Universal Credit and Benefit Sanctions, What Every PCS Member Urgently Needs To Know

welfare-reform-bannerUniversal Credit may have been launched with a whimper – at just one Jobcentre affecting a handful of claimants – but unless urgent action is taken then it will prove devastating for low paid workers at the DWP, HMRC and elsewhere within both the public and private sectors.

Universal Credit is not just an attack on unemployed, sick or disabled people, but everyone dependent on some form of support, such as Tax Credits or Housing Benefits.  Part time workers earning less than the minimum wage for a full week’s work will be placed under the same ‘conditionality’ regime for in-work benefits as those currently claiming Jobseekers Allowance.  This is intended to to ‘incentivise’ low paid workers to continuously look for ‘more or better paid work’.

This conditionality, known as Work Related Activity, will at the minimum include regular interviews at the Jobcentre.  Astonishingly, a part time Jobcentre worker (or any other low paid PCS member) could leave work in the morning only to have to re-attend the Jobcentre in the afternoon for an unpaid back-to-work style interview.

At this interview, which will be carried out by a colleague in the case of Jobcentre staff, part time workers will be interrogated on what they are doing to find full time work.  Anyone who refuses to, or is unable to carry out mandated Work Related Activity – which could mean anything from workfare in the hours they aren’t in paid work to filling out dodgy personality tests – will face having in-work benefits sanctioned.  In some cases sanctions can last up to three years.

The PCS Union have estimated that up to 40% of their lowest paid members could be brought under this regime,  all watched over and policed by fellow PCS members.  This is clearly an intolerable situation with the potential to create a poisonous working environment for Jobcentre staff along with bitter disputes across the trade union movement.

For Jobcentre workers the problems do not end there.  It is no secret that some unemployed claimants, placed under relentless pressure – benefit sanctions mean kids going hungry – may take out their frustrations on Jobcentre staff.  It is also true, for somewhat obvious reasons, that people with a history of violent behaviour often find themselves on benefits.  Attacks on Jobcentre staff have tripled in some areas over the last year. 

The PCS Union have acknowledged that the enhanced sanctions regime increases the risk of Jobcentre workers facing violence, yet the DWP appear to be brushing off this very real threat to the health and safety of public sector workers.

It is not just low paid workers at risk of harm due to the new regime.  Jobcentre workers are not trained to be health assessors, social workers, probation officers or substance misuse specialists, yet they now have unprecedented power over claimant’s lives.  Child Protection measures, care plans, support for people recovering from addiction or vital work to house homeless people can now all be interrupted by Jobcentre demands that claimants attend workfare or face having benefits stopped.

Jobcentre workers may be completely unaware of factors from a claimant’s personal life, whether that be a health condition or a criminal record which makes a workfare placement unsuitable. Claimants on sickness or disability benefits can now also be sent on workfare.  No health and safety assessments are carried out into placement providers and there have even been concerns raised about whether workfare staff are always adequately insured.  In most cases no CRB checks are carried out.

A tragedy is almost inevitable and when it happens it is quite likely to be a front line worker scape-goated by management, the media or government ministers.  Jobcentre workers are not paid anything like enough to shoulder this level of responsibility.

Even events which don’t make the headlines should be enough to make all Jobcentre staff pause for thought.  Jobcentre managers have long warned of the increased risk of suicide amongst benefit claimants.  Even without the shocking attacks on the working conditions and safety of Jobcentre staff, there is a moral dimension to benefit sanctions that can no longer be swept under the carpet.

Jobcentre workers did not sign up to act as Iain Duncan Smith’s unofficial police force, yet they now have greater powers in some cases than magistrates to sentence people to unpaid work.  Benefit sanctions are comparable to a heavy fine just for missing a meeting or misunderstanding a letter.  The end results of these sanctions are child poverty, homelessness and debt.  No worker should be compelled to force other working class people – who have committed no crime other than being sick , disabled, parents, unemployed or even under-employed  – into absolute destitution.

The recent leaks which exposed benefit sanction league tables shows just how far DWP management are prepared to go to enforce this callous regime.  The fact that ministers have denied the existence of targets to sanction claimants represents yet another attack on frontline staff.  Jobcentre workers are now being disciplined for not meeting targets that the Government claim do not exist.

When all low paid part time workers face Work Related Activity,  both colleagues and trade union comrades alike will be under pressure by management to sanction each other’s in-work benefits.

The introduction of Universal Credit is a matter of urgency for all low paid or part time workers.  Sanctions are the teeth of the new measures, and must be fought in workplaces and on the streets if necessary.  Two motions had been tabled at the PCS Conference in May this year to discuss some form of industrial action to resist sanctions, a long held demand of claimants and many rank and file PCS members.

These motions will now not be discussed after the PCS  Standing Orders Committee removed them from the conference agenda.  The union’s National Executive Committee seem to have washed their hands of this decision and claimed they were not responsible.  The thinking amongst the PCS leadership seems to be that benefit sanctions are not a workplace issue for members, or at least are not yet.  In truth sanctions have already created a toxic and brutalised regime at the DWP and the situation is set to become far worse.

Universal Credit has been fully enshrined in legislation.  Whilst the timetable for full implementation is unclear, the roll out is likely to be hugely extended from October this year.  The time to fight is now.  Only action, not words, can stop this attack on the UK’s poorest workers.  Low paid workers from other sectors, along with all claimants whether out of work or not,  should stand firmly behind rank and file PCS members lobbying the leadership, and more importantly the membership, for meaningful action.  Only then can we act collectively to stop the all out war on the very poorest that Jobcentre workers are to be expected to wage on behalf of this Government.

The Civil Service Rank & File (CSRF) Network has called a rally outside of the PCS union’s Annual Delegate Conference at lunchtime on Tuesday 21 May, urging delegates to support a position of non-cooperation with sanctions against welfare claimants.  They will be joined by claimants.  For more details, and to help spread the word visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/258534454291849/

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

169 responses to “Universal Credit and Benefit Sanctions, What Every PCS Member Urgently Needs To Know

  1. Landless Peasant

    NATIONAL GENERAL STRIKE ! ! !

  2. john scovell

    I think most part time workers have no idea what is in store for them . Some probably even think its a good idea until it starts to affect them but by then it could be to late.

  3. The joke centre will have to open weekends to cope with all the people working under 35 hours per week to attend interview. For instance, a person working 30 hours at the minimum wage could be working from 9am til 4pm. Add 90 mins each way travelling time means the joke centre will be closed before the claimant goes to work and closed when the claimant returns. What a fucking joke

  4. I suppose once jobcentre staff start to get a taste of their own medicine things will change …

    • Its mostly part-time and non contracted hrs jobs that are available,(unless you know someone in government), so what chance do you have?

  5. It strikes me as obcene that the DWP,feel it neccessary,to put their own workers in this position,its bad enough doing it to job seekers,but their own people is just ludicous,the sooner their out the bettert for all…

  6. theres not doubt the welfare system needs reform, like a lot of things in this country, buying a train ticket, sorting out you energy, even applying for a job, is a complicated nightmare, mainly due to there being far to many managers, getting in each others way, spouting nonsense, like blue sky thinking..and sitting around discussing which words are toxic, whilst some poor old lady is lying in a urine soaked bed.. she doesnt care if shes called, darling, dear or deidre, she just wants clean sheets…

    but ive never understood the logic of sanctions, how is anybody going to get to a job interview ( if thier lucky to get one) with no money for bus fare, or for a packet of razors, to make yourself look presentable..
    what do the dwp think people are going to do, just take it on the chin sit back and die..
    no,, the survival instict will kick in, something those idiots in power tend to forget when making policy. and as j.v said someone,somewhere is going to do something mad, set fire to themselves and a bunch of innocent people in a jobcentre… and for what, just to prove a point and save a few quid…

    the fact of the matter is, benefits are not generous, is that salaries are bad. the very fact, someone on minimum wage has to apply for a tax credit, just to make up the money, is insane, people moan about paying taxes to the unemployed, but your also paying taxes, helping big companies that make billions in profit, make even more profit, most of it untaxable…

  7. Landless Peasant

    And what the fuck are Labour doing about this shit?

    • Nothing, they are part of the problem and started all of this, it is what the powers that be want, they want this to kick off so their draconian police state can come into being and hope enough are apathetic to the oncoming serfdom to pull it off. Secret Courts and Arrests without reason are coming down the pipeline.

    • Sme as allways sweet fall…

  8. I don’t understand these sanctions. Yes, a few people will commit suicide, but anyone with any spirit is going to cause mayhem in society when they have nothing left to lose. It’s total madness what the government is doing.

  9. WE need someone in government to be reading these comments,then see what changes,if anything…

    • Landless Peasant

      I think you can rest assured that blogs such as this are being monitored by some sinister Security Intelligence Unit, not to improve Government policy but to see who they can incarcerate, yet they took no action whatsoever against the Telegraph a few years ago when they were publishing terrorist hoaxes to the general public.

  10. JV you put a good case across for the job centre staff getting increased wages – pity you couldn’t put up more of a fight for those that are being forced onto job seekers allowance or disallowed via sanctions instead of highlighting the disgusting downsides i.e. BENEFITS CAN BE SANCTIONED FOR THREE YEARS, it almost sounds like you agree with it all.

    • of course it does, that why I’ve spent the last year blogging in support of it. for fucks sake.

    • fawkes jv put up a good case for the return of true human being…i cannot recall the question of wages….only about what people are being forced to do a pain of being sanctioned….i’ll log onto my digital PA now…and find out what my opinion is….they won’t have any jobs to go to soon and will be the other side of the counter..

  11. Perhaps they should close job centres altogether, because they are making people seek jobs via the internet so what do we need job centre staff for any way, other than to stick the boot in or call the sick or unemployed mental cases. Even the new sitcom reflects this propoganda, which by the way comes from the mental health services themselves also by lying or exaggerating some cases.
    Perhpas jv you could call for the closing of these boot camps in one of your posts, that would be a big help?

  12. donkey

    They will not be sacking themselves! neither will their superiors unless their jobs were becoming obsolete anyway and like I said above so they should be – all of them.

    • fawkes…i fully agree with you ultimately it should be all of them…and the money saved divested to create new work and economics…..so that they could have redeployment opps…but there is no work in ideological climate…of global suck every one dry…economics

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  14. Yosserian Hughes

    ” Low paid workers from other sectors, along with all claimants whether out of work or not, should stand firmly behind rank and file PCS members lobbying the leadership, and more importantly the membership, for meaningful action.”

    Well you cab get tae fook if you think I’ll be supportin’ the PCS JCP advisors – who are all too quick to use the “Nuremburg defence”.

    When the number of p/t & low-paid JCP staff sanctioned starts to proportionately resemble the sanctions they have/are dishin’ out (In some cases for somethin’ as cheap as an easter egg, for absolute fuck’s sake) then AND ONLY THEN might I start to show some solidarity.

    It won’t happen. I’ve got no sympathy for the ‘oberkapos’ of JCP. Fuck ’em.

    • Agree totally with your sentiments,but low pay is low pay,and anyone stuck in this predicament,deserves some sympathy,even if they are bastards…

      • and solidarity if they take industrial action to help bring an end to sanctions, which is what this post is about.

        • jv exactly end bullying sanctions NOW….if their is a job for me show me…i will do the rest…

        • Yosserian Hughes

          That WON’T happen JV and you’re not as naïve as to think it will…..Are ya?

          What’ll happen is that the PCS will push under the guise of unfairness for the low paid/ part-timers/ unemployed, then settle for a payrise for their members, thereby exemptin’ most of their members & bollocks to everybody else this affects.

          The notion that any meaningful action by PCS will be anythin’ other than of an altruistic measure is naïve beyond all rationality. The oppressive regime & regulations for the rest of us won’t change, and they’ll go back to doin’ what they do best.

          • it could happen, and the first step towards it is to get it discussed at their conference, which is what a lot of PCS members want already.

            I agree its a long shot, but probably the only way this can be broken, or delayed/watered down is by meaningful industrial action, whether strikes, non co-operation or even work to rule to begin with by the workers responsible for implementing UC conditionality. what else do you suggest?

            • Yosserian Hughes

              Here’s what you wrote in a previous article:

              https://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/pcs-union-leadership-refuse-to-even-discuss-fighting-benefit-sanctions/

              “Upon finding it possible to lawfully not cooperate with sanctions, the NEC is instructed to incorporate this fact into the ongoing national campaign over jobs, pay, pensions and terms and conditions. The NEC also instructed to provide support to the DWP GEC so that similar action can be engaged at Group level.”

              Pay particular heed to: “Ongoing campaign over jobs, pay, pensions and terms and conditions”

              Translated to: ” We want ours, so sod the expense – throw another doleite on the brazier”

              It didn’t escap MY attention. It ought not to have escaped yours. Don’t call for solidarity when they’re not to be trusted whatsoever.

              • I didn’t write that. I’m not a PCS member. That’s a motion written by someone who is and is calling on the PCS to implement a policy of non co-operation with sanctions as part of their ongoing campaign into working conditions. Wouldn’t you say thats a good thing for PCS members to be calling for?

                The PCS cannot legally take industrial action unless it is on an issue which directly affects their working conditions, sanctions clearly do, for the reasons outlined in this post.

          • yh..the trouble is that we will get our sanction via email…we are not far off from this now…our first contact with the system will be via computer…yet another buffer ring layer, to get through,to plead our case to remove sanctions… atm their is at least some human contact….lose that and all is lost..

            • Yosserian Hughes

              What’s that box on UJ for? You know – The one that says ‘Tell us why you don’t wish to apply”??

              Any imbecile can see what direction DWP are headin’ – ‘Digital by default’ ought to have set a few bells ringin’ – but what do the advisors say about it? They’ve said sod-all and have settled for the status quo (No shit status quo jokes please🙂 )

            • yh…a good band though! perhaps their minds are clamped in terror…all i want is a mass civil rights movement…i’m game to consider any almost sensible ideas…

      • Yosserian Hughes

        Why?

        They said & did fuck-all……until it came home to roost. They’ve been warned on here & other websites – and even by me in person, that this’d happen. Did they make a noise when they were dolin’ out sanctions left right & bastard centre, to all & sundry, BEFORE they finally clicked?

        Did they refuse to uphold spurious WP sanction doubts? People were still bein’ sanctioned for next to fuck-all. Anecdotal (and in a lot of cases factual) evidence can be found all over the internet & in the press. They’ve actively assisted the private WP sector (In effect, the ‘opposition’) all under the guise of it ‘being the rules’.

        In effect, those who upheld frivolous sanctions have been aiding & abetting fraudulent breaking of Govt. contracts in order to keep themselves sweet with this fraudulent Govt.

        On the boycott workfare home page on the right-hand side, there’s a list of organisations that’ve signed the pledge “to refusing to participate in compulsory work-for-benefits placements.”

        I note Wirral DWP PCS are signatories…….No compunction whatsoever about sendin’ the unemployed to work for their dole in dubious “community benefit’ placements, though, eh? No sense of hypocrisy or irony there then?!

        The horse has bolted. PCS JCP workers left the gate open – not the part-time workers/ unemployed/ sick/ disabled. Indifferent until included.

    • yh…i should for one should make myself clear…i do not trust them an inch…and i never will….but a valid point has been made…but i welcome any solidarity in seeking that government changes direction of this ridiculous and unsustainable path that they are now on……i for one think that this is the point being made….

      • yh ps…i am in solidarity with those who protest against current government policy….and in protest against those…who bully me or others to change my mind lest i lose my benefits or whatever…i will support and push for a change in government policy….and government…i will not support tyranny…

    • Yosserian, I’m with you on this, why should we have any sympathy for JCP advisers,? If any of them had any balls they’d have stood up to the system & shouted “enough”. Instead they’re in competition with each other to see how many claimants they can sanction, yeah, even for a bloody easter egg.
      Stuff them, karma is just about to come & bite them all on the arse

  15. Eric Greenwood

    How many of these forced workers will be used as strike breakers, forced to replace workers on strike?

  16. Not only do you have to job seek on line but you have to apply for benefits on line and the problems associated with that being locked out etc.
    So what the fuck do JCP workers do except moan about those that are forced into their office who are keeping them in a job for doing so.
    JV they don’t deserve support if they and you fall for the propoganda surrounding claimants.
    What is the percentage of assaults on staff compared to the amount of claimants nationwide?

    • G4S, the guardians of the JSP offices,prevent staff from having to endure,the verbal and at times physical assaults perpetrated against them.

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  18. murray

    If jcp staff are not happy with their wages then they should leave, because this country is going bankrupt under the sheer weight of public sector job creation at the bottom and old boy networking providing huge salaries for special advisers and policy makers for those at the top. Sack the lot of this deadwood, because not only are their policies ineffectual such as wp providers they are a waste of bloody money. Then we might see some solidarity when they are all unemployed and rightly so.

    • I am fully aware of this counties predicament,and it is the policies of this government,also previous government that has brought this country to its knees.It is because proper jobs have been abolished,and you can only get temp or part-time work, and because of this ,minimum wage or less becomes the aspiration of the unemployed. I would much preffer a more fair and equal society,but that is not on offer from any political party,that I am aware of…Solidarity with the downtrodden,we need more of it.

    • What public sector job creation at the bottom @guyfawkes? Don’t you remember seeing Blair, Prescott & Straw sitting there on the front benches, sneering at the thought of making over 40000 civil servants, mostly on the bottom rung, redundant? And they did. Spent out millions on redundancy payments and then when the next recession hit realised they didn’t have enough pen pushers to deal with it, so had to take on a load of contract staff. Remains the case today.

  19. One of the things though is there has been little movement on this by claimants *themselves* opposing sanctions. Would it not be good to have a Boycott Workfare style national day of action targetting jobcentres across the land with mass demonstrations, pickets etc making it clear in publicity that we are calling on managers to end sanctions (as they are the ones setting league tables and targets) and starting to put a moral case against them. Where possible to ask local PCS branches to support etc.

  20. Murray

    Verbal assaults you can understand given the sanctioning regime, if some people do physically attack it may be a tactic to get some benefits re-instated via sick pay. Whichever way the system works against everybody.

  21. Adam j

    Have you tried organising people that have no income, how do they travel? perhaps you would like them to become the “Jarrow Marchers” all over again. The unemployed don’t have unions and resources nor bargaining power that is why strike action should come from those in work.

    • I have to disagree, the unemployed do have unions. Both the IWW, (Industrial Workers of the World) and the IWA (International Workers Association) actively encourage the unemployed to join. Even some mainstream unions, like Unite encourage the unemployed to join, though I see this as a cynical ploy. Both the IWW and IWA are ‘grass-roots’ unions controlled by the membership and NOT paid career officials, so the unemployed have an equal voice/influence to those in work.

      It’s of course true that the unemployed have to use different tactics, as we cannot threaten to withdraw our labour, and we don’t have as much in the way of financial resources. However, joining one of these unions does bring with it a sense of solidarity, which should not be underestimated. Attending union meetings provides an opportunity to discuss things that can be done, and when and if problems arise, such as the lack of resources to travel etc, can often provide solutions.

      There may not be much that we can do as individuals, and perhaps not a whole lot more in unity when we are unemployed, but the feeling of solidarity is somewhat empowering, which goes some way to reduce the sense of debility. In itself it may not seem much, but as one well known company claims, “Every little helps”.

  22. Reblogged this on in gentle poetry savagry lay asleep and commented:
    Our welfare reforms are a nightmare

  23. i cannot strike against sanctions…i’d get sanctioned if i did…

  24. Obi Wan Kenobi

    Universal Credit is a fucking piss take, it will do serious harm to anyone on benefits and low/part time workers.

    It needs terminating with immediate effect.

    Iain Duncan Smith must think he’s cracked it/won the jackpot, were all just sitting back and taking anything he thinks up.

    How can we stop this EVIL man and his seemingly limitless onslaught of disgusting shit?

    • obi wan…. marginalize him in public outcry…say no to sanctions….show him up for the fool he is…speak out against their policies….people aren’t daft as he likes to make out…

  25. owen meharry

    It’s about time to say to unions FUCK YER LEADERS land tell them YOU are the Union Not them and lets hope come Sunday you will be out in force…..and remember We are all in this together ceptin if you a ConDem

  26. marry

    Taking a part-time or temporary job just because that is all that is on offer is not the answer, especially when their wages have to be topped up with tax credits and hb and still confronted with all of the benefit crap – you would be better off staying unemployed and demanding full-time work (which is more than 16 hrs) that pays a living wage by a reputable employer other than the state, not an employer that is given grants to create jobs or tax credits to shore up their wages bill. Capitalism/corporatism is beginning to look pretty shabby as a credible political and economic system.

  27. Get used to it, the DWP won’t shift an inch. I’m afraid if I ever get forced to do unpaid work my hands will be straight in the till. Who cares if I have an unblemished work history, if employers are low enough to subscribe to workforce then they had better expect the worst from me and many unemployed with very little alternative, Fuck em!

  28. Murray

    Your right you did more or last say that in your previous comment, but I am sick of the bleedin hearts brigade that are doing this p/t jobs and then complaining about it all, better to refuse to do them in the first place on the grounds that they are not real jobs with a living wage.

    • Guy …if you refuse you face sanctions,you know that, very few jobs offer living wage,thats why we are all fucked now…

    • On the UJ jobsite there are jobs offered with the description of FULL TIME, it’s not until you read on or come to apply that it becomes apparent, it’s not full time hours at all, far from it! It’s a real mix up, all this, zero hours, fixed term, part time, temporary, bullshit, tossing shite!

      • Just another way of massaging the figures,makes the ConDem claims about employment numbers rising,when in fact its BOLLOCKS…

        • As I’ve said before, full time jobs fragmented into several part time just to manipulate jobless figures, this government haven’t created a million and a quarter jobs at all, just put more people working part time hours. This not only falsifies unemployment figures but must surely create a larger number of people having to claim in work benefits, thus sending the welfare budget even higher, something they’re supposedly trying to curb! Does any of this make sense?

      • My advice is take a part time job that pays no more than jsa, that way you will still be eligible for other benefits in full. Then do some guvvy work for cash in hand for the rest of the week, kerching! Fuckers won’t beat me!

      • Obi Wan Kenobi

        And another term:

        Pro Rata = a full time job split between 2 or 3 people, so part time!

  29. Yosserian Hughes

    @JV 7:21pm (No reply segmet to reply directly)

    Irrespective of who wrote it, it doesn’t detract from what their real agenda is.

    As I said, they’ve upheld frivolous sanctions previously. That in effect, is a (Not uncommonly fraudulent) breach of the contract between the claimant & the SoS of the DWP.

    In other words, fraud & deception. Wilful deceit, in order to maintain/improve working standards/conditions.

    Fuckin’ with people’s lives with impunity. Now the same applies to their own. They don’t want that, so they’ll gladly do & say anythin’ to garner support – no matter where from. But with that sentence I highlighted, they’ve let the mask slip.

    They can get to fuck out of it if they think I’ll support them in any way. I’m in it for me & those unfortunates in the same boat as me. I won’t support those who wilfully carried out fraud at the expense of the people they now proclaim to have solidarity with. Just who the fuck are they tryin’ to kid? We didn’t fall to earth in the last rain shower y’know?!

    Even if they were to change policy, they’d soon expect our grovellin’ appreciation – despite what they’ve had us go through up to now.

    Bollocks to ’em.

    • Rank and file PCS members have now called a rally outside the PCS Conference calling for a campaign of non-cooperation with sanctions (details just added at the end of the post).

      How do you think claimants should respond, ignore them, slag them off, lose to spite them?

      • Yosserian Hughes

        It’s up to the individual. I’ve explained my reasons. And no – it isn’t a case of cuttin’ off me nose to spite me face.

        It’s about gettin’ people wise to their (not so hidden) agenda. There’s NO altruism in their deeds. They don’t give a flyin’ one about us & the second they’re offered a ‘sweetener’ you’ll see why I’ve adopted the stance I have.

        Personally, I think they’re in a far FAR better position to make themselves heard than even a billion unemployed. ‘Leave them to get on with it, to gauge the real depth of their concern for the claimant’ says me.

        • Yosserian Hughes

          And when they accept their sweetener, their weasel words will be along the lines of: “We didn’t get cross-union support for what we wanted to achieve’

        • A lot of the people supporting that motion have been some of the most active fighting welfare reforms from Atos to the bedroom tax. They’ve been campaigning against sanctions since long before PCS members knew they were also going to be affected.

          • Yosserian Hughes

            Exactly my point!!

            PCS only got involved when the penny dropped………They’ve been warned and chose to ignore the diisent & warnings instead of at least appearin’ to try to nip in the bud most of the regulations & rulings this shower of tw@ts in the Govt have got away with up to now.

            Just because PCS have finally heeded the warnings doesn’t mean we ought to rejoice & support what they wouldn’t previously.

            Once they get what suits them………..

  30. Yosserian Hughes

    Sorry that was meant to read: “My support lies entirely with me & those unfortunates in the same boat as me”

  31. More of a question if poss.does anybody know if its mandatory to have to do and attend a basic skills test for a week or two everyday of two weeks under the back to work programme ive been on for a few months now?

    • Landless Peasant

      A friend of mine was recently made to attend a two-week ‘Motivation Course’ whilst on the Work Programme, i.e. every day for two weeks, and a part of that included a Basic Skills assessment (yet again). My Work Coach said that I will be required to do this two-week ‘Course’ also, but hasn’t mentioned it again, so I’m hoping she’s forgotten about it. As far as I know it is mandatory. If I am required to undergo yet another Basic Skills assessment I think I’ll scream. I will also demand to know why I am required to do so when I already have many academic qualifications, including Maths & English ‘O’- Levels. I will require a satisfactory answer as to why the Work Programme Provider does not accept nationally recognized qualifications, even if I have to go to the Managing Director, and I want the reason IN WRITING.

  32. hugtree88

    Pose your question to those that dish out the policies.

  33. Murray

    with regards to those refusing p.t. work on the grounds that it is not a living wage, enough hours or that it leaves them still reliant on benefits that are systematically being withdrawn leaving them still in a poverty trap, YES their benefits are being sanctioned but those that are doing it and moaning are selling those that refuse and are sanctioned by these moaners down the river.

  34. Yes Guy you are correct in what you say,but I personaly would prefer not to be sanctioned under any circumstances.I am still awaiting the outcome of my appeal for my previous sanction, which was incurred when I was called for jury duty,I was told by jcp that I had not done enough to find employment at that time,I produced my citation which was date stamped for the days I attended court, but they didnt even look at it.

    • something survived...

      Sanctions for being on jury duty! how low can they go! if you refuse jury duty you can be jailed….

  35. Came across this link on facebook – is this a spoof or what? – http://mysubdomain.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/bobchewie/

    • Landless Peasant

      WTF? Sounds like someone with a grudge.

      • Writer seems to have spent lots of time and energy developing theory of (?) then presenting it as ‘fact’ with ‘evidence’. There was an item earlier on the radio about the ins and outs of “correct” grammar (use of) and if teachers should have referred to M. Gove’s proposals as “Too Much Too Young”? Also Shakespeare:- Would he turn in his grave if someone misses the ‘e’ off the end of his name or just be happy he still gets mentioned after all this time?

    • Just looked at the bobchewie link, pretty funny I thought. Hes not been on today though,bit strange.

      • he was pissed off because I deleted one of his comments. Hopefully he’ll be back. This shit isn’t on though (the post linked to, not your comment)

    • Yosserian Hughes

      Who’s that knob? (See what I did there?😉 )

      Chewie’s ace! Put me wise to shitloads, so he has (As has JV😉 )

      Seems an affable sort as well, despite the shite he’s been through/ goin’ through. No ‘machine’ could make that up.

  36. Hugtree88…you will have been given a letter which should tell you if its mandatory, or not.

  37. Landless Peasant

    And all of this shit is being done to protect the rich parasites who will do anything to avoid parting with any of their ill-gotten gains.

    Answer = REVOLUTION

    OFF WITH THEIR FUCKING HEADS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. There is no need whatsoever for the boot camp regime at the dwp, sack the lot of them I say and pay us direct through the bank, until a time when there are real jobs to go to.

  39. Pingback: Universal Credit and Benefit Sanctions, What Ev...

  40. Talking of chewie – is he on the sleeping tablets? Do machines take tablets? We’ll have to find him a florence.

  41. Murray

    Fancy getting sanctioned for attending jury service. JCP staff asking us to support them is like asking prisoners to support their warders.

    • They aren’t, they aren’t asking anything, some PCS members are supporting us, as far as I can tell that support is unconditional. To throw that in their faces would be toxic, not just for claimants, but for working class organisation generally.

      • Yosserian Hughes

        ‘Some’ PCS members are supporting us? That’s not enough, is it? We need ALL of them to support us. And what about those that aren’t?

        Let’s see if they even get as far as a ‘work-to-rule’ and then let’s see if those members who continue to impose sanctions on the unemployed rather than their own, are ‘blacklegs’ to the rest of them.

        It’s ain’t ‘appenin’ ,old bean. You’re kiddin’ yerself if you think that ‘support’ is ‘unconditional’.

        You wrote: ” Jobcentre workers are not trained to be health assessors, social workers, probation officers or substance misuse specialists, yet they now have unprecedented power over claimant’s lives. Child Protection measures, care plans, support for people recovering from addiction or vital work to house homeless people can now all be interrupted by Jobcentre demands that claimants attend workfare or face having benefits stopped.”

        They won’t use their lack of savvy in other areas as a case for regime change. They’ll use that as a bargainin’ chip for increased salary, thereby liftin’ even their part-time workers out of the 30hr @NMW conditions (Or whatever the terms are)

        They’re suspicious/skeptical of me & just about everybody else when we sign. Whether that’s been conditioned into them by the regulations is highly debateable. It seems to me that one day they can be alright, and the next day the same advisors are casin’ folk for the tiniest/pettiest of issues.

        Why should we believe them when they try to convince us what they’re attemptin’ is for the benefit of all??

  42. JV how long have pcs members been supporting the unemployed,why shouldn’t support be anything other than conditional ? – come on! A national strike would be more effective, most of the dwp are non-union members anyway, the ones that matter in terms of seniority wouldn’t dream of coming out on strike anyway.
    If they are joining a picket line it is more for their benefit than ours.

    • That appears to be the reason for their protest,its because they realise they will become subject to sanctions themselves,not because they feel any solidarity, with anybody else…in my opinion!

      • you’re, both way off. criticise the PCS leadership by all means, or jobcentre workers who treat us like shit, but dont attack a group of largely low paid workers who have done as much as anyone to resist welfare reforms which the people behind this demo have.

        • I am refering to PCS members that I have personal contact with,namelyJCP employees…

        • Why do I have to return to my inbox when a new comment is made, can they not come direct to the page I am looking at.

        • Anomie shrugs

          @johnny void,

          Respect your solidarity stand, but exposing vulnerable welfare claimants to the stress of a sanctions lottery every time they sign on stretches the ideal of solidarity into the delusional.

          The fortnightly stress of that sanctions lottery is intolerable cruelty and a deliberate policy of psychological terror inflicted on vulnerable welfare claimants.

          The demand to jobcentre workers should be to cease and desist from wielding conditionality as a weapon of psychological terror on the most vulnerable in society.

        • Yosserian Hughes

          “dont attack a group of largely low paid workers who have done as much as anyone to resist welfare reforms which the people behind this demo have.”

          What – you mean like the ones in Smethwick JCP who were prepared to tear up their £25 M&S vouchers they receive for sanctionin’ people & gettin’ them off the unemployment register, when dumbkopf-shit failed to turn up??????

          http://www.birminghampost.net/news/politics-news/2013/04/29/unions-blast-tory-chief-for-ducking-out-of-visit-to-smethwick-jobcentre-65233-33251097/

          “Mr Lloyd said Jobcentre workers had threatened to tear up £25 Marks and Spencer vouchers received for getting claimants off benefits as part of a DWP ‘carrot and stick’ approach.

          He said: “The carrot is a small one and a number of PCS members from Smethwick were considering tearing up their vouchers in front of IDS to show their feelings over the matter.”

          The fact they accepted them in the first place tells me all I need to know. They’ve been caught givin’ sanctions out for EASTER EGGS for absolute fuck’s sake.

          • “The carrot is a small one and a number of PCS members from Smethwick were considering tearing up their vouchers … ”

            £25 M&S vouchers a small carrot to some maybe but it is equivalent to half the weekly sanctioned subsistence of the claimants that these “Working Class Heroes” beat to death with their conditionality nudge stick.

            • Yosserian Hughes

              Exactly!

              What DO they want ffs? (Apart from a damn good beatin’ with a shitty stick)

              An all-expenses to Barbados? They’d rather rip up the vouchers instead of doin’ somethin’ in the way of penance to those they’ve grieved; such as donatin’ them to foodbanks.

              It’s ‘Us & them’ And it’ll NEVER change.

          • Wasn’t it recently said to be part of the grand plan to bestow M&S food vouchers on ‘lucky’ claimants-in-crisis if the Asda ones ran out (and are they also involved in workfare?). M&S seem to be almost hand in (pricey) glove with JCP. They were also recently mentioned out of left-field as a possible place to think about applying for work (not worked in fashion/retail previously).

            They stock (costly) carrot sticks; maybe that’s the connection.

          • no, I mean the people who have organised this rally, who are PCS members and not all work for the DWP

    • fawkes…what matters is each and every human beings resistance to tyranny…my support of this is unconditional….just the thought of the sufferings of the jarrow marchers, brings a tear to my eyes…

      • and the Tolpuddle Martyrs!!

        • Landless Peasant

          And who could forget Peterloo, not to mention the Paris Commune?

          • Its getting late, the volume on my tele just fucked up, and Ive ran out of milk,so am going to bed!!

            • something survived...

              Try taking headphones and plugging it in, then listen thru headphones:
              or try plugging in the headphones then out again, TV may come back normal volume. OR try turning TV off and unplugging it, waiting a bit, then put it back on. OR take the metal part of the plug on the headphones and insert it loosely into the headphone socket so it is not in/out but hanging down, so the metal touches the metal part of the socket partially. Try fiddling it about a bit till the sound comes back on. If it does, keep the headphone plug in same place. It may be removable later or sometimes you must leave it there, to keep getting sound.
              Another option is to have it on subtitles and read those.
              All these sometimes work for me but not every time.

  43. Off subject I know but why should the poorest be welfare sanctioned indiscriminately without choice, yet the rich are given a gentle nudge of an option to forego winter fuel payments, incredible! Come on toffs just give it to someone in need, oh sorry your too posh to know any oiks!

  44. Anomie shrugs

    Political desperation in conceding last line of defence to the very people that target and sanction claimants for Easter eggs.

  45. Complain/appeal at every turn

    Advisors used to look for jobs on their computers but they no longer do this

    Instead they refer you to a job search course at short notice and then use your not looking for a job for a few days to sanction you regardless of how many jobs you’ve applied for and then when you get kicked off the course by an A4e/Seetec jobsworth for not agreeing to the optional CV rewrite you’ll get sanctioned again

  46. Who would want to work for the Job Centre? It’s low paid, sometimes dangerous work, where your clients dislike/despise you, where you have to wonder each day if you’ll be punched in the face or worse.

  47. What are they classing as part time work?
    As JCP rules say anything over 16 hours is classed as full time work.
    With UC are they going to class part time work as hours <=30?

  48. Jv comments do not come up automatically on my computer either, I have to keep going in and out of site to see next comment.

  49. “The Repo Man” Channel 4, tonight.

    Following the life and work of bailiff Sean James as he confronts debtors across the nation. Supported by world-champion boxer Marcus and ex-marine “H”, Sean is persistent and has no intention of leaving empty-handed when he tracks down his targets.

  50. Something has to be done. If the leadership of the PCS won’t take action or can’t then the rank and file must do something. I know it’s really easy to say this, but we cannot go on like this. We’re fighting each other.

  51. fawkes refresh page….
    where is the best place for psychopath/insane to hide..and one way valve dump their crap onto others, ok not ok
    there seems to be an orchestrated campaign by councils to delay h.b. going into bank a/c’s…to cause alarm, run round like headless chicken, extra expense and bank overdrafts…this’ill help people to manage their money better! anyone know anything?

  52. Thanks for that donkey, my son has just showed me where refresh is!

  53. ghost whistler

    As long as jcp workers are sanctioning people, I will not support them.

  54. the overwhelming cry.. is for the dwp/jcp..to stop sanctioning people, it is wrong, it is abuse/learned behavior…

    ie do this or else!…free will choice is the only healthy way forward…

    show me a viable job opp..and i will do the rest.. .no..means no…i decide not them..or at basics, they are telling me i don’t know my own mind…and they use sanctions to “get in”, and change my mind….or else!

    their approach is that of the BULLY…plain and simple…DO THIS OR ELSE….

    the pcs and others, must call for and end to this evil practice..i will support anyone who moves this motion…

    • @overburdenddonkey,

      Wee Johnny needs a new school shirt, no problem will sanction the next precarious parent that signs on, £25 M&S vouchers pocketed.

      • shrugs…which is the reason they.. bully…people, so that they gain, by taking advantage of human misery….people before profit…
        it is immoral what they do…but if they wake up to this and change their evil psychopathic behaviors…then i am pleased…
        + they should follow their own advice…and set an example..not make examples of people….ie rationally show me how…and provide the tools to do the job/to find viable work…not say do this or else..
        this terror clamps mind and they know it….they set the environment up so that it is difficult to argue with them then and there..
        so one becomes stammering ..in-art-ic-u-late..coz one cannot believe what they have just done…they know fear is the master emotion….

  55. While I support all efforts to raise wages/stop sanctions, I’m really getting fed up with all this defensive stuff. Here we are arguing over whether we can be in solidarity with JCP workers or not, over defending a welfare system which is crap to begin with, even before the introduction of a worse sanctioning regime or UC. Meanwhile everyone loses.
    What’s needed is a demand for a system which would benefit all – both low-wage workers and current claimants. I think the best of these is for an unconditional basic income – though it may sound at the moment like pie-in-the-sky, it’s actually a very old idea. There’s a good specific argument for it from nearly all political perspectives – even Tory – while those against it are fairly generic across all perspectives. Especially the one about ‘no one would work’ – when the fact is most are doing a hell of lot of work (cf JV and this blog) for nothing. It’s not a panacea, but at least it’s more forward-looking than ‘stop sanctions’ and holds the possibility of uniting both claimants and low-wage JCP workers. Until we all have the power to leave our jobs without facing destitution many will have to face the sadism of any JCP minions righteously scraping by and taking their fear and loathing out on us, whatever the rules happen to be.

    • barb…it is an old idea..i come across it in the 80’s…it makes perfect sense…but it is a big bridge to build from where we are now.imho…it would provide free will choice and stability…but it is not what govs want…they want the cash to go to the top..ie them policy makers, wage slavery is there bread and butter..i support any one who fights to ends sanctions…

      • Has someone pulled the plug on Bobchewie?..?..?

      • something survived...

        When they were first talking of what is now Universal Credit, and in their election propaganda, they only referred to it as a universal unconditional benefit that would replace all other benefits in early 2013. Of course after the election they changed it to a conditional payment that you can be thrown off (and possibly jailed/evicted) for noncompliance.

  56. I suppose the Government is expecting the PCS union to back down: if your low-paid members enforce the regime they’ll be left alone. For Work Programme subcontractors the power to make employees work longer hours is Christmas come early. They will recruit fewer staff and will rely on existing low-paid staff to work extra hours at a week’s notice. Within a short time these workers will either be working 30 hours a week or will have resigned because they cannot work the extra hours. If they resign they will be broke. It could also be used to get rid of staff they do not like whom they know cannot work extra hours because of other commitments.

    • How is it these practices are going to save any money from the benefit budget?cause I for 1 cannot see it.

      • something survived...

        Save BENEFIT money. If forced to resign because they can’t meet the new work conditions, even if too sick/disabled – they have made themselves deliberately unemployed so they will then be denied benefits.
        The same as if bullied out of your job by racists/homophobes/pervert-lechers.

  57. Anomie shrugs

    In the coming months when we see the full effects of families sanctioned into the gutter then there will be no excuses of conciliation with JCP workers, £25 sanction bonus was their price – a forfeiture to any claim of solidarity.

  58. “Desperately Seeking $11.2 Trillion In Collateral, Or How “Modern Money” Really Works”

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-01/desperately-seeking-112-trillion-collateral-or-how-modern-money-really-works

  59. frank begbie

    £25 vouchers FFS!

    Who was it that got 40 pieces of silver?

    What is this country coming to?

    • Sanctioning league tables and Jobcentre staff making the unemployed destitute and homeless through unwarranted sanctions to win some vouchers and an Easter egg! You really couldn’t make it up could you? It really does beggar belief. If you put that in a film or TV show script it would get rejected as being too ridiculous and far-fetched.

    • Yosserian Hughes

      Well, Judas Iscariot bid 30 pieces of silver but dummkopf-shit thought he’d get better VFM if he spunked another 10 on his dept. :p

  60. Pingback: Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Stop the Sanctions!

  61. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Stop the Sanctions!

  62. Pingback: Universal Credit (??) | clivelord

  63. Pingback: 60% Of Claimants To Be Worse Off Under Universal Credit Says Child Povery Charity | the void

  64. Pingback: Third and final appeal (and UKIP) | clivelord

  65. Pingback: Demand Action On Benefit Sanction at the PCS Conference | the void

  66. Pingback: Boycott Workfare Go To Brighton To Smash Benefit Sanctions | the void

  67. something survived...

    Why not (instead of rewarding the parasitic Schadenfreude-accumulating bullies at the other side of the desk) give Jobseekers a £25 M&S (or shop of our choice near us) food voucher every time we hand in a completed ‘what I did to look for work’ form? We could have better health and in some cases actually get something to eat as opposed to starving (going without food so we can feed the meter to heat the house, feed/clothe our kids, travel to the jokecentre/WPP, look for jobs, pay rent and bills and debts…). If we’re not passing out from hunger all the time, we might be half a percentage point more employable, if that is their stated goal!

  68. very interesting im on a all out war against the dwp and this has given me that extra inch of information i need which i have gained through hours and hours of research. I was told today by a manger of my local dole office that if you have more than 8 domestic emergency s(phone in sick/not turn up ) for ant given jobseeker interviews you would be cut off claim stoped and not be able to access any more benefits. I asked for this in writing as it is not on the direct.gov website under sanctions (Basicly its an internal thing which we arnt ment to know about) and was told that the manger had to go to someone higher to see if she could disclose this information in writing. Basicly the dwp website is fraudulent as it tells people on benifits nothing. All sanctions are kept internal with the public knowing nothing that actually goes on shocking. Ive asked (under the data protection act ) for all my files since i started signing and will go through them with a pinpoint examination to see what there doing with all this information they have obtained from me from the past year(which gets sold to 3rd party people for a fee)
    (A painter who employed people fell on hard times employed someone myself then got stuck in this rattrap)

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