The Job Centre, illegal sanctions and state control of the body

Our government is throwing away hundreds of millions on work providers like Ingeus and A4e. The Herald claims that each provider costs us between 10 million and 50 million per year- and there are over 40 of them. It’s a tad pointless when all these expensive schemes don’t actually help people get jobs. It just lowers their self esteem and perhaps indirectly makes it harder for jobseekers to sell themselves at interviews when they feel humiliated and oppressed or guilty for being unemployed.

Even if Ingeus and A4E could help people into work, what difference does it make to the economy- there are only so many jobs. Choosing some unemployed (those attending the Job Centre) to build up and get jobs doesn’t reduce the unemployment rate; it just means that these chosen few will successfully compete with other unemployed who aren’t yet claiming JSA. The number of unemployed remains the same. And the non-benefit claiming unemployed who lose out to the benefits claiming unemployed will eventually have to claim benefits if they can’t compete for jobs. This isn’t any more beneficial than giving employment to brunettes over blondes or gays over straights. So what is the DWP’s and Iain Duncan Smith’s real goal?

We all know the Atos horror stories (here’s one in video form about how Atos declared a woman with mental disabilities fit for work) and the tales of sanction-induced poverty and homelessness. Could the DWP’s agenda simply be control? The DWP is based on control: what types of jobs you apply for, how many you apply for, where you’ll look for them. Control of the body and physical location is integral to the DWP’s operations (workfare, group sessions, attending Job Centre or work program provider interviews and advisor appointments). The system of ‘agreed actions’ means that even if something isn’t mandatory it becomes mandatory once you’ve agreed to it and you can’t change your mind even one second later.  If you don’t do it you get sanctioned.

Being five minutes late to sign on at the Job Centre will mean you get sanctioned for 4 weeks. I found this out a while ago when I decided to test out my new platform wedges. I arrived at the Job Centre and as usual I had to wait for nearly 10 minutes to be seen. “Joel” checked my job search and seemed surprised that I was applying for jobs every day. He said he was pleased that I was looking for work. The Job Centre only requires that you contact 2 employers per week and I would always exceed that every day. Then Joel said “You’re five minutes late.”

I was very surprised as I actually thought I’d get there early as I’d got up and hour and a half earlier than I needed to (my sign on time was early in the morning) and also left the house earlier than usual because it hadn’t taken me as long to try out eye shadow blending as I’d thought it would. But I didn’t say any of this because there is no point telling the Job Centre anything. I just said “Okay”.

Joel is a nice friendly guy. I’m not criticising him. I’m just reporting on DWP policy because it is ridiculous. Joel gave me a letter to take away because I had been late.

I asked him “What is the purpose of this letter?” Joel replied that it’s a warning. I asked “Do you keep records?” He said they do keep records but only for 2 weeks. “If you’re late twice in a row you’ll be sanctioned but if you’re on time next time then we destroy the record,” he said. I asked him for the policy reference but he didn’t know so I looked it up. And you know what I found? Being late can’t actually be sanctioned. Jobcentre “customers” can only be sanctioned for failure or refusal to attend. (The first time means a 4 week sanction and refusing or failing to attend again means a 13 week sanction.)

jobcentrelatenessnotsanctioned

Only refusal and failure to attend are sanctionable. Not being late to sign on.

This means the Job Centre is sanctioning people illegally. No wonder Joel couldn’t point me towards the policy reference – there isn’t one.

But that’s just one example of the Job Centre’s increased control over the movements of its “customers”. Foucalt wrote about state control of the body and it seems to apply to the Job Centre which is now so regimental that being 5 minutes late is now punishable by a 4 week illegal sanction. While some of the DWP’s contractors will allow adviser interview times to be set at convenient times, the Job Centre demands that claimants attend at whatever time the Job Centre wishes.

The Job Centre can change your sign on time with no warning and without telling you and they will refuse to change it back even though you usually babysit at those times (it’s happened to me). An investigator travelled 95 miles to meet me at the Job Centre to ask me questions about the babysitting, my relationship status and bank accounts. He told me I should have informed the Job Centre I had babysat even though I’m not paid a penny for doing it and only babysat occasionally. I had a to sign a declaration that my circumstances hadn’t changed. The investigator was understanding and said he knew I wasn’t deliberately hiding anything from the Job Centre, but the Job Centre has to know about babysitting otherwise it’s like the government is funding childcare for the kid’s mum, especially if she can only work if I provide childcare.

With restart interviews, sessions. job search interviews, adviser interviews and god knows what else for those on JSA, ESA and Income Support, it’s clear that control of people’s movements and schedules is a key tool in the DWP’s agenda of humiliation and control.

When you’re forced to run to the Job Centre out of fear of being late or hurry through treacherous ice as snow blows into your face, all so you can get money to buy food…it doesn’t exactly help your self esteem or your confidence at interviews or your motivation to get back into work. This is control and punishment, pure and simple.

Advertisements

Tagged: , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “The Job Centre, illegal sanctions and state control of the body

  1. robertmacbeath October 25, 2013 at 7:27 pm Reply

    Hi, well I am unemployed and recently I have sent emails to many MP’s, the citizen’s advice, change.org, consumeractiongroup about the farce of an establishment known as the jobcentre. The have me on intensive training after Ingeus failed to help me. I am university educated and the only “help” I got was checking my CV, which was fine. Oh and they tried to sign me up for basic computer skills, even though I could teach a course like that. Morons of the highest caliber. The JC plus, no idea what the plus is for, other than plus we’re a bunch of useless assholes. Worthless scum of the earth, backed up with petty bureaucracy and incompetent employees reading from a rule book, rather than treating people like human beings in a terrible economy. Now the government is talking about making people work 35 hours a week for the pittance they give people on benefits, it seems as though they have forgotten about the anti slavery laws. Perhaps the European Court of Human Rights would be interested in their new “incentive” to “help” people, utter morons.

  2. baz November 26, 2013 at 11:46 am Reply

    Robert that’s been tried in the UK courts by a girl. Under the Coroners and justice act it’s illegal to make someone work for nothing or nearly nothing. And when you break down the £142 a fortnight into an hourly rate is is well below minimum wage for a 16 year old so personally I think it’s slave labor. I was told by my adviser (a lovely woman I get on great with) that Job seekers isn’t meant to be for paying bills, food or anything but your quest for searching for work. So essentially paying for stamps, phone credit to call jobs, internet to Email companies and travel to interviews (which they will only pay travel expenses if it’s within 25 miles of your home, any further they won’t refund the money) so how do they expect you to pay your bills out of what you get? It’s all about control, the millionaire’s who “run” this country and make policy on everything don’t suffer because the interest alone on their millions funds them as well as the taxpayers paying their wages that a regular worker could only dream of earning in a year. To them the average wage in the UK is £25,000 a year. Show me jobs people can do that pays that amount especially some places that don’t require high skill levels or years of expensive college/university courses that have put you in debt to the tune of 10’s of thousands of £s. Again they don’t care they’re millionaires and their kids education is paid out of their interest.

    My adviser I had at A4E told me how they’re actually funded. For every person that is sent to them by the jobcentre they’re paid £500. Out of that they have to pay your travel to appointments/interviews/training (which is a joke). If you get a job and are in that job for 16 weeks they get a £1400 bonus (plus what’s left of the £500). If your working still after 34 weeks they then get another £500 bonus. So it’s in their interests to get you signed up for agencies or into jobs you hate so they get their money as soon as possible. If you don’t get into work after the 2 years they get what’s left of the £500 initial payment. I’ve finished a 2 year stint with them and to say they were a waste of time and space is an understatement. I was switched through 4 advisers while there (with them leaving or being promoted) then switched back to one of them towards the end of the course. I did all their training courses (some of them twice) because they had nothing else they could offer me. They funded my SIA training and guaranteed me an SIA license as they had funding through the European Social Fund. Upon completing the course they told me the license was too expensive and they wouldn’t pay for it so back to square one again. Towards the end they put me on a course that guaranteed an interview for a job at the end of it. A customer services course. 3 weeks into the 4 week course they notified us it was only open to 17-21 year olds as it was an apprenticeship. It meant only 3 people in the course were eligable for the job (there was only 7 of us on the course). So other than getting a certificate in customer services it was a waste of time and a lie on their part.

    The whole system in place is a joke. To me, take the £2500 (potential) payment A4E and A4E get and offer it to the unemployed as an incentive instead to get into work. £2500 is a lot of money so I’m sure it’ll be motivation and even if they pay it in payments over the year it’ll encourage people to stick to the job. Or use the money to fund retraining through college’s for the unemployed in jobs of high demand in the area you live in. But the government doesn’t use this kind of sensible thinking to help, it’s all about control and keeping people on the breadline as long as possible so they can justify their own high wages.

    • robertmacbeath November 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm Reply

      Yes they are morons of the highest callibre. The money the taxpayer pays them could be used to train people as tradesmen, which they say is too expensive even though the “training” they are currently paying for does nothing other than waste money. Thank god I live in Scotland and this shit will be gone with independence because otherwise I WILL be emigrating to a country that isn’t a farce. 20% VAT, 1000% interest in cigarettes, extortionate gas/electricity rates, so yes even the unemployed pay taxes even though they don’t pay income tax. Ingeus are complete and utter morons and I emailed all the MPs I could find an email address for about this but not one response, so whatever. Now this Universal Credit is going to force unemployed people to sign on unless they are earning the equivalent of the minimum wage for 35 hours each and every week, and guess who they need to report this to each and every month: the JobCentre. This will plow us further into recession and force people who want to work into the dole queue, good fucking job “government”

  3. samedifference1 November 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Same Difference.

  4. robertmacbeath November 26, 2013 at 4:28 pm Reply

    I should also point out that the written statement they send you about your payments clearly states that this money is “the amount the government says you need to LIVE on”, it says nothing about being for seeking work. For once their moronic bureaucracy is useful.

  5. Liam T Kirk December 3, 2013 at 9:15 pm Reply

    Interesting to read both Robert’s and Baz’s comments. Scottish independence – I have no comment as I have no vote. If it comes to past I will be a foreign national in London with all that entails – a new passport for a start.

  6. Matt smith March 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm Reply

    I have been sanctioned for 2 months now, not getting any money for rent or to live on. So I’m doing part time work and living with my parents at the moment. Well now my work advisor want me to do voluntary work, well mandatory work. But I’m getting no money from them is this legal, I mean I’m working 1 day one week, and maybe 2 or 3 days next week because there is no work but I’m still paying national insurance but I have no insurance “Is the british government taking the piss out of me”. Could some one tell me, should I work for nothing is my human right been taken away do I complain to the European union that was also forced on me am I free. Britain has gone to the dogs of hypocrisy, going to watch my BBC pedo now and live in my false world. PS I’m still going to sign on and be a statistic because my government can’t offer full time work and is more interested in policing the world.

  7. root syntax (@rootSyntax) June 7, 2014 at 12:34 am Reply

    After being made unemployed from a short contract job, and spending months ridiculously applying for numerous 40+ jobs per week through the means made disposable by the job who admittedly said at least 100 people per job were applying for the same job upon the same draconian quota ruled by your job agreement, i was sent to a work program, A4E.

    Being eager I said give me the first job you can give me, sure enough they offered me Amazon as a picker, so i took it, A4E told me the travel costs per week would be £35 per week , they would pay the first week and there on after i would pay , a week later I was told I had to pay £100 plus for travel to cover the mini but (exercised all means to get there cheaper as amazon is a points system, late more than 3 times, fired) and I live almost 20 ,miles away and need to be there at 7.45am, well before my leaving time for trains and buses to get me to a remote area where amazon is…..

    So on that note i just couldn’t afford to sign off 100 per week travel 60 rent,…i only made 170 there…what am i supposed to eat…books ?

    So i told each and every one my story and left…A4E told the job center 3 months down the line I was still working there…my money from job center was stopped…and i was being investigated even though Id told everyone including the job center what had happened.

    On further investigating A4E i found out that they get money for each person they get off the dole and into work and get paid by statistics for keeping people in work…alarm bells ringing now….

    anyway long story short….sorted that out a few weeks later and a lot of stress…..

    I have moved out of area and let all concerned know, the A4E in my area kept sending me appointments , I kept telling them Im no longer ion the area and that my new job center was transferring me to another A4E in another new area, afeter telling the job center relentlessly about my move and making sure all was clear repeatedly ……

    I have been sanctioned for 1 month, I appealed and told them the situation and how I had already informed them of my status and circumstance, repeatedly asked A4E in my old area to tell my current job center my status previously, which they have……DWP….still no reply and still sanctioned 2 weeks later, missed 2 job interviews, no food, and felling week and low………Of what good has this done for me Id hate to see what they do to other who are less resilient than me……..I’m currently doing Open university Courses in computer programming as that’s what I like to do and I have worked as a Web developer for various companies…life got in the way for a little while…but picking myself up…..but this government don’t give a fuck about anyone but it’s self………and they wonder why

  8. […] is completely possible. And in 2013 I was threatened with sanctions for being late even though lateness isn’t sanctionable by DWP policy. Later I was told I must apply to jobs every day (ie. at least 7 per week) even […]

  9. ian smith June 16, 2015 at 4:44 pm Reply

    English Contract Law states:
    English contract law puts the onus of every contract to be fair and nobody can be forced into signing any contract.
    Where threats, intimidation, harassment, or coercion are used to form a contract it can be avoided. These constitute duress, and duress also includes financial duress; duress is Unconscioability and Unconscioability constitutes an invalid and unenforceable contract.
    Lord Denning stated “opinion is mere puff” and only the terms and conditions in force apply. Where retrospectively and unilaterally applied conditions are used they are invalid. Legal Precedent here.
    So what does this mean?
    When an advisor states “in my opinion you haven’t done enough to find work” it is their opinion which according to the Denning legal precedent is unlawful and illegal. This means the original report is totally invalid, the report is invalid then any sanction cannot be upheld.
    If they unilaterally apply contractual conditions which are not in your original contract then they don’t apply, so a fraudulent report for sanction. When they retrospectively apply contractual conditions they don’t apply.
    So does it work? Under contract law a mandate is an instruction given from a court or judge in YOUR NAME. This means they have to bring a court action in the High Court and not a lower court to mandate you to do anything, no court action against you then they are stuffed. In addition I serve lawful notices on individual staff and make them individually accountable for their actions. I also advise everyone to audio record every visit to the Jobcentre, I follow this up with a revocation of contract using a lawful notice on the grounds of Unconscioability and there’s nothing they can do.
    When they say “you have to sign up to claimant commitment you know they are Lying.
    When they say “we are mandating you” ask them for the mandate in your name from the High Court signed by the judge with a true signature (with a pen and not a printed signature) and containing the court stamp. Tell them they are not high court judges and have no power to mandate anyone.

    The Fraud Act 2006 which states:

    (1) Fraud E+W+N.I.
    (1)A person is guilty of fraud if he is in breach of any of the sections listed in subsection (2) (which provide for different ways of committing the offence).
    (2)The sections are—
    (a) Section 2 (fraud by false representation),
    (b) Section 3 (fraud by failing to disclose information), and
    (c) Section 4 (fraud by abuse of position).
    (3)A person who is guilty of fraud is liable—
    (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (or to both);
    (b) On conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to a fine (or to both).
    (4)Subsection (3)(a) applies in relation to Northern Ireland as if the reference to 12 months were a reference to 6 months.
    2
    Fraud by false representation E+W+N.I.(1)
    A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a) Dishonestly makes a false representation, and
    (b) Intends, by making the representation—
    (i) To make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii) To cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
    (2) A representation is false if—
    (a) It is untrue or misleading, and
    (b)The person making it knows that it is, or might be, untrue or misleading.
    (3) “Representation” means any representation as to fact or law, including a representation as to the state of mind of— (a) the person making the representation, or (b) Any other person.
    (4)A representation may be express or implied.
    (5)For the purposes of this section a representation may be regarded as made if it (or anything implying it) is submitted in any form to any system or device designed to receive, convey or respond to communications (with or without human intervention).
    3
    Fraud by failing to disclose information E+W+N.I. A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a) Dishonestly fails to disclose to another person information which he is under a legal duty to disclose, and
    (b)Intends, by failing to disclose the information—
    (i)To make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii)To cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
    4
    Fraud by abuse of position E+W+N.I.
    (1)A person is in breach of this section if he—
    (a) Occupies a position, in which he is expected to safeguard, or not to act against, the financial interests of another person,
    (b) Dishonestly abuses that position, and
    (c) Intends, by means of the abuse of that position—
    (i) To make a gain for himself or another, or
    (ii) To cause loss to another or to expose another to a risk of loss.
    (2)A person may be regarded as having abused his position even though his conduct consisted of an omission rather than an act.

    The ‘European Convention on Human Rights’ and the ‘Human Rights Act 1998 ‘which enables the ECHR. Under Article 8, a person has the right to privacy in their correspondence and private life, with exceptions only being made where it concerns the safety or stability of the country. Under European Data Protection act, a person cannot be forced or coerced to disclose private information.
    DWP. They’ve admitted in this FOI that Monster Worldwide Limited run the service and I guess they don’t do it for free, so how does DWP mandation of UJM over the use of competitors (indeed.co.uk, fish4.co.uk, totaljobs.com, reed.co.uk) square with this.
    EU Competition Law Rules Applicable to Antitrust Enforcement
    Article 102 (ex Article 82 TEC)
    (c) Applying dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties, thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage
    It works like this:
    The Decision Maker will argue that registering with the Universal Job match is purely voluntary. If the claimant voluntary declines to follow a Jobseeker Direction then that is the claimant’s own choice. If the claimant has chosen not to voluntary create a Government Gateway account in order to voluntary create a Universal Job match account then the claimant is deemed to have voluntary chosen to be under a sanction.
    “They cannot force anyone to register with UJ because
    1. They cannot enforce the policy of accepting cookies to use the site (because of EU Data Protection directive 95/46/EC).
    2. The “Standards of Behaviour” are informational only (i.e. not mandatory). But to register you have to tick the box saying that you accept them, ergo, you are unable to register.
    3. The Welfare Reform Act 2012, chapter 2, section 17(3)(c) states:
    “Creating and maintaining an online profile”
    That’s it. That’s the only legislation regarding setting up an online presence and there’s no mention of UJ because it would be anti-competitive and so illegal. If you have an email account and use any other job search website you already have an “online profile” which removes the need to register with UJ.
    4. The so called “mandatory” equality questionnaire is, if you read the DWP’s FAQ, “strictly voluntary” but you can’t register without going into the questionnaire. They have an Opt out once in the questionnaire.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: