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Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6264
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
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I am currently having an argument with the Department of Work

Customer Question

I am currently having an argument with the Department of Work and Pensions relating to my length of unemployment (three years).
In that time I have made over 3,000 applications for work and registered with 32 Agencies around the country. Some of the jobs in the North in particular are not viable due to the salary offered against the cost of securing termporary accommodataion.
Other jobs in the South and London are receiving over 50 applications, often a great deal more for their posts. Some firms are giving a reply, others I hear nothing at all. The latter I can accept if the are going to need to send out refusal letters to 49 unscuccessful people.
I have (what is patronisingly referred to) Personal advisor, who really has done very little to "advise me" in fact more to criticise. I have been told to look in other areas outside my usual trade (Credit Management) which I have attempted to do. However I am receiving replies to those enquiries/applications that I do not have the right skill set.
Two weeks ago (when I last signed), I was told that if I did not look further a field (I have already told them that I am prepared to take work on a 50 mile radius of where I live), or look in a different sector outside of Credit Control and accountancy, then they would cut off my Jobseekers Allowance (income based).
In fact the conversation got quite vexed and I was told to leave, the woman concerned still had not answering my question or giving me the right of appeal. It seemed that she thought she was the Judge and Jury in the matter and that she could do as she pleased relating to my Job Seekers Allowance.
I find it a bit difficult to beleive that she alone as an advisor has the power to do this, and it is not as if she is a senior person with the DWP. She did not offer to refer me to the floor manager, and I have had to resort to my MP.
If my MP is not successful, which legal recourse may I take; is there any specific Statute I can use to strengthen my case?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
taratill :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I am happy to help you today. As I read your question the decision has not yet been taken to remove the allowance. Is this correct?


Thank you for your reply, my apologies for not responding sooner.


I had quite a vexed meeting with the my "job advisor" at Chelmsford Tuesday, which resulted in my filing a formal complaint to both the "Work Services Manager" and my MP. I received a near sarcastic letter from Ms Verney, the Work Services Manager this morning, who had stated that the "Work Coach" was within her rights to stop the payments of DWP. However given my last signing date (Tuesday) I wanted to make sure that the payment had been authorised. In this morning's conversation with Ms Verney, again a somewhat sarcastic comment was made that the Work Coach was satisfied that I had been looking in other clerical work areas. I have explained on a number of occasions that I have issues relating to epilepsy which reduced the sector of business I am allowed, and that having had an interview the last Friday with a Special Needs School/College, my concerns were confirmed as they rejected my application at the interview (albeit very politely). Some of their "Students" clearly had very serious nervous and learning disorders and could become violent and needs restraining. With my back being very badly damaged, and although help readily available, it was agreed that I was as much a risk to myself as the "patient". This together with the fact that the other agencies I have spoken to have agreed that although my skills are transferrable, that their clients are being very specific relating to job specifications. I explained this in depth to the "Advisor". I have made it clear that I am not unemployed "for a laugh" and that with over 2500 applications it is confirmed that I am not avoiding finding work. It is of note that the DWP attitude has changed dramatically since the intervention of my MP, and it seems to be of no coincidence that the threatened sanction has been lifted. However I feel that this type of blackmail is likely to occur again.

Jenny, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 6264
Experience: Qualified Solicitor specialising in Employment Law and general legal matters. Please start your question For Jenny Only
Jenny and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Have you been assessed for ESA (Employment Support Allowance)?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for the delay in reply, I opened up my mail on Saturday to be confronted with 600 messages !

Last Tuesday, I had my usual signing meeting with my "advisor". She has told me that she was happy that I was looking at alternative areas outside Credit Control and general management and the threat to cut the Job-Seekers Allowance has been withdrawn, although not confirmed in writing.

We also drew up a new "Work Plan", which on the whole is nonesense, which makes me feel that the threat to withdraw benefits again may raise its head. I have already filed a formal complaint with both DWP and my MP, Rt. Hon. Simon Burns, who has intervened. Unsurprisingly the DWP gave the stock reply to me that the woman was "doing her duty"- utter nonesense since it is not for her to, in effect, black mail me.

Again I have have copied this to Mr Burns who is following the matter up.

I signed on last Tuesday and again quite a confrontational meeting took place, although the "Advisor" had confirmed that the singing had been accepted and the the would be injuncution lifted. Having checked my bank accounts on Friday (due date) the payment has been received for the previous fortnight's unemployment.

However, I have now been told that I have to sign everyweek from now on, so that I may be "monitored". Quite what that is supposed to acheive I don't know since so far the woman has been far from co-operative and as I mention above to the point of agressive.

To date she and her predecessor have not being constructive in their approach and have been very evasive. However it does seem that Mr Burns' intervention has made some difference. There has been little real support from the DWP relating to alternative areas in which I can work, but at least they have recognised that my damaged back is a real issue, and that my (potential) epilepsy is something which may cause an issue if I were not to disclose it. I have been seisure free now for six years, but still on anti-convulsants, which my Neurologist has told me I will be on for the rest of my life. Further he has told me that I have no obligation to disclose the condition due to the length of time I have been seisure free. However, I am not sure how I stand relating to disclosure and Duty of Care to my fellow workers, should I have a seisure and injure someone.

The above matter relating to my medical condition does not seem to have been taken in to real consideration by the DWP, and there answers have been very evasive to say the least, even the one to my MP.

At the moment, providing no stunts are pulled over the next couple of weeks then hopefully I will gain employment as we are heading in to the Tax Year-end. However, I have still not been given a firm assurance that the threat made by Nusryat (the adviser) will not be made again. I need to be armed with an immediate response, since I have no issues with going to Court.

Ironically Chelmsford County Court is literally just across the road from Job Centre Plus Chelmsford. I can draft my own Summons and particulars of Claim and have no issues with being in an Open Court situation as my work as a Credit Controller has included representing businesses in Court, both as a Witness and as a Claimant at Trial Stage. To that end, I have no issues with pushing the matter as far as I need.

Thank-you for your due dilligence in this matter and if you have any advice upon how I can be pro-active in this matter and whether there are any legal authorities in Statute or Common Law which I can use, it would be very helpful.

Yours sincerely

Christopher Richards

(07773) 491502

(01245) 444144

(satisfaction statement below)

I am happy with your response/advice to date, but if you have any further advice given the extra information provided it would be appreciated.


Expert:  Jenny replied 1 year ago.
Hi I am glad that the immediate threat has been withdrawn. You do not need to disclose the information about the epilepsy to your employer although. You should note however that it should do you no harm if you chose to as it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on that basis in any event.
At the moment you are doing all of the right things. At this stage you would have no basis to take them to court. If the allowance is removed then you will first have to follow the correct process which is asking for a mandatory reconsideration and, if that does not acheive the desired result, going to a benefits tribunal.
Good luck with this.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Sorry for delay in reply (again) but my e-mail has been very unstable.

I did threaten Basildon BDC ( who cover Thames Estuary to Norwich) with legal action and I received a very high handed letter to the effect they could do as they wished, and not deal with my case if they felt fit. It is of note that the majority of the correspondence was templated; and getting to speal to a human impossibe. I actually waited over 40 minuetes to get to speak to someone because..."we are experiencing unusually high call voloumes...." ; it is no surprise that whenever and whichever day you call, you get the same reply.

Regrettably usually when you do get to speak to a human you are dealing with a person who is very inexperienced, would not know a debit from a credit if it smacked them in the face. At first instance I have no issue with a person who has not been trained; but it does make me very angry when I have to wait a further 20 minuetes to speak to a Superisor or Manager to get things resolved. In many cases even they can not work without a "crib-sheet".

I am very pleased to say that following pressure by my MP in April, the DWP have "backed off" and all my JSA been back dated. I actually got a nominal fiscal apology, something which I have kept with the notice since I may need it again. What frightens me is that I have had to deal with a very serious situation on my own. Both DWP and Job Centre Plus were too busy covering their bums; and the once respected Citizens' Advice Bureau were absolutely useless. Actually I found that I was more qualified than they were !

Thanks to my MP I have had the JSA re-instated; but was concerned by a copy letter which my MP forwarded to me suggested that as I had been out of work so long I required "psycological assessment". I expressed my anger with the statement and my MP agreed that the statement was boardering on libelous, and I did indeed threaten Basildon BDC with an action for Defamation and Slander, since the information was publically available. My MP intervened again and I have received written confirmation ( and my own search under the Data Protection Act) has verified that the statement has been removed.

I did have a few days work with a small company last week, but these idiots expected me to know their system and ledger within less than 8 hours. This is the sort of mentality controls and small and medium size business, where it is clear that quantity not quality is of greater importance to the firm. How many calls per hour as opposed how many cases resolved and payment secured.

I know this is rich comming from someone with an accountancy background; but you can make numbers do as you wish. In this case the idea that 30 phone calls a day is going to magically increase your inbound funds, is a total fallacy. In my 35 years experience of Credit Management, all that results in is lots of money comming in from "easy money"; but the crucial disputes which carry a very high value overall. are ignored and consequently end up as write-offs. With to-days' margins a large write off is a lot of good quality, new debt to be paid to cover the loss of the write off.

Again, this I assume, is the rationale that the employer uses for the argument "pick up as much mud as you can, and then throw it against the wall", and see how much sticks". Regrettably business does not work that way, and people who see themselves as the paramount of business management, Sugar, IPC and similar PLCs are actually very poor managers; again working on the hire fire front. (particualrly C6 H12 O4) see shouting at their staff and setting looney targets as a form of "good management".

This disease has crossed all boundaries now in to what our American Cousins refer to as: " sloping shoulder syndrome"; i.e. it was not my fault but someonelese's.

British business cannot see that they are strangling themselves by not allowing people to think for themselves; having meetings about meetings with the net result that nothing actually gets resolved.

Speed does not equal efficency: get it right first time, every time- then you would spend your time undoing massive errors which take up even more time which could be better used elsewhere.

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