When the DWP don’t know their own rules

Universal Credit what you need to know

If any other organisation made as many errors and administrative cock-ups as the DWP they would be sued for negligence. The whole system is understaffed and undertrained, reflecting the contempt in which the department holds it’s ‘customers’. This week, for the second week running, we met with someone who had been told that because they had a bit of money (in this case a small pension) they would get no unemployment benefit, when they had only recently lost their job and were entitled to 6 months contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. This time the person concerned had done their own research and was able to inform the Jobcentre that this benefit has not been eliminated by Universal Credit, as they had previously been told. We wonder, though, how many people will have missed out on payments because they have been misinformed.

We were also contacted by a very worried man who had not only been refused ESA, despite multiple problems, but had subsequently been told that his family’s Universal Credit claim had been closed. He had been informed by the DWP that UC was what he now had to apply for in order to receive benefit payments, and they had even helped him log onto the system at the jobcentre. But a week later he got a message that he was on the wrong benefit and his claim would be closed in 24 hours. He had to limp back down to the jobcentre and be signed onto Jobseeker’s Allowance. There is a rule that people with three children cannot make a new claim for Universal Credit until 31 October 2018 and must claim the old benefits instead. A good outcome – but not before a lot of worry – and why did that hugely expensive IT system fail to pick this up?

Moral: If you think the DWP’s made a mistake with your benefit – you may well be correct.

(Note for the DWP: The guide in the illustration, which we have on our stalls, is available for £15 from the Child Poverty Action Group.)

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7 thoughts on “When the DWP don’t know their own rules

  1. I was on esa after having a total hip replacement it was £73 per week and should have gone up to £112 when I had my op but they rape at the start of my claim I would need to have an assessment that was in March 2017 . I had my op at the end of April but my money didn’t go up and was told it wouldn’t till I’d had my assessment . My assessment didn’t happen till September when I was ready to go back to work .I’m still waiting for the decision of my mandatory reconsideration and it’s December . I’m up to my eyes in dept because of the dhss.

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    1. I hope you’re getting help with this. If you don’t get accepted at the Mandatory Recon stage (most people don’t) then make sure you go on to appeal where you have a much better chance of success.

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  2. And then there are those instances where the DWP know exactly what the rules are, but try it on with claimants by pretending the exact opposite is true.
    Such as insisting that the claimant can’t refuse Work Coaches full access to their account.
    They can, on both JSA and Universal Credit. All that happens is that you provide old-style printed details of your jobsearch instead. But the DWP try to get people to accept a Claimant Commitment that says you will allow full online access, and once you have signed…
    Or the DWP pretend that there are no Hardship Payments or assistance from the Flexible Support Fund available, even though they know full well that this is not true.
    Its a two-edged sword dealing the DWP, and the claimant is battling their genuine ignorance on the one hand, and their deliberate evasion on the other.

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  3. Good morning. If you want a holiday. Can you sign off for 10 days and reclaim when you get back. Or if you have internet access use your journal whilst away. At what stage are you allowed off UC. I am 61 in September. All my family live abroad. I need to see them once a year. I am also unfit for just any job through various problems and have about 9 weeks of sickness a year I could not do all the activities they would want. Thanks for advice

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    1. I think you might have to do that, though the trouble with signing off is not only no benefits during the holiday period but also a long wait when you start up again. Quite how it would work out would depend where your benefit month was calculated from. If they knew you were away I think you could still get sanctioned even if demonstrating you were still looking for work. They would argue that you weren’t immediately available. You are on UC until retirement unless you earn enough not to qualify. You should try and negotiate a Claimant Commitment that takes account of any difficulties you have – and get a doctor’s letter to support you if you need to.. You can get doctor’s notes for a certain amount of sickness. If you are sick a lot more they will get you to apply for the UC version of Employment and Support Allowance.

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