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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Conditionality and sanctions  →  Thread

DWP do not consider Extended Period of Sickness applicable for clients claiming JSA after DWP deems them ’fit for work’

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Liz S
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Welfare specialist and appeals officer - Herefordshire Council Welfare Rights Team

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Hello all

Has anyone else come across this?

We are informed that DWP are now discouraging their Work Coaches for allowing clients to have Extended Period of Sickness applied to their JSA claim when they have failed the WCA and been deemed ‘fit for work’. We understand that staff are being advised ‘EPS is not intended for claimants who claim JSA when found fit for work’.

This is alarming as the EPS is often the only way many of our most vulnerable clients can manage to navigate the JSA regime following a failed WCA until their appeal is registered with HMCTS. If anyone has seen the internal memo regarding this we would appreciate a copy.

Dan_Manville
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I was discussing this very issue with a Work Coach earlier this week and she gave me the impression it is very much at their discretion how they handle EPS clients.

Liz S
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It is very concerning especially as the guidance does not appear to indicate it is a discretionary process?

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470857/v4am47.pdf

DMG Paragraph 20972

The approach by JCP Work Coaches is already so variable, vulnerable clients continually falling through the system :(

Dan_Manville
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Liz S - 18 November 2016 12:07 PM

The approach by JCP Work Coaches is already so variable, vulnerable clients continually falling through the system :(

I am glad to say that in this neck of the woods the vulnerable EPS clients seem to get piled onto a couple of Work Coaches who have got their heads screwed on. It’s an unenviable position as they’ve got to balance preparation in case people lose their appeals against the kid glove approach; especially for my clients.

Peter Turville
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Liz S - 18 November 2016 12:07 PM

It is very concerning especially as the guidance does not appear to indicate it is a discretionary process?

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/470857/v4am47.pdf

DMG Paragraph 20972

The approach by JCP Work Coaches is already so variable, vulnerable clients continually falling through the system :(

It may not be discretionary but JSA Reg55ZA(1)(c)(i) “[claimant] declares ....... he does not expect to be unable to work on account of that disease or disablement for more than 13 weeks.”

But of course many of our client do expect to be unable to work for more than 13 weeks and are just crossing their fingers that the MR process is completed and their appeal registered within 13 weeks.

So a strict interpretation by DWP of the claimants ‘expectation’ means that the 13 week rule should not be applied in most WCA ‘found fit’ cases?

But them we all know, at best, in respect of ‘found fit’ the 13 wk rule is a DWP sticking plaster over a gapping wound inflicted on claimants by the DWP.

CANcan
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Yes there seems to have been a recent clamping down on this - one of our clients was told that there had been a “change as of 7 November” that an EPS when claiming JSA following WCA disallowance is no longer acceptable. I’ve been unable to find anything in writing to this effect so far though so perhaps this has just been transmitted to Jobcentre Staff by some other means…

robverco
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Ditto. Noticed recent change in approach too.

1964
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And here. There’s clearly a program underway. Our client had a major panic attack at the JC when given the news, and collapsed. Apparently, when she had sufficiently recovered, the jobcentre staff ‘pursuaded’ her to terminate her JSA claim entirely.

Dan_Manville
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1964 - 24 November 2016 06:57 PM

. Apparently, when she had sufficiently recovered, the jobcentre staff ‘pursuaded’ her to terminate her JSA claim entirely.

It was once asked on here whether it was possible to fall between the gap of ESA and JSA; this would seem to be evidence the chasm has widened

CANcan
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Have just had another client with a WCA disallowance and claiming JSA come in this morning to advise that her Jobcentre refused to take her sick note and tried to persuade her to make a new claim for ESA.

Thankfully she was clued up enough to come and ask me about it rather than enter a potentially confusing and pointless new ESA claim where her conditions are just the same as they were 4 weeks ago when she was found fit for work.

1964
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[quote author=“Dan Manville” date=“1480065814
It was once asked on here whether it was possible to fall between the gap of ESA and JSA; this would seem to be evidence the chasm has widened

Absolutely Dan.

Client concerned is too traumatized to contemplate returning to the local JC. We’ve arranged for food parcels to cover her whilst the WCA MR is ongoing. Not ideal by any means.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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And some people said I Daniel Blake wasn’t true to life….

Liz S
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Has anyone seen anything in writing to document this sudden change in approach by DWP?

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Liz S - 25 November 2016 03:06 PM

Has anyone seen anything in writing to document this sudden change in approach by DWP?

As far as I am aware, these regulations still apply, and the advice to decision makers remains the same, so it sounds like they are talking rubbish (for a change).

Challenge, complain, don’t let it lie.

Peter Turville
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The relevant part of the Memo (and Regs):

declares that they have been unable to work or expects to be unable to
work because of that disease or disablement for more than 2 weeks but
does not expect to be unable to work for more than 13 weeks [because of that disease or disablement]

Is it more likely that staff have now been advised (by guidance or informally) that they had not been interpreting and applying it correctly? Would it not be a bit of a tortology for a claimant / welf to argue that the claimant does not exepect to be unable to work for more than 13 wks because by then they will ahve received their MR, appealled and can be treated as having limited capability for work pending the hearing under ESA Reg 30?

I’m not looking to defend the new approach of Jobcentre staff. However given the policy objective of the change to Reg 30 and that the introduction of the EPS rule in JSA provided a convinient route for Jobcentre staff to avoid having to complete a Claimant Commitment etc with a ‘found fit’ JSA claimant (who were clearly anything but in practice) doesn’t this new approach simply demonstrates how nasty the impact of the amended Reg 30 can be - and what claimants/ advisers are up against in practice under the provisions?

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you’re correct Peter, but that doesn’t override the legislation as it stands, so provided medical evidence is supplied and the person states that they don’t expect their illness to last longer than 13 weeks, I can’t see how they can refuse it?

On a similar tip, when I went to sign on as a student in the summer holidays back in the 1980’s (oh those were the days), I was asked would I take any job I was offered. “Of course not”, I replied, “I’m going back to college in 3 months”. The clerk told me that if I said no, then I wouldn’t get my UB paid. I said “yes of course”, she smiled, and that was that.

One would hope that JCP staff might be similarly inclined to support people clearly struggling to manage but this thread suggests not….