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Refusal to change job coach or re-refer for WCA

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Welfare Rights Caseworker, Island Advice Centre, London

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If anyone could have a read through my attached complaint + the response I’ve just received it would be appreciated…I’m actually astonished.

Client’s spouse died last year (already has multiple health issues), declared fit for work on WCA, then advised she had asked “too late” to challenge the decision by job coach (client is not computer competent so didn’t see the decision notice in time, was only two weeks outside the 1 month deadline).

Now been subjected to work search requirements which the client has stated to the JC that she cannot cope with. Also had a report from her GP stating directly that they are concerned that the work search is leading to a deterioration in her health. Still no adjustment to her requirements or a referral for a new WCA, with the job coach stating “the best way to get over the death of your husband is to go back to work.” Obviously cant check the validity of this but the client has stated repeatedly that she finds her JC intimidating and seems consistent and genuine.

Obviously I’m going to escalate this to a second stage but anyone know anything else I can do which may be quicker or more effective? All I wanted to resolve the issue was a new WCA and a new work coach. They have refused to give her a new job coach despite the fact she’s clearly stated she feels uncomfortable meeting him and been highly evasive over the new assessment referral.

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Solicitor, SC Law, Harrow

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if she was married for 45 years prior to husband’s death, she must be in her 60’s and would,apart from the pension date change, not have to worry about it at all….

presumably her mental health and other issues are evidenced in the gp notes/records?

equality act provisions may assist?

and late appeal from the WCA result…..good grounds for late late, one would have thought,

Mr Finch
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Benefits adviser - Isle of Wight CAB

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Although it’s dealt with extremely concisely, I read their reply as confirming that they have refused to revise. Therefore the decision should now be appealable.

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@theflipchart ltd

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Is this Work Coach a qualified therapist? For some people it is not helpful to be told to ‘keep your mind off’ a bereavement or other serious issue. Possibly the officer meant well, but this kind of patronising, homespun approach to work search is not in the Work Coach job description. No doubt the claimant should also ‘pull themselves together’.

In CH v SSWP (CE/3627/2013) Mr Jacobs helpfully clarified the confusion between the merits of working and the risk of trying…

“10. As to the nature of the provision, it is concerned with risk, not benefit. The tribunal should have investigated and considered what risk, if any, would be involved in finding the claimant to be fit for work. Any benefit, assuming that it could properly be proved, might be relevant as evidence on risk or the lack of it, but that is all. The issue is risk. If a substantial risk is established, the provision applies. And it applies even if it is accompanied by some chance of improvement in the claimant’s condition. It is not permissible to ignore that risk or to decide that it is a price worth paying for that eventual benefit.”

Further, RR v SSWP makes it clear that UC conditionality should be subjective to the claimant’s circumstances - is there any evidence of such analysis by the DWP? If no and a sanction follows, an error of law looms.