Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Reforms

There's no getting away from it today, but some of the interviewers are beginning to ask the right questions. At this moment Steve Webb is waffling in reply to what happens when someone with a family has their benefits stopped. One thing that's emerging that should frighten people; there'll be no appeal if you are sanctioned. That's what IDS said, although Webb has just denied it. It seems to be the case that you could be forced to sign up to casual work with an agency, or be deemed to have refused a job. No one has asked whether that gives the power to the likes of A4e to decide that you've turned down a job. Right now the BBC is talking to people in Easterhouse who fit the stereotype, as if that's all there is to unemployment. In all the chatter and propaganda, no one is addressing the issue of the lack of jobs.


  1. I notice the government keep spouting the line about 'refuse a job and have you benefit stopped'. My jobcentre has never offered me a job and I suspect it is the same for many other jobseekers. Mind you, when they say refuse a job, I think that probably includes a "job opportunity". Enter A4e stage left!!!

    Historian is right to mention the lack of jobs. I wonder if the governement hope to divert attention away from this by the almost constant sound bite of stopping benefits for those who refuse a job.

  2. A4e wafted a list of company names in front of me with the suggestion that they *might* arrange a placement with one. About half were labeled "Do Not Use", the remainder were mostly pubs and leisure. I selected a couple and made suggestions for others to be contacted - For my efforts, it has been reported that I refused any placements.

    Under the new propsals, would I get sanctioned without recourse to appeal ?

  3. There's clearly something missing from your account, so I couldn't answer your question.

  4. A4E are currently looking for a work placement for me. However when I had my interview with them a couple of days ago, they only asked what my line of work was. They didn’t explain what exactly a “work placement” is nor what I would be expected to do. There were two other “jobseekers” with me so I didn’t ask any questions.

    However I was curious to know the legality of such and similar placements and in my search came accross this interesting link-

    What I deduced is that if I merely “shadow” someone then I am not entitled to the minimum wage. If I actually work, then I am.

  5. Regarding Anon's question about the possibility of getting sanctioned with recourse to appeal.

    JHP Training asked me for a list of 10 places I'd like to do a placement otherwise I'd have go to a charity shop. So the answer to your question is it's up to you to make the best of a bad job by telling A4e where you would like to do a placement rather than letting them offer you the usual rubbish. If you don't have any ideas, then yes, you could be sanctioned for refusing a charity placement.

    I really can't stress this enough. You have to be proactive and stand up for yourself, tell them what you want!

  6. Milly Tant - I think you misunderstood me. A4e only showed me a list of companies, some marked "Do not use", a few no longer trading, and a few pubs/clubs. The only offer was the vaugest of suggestions that they might, and only might be able to arrange a placement if I saw something suitable in the list. I didn't, so suggested a few names myself.

    A few months on, I aquired a copy of the A4e reports (including the "private" notes) and saw the "advisor" had said I refused any/all placements. Next meeting, I will be proactive in re-educating him as to what constitues a refusal :)

  7. It's hard to have a conversation with someone who won't adopt a user name, but I'm interested in what happened during those "few months". Did no one mention placements again? Did you follow it up? I know it's often up to the client to make the contacts.

  8. No politician as yet explained why a person will not recieve at least minimum wage for the 4 weeks "work programme", and it is work its not training, the tasks digging gardens, litter picking, painting, you do not need to be trained to do such tasks. this is illegal under the human rights act, and i hope many others including myself are challenging this.

  9. I'm on Week 11 of a 12 week spell at JHP Training before returning to Ingeus for the remainder of FND. This is the part of FND that includes the 4 week unpaid work placement.

    I and several others, also on Week 11, have not done the 4 week unpaid work placement. And it looks as though we won't have to. Nothing has been said officially by JHP Training though.

    I'll keep you posted.

    I have it on very good authority that providers are unable to find enough placements for all FND clients. It appears to be an open secret, and is not unique to where I live, but applies to all providers thoughout the UK.

    No wonder JHP Training haven't said anything officially to clients, how embarrrassing.

    My very good authority also informs me that FND clients need not worry about being sanctioned by their jobcentre for not completing the 4 weeks MWRA - when it was never offered.

    So hope this comes as good news to those of you who were dreading the 4 week MWRA.

  11. Glad to hear Milly that you are not going to be penalised.

    What I was told at my group interview was they had contacts in IT, my field, well web/graphic design actually ....., but they encouraged us to find our own placement ..... I have also been applying for these over the last few weeks and no interview so far .....

  12. Simone: Sounds like you have a much better provider. Good luck in getting a placement in your chosen field.

    I already do voluntary work 1 day a week repairing and upgrading donated computers for people with disabilities. So whilst I would want to have got an IT related placement the thought of not getting paid for it, even expenses, really turned me off.

  13. Thank you Milly for your best wishes. I am a designer, not an "IT" person though. Anyway they "said:" they have contacts in IT. They may well be bluffing.

    My work history and resume are not the norm, and not conducive to employment within a company. Add to this I am nearly at state pension age.

    A4E dangled a carrot ie they offered the possibility of training a few months ago, but when it came to the crunch, it wasn't there. This makes a placement for me even more difficult to find.

    A4E is my opinion has failed me. The previous New Deal scheme was structured to include full time 30 hour job search. They started to look for placements from Day 1.

    Self employment is the only real option for me but there isn't any governmental funding yet.

  14. There was certainly scope for self-employment under New Deal, and it exists within FND. A4e talks a great deal about self-employment. Perhaps your age makes funding for that option less attractive.

  15. By "self-employment" A4e don't mean running a multi-national corporation; they mean petty entrepreneurial-ism such as taking in the neighbours' washing, private hire taxis, street hawkers, zero-hours contracts, self-employed double-glazing/fitted kitchen sales-people etc. It should also be noted that is illegal for the Job Centre to send claimants to "self-employed" vacancies; "self-employment" also removes individulals from the benefits system; remember: this is A4e/Providers that we are talking about.

  16. It is not "illegal" for the Jobcentres to recommend people to self-employment. You can't do a "self-employed" work placement, of course, but that's a different point.

  17. You cannot be disqualified under the "refusal of employment" rule for refusing or failing to follow up self-employed jobs (JSA LOA, ch 9, para 9).

  18. Sorry Historian, currently there is no self employment funding under Flexible New Deal. It was withdrawn just before the General Election last May for everyone.

    I started FND ifour months prior and started on the self employment path ie drawing up a business plan.

    You used to be alowed a six month test trading period where you would still be able to receive JSA. One of the rules too was that you had to set up a joint business bank account with A4E .....

    The good news is the “new” government are introducing £2000 grants for the long term unemployed in sping/summer 2011 The details are not out yet, unfortunately.

  19. Hello. Not sure if this is the place to ask, but . . . I got referred to Stage 4, FND on Tuesday. A4E were calling me on Wednesday, got documents through today, Thursday. Are they "that" organised and quick? I'm in shock how quick I've been processed. Is this normal?

    Thanks in advance.

  20. I expect that you were listed as due for referral, and that A4e were informed that you were starting at the same time that you were told. It's quite normal for the process to get under way quickly, it's just a matter of making the contact and putting stuff in the post.

  21. Thanks for the reply. I haven't even been signing on for a year, they're a month shy of my application date. They work back from a date (still not the same date that I started my claim) and have referred me asap. Cheeky lot. I hoped I'd avoid it until January, while I concentrate on some voluntary projects. But I imagine I have no choice in the matter - if I'm guessing correctly.

    There are a few jobs out there. But there are too many applying for them, so you're lucky to even get an interview. It's tough and I think it will probably get worse before it's gets better.

    Thanks again.

  22. Hi, nice to see someone's watching. I was wondering about help from A4e to go self employed. I have done a Business Start up course and am currently doing 'Permitted Work' (<15hrs per week earning <£20 per week) - but have frankly had no help from my Advisor - she practically had a fit when I told her I'd registered with HMRC last September, and we spent two meetings with her asking me if I had decided to withdraw from Permitted work. Why on earth should I? Every meeting is like a stuck record 'less than 16 hrs per week and earning less than £20'. Nobody can actually tell me how to calculate 'earnings' either - and no its not the same as the standard Tax man/accountant's way ( ask if you want more info) - but I have managed so far by not earning anything. My Advisor seems to think i can only do this for a year - I believe, having read the Jobcentre leaflets and having it in writing from them, I can do it indefinitely. My advisor has been pretty obstructive - patronising about my work being a little hobby business, telling me how to run it, coming up with all kinds of strange ideas, and then saying she envies me being able to pursue my dreams - this from someone with a steady job, govt pension, sick pay, holiday pay, no training in running a business or in my business field. someone who thinks I need to be taken out of my comfort zone.

    My problem is that I need to start working full time in order to have a chance at earning enough to live on, and as with any start-up, there will initially be periods of no or v low earnings. My advisor - who most recently told me she is only seeing me in a kind of voluntary capacity as I am 'dormant'- says moving to WTC is 'problematic' but refuses to say any more. My work is seasonal, the season starts in a month or so and if I start selling I think I will risk going it alone and apply for WTC. But I really think there should be some help available for people in my situation - anyone know of any?

    BTW Simone: I am now told that there will be a loan (I don't want a loan)and training worth up to £1000 per person available to claimants with an approved business plan and via a mentor - who probably takes over your bank account - in 'Autumn 2011'.

  23. Under New Deal you could get advice from specialist small business advisers, but I don't know whether that option is still open. Things are in limbo at the moment. I'm sure there's someone more up to date than I am who can tell you. The government claims to be keen on self-employment!
    Your adviser may seem patronising, but almost certainly is on low pay and threatened with redundancy.


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