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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 5:21 pm 
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seeingclearly wrote:
I wonder do you know how true this statement is regarding sanctions.

(People) are starving to death, in this, one of the most richest countries on the Planet. Not because the law says they have to, Sections 21 through 25 of the Social Security Act 1998 (not repealed) allow for a decision maker to make a 'partial' sanction .................. has been ignoring this and instructing Decision Makers to make Full sanctions based upon later legislation that ignores the legal standing of the earlier law.


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ephemerid wrote:
My take on this is recent developments on the Welfare Reform Act.

Before April this year, sanctions on WRAG ESA were restricted to the WRAG component, and the claimant kept £71.
Osborne brought in a new rule, so the sanction is now on the basic rate, and the sanction is £71 but the claimant keeps the WRAG component.

For JSA, the sanction is for all of the personal allowance, there are no partial sanctions. If the claimant is getting extras for dependents, the supplements should still be paid.
For joint claims, ie. a couple both unemployed and claiming JSA, the payment is lower for two people than it is for one, and I think it's just half of the payment that gets sanctioned, although I have heard of cases where the whole claim is disallowed when one person gets the sanction.

The WRA supersedes the discretion that decision makers used to have, I think.
I might have to look this up, actually, and get back to you.

Under Universal Credit, of course, the minimum sanction is 4 weeks.
The payments are monthly, but the jobsearch condition is weekly - so if you fail to satisfy the condition for one week of the four, you get sanctioned for the entire payment period.

If someone appeals a sanction (and these sanction appeals will be subject to Clause 99 from October) the decision maker has discretion as to when it can be lifted.
If the jobcentre says the doubt they have raised is failure to apply for a job when instructed to do so, that carries a heavier penalty than failing to attend an appointment, say. The decision maker can decide that a lesser sanction should apply on mitigation.

Decision makers can also impose a sanction pending re-engagement with whatever the order was - eg. if a person was told to do workfare and refused, you'd expect the sanction to be lifted and benefit restored if the claimant agrees to do it.
Not so - the decision maker can still keep the sanction going as long as they like to establish the claimant's "seriousness" so some people may even be doing workfare for zero benefit.

The trouble is, regarding the regulations you cite, that there are so many new sets of guidance as each new rule comes in that it's really hard to keep up.
I also think that decision makers don't know their own guidance - as far as JSA,WRAG, and IS claimants with jobsearch conditionality are concerned, there are literally hundreds of types of doubt that can be raised on their claims - refusal of employment, neglect to avail, availability, plus all the new things like refusing to register on Universal Jobmatch or refusing to take the "My Skills" sham test.
Then there's the WP providers raising issues too.

I'm inclined to think that the new rules supersede the old - but I'll have to get back to you.

Not much help, sorry.....


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seeingclearly wrote:
ephemerid wrote:

I'm inclined to think that the new rules supersede the old - but I'll have to get back to you.

Not much help, sorry.....


Thanks Ephemerid.

The guy who posts on this seems to think that that part has not been superceded, therefore all sanctions are actually illegal, because there is a provision for the sanction to be reduced, or words to that effect. I have no idea how true it is, which is why I asked you. I do not even know where to start to do that myself. The author of the £10 for sanctioned people petition believes in this implicitly to the point that she came back at me quite fiercely when I said it was not something I could support. I hate seeing stuff going around that may not be true, and this lady had some idea that once in with the £10 petition it could be used to clobber the system. It all sounds a bit pie in the sky to me, and the petition itself is worded in ways that could be misconstrued. I don't doubt her sincerity, but am hard pushed to know what to do with the other information. If is is incorrect it could be used to discredit a great bunch of people, if it is true it would be worth knowing. Hope you don't mind me asking, I couldn't think of anyone else except ArecBairin and he doesn't seem to be about.


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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 5:22 pm 
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ephemerid wrote:
OK.

I've done a little trawl of the interweb thingy and I found this - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 1154en/htm

There are clauses in the WRA listed there which supersede previous unrepealed legislation.

Basically, the wording of the WRA means that the Secretary of State can issue new regulations any time and for any benefit.
I gather there are some exceptions for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I am inclined to think that if there was a chance that all sanctions are illegal, some public interest lawyers would have cottoned on by now - my view is that the WRA has removed the responsibility for the S of S to provide social security based on need, and now most out-of-work benefits are based on conditions only.
If that wasn't the case, there would be a reduced payment available for those who can't work due to illness, for example - with IB, if you were found capable of work but disagreed, you could opt to have a reduced payment on hardship grounds rather than sign on, but you can't do that now.
You can claim hardship payments, but they are only available under certain conditions and they are time-limited; if your JSA or ESA is sanctioned for a jobsearching doubt, you are not likely to qualify for hardship unless you have children. You will be expected to take the hit and ask for whatever local provision exists, and it might not be cash.
It is possible to apply for hardship if sanctioned, but it's subject to referral to a decision maker - the decisions are appealable, but as with everything else, all this will be subject to Clause 99.
Short Term Benefit Advances (the unadvertised replacement for Crisis Loans) are only payable to people who have an as yet unpaid claim for benefits, and who have to show that payment is delayed or that DWP has a reasonable expectation that benefit will be paid.
STBAs cannot be claimed by people who have been sanctioned, AFAIK, because that expectation does not exist.

Re, the £10 for food thing - I don't like the wording of that petition. I don't accept that people are "rightly or wrongly" being sanctioned for not meeting their responsibilities. We know that many people are being tricked into doing things that will cause them to be sanctioned, that many of the reasons given by DWP are spurious, and most of all that even when the doubts raised are legitimate the system is so draconian that people will be sanctioned at some point.

If this achieved the desired outcome, and everyone on sanctions got their tenner for food, how would it be paid? In vouchers? What?
It would be an excuse for DWP to impose more bloody sanctions, not clean up their act and do it fairly - and there's the foolish notion I have that people shouldn't be sanctioned for ridiculous impossible unachievable conditions anyway.

It's a bad idea. If the lady concerned seriously thinks that the WRA has not superseded existing legislation, then she should be petitioning on the theory that all sanctions are illegal, not mitigating their effects with this nonsense.
Give IDS an inch, and he'll take a hundred miles - if he thinks people will happily accept a sanction if they get a tenner instead, he'll just cut benefits further. That's why I get so pissed off with all these bloody people who say they can feed their families on tuppence ha'penny as though it was something you could sustain for more than a few weeks.

The problem with the sanctions regime is that there are far too many people involved. Whether you get one or not depends on who you see when you go to the jobcentre, what the latest target is (and it could be anything - not signing up for Universal Jobmatch one week, or refusal of employment the next), and what sort of mood the "adviser" happens to be in.
Then there's the WP providers - if they don't like you, or you won't do some daft thing they impose, they can refer for sanction. And they do - 250,000 referrals last year. DWP only actioned 100,000 of them, so the majority must have been pretty spurious.
The trouble is, the referral for sanction is made on the word of whoever, and it's up to the claimant to prove that the referral is wrong.

Could you tell me where I can find the blogs/article you refer to? I wouldn't mind reading what these folks are saying.


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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 5:23 pm 
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seeingclearly wrote:
ephemerid wrote:
OK.

I've done a little trawl of the interweb thingy and I found this - http://www.publications.parliament.uk/p ... 1154en/htm

There are clauses in the WRA listed there which supersede previous unrepealed legislation.

Basically, the wording of the WRA means that the Secretary of State can issue new regulations any time and for any benefit.
I gather there are some exceptions for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I am inclined to think that if there was a chance that all sanctions are illegal, some public interest lawyers would have cottoned on by now - my view is that the WRA has removed the responsibility for the S of S to provide social security based on need, and now most out-of-work benefits are based on conditions only.
If that wasn't the case, there would be a reduced payment available for those who can't work due to illness, for example - with IB, if you were found capable of work but disagreed, you could opt to have a reduced payment on hardship grounds rather than sign on, but you can't do that now.
You can claim hardship payments, but they are only available under certain conditions and they are time-limited; if your JSA or ESA is sanctioned for a jobsearching doubt, you are not likely to qualify for hardship unless you have children. You will be expected to take the hit and ask for whatever local provision exists, and it might not be cash.
It is possible to apply for hardship if sanctioned, but it's subject to referral to a decision maker - the decisions are appealable, but as with everything else, all this will be subject to Clause 99.
Short Term Benefit Advances (the unadvertised replacement for Crisis Loans) are only payable to people who have an as yet unpaid claim for benefits, and who have to show that payment is delayed or that DWP has a reasonable expectation that benefit will be paid.
STBAs cannot be claimed by people who have been sanctioned, AFAIK, because that expectation does not exist.

Re, the £10 for food thing - I don't like the wording of that petition. I don't accept that people are "rightly or wrongly" being sanctioned for not meeting their responsibilities. We know that many people are being tricked into doing things that will cause them to be sanctioned, that many of the reasons given by DWP are spurious, and most of all that even when the doubts raised are legitimate the system is so draconian that people will be sanctioned at some point.

If this achieved the desired outcome, and everyone on sanctions got their tenner for food, how would it be paid? In vouchers? What?
It would be an excuse for DWP to impose more bloody sanctions, not clean up their act and do it fairly - and there's the foolish notion I have that people shouldn't be sanctioned for ridiculous impossible unachievable conditions anyway.

It's a bad idea. If the lady concerned seriously thinks that the WRA has not superseded existing legislation, then she should be petitioning on the theory that all sanctions are illegal, not mitigating their effects with this nonsense.
Give IDS an inch, and he'll take a hundred miles - if he thinks people will happily accept a sanction if they get a tenner instead, he'll just cut benefits further. That's why I get so pissed off with all these bloody people who say they can feed their families on tuppence ha'penny as though it was something you could sustain for more than a few weeks.

The problem with the sanctions regime is that there are far too many people involved. Whether you get one or not depends on who you see when you go to the jobcentre, what the latest target is (and it could be anything - not signing up for Universal Jobmatch one week, or refusal of employment the next), and what sort of mood the "adviser" happens to be in.
Then there's the WP providers - if they don't like you, or you won't do some daft thing they impose, they can refer for sanction. And they do - 250,000 referrals last year. DWP only actioned 100,000 of them, so the majority must have been pretty spurious.
The trouble is, the referral for sanction is made on the word of whoever, and it's up to the claimant to prove that the referral is wrong.

Could you tell me where I can find the blogs/article you refer to? I wouldn't mind reading what these folks are saying.


Thanks so much for this detailed reply, it confirms what I thought about the WRA, and remembered from hours of watching debates and following the whole thing, but it now seems a long time ago. I didn't know how to reference it, having not kept consistent links due to having been very unwell over the last 18 months, and not very together. I was sure that I had read about some, or most of what you mention at some point on the G in some pretty detailed posts by yourself and others in better days there.

I had seen this petition a few times, it landed on my page through several routes. I felt that the wording was very ambiguous and read as though ten pounds could be sufficient for a week. Which to my mind, given the cost of travel to pick up payments, and likelihood that utilities companies etc. could actually get to the money first if it was paid into a bank account, would not help, and could possibly worsen things, the amount is derisory.

I also thought the petition itself didn't have a hope of actually being taken seriously unless it was seen to help govt policy, i.e. make the situation worse for people on benefits. It was being discussed on DPAC over the weekend, and I posted onto the thread, giving my opinion, saying I broadly agreed that sanctions are heinous and public disapproval of them needs highlighting, but sorry I was unable to support the petition, giving my reasons why. The person who wrote the petition came online with an over the top response, and it was all downhill from there. I probably should have been more reflective and remembered that people may have conditions that might make flaky - I wasn't, and entered what I thought would be a lively discussion. I friended the lady at her own suggestion, but later when someone posted direct to me I replied, and she came back big time, lots of capital letters, and a mod stepped in to end the convo. The next morning it was gone. So the justification aspect is no longer visible, but it was to my mind quite extraordinary. I think one of the phrases was once we get 'them' to say that £10 is enough to live on then 'we' can hit them with the legislation. The guy in question is saying that this legislation can be used to chuck out sanctions at the discretion of the decision makers, and, if I remember rightly, that because people including JCP staff had not been informed of this then it is illegal and the sanctions can be overthrown. There is an authoritative air to his posts, but... well I actually don't know the legislation well enough myself, and it is certainly not visible in the petition, though both these people claim it is the inspiration for it. I felt that if it was true then that should be made clear. The petitioner thought that, if successful, the petition would change things and 'help starving people now'.Its end date is a year away.

My overall feeling was that it was misinformation, not something I would want to see laid on any activist group. We hear untruth, misrepresentation and distortion all the time, and a good petition needs to be clear. I was a bit bewildered because most petitions are reasonably well worded; this one has all the things you mentioned going against it plus a few. To publicly ask the government to validate the idea of £10 as being enough for basic food? For a week perhaps, in an emergency, beyond that it is inadequate and no recompense for loss of the income that the government says is what you need to live on. How could a petition like this help? There are people who would sign it because they believe in the scroungers rhetoric and would like to see benefits removed! I am not alone in expressing concerns, but it was going unchallenged. I was just the idiot who did... by asking how on earth £10 will buy 21 meals plus the bus fare to collect the money from the hole in the wall at JCP.

If you lived in a food desert the situation would be dire. The only people who could survive on this well would be those who have the means and know how to cook. I'm housebound mostly, unable to stand long enough to cook and going quietly crazy with not being able to function. I live on the edge of one of these places. Its been an eye opener. Not a fresh item in sight other than milk. And a few items of grossly overpriced frozen food. People will choose calories over content in these circumstances. Did it myself three years ago when some idiot 'lost' my entire records, and I wound up with two sons with adult appetites and £30 quid to manage everything - for eleven months. The only thing that kept us going was my knowledge of asian vegetarian food, but I was mobile then. By the time my benefits were reinstated I owed everyone everything, and surprise, on the whiff of the back payment due to me the kind utility companies insisted on me having new contracts for which I had to pay a large deposit in order for them to reinstate. Thats how it works at the bottom, as I have no doubt you know. We lived on lentils, rice, chappaties, and, until the rain decimated the garden, home grown veg. I can honestly tell you that I have had meals with more in them in the poorest homes of my mum's home country! Not least because there poor people surround their homes with fruit trees. None of these things are available in the food deserts. There are British versions, but loads of people don't know how to do that either. A lot of them have already pared things to the bone already. I have no idea how people could survive a winter like the last one on so little. Which is one of the reasons what people demand needs to be a lot better, like getting rid of the trivial reasons for sanctions for instance, a measure which would be far better. And getting Labour to withdraw LB's ridiculous statement on sanctions, and come out against using them except in the most flagrant situations.

Thanks again, for your reply. You never disappoint. :)

You can probably find some of this guys posts there, and link to his own stuff on the same subject. On the deleted thread it seemed as though there was something a bit unreal about his claims, but I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt as I really did not know myself whether what he said was accurate.

Sorry for posting so late and it being long.

Sorry to hear that you have been so unwell. It is good to see you post more here though, it is a hard slog to find any decent posts on the G these days, and I go there less with each passing week. I can't tell you how many times I have been able to pass on good information to people who need it because you have made it available. I hope 'they' will be able to sort you out, health wise, once you have been able to cut through the confusion.


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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2014 5:24 pm 
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ephemerid wrote:
Morning!

I have to say that it's a shame that the "discussion" ended badly and that the justifications can't be seen.
It comes to something when people with a similar aim to improve life for sick and disabled people end up bullying those who dare to challenge a point - seems to me the lady involved was guilty of what she's accusing the government of. Hey ho.

The whole point about the "reforms" is that the WRA has brought with it a fundamental change to the responsibilities of the Secretary of State - he does not have to provide social security based on need. It is all conditional, with a few exceptions.

Award letters state that "You will be paid £X, which is what the government says you need to live on" - but from that, deductions can be made. This has always been the case - eg. CCJs can be attached to earnings or benefits.
Sanctions have been around for a long time, and they have always been deducted when benefit is disallowed - it has never mattered to DWP that the amount the government says you need to live on is reduced. The whole point of a sanction is punishment for failing to comply with the conditions that affect entitlement, and this is nothing new.

What IS new is the length of sanctions (minimum 4 weeks) and the "three-strikes" rule - but the law allows for regulations and conditions to be changed at any time.
The document I mentioned in my last post provides for the S of S to have the power to alter these regulations at any time, to review the guidance for the application of these regulations at any time, and to allow the S of S (ie. his representative, a DWP employee) to make judgements on how and when to apply the regulations as they see fit.

Therefore, no sanction is illegal - they are all perfectly legal. They never have been illegal.
If a sanction referral is judged by a decision maker to merit a disallowance, what used to happen is that the DM could exercise some discretion on the seriousness of the offence, and could mitigate if the claimant could provide evidence that the sanction was wrong.
DMs can't do that now - if the referral is for, say, refusal of employment, that carries a particular level of disallowance and there is no discretion. The burden of proof is on the claimant to explain why it is wrong - unless the referral is obviously made maliciously or without knowledge of the regulations (which is why WP provider referrals fail a lot of the time)

The problem with this petition is two fold, IMHO.

First, the idea appears to be that if the government can be made to allow £10 a week for food to claimants who have had their benefits suspended or disallowed, letting them have some money would infer that they should have all of it and/or enough to live on.
This is spurious - because the whole object of the sanctions system is doubt regarding entitlement, and either you are entitled or you're not. If you don't meet the conditions for entitlement, you are not entitled to anything. Simple.
That's the law - whether that law is misapplied and whether the sanctions are unfair or whatever is not relevant. It's another argument (and one worth having, certainly) but DWP are applying a sub-set of regulations which are enshrined in law, so there is nothing illegal going on. It's unfair, it's frequently ridiculous, it's often later proven to be mistaken (mainly because it's so complicated, so target driven, and DWP staff are not well-trained and are also under pressure to deliver disallowances) but it isn't illegal.

Second, I happen to believe that the petitioners want to force the government to concede that "illegal" sanctions are causing hardship, and that there is some sort of right for people to be have enough money to eat irrespective of the rules.
There IS no right to money for food. The government will not concede anything - they have passed a law which means that getting any social security is dependent on claimants complying with the conditions.
By demanding that sanctioned claimants are given £10 for food simply opens the door to food stamps. There may be a moral imperative to ensure people don't starve, but there is no legal one. Some local authorities and food banks are already asking people to provide evidence of need, bank statement, etc. before they will issue emergency food, store cards, or bits of cash for fuel.
The petitioners' rationale seems to be that if they can prove (by making the government pay £10 for food) that the government is wrong to cut off all support and deny the "what the government says you need to live on" but is willing to give £10 then the government is not consistent. How that becomes grounds for sanctions being illegal is beyond me.

I think this petition is based on the wrong premise - it says that sanctions are illegal when they are not. They're perfectly legal.
It also attempts to shame the government into paying at least something to sanctioned claimants - well, they're on a hiding to nothing there, as the SBR sanctions would not exist if the government had any intention of preventing people from destitution.

These petitioners would be better engaged in fighting the sanctions/SBR conditions - it's the law that needs to be changed and the regulations that need to be made less vicious.
Some of the SBR (Stricter Benefit Regime) rules are ridiculous. There's a thing called "neglect to avail" which involves failing to make yourself available to take up an opportunity for a job. Like - if there is a tesco opening in your town, and it is likely they will recruit locally, if you don't make an application (whether a job is advertised or not) you could face a sanction; or, if there is a job advertised and you did not look at the paper that day, and you Jobseekers Agreement syas you'll look in the paper, you could be judged as having deliberately missed an opportunity by neglect.
Refusal to take the "My Skills" sham psychometric test, refusal to allow your adviser access to your online jobsearch, all those things can attract a sanction.
Last year, 770,000-plus people were sanctioned, 11,000 of them WRAG claimants. DWP's own figures show that of all JSA claimant who claim more than 3 months, most of them can expect at least one sanction referral in 6 months, or two in a year.
DWP knows that in time most claimants will get a third sanction, and it will be for three years.

That's the argument we should be having.

The petitioners, even if they get their £10 a week, will not get anywhere by claiming that sanctions are illegal and the giving of a tenner proves it. They are not, and it won't.

I'm sad to hear that your mobility is getting worse; I hope you stay as safe and well as you can.
I'm OK really - got an echocardiogram today, which is tedious as it's a long trip.

My names' Andrea, by the way. Feel free, etc.

Have a virtual hug.


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