Tag: CLAIMANT COMMITMENT

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.

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 – Representation and Advocacy

7138 Know your rights leaflet FS2 – Your Work Search

7138 Know your rights leaflet FS3 – Compulsory and Voluntary Work

7138 Universal Benefits FS4 – Universal Credit

Know Your rights FS5 – Benefits Sanctions

Know Your Rights FS6 – In-Work Benefits

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

NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST SANCTIONS

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20150319_125122
A demonstration of Southwark claimants took place on Thursday 19th March outside Peckham Jobcentre Plus.
It was organised by London Unemployed Strategies (LUS) as part of the Unite Community National Day of Action Against Sanctions. The Southern and Eastern region of the TUC (SERTUC) were also out in force to support.
20150319_130726
Many claimants and passers-by signed the national petition against sanctions and signed up for the ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ sessions being organised by LUS.
Nick Phillips, LUS organiser, said: ‘We are delivering training sessions called ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ for local claimants. Many of them feel they are being punished and having their benefits stopped, or ‘sanctioned’ as the Jobcentre calls it, for not being able to find the work they genuinely crave. Peckham Jobcentre Plus according to official DWP statistics is one of the worst in the whole country for sanctioning people and there is no good reason for this. We at LUS are trying to work cooperatively with the JCP and DWP staff unions, management and claimants in the borough to resolve this issue. So if there has not been a dramatic fall in the sanctions rate by the time the next stats come out, we will want to know why.’
One claimant said: ‘I have been screwed by this Jobcentre. In one week I was rejected for three different jobs I applied for. That very same week I was sanctioned for nine months for not looking hard enough for work. I have only just been allowed to sign on again and may never recover from the debt this has put me in.’
Later on, LUS took part in the London demonstration outside the DWP HQ in Westminster where the national petition was handed in.

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Claimants wishing to sign up for the ‘Stand Up For Your Rights’ sessions organised by London Unemployed Strategies can contact Nick Phillips at the TUC on 020 7467 1283 or on nickplus007@gmail.com

 

NATIONAL UNEMPLOYED WORKERS CONFERENCE – 27TH FEBRUARY

 

ROB AT NUWC TUC FEB 2015

The first national conference of this kind for many years was held at the TUC last month.The day was well-attended by trades unionists both employed and unemployed from all over the country. Key points of consensus emerged from the day about the basic elements of a National Welfare Charter. These included:

  • An end to the current sanctions regime
  • No more Work Capability Assessments
  • An unconditional Citizens Income for all
  • Trades union rights and representation for the unemployed
  • Campaign for a minimum wage of at least £10 per hour to include apprenticeships and other types of training
  • Scrap Workfare – voluntary work should be completely voluntary and not substitute for jobs that should be paid at least the minimum wage

These and other demands arising from the Conference will be developed into a Charter, to be promoted through trades unions, the Labour Party, mass media and other means in the run-up to the General Election. The next open organising committee will be at the Unite Holborn HQ on 25th March at 1.00 pm.