DWP’s fit-to-work tests ‘cause permanent damage to mental health’, study finds
The Government’s fit-to-work tests for access to disability benefits are causing permanent damage to some claimants’ mental health, from which they are not recovering, a new study has warned. Read the full story
(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 Agefirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Central England – Working Ageemail@example.com|
|Southern – Working Age: Berkshire surrey & Sussex and greater Wessex firstname.lastname@example.org|
*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.
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.
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.
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.
The DWP also released the following contacts:
|National Employer Servicesemail@example.com|
|Fraud and Error Servicefirstname.lastname@example.org|
For other comments, such as compliments or feedback, the DWP gave these contacts:
Have you experienced issues with the DWP or Jobcentre as a jobseeker? Comment below or tweet us @LUSACTION and share your views.
It has come to our attention via Twitter that some feedback has arisen from Unite Community’s ‘Compulsory and Voluntary Work’ leaflet:
The feedback on the post is sourced from the following link:
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: email@example.com.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your story. We will not use your name but it will add weight to the campaign.