Benefit Claimants "sentenced" to "community service"

  Chegs ®™ 05:56 01 Aug 2012

I was called into the Jobcentre yesterday to have a chat with a Benefits Claimant Advisor.I was told that under new rules for claimants,I would need to start doing voluntary work and given a website to visit to select what voluntary work I wished to apply for.The way I see it,either I do voluntary work or lose my benefits.The medications I take make me very drowsy is the main reason I haven't returned to work after my last car accident,and I pointed out I'd be unlikely to find an employer who would pay me to sleep.

Many years ago,I was sentenced by a Judge to complete a number of hours community service.Now I find that I'm being sentenced by a DHSS employee to perform exactly the same community work.This government seem to want the poorest & most in need of financial support to feel like a criminal for being in that situation & I think it stinks.I'm tempted to chuck my toys out the pram & tell the Jobcentre where to shove its community work,I've had my benefits stopped before & its not that bad being homeless at this time of year.I was a single person then,and now have a partner & daughter to consider but I'm so frustrated at the DHSS/government ruling that I could simply tell the DHSS to do their worst(I also have mental health issues)and wait to see what happens.

  Forum Editor 06:53 01 Aug 2012

If you have the problems you describe you can appeal the decision that was made.

This scheme was introduced to give long-term benefit claimants a taste of what it's like to go to work each day. As I understand it, the scheme was primarily designed to target those people who have opted to live permanently on benefits, and those who are suspected of working whilst claiming.

  carver 07:45 01 Aug 2012

F.E if there is so much voluntary work out there why isn't it made into a full time job with a wage

  birdface 08:09 01 Aug 2012

I read somewhere that someone refused to work for less than the minimum wage and won their case in court.

Voluntary work is unpaid work and should come under the same rules.

I suppose you could take them to court as well to see how you get on.No doubt that there will be some organisations out there that would be willing to pay for your defence in a court hearing.

Or like the FE says maybe you can appeal against it.

  Forum Editor 08:14 01 Aug 2012

"Voluntary work is unpaid work and should come under the same rules."

What rules? Voluntary work is voluntary - you do it for no pay, and in any case, community service is not voluntary work.

  lotvic 08:29 01 Aug 2012

If you sign on at the Jobcentre you are declaring that you are fit and available for work. They presume you are able to work full time.

If you are not able to fully work or not work at all due to medical/disability grounds you claim ESA (was incapicity benefit) and are assessed to find out how much and what type of work you are able to do.

  Al94 08:51 01 Aug 2012

It's nothing to do with being made to feel like a criminal - more to do with giving something back in return for receiving tax payers money in the form of benefits. Have you discussed the side effects of your medication with the medics? Sometimes alternatives have lesser effects.

  Quickbeam 08:52 01 Aug 2012

I would opt to something if possible even if it is hit and miss depending on your condition, after all, voluntary isn't the same as an employer looking for day in and day out healthy regularity.

A friends father of mine went onto permanent invalidity over 20 years ago after an accident, he got into the mindset of can't do anything (but still managed to work his allotments 30 hours a week), it didn't do him any good never working again, he just embittered himself to his grave.

  lotvic 09:21 01 Aug 2012

The new Welfare Reform Act came in last Spring. There are two choices, sign on Jobcentre and declare you are fully able to and are actively seeking work and will attend whatever course or training is offered/arranged OR put in a claim for ESA and be assessed by these criteria ClickHere

Next year Income Support, Housing Benefit etc is being replaced by Universal Credit

Disability Living Allowance for age 16-64 is ending as well. A new claim has to be submitted for PIP (Personal Independence Payment) There is no automatic transition from one to the other.

  birdface 10:31 01 Aug 2012

[I was called into the Jobcentre yesterday to have a chat with a Benefits Claimant Advisor.I was told that under new rules for claimants,I would need to start doing voluntary work]

Does not seem volantary to me.You are doing it and that's that. So it is not voluntary you are being press ganged into it whether you want to or not.


done, given, or acting of one’s own free will.

As he is not acting on his own free will he should get paid for it.

  lotvic 10:44 01 Aug 2012

The Mandatory Work Activity scheme

Claimants failing to complete a placement already face losing JSA for three months for a first offence, and six months for a second offence. A tougher sanctions regime will start later in the year.

Mandatory Work Activity helps jobseekers who have demonstrated a need for additional support to gain work related disciplines or a need to re-engage with their search for work. Placements usually last four weeks and jobseekers are referred by Jobcentre Plus advisers. Placements aim to instil disciplines such as attending on time, regularly carrying out specific tasks and working under supervision.

Claimants who participate are expected to complete placements which are of benefit to the community, including helping charities or environmental projects.

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