‘Claimant Commitment’ sanction threat falls on jobseekers; blundering DWP staff get away with murder

DWP - Deliberate and Wanton Persecution. (This image borrowed from the Skwawkbox blog as the article is very strongly linked to the 'Claimant Commitment' piece there.

DWP – Deliberate and Wanton Persecution. (This image borrowed from the Skwawkbox blog as the article is very strongly linked to the ‘Claimant Commitment’ piece there).

Following on from Skwawkbox’s recent Claimant Commitment article, here’s a press release from the DWP, setting out how it proposes to persecute jobseekers, in particular. Let’s go through it together.

“Jobseekers will have to account more clearly for their efforts to find work and will be given a weekly timetable of tasks to complete, as part of the Claimant Commitment which rolls out nationwide from this autumn.”

If this is a more stringent obligation on jobseekers, where is the commitment for DWP officers and employees? What are their responsibilities? What sanctions do they face when they fail to meet those responsibilities? And what recompense will be offered to jobseekers when these failures happen (as they do on a daily basis at the moment)?

“From October, around 100 jobcentres a month will begin using the Claimant Commitment with new jobseekers, until it is in place across the country.

“This new form of Jobseeker’s Agreement will set out more fully a benefit recipient’s responsibilities in order to receive state support. Those who fail to comply with their responsibilities risk losing their benefits.”

Will DWP employees who fail to deal with claims in a proper, consistent and timely manner risk losing their jobs? I thought not.

A personal statement setting out what they will do to prepare for and find work will be based on the discussion between the jobseeker and their adviser. They will renew the commitment on a regular basis.”

What will advisers say when jobseekers demand a legally-binding commitment from them? Will they get it? I thought not.

“The new commitment is an important part of the cultural transformation that Universal Credit will bring and will place a strong focus on the responsibilities that claimants must fulfil.”

… While providing no security at all to the jobseeker that their claim will be treated in a responsible manner in return. This “cultural transformation” is from oppression to dictatorship, nothing less.

“Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said: “‘This is about redefining the relationship between benefit claimants and the state. The welfare state will support people when they fall on hard times, but in return they need to meet some contracted responsibilities agreed with a Jobcentre Plus adviser.'”

Ah, but will the state support people? Or will it delay, obstruct, and make unreasonable demands on jobseekers, in order to make a quick and dirty ‘Positive Benefit Outcome’ wherever possible?

“’For those people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, looking for work should be a full time job. It is fair and reasonable for the taxpayer to expect that claimants should do everything within their power to get into work.'”

It is also fair and reasonable to expect the DWP to do everything within its power to facilitate this. I heard the story yesterday of a young woman who was ordered to attend a Job Centre, in a different town from her home, two days after a surgical operation on her leg. She could not walk at the time, so she was expected to drag herself to the bus stop, endure a long journey on public transport – which is hardly conducive to post-operative comfort and might actually put back her recovery, and then drag herself – uphill – to the Job Centre itself. When she asked for the meeting to be rescheduled, her adviser refused. That’s how helpful the DWP can be!

“’It’s a fair deal people will have to sign up to in return for receiving support from the state.'” No it isn’t. “‘Our reforms are ushering in a new culture of conditionality and the Claimant Commitment lies at the heart of this.’” A new culture of dictatorship with no responsibility on the side of the oppressors.

“The Claimant Commitment is backed by a strict compliance regime to ensure jobseekers do all they can to have the best chance of finding paid work quickly. Those who fail to comply with their responsibilities risk losing benefit.”

Again: What responsibilities do the DWP have to honour, and what is the penalty for failure?

“Building on the current form of the Jobseeker’s Agreement, the Claimant Commitment sets out more details of the requirements of claimants and information about the consequences of failing to meet these.”

Yet again: What responsibilities do the DWP have to honour, and what is the penalty for failure?

There’s no mention of anything.

But let’s be fair. We’ll do a Freedom of Information request. How about:

“With regard to claims for all benefits available from the Department for Work and Pensions, what are the responsibilities of the DWP, its ministers, officers and employees, to the claimants?

“What sanctions to DWP ministers, officers and employees face if the organisation fails to fulfil those responsibilities?

“And what recompense is available to claimants who suffer loss of income as a result of such failure by the Department, its ministers, officers and employees?”

The claimant commitment, jobseekers agreement – or whatever they want to call it – is a contract. Any contract requires action by both parties and both parties should face penalties if they break their side of the bargain. But the DWP is unfairly using its position of power over claimants to inflict unwarranted cruelties upon them.

Let’s see what it takes to put a stop to it.

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57 thoughts on “‘Claimant Commitment’ sanction threat falls on jobseekers; blundering DWP staff get away with murder

  1. Nick

    and just a reminder to all of another death in crawley that has just been released in the press

    An inquest last week heard Lee Robinson of West Green (Crawley) committed suicide after after losing his benefits while being long-term
    unemployed….Until the end of last year the 39-year-old was receiving Employment Support Allowance while he was looking for work. However, he was told he was no longer eligible for it, and his council tax benefit was also being assessed.

    He challenged the decisions, but at the end of last year was referred to Crawley mental health services suffering with suicidal thoughts.

    On February 4 he was found by a friend hanged. He left a suicide note.

  2. Mike Sivier

    You know what? All through this article, I was groping for a word to describe what’s going on. It was on the edge of my mind but I couldn’t find it…
    From my Police Law Primer: ” A person is guilty of blackmail if, with a view to gain for himself or another, or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces, unless he does so in the belief that he has reasonable grounds for making the demand, AND that the use of menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand.
    “The nature of the act or omission demanded is immaterial, and it is also immaterial whether the menaces relate to action to be taken by the person making the demand. (Penalty: 14 years’ imprisonment – arrestable offence.)
    “‘Gain’ includes a gain by keeping what one has as well as a gain by getting what one has not, and ‘loss’ includes a loss by not getting what one might get, as well as a loss by parting with what one has.”
    There is no requirement that the one who is making the demand is to be the one carrying out the menaces nor is it a requirement that the person making the demand is in a position to carryout the threatened action.
    Where the victim is particularly vulnerable or of a timid nature the jury may find menaces existed, where the defendant was aware of the affect of his actions on the victim.

    Now, it could be argued that all the demands made on jobseekers are believed to be warranted by those making them, so a court ruling would probably be required to define the limits of what is warranted. I would say any demand made in the knowledge that the consequences of failing to meet it will bring unnecessary hardship on a person is unwarranted, though – wouldn’t you?

  3. Nick

    as your readers may know mike i have been covering all of the deaths for the past 3 years of those that have died in the welfare reform process with sue marsh and others
    for my part i have tried to be on the ball as best i can as researching deaths is a grave business and my doctors feel i should not do it as i am not well enough for the weekly updates of deaths that get posted

    the updates and the collection of all who have died over the past 3 years is a professional undertaking and this work needs to be a top priority for someone of this leadership to undertake

    there are people taking records of the deaths but the full list is not up to date at this time as hundreds of deaths take time to be completed

    sue marsh should be the first port of call on who has died as she has the best contacts behind the scenes

    how i even begin to even post these deaths is just the tip of the iceberg as they just keep coming and i cant keep up at times

    where will it all end that’s what i think we would all like to know

    1. Sasson Hann

      Nick had you found out about the reported suicides in North Staffordshire this year? 4 people threw themselves under a train; at least 2 of them the coroner said had done so because of problems with benefits. I would think a quick type into a search engine should verify this.

      Additionally, last year the same coroner was front-page news in the Evening Sentinel as he was commenting on the dramatic rise in suicides, and again he spoke about a fair number being attributed to pressures connected to benefits.

      I’m glad someone is doing this. At some point you should hand in the evidence to an appropriate journalist, or even write a book about it yourself if possible.


      1. Nick

        i have looked but cant find any on-line reference

        most local newspapers for your information across the country do not post this type of story on line you have to buy the paper to be in the know hence the extreme difficulty of compiling accurate data

    2. brokenbritishpolitics

      After attending Grimsby Job Centre this morning to sign on,I was informed that I had missed an appointment on the 19th August 2013.I replied I have received no letters informing me to attend any appointment.I was then told I would need to make a ‘Rapid Reclaim’.I was not informed about any details concerning the alleged missed appointment.I searched several sites online and drew a blank concerning ‘Rapid Reclaims’.Advice on the net mentioned that I would have to make a Basic Claim from scratch or get a phone number from JCP to ring for an appointment whereby I could then start a new claim.Jobcentre Staff have sold their Souls to the Fascist Smith Himself,they are paid over the minimum wage to lie to claimants.The Fascist Smith has made the DWP a complete Shambles.

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  5. skwalker1964

    Reblogged this on The SKWAWKBOX Blog and commented:
    Great article by Vox Political following on from mine on the new ‘Claimant Commitment’. I’ll be looking forward to the response to that FOI request with great interest and impatience!

  6. Luis Guerreiro

    I just wonder how everything seems possible when it comes to causing more damage to common people. However, everything then turns impossible when we try to apply simple legal rules to Government’s actions.

    HOW COME, may I ask, government ministers and other officials such as Iain Duncan-Smith, Lord Freud, etc… can set up rules which appear to cause the deaths of thousands of people, and yet get away without being questioned for manslaughter, just to give an example?

    I wrote to the Crown Prossecution Service about this and all I got was a snotty reply to say that only the Police can submit matters to them. That is disgusting and hardly the point. So how can we make sure these f*cking b*st*rds get incriminated for MANSLAUGHTER?!

    1. Mike Sivier

      I have a mind that it might take a complaint to the police from an MP. There are possibilities there, because I reckon I can see a way to work out how many people have died as a result of DWP policies.

  7. molly1878

    i am currently unemployed and have been since early this year for the first time in my life after 26 years of employment.I have had to recently sign this new agreement,i attend the library on a daily basis as i dont have internet at home and get 1 hours free acesss at the library and i apply for every job i see,and use the universal job match site and record all my searches,job applications(24 jobs applied for in the last 2 weeks) and have been told i have to apply for more and that only spending 1 hour a day on the internet is not enough i should be spending 35 hours a week searching for a job,i asked my advisor how this is possible when i only get 1 hours free access per day,her reply to me was a shrug of her shoulders.im very concerned my advisor is meant to be helping me

    1. mike

      tell the hitler b*st*rd you spend the other 4 hours a day handing your cv out to local companies, writing to companies, checking news papers, going to a friends house to also use the net.

  8. Samwise Gamgee

    “From October, around 100 jobcentres a month will begin using the Claimant Commitment with new jobseekers, until it is in place across the country.”

    Just with new jobseekers? What about existing claimants? I was told by my advisor I will have to sign a Claimant Commitment in October, when they are introduced. This statement from the DWP appears to contradict that. Does anyone know how this will affect existing jobseekers?

    1. christine bremner

      they have already started that one with my son ,he now has too sign on every week , his advisor has given him a list of to do tasks and if he don’t comply he risks loosing his money , he told her today he wasn’t happy with the job’s she was choosing for him as she has been rather abrupt with him before he has explained that he suffers from depression her advise was to him he really needs to get a life .they are choosing jobs that are too far away and need qualifications which he hasn’t got they are gonna push him too breaking point.i can see now why unemployment figures are dropping but alas they are not allowed to publish the amount of suicides .

    1. Kay Lowe

      Group Action litigation is, as far as I understand it, only accepted by the courts if all members of the action are bringing almost entirely the same claim (or parts of the same claim) against the same defendent (individual or group). I don’t know if _different_ deaths (whether by suicide or not) would be classed as the same claim enough to allow for Group Action…. is there a lawyer in the house?

      1. Nick

        Kay we have been asking this question for the past 3 years i know i have having all my on-line friends die through the negligence of the DWP bar one over the past 3 years

        The law society tells me there is no lawyer on their books that is capable of bringing a law court action against the government for the unlawful death of a claimant
        my understanding of this comment is to protect families from doing this alone because of vast costs that are involved

        There is a redress however if hundreds / thousands of families got together to bring a single criminal action against the government for the premature deaths of the failed benefit claimants

        my understanding is that a law firm would wont a payment of around 5 million pounds upfront to cover start up costs as this would be a very long process taking years to gather all of the evidence of why thousands of the sick and disabled have died as a result of government policy

        my understanding is also that no law firm would undertake such a complexed and time consuming project

        my London lawyers say that they don’t feel it can be done at a cost of £5000 per day for the many years that would be needed to put together the thousands of names from a to z with how they died and under what circumstances in a legal framework coroners reports etc

        it would be after all the biggest crime story in UK history

        what is more likely to happen is for a future prime minister to undertake on what has gone on and bring all of those responsible for the unlawful killing of the sick and disabled before a high court judge so that justice can be served

        this like the Hillsborough disaster will take many years to complete even more so then Hillsborough as the numbers of dead are so much greater which run in to thousands

      2. Mike Sivier

        Tens of thousands; possibly hundreds of thousands. With 70 per cent of ESA claimants being marked fit for work, that provides us with 1.75 MILLION potential victims.

      3. Nick

        indeed it does mike but there would be no law firm that could take on what would be the largest criminal investigation this country has ever seen which would take years to unravel on who was responsible for the killing through negligence the sick and disabled

        The Hillsborough disaster proved that point taking over 20 years to get justice

        The relatives of those that have died could wait at least that amount of time to be successful in their claim

        what we have here is the likes of The Bhopal disaster in India in 1984 which i remember very well and the court case with regards those responsible still not finalised although in 2010 some people were punished but as far as i know the case is still ongoing


        this document will be taken down at some point so if you need to copy it i would suggest you do so for reference

      4. Mike Sivier

        Nick, I’m very familiar with that document, as you should know well.

        As far any court case, the smart money would be to run with specimen cases, and have many thousands of others to be ‘Taken Into Consideration’. There are avenues to explore and there are people doing some exploring.

      5. Nick

        yes that is a good route to take a bit like Jimmy Savile once one family comes forward in a court action then the flood gates will then be open for the others families of the deceased to come forward

        and then i can hopefully step forward god willing as the skeleton among us to tell of my abuse to a judge over the past 33 years on how my treatment has affected me at the hands of the DWP

        ROLL on that day that’s all i can say

    2. AM-FM

      I think can think of a few possible ways to raise funds. With 3 to 8 million people being affected in various adverse ways, just a pound each comes to quite a bit.
      I’d contribute now and again myself of course, but only to a few already exsisting knowlegeable and experienced organisations that I can think of.

      Athough all in the one pot, I’d probably like contributors to be able to ‘aim’ their contributions towards their major concern, sanctions, wrag, claimant commitment, unpaid workfare, etc, so that the top problems get the most attention.

      Just a few randon thoughts!

  9. Phil C

    I’m a 52 y/o former train driver and senior railway manager, back in june our local JC tried their damnedest to get me to take ANY job, as a carer or in a call centre because they are our areas biggest employer. Two weeks before this ‘interview’ , one call centre in town had laid off 200 staff, and three days after another announced it was closing dumping another 500. Very shrewd people in the JC.

    the dizzy bint would not countenance my argument that i’m not cut out to work as a carer and there was no way was i gonna work in a catttle shed ringing people when these tw*ts annoy the sh*t out of me. “You have to or we’ll stop your benefits ” was all I could get out of her… feel free i said – my JSA stopped in Oct 2012 and ive not had a friggin penny since. they did sod all to help me, i didnt qualify for anything – and the only course they put me on crapped out half way through and i didnt get the actual training I really needed.

    this is just another exercise to justify their own worthless existence, and the cost of this and all the other sh*te they dont do could be better spent helping people who need it. I’m now working, again all though my own efforts, and the JC in reality did sod all to help me over the last 4 years.

  10. Lynne Ismail

    Its absolutely horrific. Its like we are living in a horror movie set, but its shockingly real. I can think of a couple of mps who may be approached by a constituent- brighton pavillion mp caroline lucas and hackney mp dianne abbott. The sister paper of the independent, THE I may be pursuaded to run the story. There are some good journalists on the paper like owen jones who you may have seen on THIS WEEK on the bbc. Perhaps this could be organised mike. As we know the public have been so brainwashed by this govt its imperative the other side of the story is told and these shocking deaths need to be brought to light.

  11. AM-FM

    The claimant commitment has to go, one way or another, it’s obviously untenable. The problem is lack of paid work.
    It doesn’t make any difference if a jobseeker applies for 1 (carefully chosen) job per week or 400, it doesn’t creat an extra job anywhere, just extra hassle and expense for businesses and employers, making them less productive.
    It doesn’t make any difference if a jobseeker spends 1 hour per week jobseeking or 35 hours, or 70 hours or 168 hours, it doesn’t create a job anywhere. Who’s going to pay for all this.
    The problem is lack of paid work.
    Even the DWPs own figures show the problem is a mass over-supply of labour. Even bribing employers didn’t work, even the WP at a cost of £billions and where the victims have a price on their heads didn’t work.

    Hopefully, the new claimant commitment will be the end of this gov.

  12. Stephen Bee

    Regarding the suicides being ‘logged’ United Nations special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik is coming to Manchester on 7th September and the great news is that so is Jessica Mccarnun who will be presenting Ms Rolnik with the 1,700 + strong bedroom tax personal petition. 🙂 🙂 🙂 (As reported in Welfare news at the following link which also includes an email address to send your stories to..


    Might be worth a shot to give her more ammo in her report?

  13. Pingback: Letter to number 10. No 501. | Social Awareness

  14. AM-FM

    I don’t normally follow these pingback wotsits, but that there ‘Letter to number 10. No 501.’ is a very good one.

  15. M Jenkins

    I have never been political (socialist, capitalist or otherwise) but this government has made me turn my head, I am forced onto JSA because I am now on “Zero Hours”, I hate this idea of Claimant Commitment, it shocks and sickens me – is this how IDS think he is tackling unemployment, how about trying to get more jobs here instead.

    I resent the idea I have to be on JSA, I’d rather be working but where is the work?
    ID f*cking S lives in a fantasy world where everyone rather be a lazy arse than go to work, he does not see the real picture or chooses to ignore it – I hope we can not just vote this Lib-Con coalition out of parliament but out of this country and exile the lot of them – I thought Labour was bad, then we have now this – they pick on the downtrodden, the weak and those in pain, the government complain that “taxpayers money is wasted” while they claim expenses on the taxpayer…

    Many Conservatives are jumping ship – says it all really…

  16. Nick

    An update it is now on line from the main Sussex newspaper Crawley man killed himself after losing benefits
    8:30am Tuesday 3rd September 2013 in News By Finn Scott-Delany, Senior Reporter.

    Crawley man killed himself after losing benefits

    A protest was staged in memory of a Crawley man who committed suicide after losing his benefits.

    Unemployed electrician Lee Robinson, 39, took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax benefit was taken away.

    He is thought to be the first person in Sussex whose suicide is officially linked to recent benefits cuts.

    Campaigner Richard Symonds, who helped organise the protest, said: “Lee Robinson was hounded to death by the very people who were supposed to help him live.

    “Undoubtedly the DWP personified by Ian Duncan Smith and Lord Freud had a part to play in implementing the policies that would make Hitler proud.”

    Mr Robison, of Furzefield, Crawley, had battled depression after failing to find work.

    When benefits changes were introduced by the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) Mr Robinson lost his automatic entitlement to employment support allowance (ESA).

    He also struggled with depression, was taking antidepressants and had some contact with mental health services in Crawley.

    Speaking at Mr Robinson’s inquest, Penelope Schofield, coroner for West Sussex, said: “Mr Robinson tried to be positive but found it hard in the economic climate.

    “His main issues were his benefits had been stopped and he had to go to the job centre to claim jobseekers allowance.”

    He was found to have taken his own life at the inquest in County Hall, Horsham, on August 21.

    A statement read on behalf of Mr Robinson’s family said: “We feel very sad that Lee had been trying to access mental health services for years but had only recently been referred.

    “It’s far too little, much too late.”

    A spokesman for Crawley Borough Council said: “We were saddened to hear of Mr Robinson’s death. Mr Robinson was in receipt of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his Employment Support Allowance in January this year.
    “The DWP’s decision automatically stops any automatic entitlement to benefits paid by the council. The council suspended the benefits and were waiting on Mr Robinson to provide further information.”

  17. dwpsavages

    Anyone currently on a claimant commitment please use pastebin.com to create a pastebin of all the tasks and what they require

    Let’s expose this before october

  18. mik

    First I will provide 2 links to training providers that the hitler at the jc sent me to
    http://www.tchc.net and http://www.autec.co.uk

    i worked for the past 20 years as a maintenance man and never asked the gov for anything. i signed on 3 months ago to discover all is not what it seems down the job center. it is not a place for a serious job hunter to find work, but a place where one is sentenced before ones bum hits the chair when being interrogated by hitlers wife at ones first contact interview at the third Reich.

    i have no transport right now so it is a 45 min walk for me to get into town to catch a bus to the town where hitlers office is located. my journey takes 1 hour 20 mins door to door each way. i have to pay £5 for my bus ride to go sign on every 2 weeks, non refundable by the jc but the people who live near the jc don’t have to pay this extra cost. This is unfair.
    ok after a month of signing on i got told i need to join universal job match and show what i have been doing to find work. no problem with that. suddenly last week hitler said you have not been doing enough to find work. i said yes i am and on top of searching the net i phone companies up, she said that’s not enough. i said i am very entitled to verbally look for work and i have searched the internet to prove that.. i can use my mouth to look for work, she said nothing. then next day i get summoned to the jc hitler office for a 1 hour interview to let me know that if i don’t do more to find work i will lose my benefits.

    that is how they treat people who have worked all their lives. why call it a job center, they never once in 4 months searched for any jobs on my behalf. if you see the first link above it is a 2 day course i was sent to last month. they are funded by europe. a scam if i ever seen one. we wasted 2 days chatting about our cv and then were asked to sign papers to say we received the training. the company told me i would get calls every week from a personal adviser to assist my job hunting, nothing so far. i asked to be sent on a cscs course, nothing so far

    now go to the 2nd link. jc told me to contact them and see if there is a training course i would be able to do that would improve my chances of finding work. term and cons exist. so i phoned them up and the guy told me yes i am eligible for the free course. then he said but i have to pay the £550 exam fee and the end. i said but it’s free, he said no. i said where would a man living on £71 a week get £550. he said he don’t know. another scam. i called the job center and they said they were not aware of the charges. do these people not ever research these course providers before sending people along?

    these companies are milking the tax payer and nobody gives a sh*t. I got told today that i now must go meet another adviser at the library next week to do more cv reviews. more time wasting coming up/ the clowns who run the js are a joke.

    if all the illegal workers were sent home we might have a chance. in january 2014 hundreds of thousands more are coming our way. God help us.

    im sure some of you who have used universal no job match that there are lots of fake jobs being advertised there and when you click apply you will get sent to porn and gambling sites. Also identity thieves are using you info for criminal activities.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It should be pointed out that there are very few illegal (foreign) workers in this country. There are quite a lot of legal immigrants from Europe, and legal immigrants from beyond, but they are allowed to be here. The forthcoming arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria will also be legal. The issue with all the arrivals from eastern Europe is that the borders have been opened before these countries had reached the necessary stage of advancement. The freedom of movement part of the EU constitution was never intended to mean whole populations could move out of one country into another – every country was expected to be at a level where they wouldn’t want to.

  19. Pingback: UNIVERSAL CREDIT = UNIVERSAL HEADACHE | The Flight of the Kakapo

  20. nita

    Everyone do not vote for conservative in the next election,If you have never voted please vote….,labour is the best choice …if you dont vote these b…s…rds will win again and more people will die.labour are helping disabled people and will scrap the bedroom tax.

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