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CLAIMANTS SURVEY 2018: YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE !

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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.

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)