DWP Attempts To Increase Welfare-to-Work Companies’ Power To Snoop On Claimants

careless-talkPrivate sector Work Programme busy-bodies like A4e and G4S are to be encouraged to snoop on agreements made between unemployed people and the Jobcentre.

From 23rd March 2015  the DWP sent out a memo declaring that: “it would be beneficial for Work Programme Providers to potentially have sight of the Claimant Commitment at the first point of contact.”

The companies running the Work Programme will be expected to encourage participants to share this document, whilst Jobcentre staff will “ensure they highlight to claimants the importance of sharing their Claimant Commitment with their provider at first contact.”

The Claimant Commitment is the agreement that everyone is now forced to sign as a condition of claiming the main out of work benefits.  It details the endless pointless activity that unemployed people are expected to carry out as punishment for being out of work.  Any breach of this commitment can result in benefits being sanctioned.  According to the DWP, allowing companies who run welfare-to-work schemes access to this agreement will provide them with “Information on messaging around a claimant’s non-compliance with work related requirements”.  In other words it will be easier for Work Programme providers to grass you up to the Jobcentre for not carrying out work-related activity.

There is no legal requirement to show your Claimant Commitment to your Work Programme provider however due to data protection laws.  You should not be sanctioned for refusing to let them see it.  The memo warns the providers that “If the claimant refuses to share their Claimant Commitment you should not take any further action to pursue.”

It is up to you.  Make sure everyone knows this.

For more information on what you can and can’t be forced to sign and what information you have to disclose to Work Programme companies visit: http://refuted.org.uk/donotsign/

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64 responses to “DWP Attempts To Increase Welfare-to-Work Companies’ Power To Snoop On Claimants

  1. The thing that gets me about all this ‘free labour’ and rules is these private companies always want the information that the job centre holds on you. I personally think that no information should be handed to any private company what happens between you and and any public sector should be private between you and them. Don’t make it easier for these pimps ask them to show you the reg’s that say you have to give them any info they want. Dirty bastards it’s bad enough unemployed without having to worry about what info they might have and what you have to give.

    • Basically they only get the information that the Jobcentre holds on you, and that is really just your basic contact information as the Jobcencentre have to abide by the Data Protection Act 1998. They try to ask you all that again and also try to get more personal information out of you – but really they are only entitled to what the Jobcentre has already told them about you. The Claimant Committment thing is very illuminating, as it probably means that the information contained in it is sensitive enough that you would have to give that information of your own free will. So it might be worthwhile slapping any provider with a Witholding of Information letter, which will make their job even harder as they won’t be able to share your information with prospective ’employers’ etc. They may huff and puff a bit and try it on, but you aren’t refusing to take part, as they could give you the relevant details to follow up – and you can then give the employer/placement provider a letter when you attend withdrawing your consent for them to share your personal information. If you don’t actively withdraw consent, then you could be seen as giving implied consent. As the Workfare companies are regarded as data processors, they can act as if they were the DWP, but that is the limit. If you choose that you don’t want them to share your information, then they can’t. You have to give your consent freely

      Also, if you are being pressurised to sign anything, you can sign it vi coactus,(before you sign your signature, on the same line) or just put three dots before your signature, which indicates that you signed under duress, which basically makes the piece of paper worthless. You might not be able to do this with the Claimant’s Committment, but for that you’d need to go throgh the stuff on the Refuted website. But certainly you can do that if you feel pressurised to sign forms at the Workfare provider and don’t fancy/don’t have the confidence to blankly refuse, which is what I love to do, I love to see them squirm; they really don’t like it when someone knows their rights and is prepared to stand up for them. If you want to, you can also take someone with you, who can record the whole proceedings, covertly if needs be, or who can even speak on your behalf if you feel unable to or feel intimidated – it might be wise to let the Workfare company know you intend bringing someone with you, preferably in writing, (e-mail is fine, the metadata will prove that you sent it) or they might get a bit awkward about security etc. Best not to give them an inch.

      • Bullshit! – the jobcentre send the ‘provider’ a full ‘dump’ of the LMS (Labour Market System) which includes ‘conversations’ – the *only* thing the jobcentre don’t send is your DOB ( Date of Birth).

      • And that includes your JSAG (Jobseekers Agreement) and no doubt the CC (Claimant Commitment ) .

  2. At my JCP the G4S guard always tries to take my booklet,the normal reply is “I need to see it to make sure of your appointment time” I refuse (thanks to advice) as G4S are not an adviser/employee of the JCP/DWP,this has caused several warnings of being disruptive,I asked for a Jobseekers Direction or a paper mandating me to release the documents to G4S,this was refused…wonder why? (sic)

  3. GEOFF REYNOLDS

    Be aware that a Jobseekers Agreement is a legally binding contract and not an agreement, this is a play on words. Any agreement which is legally enforced (and theirs are regularly) then it becomes a contract bound by contract legislation. They take people to court for benefits fraud and the actual charge is “breach of contract” as there is no offence of benefit fraud.

      • GEOFF REYNOLDS

        Good article obd. Read all the comments as well. Seems that breaking the law / rewriting their imaginary law is a pastime of the mentally challenged………………….

        • A lot of people are being stitched up over these agreements or more sounding “commitment”,both are agreements,just renamed. being told by the jobcentre they are legally binding .the commitment has to comply with the law not the other way around.that’s a good post by overburdenddonkey.

          http://jobseekersanctionadvice.com/stepstoseekwork.pdf

          Whats happening is the Dwp are rampant,seeing how they see it,refusing to view positively what steps are taken.its happening with jobseekers directions also.anyone who complains about this practice is just ignored,and increased intimidation follows.always appeal (if it gets that far).

          Better true then blue.

          • I can understand people not challenging, as it’s often a hard thing to do, but I do wonder how many peoole actually do know that most Jobseseeker’s Agreements/Claimant Committments are unlawful? This could be particularly important once people get signed up to the 35 hours a week malarkey but are technically, (and therefore in terms of the law) still on JSA. No-one wants to spend 35 hours a week searching for largely non-existent jobs, and it’d be a good way of really gumming up the works if people did challenge any sanctions, though I agree, it would perhaps not be a good idea for anyone even vaguely vulnerable to go down this route, but certainly something that people with a good support group could do, and there are those of us that are in that kind of position

            Does UC actually change anything in terms of the law governing it? That is, is UC just a change in the way that payments are made but still using the 1995 legislation?

  4. GEOFF REYNOLDS

    “DWP HIDING THE DEATHS”
    “Can you tell me how many deaths have been reported while the claimant was on ESA
    in WRAG in the last year? Can you be more specific with regulation 29 & 35 – the risk
    factor, “suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and by
    reasons of such disease or disablement, would be a substantial risk to the mental or
    physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability
    for work-related activity” One would presume that if a person was recovering from heart
    surgery could be at risk to himself and others……………..or someone with epilepsy, never
    knowing when a seizure might come, what are the exact guidelines to this specific
    descriptor in the WCA process?”

    RESPONSE

    On this occasion, the balance of the public interest test falls in favour of withholding this
    information. As explained above, statistics on this issue will be published in due course.

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/229330/response/571355/attach/html/3/FOI%202014%203978%20WDTK%20Response.pdf.html

  5. GEOFF REYNOLDS

    “ALL YOU NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT THE DWP BULLSHIT ABOUT SIGNING UNDER DURESS”

    P Baker left an annotation (19 February 2015)

    I WON THE APPEAL
    (Step 1) I received enquiry about a doubt.
    (Step 2) Was sanctioned & I asked for reconsideration, providing this FOI request as evidence along with “Mandatory to sign CWP Action Plan?” FOI request.
    (step 3) Decision upheld so I requested an appeal through tribunal.
    (Conclusion) Decision overturned as I did not fail to participate. “a person cannot be sanctioned simply for refusing to sign documentation drawn up by the provider.” The provider confirmed that I was willing to participate in the CWP & my only issue was signing the documents.

    If you have/had an issue with signing the action plan/contract/agreement with your Community Work Placements Provider but can/have show(n) a willingness to participate ask the advisor/decision maker to look up the result of my tribunal decision using the JCP Ref: 34766
    17th Feb 2015.

    Link to this
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cwp_participation#comment-58492

    “THE DWP DISAPPEAR UP THEIR OWN ARSES WHEN TRYING TO ANSWER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ABOVE”

    • GEOFF REYNOLDS

      “DWP’S ANSWER TO FRANK ZOLA 17/12/2014”

      There is no mandatory requirement for individuals to sign specific forms when participating in
      Back to Work (BtW) schemes, including Help to Work (HtW).
      Participants who do not undertake reasonable activity to move toward employment may risk
      losing their benefit. A sanction on Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit may occur as a consequence
      of a claimant failing to participate in BtW schemes. The referral letters and placement letter
      make this clear. Failure to participate in BtW schemes and HtW could result in Jobseeker’s
      Allowance and National Insurance credits not being paid (or being paid at a reduced rate,
      depending on the claimant’s circumstances).
      I enclose a link to Back to Work Schemes: Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit, which
      provides details on all our BtW schemes and further information about benefit sanctions, page
      23-26.
      https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365891/jsabws1
      -oct14.pdf
      If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number
      above.
      Yours sincerely,

      DWP Strategy FoI Team

      ……………………………..VEILED THREATS THAT COLLAPSE IN COURT

    • Damn… someone beat me to it… I was so looking forward to documenting my adventures in this area… Ah well there are plenty of other areas to explore over at the good old DWP… hhhmmm, ignore warning what is being done is illegal and is therefore deliberate – gross misconduct/harrassment/fraud [in this case and no doubt others – its called Threats with Menaces], unable to explain actions/give inaacurate explanations leads to failure of civil sevice code – gross misconduct again [oh dear you’re sacked].

      Bummer the cats out of the bag…. but I am sure another DWP Bus will be along shortly….

  6. GEOFF REYNOLDS

    smshogun left an annotation (18 March 2015)

    They cannot mandate you to do anything, this is a scam used by them to con and dupe people into doing something.
    If we establish first principles: first the JSAg is a contract as any agreement legally enforced is a contract and they legally enforce theirs.
    Secondly: nobody can be forced into signing any contract.
    Third: your personal information is YOUR property.

    Under both English Contract Law (ECL) and European Contract Protocols (ECP) any mandate is defined as a an order given by a court or a judge, so where is the ORIGINAL court order? ask them to produce it. This must carry both a true wet signature of the judge which is a real signature signed with a pen and not a printed signature, and the court seal. They cannot produce it as it doesn’t exist as to get a mandate they would need a court hearing and you would be notified by the court as to the date and time of the hearing so you could submit a defence.

    Link to this

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cwp_mandate_claimant_for_further#comment-58489

    • I don’t know, but that advice sounds suspiciously like the kind of stuff the ‘freemen of the land’ nutjobs come out with. I think if there was any real basis in law then skilled lawyers and barristers would have utilised those sorts of defences.

      As far as JSA matters are concerned, then reference to the actual 1995 Act is appropriate, which is the decider as to whether the JSAg or Claimant Committment is lawful or not because how on earth can either be a contract if they are not backed by the law? And even if it is a contract, it is not enforceable as it’s unlawful.

  7. overburdenddonkey

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare ‘Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing the benefits bill, Rachel Reeves, the new shadow work and pensions secretary, has insisted in her first interview since winning promotion in Ed Miliband’s frontbench reshuffle.’

  8. stitchedupandbroken

    In today’s society I am afraid I do not believe anyone in any position of power: it has been compromised,and is corrupted.
    From top to toe the system is ‘worked’ to give to those who have,and who want more,and to take away from those who have little or nothing.
    I see people on here who are very erudite and with attitude. I am pleased for them. And it is through circumstance that they find themselves here probably pursued by those who should support them. My guess is that many will be able to stay with their claims,and rightly so.
    The unfortunate thing is that those with worst conditions than those who speak out here,are gonna be those who will be sanctioned first,then not have the voice to shout out. For these people IDS has his Final Solution. Unable to withstand the constant barrage of psychological abuse coming from the private Workfare companies and the DWP,they give up or are elbowed out,do themselves in or are murdered by those in power. It really is amazing when you come to think about it: through crafty legislation and oiled words the UK government can start culling unemployed or ill people without the use of gas or bullets. Remember we are the best masters of torture,and as referenced by the Gestapo themselves when citing the London Cage.The government also introduced the stress torture techniques in NI alongside White Noise. Those at the Top Table always want to keep their seats. And remember: they’re training their little oily children to take over when their bellies and pockets get too full o chocs and cash.
    Rotten to the core.
    Just read how the army were brought in several times in the 20s and 30s to smash the workers(read jobless)faces in. See Boris has got his two water cannons. Rubber bullets to follow folks?

    • It hasn’t happened here yet, but what has started in Greece, and Spain gives hope. France and the UK, (worryingly, sadly) seem to be tending towards right-wing nutjobs of the likes of Front Nationale and UKIP – in the UK only Scotland seems to be going the way of hope. The vast popular movements in Greece and Spain aren’t motivated by xenophobia or by turning in on each other or blaming immigrants, but realise who the real enemy is. The European Central Bank doesn’t want Greece to succeed in it’s bid to change the way it pays back it’s debts to a more sustainable way that brings to an end the need for austerity. It is worried that Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland will do the same. Even in the USA things are changing, it’s slow, and it will take time, but I think change is on the way.

      I hope the SNP does really well and gives the Labour Party a bloody nose come May 7th.

  9. what a utter joke as you do not have to sign a contract with any providers and as soon as they know this will drop you like a brick.

    i have proved this over and over again and not had to stay and do any of it for the last 5 years of this gov.

    i was on the wp for 2 years that turned out to be 20 mins as i refused to sign there contract and thus parked for the hole time.

    • I’ve done something very similar, and come to the end of my WP in a month. I have to go an see them every so often, but they pay the train fair and I get to have a day out at DWP expense – no Welsh speaker in Cardiff with my provider, so I have to get the train to another town.

      It’s all very pleasant really, as my WP coach hasn’t spoken Welsh since he left school, so I’m effectively giving him Welsh lessons!

      I sorted out all the stuff right at the word go, and not only refused to sign anything but also sent Withdrawal of Consent letters as soon as I started. Mind you, I started on the WP 11 months later than I was supposed to coz I took a Withdrawal of Consent letter to the initial, pre-WP interview at the JCP which kind of gummed the works up a bit.

      From what I’m hearing from a fellow sufferer who is now on CWP it seems that the whole scheme is a bit of a shambles as they can only find very dodgy companies to take part… One that was interesting in that it has links with two local charities and Marie Curie, which is nice to know as we are planning action against one of the charities for being involve with workfare, but it’s a bit of a bonus really, as we now have two to target.

      • I think Marie Curie will investigate if one of their shops is using workfare, they were one of the first charities to pull our, might be worth getting in touch

        • Thanks for that Johnny, I don’t know if local Marie Cure shops are using Workfare directly, but this company that recycles mobile phones/Sky boxes is linked to three charities, Marie Curie being one of them. The other two are Ty Hafan, and Velindre Cancer Centre. All these charities benefit from the profits of this company that seems, as far as our informant can tell, to only use free Workfare/CWP workers.

  10. Another Fine Mess

    Err “From 25th March 2015” 17th? + very last line ?

  11. From the 23rd March 2015, we have agreed that it would be beneficial for Work Programme Providers to potentially have sight of the Claimant Commitment at the first point of contact. Sharing of the Claimant Commitment is voluntary but is encouraged with a view to offering claimants the best support possible to help them move into employment. If the claimant refuses to share their Claimant Commitment you should not take any further action to pursue. Requesting to see a copy of an individual’s claimant commitment will provide you with: • A useful starting point to help you understand the level and type of activities a claimant had previously committed to undertake; • Information that you can use for comparison purposes following your own assessment of claimant capability; • Information on messaging around a claimant’s non-compliance with work related requirements • Any adjustments that may have been made for the claimant so you may consider these when agreeing activities and participation whilst on the Work Programme
    *** Guidance will be revised for DWP staff to ensure they highlight to claimants the importance of sharing their Claimant Commitment with their provider at first contact.***

    If appropriate, DWP may contact you to clarify activity/s that the participants wants to add to their Claimant Commitment. The benefit of co-operating with JCP, will ensure that the participant has an update/accurate Claimant Commitment, which will enhancing their time on the programme. If you are unable to provide clarification when JCP contact you, JCP will continue with the change based on the information given to them by the claimant.

  12. Our new study of local welfare schemes reveals how the Coalition Government has presided over a dramatic decline in support for some of the most vulnerable groups in society, including people at risk of homelessness; victims of domestic violence, and people with mental health problems.

    Where now for local welfare schemes? details how the abolition of Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans in April 2013, and the subsequent transfer of funding to local authorities in England to support the creation of ‘local welfare schemes’, led to a collapse in provision:

    http://www.responsible-credit.org.uk/projects/social-fund-localisation

  13. Reblogged this on Christopher John Ball and commented:
    This is one more development that shows we are not being governed. We are being exploited – but there are steps that you can take to make it harder for the DWP, Government and the parasitic providers. As stated in Johhnyvoids blog

    ‘There is no legal requirement to show your Claimant Commitment to your Work Programme provider however due to data protection laws. You should not be sanctioned for refusing to let them see it. The memo warns the providers that “If the claimant refuses to share their Claimant Commitment you should not take any further action to pursue.”

  14. another jobseeker

    On my sign on day it was requested I sign up to the elecyronic signature which I did and now I am thinking that was the wrong thing to do. They could attach my signature to any doc. Is it for sign on only?

  15. Guess who's reading this?

    I had already been asked to bring this document along to a wp meeting but just quietly did not do so.
    I pointed out I was still applying for more jobs than I was expected to previously and now with the increases on the w.p., whilst denying that these extra applications would be possible permanently and so where not to be taken as evidence the target was too low.

  16. Guess who's reading this?

    ‘were’., sorry.

  17. Reblogged this on L8in.

  18. What the law says you need to live on. Remember that one DWP on my receipts !!! Different rules for different folks aka Easy Cash Cow or a difficult cash cow !! Still don`t get any where since Maximus & Atos are contracted to 2018 so it don`t matter who wins the election – Who`s going to buy out getting out of the contract. Since the Atos contract till 2018 is costing more than the original Atos contract that went into war on social media run by tory trolls. Dodgy Dave & The Dodgy Crew will win the election & there will be reports on vote rigging that will last 10 years !!! Still the confidence trickster get more confident.

  19. ATOS are running PIP. Maximus are running. G4S are thugs & bullies.
    Now let`s start to bargain – While the DWP Bargain Hunt.

  20. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    More on the government’s programme to reduce benefit claimants to endless surveyed and controlled state slaves. The DWP now wants the workfare companies to see the ‘claimant commitment’, the spurious agreement between the claimant and the jobcentre in which the numerous requirements are spelled out. This is so they can check if you’re doing them. However, Johnny Void points out that there is no legal requirement for them to do so, and in fact this would conflict with data protection laws. You are quite within your rights to withhold the information, and they cannot force you to disclose it.

  21. With the election coming up, Labour’s attitude to claimants, made abundantly clear by the delightful Rachel Reeves, should be publicized far and wide. I quote from the Guardian, quoted in the Wings over Scotland blog:

    ‘However [following some leftist-sounding, anti-poverty noises], Reeves said Labour did not want to be seen to be the party of the welfare state. “We are not the party of people on benefits. We don’t want to be seen, and we’re not, the party to represent those who are out of work,” she said. “Labour are a party of working people, formed for and by working people.”

    Wings points out that this is nothing new, and quotes Labour MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris, speaking 3 years ago:
    ‘We were set up as the party to represent the values of working people, working being the key word. We weren’t set up as some sort of charity to help the poorest in society – the long-term unemployed, the benefit dependent, the drug addicted, the homeless.’

    Don’t ever listen to the feeble claim that ‘At least Labour are a little better than the Tories, after all’. Hasn’t Reeves herself bragged that they’ll be tougher than the Tories on welfare?

    You poor (poor: both unfortunate and lacking money) people in England, with the first-past-the-post system you have NO ONE to represent you in Parliament — you’ve been effectively disenfranchised by the two major parties fighting for the votes of the nastiest people in the UK.

    In Scotland you have a chance to kick out both the Tories and LibDems plus the already floundering Labour Party. PR makes a vote for smaller parties meaningful. If you had any doubts about what Labour really stands for, if you still had any hereditary tribal loyalty to that party, listen to Reeves. Vote Green, SNP, SSP, or anyone who doesn’t consider ‘welfare’ a dirty word.

    • Rampant careerism blurring out the political spectrum and negating any risk of being nailed to a political conviction, political charlatans lower than dog whistlers and populists.

    • @Katherine democracy goes down the toilet when party gets into power the only people who are listened to are the wealthy corporate lobbyists.
      Who the hell are we voting for then?

      The arrogance of westminsterland knows no bounds

  22. When i was on the Work Programme (a fuckwit farce ran by the Salvation Army) they had my Jobseekers Agreement sent to them by the DWP as part of the referral process. Whether or not I could have prevented that I don;’t know, but I’d assume not.

    They proceeded to then refute the ‘black box’ nature of the WP and that it was meant to be individually tailored etc (no surprise there). Instead they insisted that they were only interested in what was on my JSAg and that nothing else could or would be considered.

  23. Reblogged this on Wessex Solidarity and commented:
    Contains important advice for claimants

  24. Down with Tyranny and Oppression

    Better the Red Flag Flying than the Chains of Slavery

  25. Socialist Political Revolution Yes

    The Tyranny and Social In Justice of Neo Liberalism No

  26. Pingback: Know your rights on the work programme: you don’t have to show work programme providers your claimant commitment | Cautiously pessimistic

  27. Pingback: Current Benefit Sanctions Policy Is Bonkers Says Workfare Industry’s Top Spokesperson | the void

  28. Ask for trial by Jury !that works

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