The rules on what constitutes work related activity for those claiming Universal Credit would be laughable if they were not backed by sanctions that can plunge people into destitution for up to three years.
As part of Iain Duncan Smith’s obsession with forcing unemployed, sick and disabled people into ever more irksome and pointless activity, unemployed claimants are now expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for a job. The guidance for Jobcentre decision makers gives an example of a typical day:
“Dave is in receipt of UC. His expected number of hours of work are 35 a week. “On a typical day, Dave spends
1. two hours on-line looking through recruitment sites
2. one hour reading the “situations vacant” pages in the press (local papers,
national papers and trade journals)
3. one hour and a half completing a job application and covering letter
4. half an hour reviewing and updating his CV
5. half an hour pursuing further information on suitable advertised vacancies
6. half an hour speaking to friends, family and former colleagues about possible employment opportunities
7. one hour researching the possibility of setting up in business as selfemployed.”
Under the rules Dave is supposed to do this every single day or face his benefits being stopped. That means updating his CV – every day. Looking at the same job vacancies in the press and on the internet, every day. Boring his friends and family by asking them about employment opportunities. Every day.
It is beyond a fucking joke. You can imagine the conversations in Jobcentres:
“Well I spent an hour yesterday researching becoming a self-employed plumber”
“Very good, what did you find out”
“I can’t plumb”
“Oh. Try researching becoming an electrician tomorrow”.
Of course ask them to send you on a training course to become a plumber and you’ll be cleaning the bogs on workfare somewhere before your Work Coach has had chance to stop laughing.
These ludicrous rules come with one vital caveat, and it’s one the Jobcentre doesn’t want you to know about.
“J3075 There will be times where a claimant has spent less time on work search than their expected hours of work. In such cases, where a claimant has taken all reasonable action to find paid work, then the work search requirement is satisfied1. What all reasonable action will be will depend on the claimant’s circumstances.”
There are more and every claimant should read the guidance on Work Related Activity which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409855/admj3.pdf
DWP rules change frequently, visit this page for the most up to date information. Always try and speak to a welfare rights advisor such as Citizen’s Advice if you are having problems. Claimants acting collectively has been used to successfully challenge Jobcentre decisions, contact your local claimant’s group and if there isn’t one think about starting something up.
This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.