Under 25? You must spend 48 hours a week looking for work on Universal Credit?

With regards the 48 hour Universal Credit (UC) Claimant Commitment (CC) weekly ‘expected hours’ to look and prepare for work for under 25 year olds, that someone mentioned* at the Manchester ‘Welfare Action Gathering’, this needs clarification.

“A claimant’s ‘expected hours’ of work search is not something that is intended to drive the claimant to meet an artificial hours target. ”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/315834/response/778656/attach/html/3/512%20UCKM%20Work%20search%20and%20CC.pdf.html

The impression is that this view stems from a conflation of the EU working time directive that limits the working week to 48 hours, with worker opt outs in certain situations and the national ‘living’ wage restrictions for under 25 years olds.

The DWP UC ‘All work related requirements’, Chapter J2 guidance and regulations refer to 35 hours:

“J2084 The general rule is that, unless an exception applies, the expected number of hours per week is normally 35
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-decision-making-staff-guide


The universal Credit Regulations (2013)

“Expected hours
88. —(1)   The “expected number of hours per week” in relation to a claimant for the purposes of determining their individual threshold in regulation 90 or for the purposes of regulation 95 or 97 is 35… ”
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/376/regulation/88/made

With regards the UC CC, it is understood they have a pre-printed statement referring to the 35 hour expectation. However, what is also crucial  is to look at the section called ‘How often’, this lists the CC activities agreed throughout a week and they do not specify specific time to complete an activity, just ‘how often’. Of sample UC CCs seen thus far, many of the activities can  be completed in far less than 35 hours.

Many adults now (76%), or know friends who do, have smart phones with camera and email facilities, would therefore suggest anyone suggesting a 48 UC CC ‘expected hours’ get a photo extract of the CC section on hours and ‘how often’ – as so far cannot find any actual independently verified evidence of any 48 hour expectation.

This 48 hour issue seems to be speculative based upon the working time directive and how the new national ‘living’ wage rates do not apply to under 25s.

As a general observation, it can be best to substantiate any UC expectation that seems diabolical or excessive, do not rely upon verbal testimony alone, as that runs a very real risk of giving credence to the idea that Jobcentres and it’s ‘Work Roaches‘ have powers they don’t and can reinforce or generate unsubstantiated fear and distress amongst claimants.

The 2015 Conservative manifesto includes an intention to create a new benefit called the ‘Youth Allowance‘ for 18 to 21 year olds, under what is known as the ‘Youth Obligation‘.

Edit: Related FOI request

*”Some under 25s on Universal Credit have been made to sign a Claimant Commitment to look for work for 48 hours a week, not 35, to compensate for their lower minimum wage”
Sharing knowledge in the face of further attacks

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Youth Workfare: Direct Action and Campaigning Against

Suggested actions and considerations, from the 2016 Welfare Action Gathering workshop on The Future of Workfare, specific to the Youth Obligation/Workfare for 18 to 21 years olds:

Undertake a Welfare Action Gathering dedicated to young people, whilst caution expressed about dividing people and anti workfare campaigning on generational grounds.

Organise direct action, campaigns and awareness with schools and colleges

The possibility that the Platform for Life programme, may be rolled out for young needing accommodation, but including a tenancy condition of accepting any job offer.

Tenancies should be time limited and linked to participation in work, further education or vocational training, with the aim of assisting residents into long term employment and independence, and thereby improving their prospects for a successful and healthy life”

Engage with youth workers and teachers/ educationalists

Learn from and look back at the 1985 schools strike against the workfare style Youth Training Scheme

Make creative use of social media, particularly used by young people. snapchat mentioned

Engage with orgs/groups working with and run by young people

With regards ‘voluntary’ Jobcentre Work Experience, being undertaken on the basis of fully informed freely given consent, reference was made to the DWP’s ‘viciously dsyfunctionalculture of threats, sanctions and coercion.

Issues affecting rural communities, poor transport and transport costs

The growth of zero hour contracts

Lower national wage rates for under 25 year olds

Engage with community councils and young people’s assembly’s

Investigate the place young people meet and get together, activist/campaign orientated discos mentioned

Look at how Forces Watch  http://www.forceswatch.net/ works with schools and Funky Dragon http://www.funkydragon.org

No-To-YTS-Conscription

ytsmarch

Charter Against Workfare: A Statement of Principles

For any workplace based scheme for benefit claimants

“First, it must be entirely voluntary.

Secondly, there should be real training so that people go away at the end with skills that are relevant to their future employment prospects.

Thirdly, those concerned must have employee status so that they are protected by health and safety and equal opportunities legislation.

Fourthly, they must be paid the rate for the job—not benefit-plus—and,

finally, projects must have trade union approval.”

Unemployment
Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:11 pm on 14th December 1987.

Labour Joins Chorus of protest over workfareLabour protest over workfare 1988.png
The Glasgow Herald – Jan 8, 1988

Welfare Reform Act 2009
Part 1 Social security  “Work for your benefit” schemes etc.

Welfare Reform Act 2012 [Universal Credit]
16 Work preparation requirement
(3) (e) undertaking work experience or a work placement;

Workfare: Why did so many Labour MPs accept this brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people? Labour’s leadership is failing to uphold its party’s values
Independent, Wednesday 20 March 2013

2017 Youth Workfare

 

 

 

 

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Tory plans: “benefits should be removed” if ‘treatment’ refused?

During the 2015 election campaign David Cameron commissioned Dame Carol Black to undertake a rapid review of making engagement with a “treatment plan” mandatory for people on sickness benefits or “face the threat of a reduction in benefits”, referencing drug and alcohol addiction, obesity and stress.

Requirements for consent to treatment* within an ethical framework should mean actual  treatment cannot be made compulsory, but whether that would still mean benefits could be reduced for declining treatment is not clear.

However, the DWP could revive plans to impose schemes akin to a “treatment plan”, specifically making psychocrat “education and motivational**schemes mandatory.

Similar mandatory treatment plans, involving “a doctor or registered nurse”, did get proposed under the 2009 Welfare Reform Bill, for drug use, then in 2010 the coalition government decided:

“In light of today’s report by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC), Ministers have decided not to take forward previously proposed Welfare Reform Drug Recovery pilots”
17 June 2010

More recently the DWP has proposed that Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services be co-located in 350 Jobcentres, alongside a DWP contract tender for digital Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): https://refutedarchive.wordpress.com/workfare/psychocrats/ A key question concerns the interplay between DWP commissioned ‘therapeutic’ schemes and the role of the NHS, Councils, Mental Health and IAPT services making referrals.

The mandatory elements of the drug use pilots included:

  • Mandatory referral to Substance Related Assessments (SRAs) and a Treatment Awareness Programme with a specialist drug treatment provider for PDUs on JSA and ESA who are not already in treatment.
  • The power for the criminal justice system to supply data to aid both the identification of PDUs not in treatment, and the take-up of in-treatment support for those who are.
  • The power to refer to the mandatory SRAs where a Jobcentre Plus adviser has ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion that problem drug use is a barrier to work’. Should claimants in this group refuse to attend two successive SRAs they can be required to take one or more drugs tests.
  • The power to impose a mandatory rehabilitation plan where the adviser is satisfied that drug use is a barrier to work, requires treatment but the customer has yet to engage with treatment services.

*The DWP makes liberal use of the word “treatment” in many of it’s pilot and established back to work schemes, meaning those mandated are considered by the DWP as part of a ‘treatment’ group. Compulsory treatment of a medical or psychological nature would engage professional ethics and codes of conduct of bodies such as the BMA, BASW, GMC, BPS, HCPC, NMC, and BACP, let alone that compulsory Tory punchbag known as the Human Rights Act.

BACP opposes mandatory #CBT as part of UK #workfare in job centres

**A lack of ‘motivation‘ is a key criteria for being mandated to 6 months of full time unpaid Community Work Placements (CWP) workfare, in ‘charities’, councils and businesses.