRAMME PROVIDERS? GET IN TOUCH via nickplus007@gmail.com and tell us your story. We will not use your name but it will add weight to the campaign.

Demonstration against Housing Bill – 5th January

Housing Bill demo 2016Housing Bill demo 2016 v.2

The Housing Bill is a major threat to the right of unemployed and low-waged people to stay living in London. Among its main proposals are:

  1. Enabling Housing Associations to sell off their homes, similar to the Councils Right To Buy schemes
  2. Introducing ‘Pay To Stay’ schemes that could force families in council flats with an overall income of £40,000 in London (£30,000 everywhere else) to pay the market rent
  3. Changing secure council tenancies to fixed contracts of 2-5 years, after which they could be evicted

If you are concerned about this then please use the doc below to write to your MP:
http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch/resources/LettertoMPs.pdf

For more info read this:
http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch/resources/KtHBbriefingJan2016.pdf

GOVERNMENT ENDS WORKFARE SCHEMES

From Work and Benefits:

‘ MANDATORY WORK SCHEMES TO CLOSE
The government is axing mandatory work activity and community work placements. The announcement comes after years of protests and court action by claimants forced into unpaid work with no prospect of a job at the end.

The not so good news, however, is that a new scheme called the Work and Health Programme is to be introduced.

As one commentator has already suggested, this might be the beginning of attempts to force claimants into compulsory treatment programmes such as CBT or help to combat drug or alcohol misuse.’

SCHEMES DUE TO END MARCH/APRIL 2016. BUT JSA/ESA/Universal Credit claimants will still be under pressure to take ‘reasonable’ offers of work or training under threat of sanctions.

See our factsheets on this website for more advice and to get more involved with LUS contact us on nickplus007@gmail.com

SOCIAL SECURITY SUMMIT – 31st OCTOBER

SSSUMMIT OCT 2015 Mark SLUS attended the Social Security Summit convened by Unite Community and PCS in Birmingham on 31st October. Keynote speakers included Unite Assistant General Secretary Steve Turner and PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka.
Their presence was an indication of the importance both unions are placing on the need to build stronger links with unemployed people in the fight against the £12 billion cuts to the welfare budget.
The meeting was well attended by hundreds of delegates from all over the country. The proposed cuts to working tax credits was seen as a major potential campaign that could link unemployed and employed workers.
Mark Serwotka stressed the need for all trades unions to make the issue of benefits cuts to the unemployed a high-priority issue on the TUC agenda. Colin Hampton from TUC Unemployed Workers Centres stressed that a major way of doing this was to promote the Welfare Charter and get it endorsed at every level of the trades union movement. He said that the new developments within the Labour Party made it more inclined to support such initiatives. He therefore urged trades unions to take advantage of this to add momentum to the campaign.
Paula Peters from DPAC said that her organisation was launching a ‘No More Claimant Deaths’ campaign alongside Black triangle in Scotland, following the large numbers of suicides and other deaths linked to Work capability Assessments. They are lobbying Jeremy Corbyn to devote a whole PM’s question session to this issue.

‘KNOW YOUR RIGHTS’ LEAFLETS LAUNCHED BY LUS AND UNITE COMMUNITY

PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO GET INFORMATION, TIPS AND ADVICE FOR CLAIMANTS ON HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF THE BENEFITS SYSTEM:

7138 Know your rights leaflet FS1

7138 Know your rights leaflet FS2

7138 Know your rights leaflet FS3

They cover important topics such as the right of every claimant to representation at meetings with Jobcentre Plus and Work Programme providers; doing voluntary work on benefits as an alternative to compulsory workfare schemes; and the ins-and-outs of the new 35-hour worksearch.

CONTACT LUS on nickplus007@gmail.com if you live or work in London and want us to supply more leaflets and/or arrange a meeting to talk more about the issues they raise and what to do about them.

WELFARE CHARTER LAUNCHED AT TUC CONGRESS 2015

STEVE TURNER  (Asst. General Secretary, Unite) LAUNCHES WELFARE CHARTER
STEVE TURNER (Asst. General Secretary, Unite) LAUNCHES WELFARE CHARTER

The Welfare Charter, a series of demands to make life better for all types of benefits claimants, was launched at a fringe meeting at the TUC Congress this week (Sept. 14). It is supported by, amongst others, Unite Community, PCS, The Unemployed Centres Combine and London Unemployed Strategies (LUS). For the full Charter, click on the link below:

WelfareCharter_A5 FULL VERSION

We want everybody to endorse and promote the Charter and get it circulated as widely as possible. LUS wants to start up support/campaign groups all over London run by and for unemployed people, aimed at getting their full rights both as they stand now, and as they can be in the future if the Charter demands are won. If you are living in London, are unemployed or underemployed  and want to help build up a group in your area, please contact Nick at LUS: nickplus007@gmail.com or 020 7467 1283/07530 001653

LABOUR LEADER CONDEMNS WELFARE REFORM BILL

CORBYN AT TUC SEPT 2015

Making his first speech to the TUC as leader of the Labour Party on Tuesday (15th Sept), Jeremy Corbyn said:

‘The Welfare Reform Bill is anything but welfare reform. It is all about building on the cuts they have already made, making the lives of the most vulnerable and poorest people in our society even worse. The disability benefits cuts that have been made over the past five years and the availability for work test have had some disastrous consequences where people have even taken their own lives out of a sense of desperation… The reduction in the benefit cap has the effect of socially cleansing many parts of our cities… As far as I am concerned, the amendments we are putting forward are to remove the whole idea of the benefit cap altogether. We will bring down the welfare bill by controlling rents and boosting wages, not by impoverishing families and the most vulnerable people.’

DEATHS ON BENEFITS

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/27/death-britains-benefits-system-fit-for-work-safety-net

The National Welfare Charter will be launched at a fringe meeting at the TUC Conference next week. It includes the demand for the scrapping of the current Work Capability Assessments scheme which has been a major factor in the tragedies described above.

More details about the Charter and how you can support it to follow soon.

Voluntary Work – Where You Stand

It has come to our attention via Twitter that some feedback has arisen from Unite Community’s ‘Compulsory and Voluntary Work’ leaflet:

https://nickplus007.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/7138-know-your-rights-leaflet-fs3.pdf

The feedback on the post is sourced from the following link:

https://refutedarchive.wordpress.com/vol/

We would like to thank @Refuted for bringing this matter to our attention. However, we feel it is appropriate to respond in more detail via our blog.

LUS do not think there is any real disagreement between the Unite Community leaflet and the ‘Refuted’ blog over the basic fact and the legal position of volunteering. Under a sanctions regime, it is hard to call anything purely voluntary when these threats are hanging over claimants’ heads. Additionally, it is true that the JCP/DWP can ultimately decide what is ‘legitimate’ voluntary work for it to deduct from your work search hours.

However, LUS has been to many meetings involving JCP managers all over London, where they repeatedly stated that they encourage volunteering: some have even run ‘be a volunteer’ days with their local volunteer bureaux. If a claimant gets their volunteering placement via their local bureau (make sure they have signed up to the ‘Keep Volunteering Voluntary’ charter as explained in the leaflet), it is unlikely the JCP will deem it to be unfit for their purpose. This is to claim that they are doing something to help people find a pathway back into paid work.

The whole volunteering issue is fraught with ethical and personal dilemmas, which is why we encourage claimants to join Unite Community and/or one of our ‘Stand Up for Your Rights’ support and training groups. Within the support groups and training sessions, we discuss these and other issues, to help make the choices that are best for you.

For more information, please get in touch by commenting below or emailing Nick Phillips: nickplus007@gmail.com.

 

 

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS – Free Training for Claimants on 20 May

Nick Phillips of London Unemployed Strategies will be holding a training session for Lambeth and Southwark benefit claimants on Friday 20th May between 12-2pm at Stockwell Park Community Centre. Please come along to learn about the changes to the Universal Credit system, avoiding sanctions and details how the Housing Bill will impact you. The Lambeth and Southwark branches of Unite Community will kindly be supporting us. 20160309_104033 (2)