Category: Job Seekers

Government shown evidence of link between welfare reform and sex slave trafficking; UN report also condemns

sex workers

Women are being “forced into selling sex” because they have few other options and live in fear of the state, an MP has warned.

Steve McCabe’s comments come after the Work and Pensions Committee held its first parliamentary hearing on evidence that welfare reforms, including Universal Credit, are linked to a rise in “survival sex”.

The Committee heard evidence from charities and support organisations directly supporting people, mainly young women and mothers, who are involved in sex work in order to earn enough money for living essentials, such as food or a place to stay.

MP Steve McCabe said most of the witnesses at the hearing were young women.
Mr McCabe, a member of the Committee, said the majority of witnesses who attended the hearing were living in fear.

He told Sky News: “The witnesses we saw in private were all young women. They felt they had largely been forced into selling sex as they had few other options.

“They were all the product of abusive relationships and/or childhoods.

“In some cases they are mothers with young children and live in fear of the state or the “authorities”.

Mr McCabe added that most of the women lacked basic computer and online skills and often had an incomplete education and issues accessing Universal Credit.

He continued: “They have missed many years of school although they are undoubtedly not stupid.

“They have problems accessing Universal Credit and a fear of the Jobcentre and the Universal Credit system and apparatus.

“Universal Credit is paid to one person in the household and this might well be an abusive partner. The Select Committee has persistently challenged the DWP [the Department for Work and Pensions] over this.”

Rise of ‘survival sex’
Women are exchanging sex for living essentials because of welfare reforms.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the Select Committee to respond to their call for evidence.

“With Universal Credit no one has to wait five weeks to be paid, as your first payment is available as an advance on day one.

“We continue to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and have made numerous improvements to the welfare system since 2016.”

Universal Credit, a social security payment in the UK, has long been the subject of criticism, with warnings people are being pushed into debt, rent arrears and a rise in food bank dependency due to delays in payments.

The parliamentary hearing follows the UN’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty’s visit to the UK.

In a report on Wednesday, Professor Philip Alston said there were 14 million people living in poverty in Britain and “record levels of hunger and homelessness”.

He said the government had acted on some issues he raised beforehand, delaying the rollout of Universal Credit and improving it.

But he added: “For all the talk that austerity is over, massive disinvestment in the social safety net continues unabated.”

Following the financial crisis in 2008, the government enacted spending cuts in welfare as part of austerity programmes to balance the books.

(From Sky News)

CLAIMANTS SURVEY 2018: YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE !

caxhse

LUS is an organisation based at and supported by the regional TUC and funded through Trust For London. The aim of the organisation is to develop self-help support groups for claimants and to campaign for changes to the Social Security system so that it works more for the benefit of claimants.

The survey results will feed into high-level forums in which claimants reps and major voluntary sector organisations are participating. The aim is to develop a White Paper (or Bill) for Government on major pro-claimant improvements to the system.

Please download your preferred format below (Word or PDF) and fill it in. The survey can be returned by post or email as indicated ideally before the END OF SEPTEMBER. Your contact details will only be kept on file if you wish to take part in our focus groups and will be kept separate from your survey responses which will be anonymous. WE CAN AND DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

CLAIMANTS SURVEY 2018 revised #2 (2)

CLAIMANTS SURVEY 2018 revised #2 (2)

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 is explained in the link below:

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

It 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: correspondence@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
  • Allow 15-20 days for a response (15 days is the stated DWP waiting time for responses)
  • If you have no reply by then (or an unsatisfactory one), you can then write to: ministers@dwp.gsi.gov.uk
  • Wait another 15-20 days. If this  does not work for you, you can then complain to the Independent Case Examiner and after that through your MP to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. These stages are explained in the DWP ‘Complaints procedure’ weblink above

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 think 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 help: 

LUS is a campaigning organisation fighting for a quicker, more efficient complaints process for claimants.

Due to our limited resources we are unfortunately not able to do casework. But please contact your local Citizens Advice, Law Centre, trades union or other advice agency if you need further help with writing the complaint. Or if you live in these areas, join one of our local Stand Up For Your Rights groups in Southwark, Waltham Forest or Islington – or set up one of your own! Contact nickplus007@gmail.com for more information and guidance on this.

Relevant links:

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

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.