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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DWP Digital Tools of Oppression: for unemployed and people in-work to be exploited by employers

Following on from The Universal Credit (Work-Related Requirements) In Work Pilot Scheme and Amendment Regulations 2015 and the explanatory note that highlighted IT ideas to match workers with employers to fill flexible short hours. Today the DWP disclosed fuller details of the ideas submitted by Accenture and others, to make the unemployed and people in-work more insure and open to employer exploitation. An extract of ideas are below, these suggestions are mostly based upon extending Universal Jobmatch so it gives employers and the DWP greater control over peoples lives, forcing people under Universal Credit to make known the “Slivers of Time” they are free to be exploited by employers or face benefit sanctions.

“Job Scheduling – posting one’s availability through UC Jobmatch for specific dates or
hours within a day…

…people interested in elderly care we could present the necessary skills for entry level, but also those which will be required to increase earnings….

Slivers of Time…

…what ideas are implemented as part of these trials, whether it be from a small scale nudge [psychological coercion] intervention or a wider scale One Digital Service portal or app…”

IDS’s  Centre for Social (in)Justice also has a few words

“Universal Jobmatch is an important innovation but in reality, the department has
only just begun to scratch the surface of the potential of this tool.

Universal Jobmatch software should be updated to  include a timetable where claimants can list the hours that they would be available….

…filter part-time jobs that are appropriate based on what a claimant has already identified through their own work-readiness timetable.  ”

Deloitte on your CV
(suggesting people should add more personal data to their CV)

“a programme of work to enhance  the ontology by factoring in skills associated with non-work and voluntary activities, such as, sports coaching, youth work, mentoring, home visiting, and the like would enrich the skills base elicited from a CV ”

#UniversalCredit: Activities that could b imposed when in employment, including Psychological Fundamentalism “Proposals submitted included a sponsored website that provides details of claimants as a pool of local top up workers available to employers. Named individuals could be booked instantly, possibly at short notice and for short periods. This would fit around claimant’s availability and existing work and child care commitments. Each claimant would be given a personal online diary in which they enter hours for today, the day after or weeks ahead. They would also define the terms on which they will accept bookings.” http://refuted.org.uk/2014/12/05/in-work-activities/

Jobcentre ‘Work Coaches’ cannot make following mandatory

Today the DWP disclosed a summary of it’s Work Coaches (WC) “main activities“, it is worth noting that use of the ‘My Work Plan‘ is entirely voluntary and benefit claimants can restrict WC/DWP access to Universal Jobmatch accounts. Under Universal Credit (UC), it is not a requirement to sign a Claimant Commitment (CC), legislation requires that one be “accepted” via  a number of means. Before accepting a UC CC, there is a 7 day cooling off period.

Work Coaches mail activities

“However, as they would be considered Work Coaches, the main activities
associated with this role are:
–  To make every claimant contact count by coaching them to take
responsibility for getting themselves into work. Complete a Claimant
Commitment and be accountable for the decisions made during
interviews with claimants to help move them back into sustained
employment.
–  Agree the Claimant Commitment, obtain a signed copy from claimant
and give the claimant a hard copy. Record on LMS that the Claimant
Commitment has been accepted/disputed and verified before sending
the claim pack to the Service Centre.
–  Provide an immediate second opinion on colleagues’ refuse to sign
cases (Claimant Commitment)
–  Promote and encourage the use of Universal Jobmatch (UJ) for
jobsearch activity. Proactively suggest ways claimants may improve
the matches they receive, encouraging claimants to create an account
and explain the benefits of allowing DWP access to their account
–  Offer dynamic, flexible advice and support to underpin claimants’
personalised commitment of job search actions, and support them to
develop the skills they need to look for and obtain work.
–  To promote the use of the My Work Plan by coaching claimants to
forward plan their own work search activities that will allow them the
opportunity to document their plans and achievements towards finding
employment.
–  Support staff in implementing conditionality and ensuring they
understand the level of evidence required in the My Work Plan.
–  To be accountable for decisions on availability with a clear rationale for
the level, frequency and intensity of contact they have with each
claimant.
–  Undertake Work Services activity with the claimant, including
maintenance of claimant’s skills/CV using Universal Jobmatch where
appropriate
–  Reconsider mandation decisions (Jobseeker’s Directions) where
requested by claimant. ” [emphasis added] https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/specialist_advisors_at_jobcentre#incoming-640421

#UniversalCredit to dramatically increase low-paid, insecure and casual work, especially zero hour contracts (ZHCs)

Low pay and zero-hours contracts rise dramatically, figures show (Observer 13/12/14)

“Just one in every forty of the net jobs added to the economy between 2008 and 2014 has been a full-time employee job. Over the same period 24 in every 40 net jobs added have been self-employed, and 26 in every 40 have been part-time.”
http://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market-and-economic-reports/only-one-every-forty-net-jobs-recession-full-time

Special report: Why can’t Britain create decent jobs?

#UniversalCredit: Activities that could b imposed when in employment, including Psychological Fundamentalism

“UC claimants who refuse to accept a zero hours contract job offer, without good reason, can be subject to a sanction. However a UC claimant will not be sanctioned for refusing to take a zero hours contract with an exclusivity clause”
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-15/210694/

 

#UniversalCredit: Activities that could b imposed when in employment, including Psychological Fundamentalism

Draft legislation just published The Universal Credit (Work-Related Requirements) In Work Pilot Scheme and Amendment Regulations 2015 gives powers to impose work related activities related to the ideas below for people who are working and needing to claim Universal Credit (UC) and if refused to have a UC benefit sanction imposed. The most egregious ideas look to become people in paid work being forced to do unpaid work experience (workfare), using the Claimant Commitment to mandate seeking and applying for and then being required to accept (or face a UC benefit sanction) any work, zero hour contracts, more work or better paid work for up to 35 hours per week and introducing IT systems for the State to enable employers ways for people to be “booked instantly” into casual very short term, short notice work. As well as extending “digital tools” and associated “Behavioural insights” [Psychological Fundamentalism] to ‘nudge‘ and control people.

“Under the pilot scheme created by these Regulations
the suspension will be lifted for claimants chosen at random. The claimant will then become subject to the same obligations…as claimants who are not in work[emphasis added]
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111123836/memorandum/contents

 

  • Work Experience opportunities It was suggested that providing work experience opportunities for people in work [DWP Plots Workfare For Part Time Workers]
  • IT solution to match workers with employers to fill flexible short hours
    “Proposals submitted included a sponsored website that provides details of claimants as a pool of local top up workers available to employers. Named individuals could be booked instantly, possibly at short notice and for short periods. This would fit around claimant’s availability and existing work and child care commitments. Each claimant would be given a personal online diary in which they enter hours for today, the day after or weeks ahead. They would also define the terms on which they will accept bookings.”
    [This could be built upon Universal Jobmatch]
  • involving employers in the claimant commitment and setting out the other support they can give, such as help with CVs or connecting them with other local employers where hours may be available.
  • Applying [Nudge Unit] behavioural insights through digital tools
    “Behavioural insights could also be built into face to face adviser interventions, for example, encouraging claimants to set out and commit to their own action plan”
  • Stimulating the supply of better quality part time jobs by taking an employer first* approach to grow a quality part- time job market
  • Systems that make better use of labour market information [and your personal data]
  • face to face careers counselling
  • “virtual” careers fairs
  • Provide skills brokerage service with after hours support
  • Development of flexible and online skills training
  • Individuals to self assess their current digital literacy with learning opportunities signposted
  • Providing holistic support for house holds rather than individuals
  • Package of support/practical advice for in work lone parents
  • Intensive support when claimants first start work
  • Setting mandatory requirements
  • Financial health checks
  • Personal budget support and budgeting sessions in the workplace at
    lunchtime
  • Mentoring, coaching
  • Financial incentives/bonuses for those claimants that progress
  • In work support for self employed, offering tailored business advice

All items above from ‘Extending labour market interventions to in-work claimants – call for ideas. Summary of responses received‘ (2013), as cited in the Explanatory Memo to the above draft legislation.

“UC claimants who refuse to accept a zero hours contract job offer, without good reason, can be subject to a sanction. However a UC claimant will not be sanctioned for refusing to take a zero hours contract with an exclusivity clause”
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2014-10-15/210694/

Note: *The term ’employer first’ can be seen as a technical term, meaning a push to make accepting a job, any job, an obligation even when it would be better-off on benefits not to accept it.

DWP Hardship Payment forms/guidance: JSA/ESA and Universal Credit (recoverable loan)

DWP FOI disclosure of forms and guidance: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/hardship_payment_application_for FOI request 7 August 2014, disclosures 5 September 2014.

Download hardship application forms
JSA/ESA  (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Universal Credit (pdf) – view pdf online (html)

Guidance
Leaflet: What is a [JSA] hardship payment? Download pdf – view pdf online (html) – source
DWP JSA Hardship Award Guidance Queries and Help: Download (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Decision Makers Guide:Chapter 35 – Hardship  – Download (pdf) – view pdf online – source

Benefit Sanction Appeal Tips (JSA & ESA)

If you use assistive technology and need a version of any DWP document above in a more accessible format, please email accessible.formats@dwp.gsi.gov.uk. Please tell them what format you need. It will help to you say what assistive technology you use.

 

 

 

Universal Credit: Zero Hour contracts to be mandated

“For the first time, benefit claimants are at risk of sanctions if they do not apply for and accept certain zero-hours jobs under the new universal credit system” http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/05/jobseekers-zero-hours-contracts

Universal Credit And Zero Hours Contracts – A Car Crash Waiting To Happen