GPOW and impactr of Covid19 on conditionality
Claimant is a Polish single parent (her child is under 2 and is British). She came to the UK on 08/09/15 and currently she has pre-settled status.
She worked from late 2015 until June 2019 following separation from her partner. She claimed and was paid UC, presumably as a person with retained worker status.
On 6th May 2020 she received a UC decision ending her UC as they stated she had failed the HRT (presumably under GPOW). She actually obtained a job in March 2020 but the lockdown prevented her from starting work.
She has submitted an MR and the Decision-Maker is dealing with it as a priority case.
I was at the NAWRA Zoom conference today and the advice from the meeting was that generally conditionality has been suspended but there was no specific guidance regarding GPOW being relaxed. The only guidance I have found is contained in ADM 04/20:
Paragraph 11 states that work search requirements should not be imposed for three months from 30/3/20.
The claimant is under considerable pressure and I am aware of CH/2389/2016 and although she has a good chance of winning any appeal the main problem at the moment is her lack of money and the need for a speedy resolution. Has anyone had any cases of GPOW being applied to new or existing cases during the lockdown?
I don’t think the suspension of conditionality (ie that there’s currently no requirement to work search or be available for work under SI 371/2020) makes a difference to EU law. If you think about the situation before covid-19, it was often necessary to explain to someone who didn’t have to look for work within UC conditionality (eg child under 3) that they nevertheless had to look for work in order to have retained worker status.
Your client worked for more than a year so on the face of it can retain worker status indefinitely (as long as she remains in the labour market) & doesn’t need ‘compelling evidence’, nor does she necessarily have to have a genuine chance of being engaged (para 65 of KH –v- Bury MBC).
So seems well worth challenging the decision. However I would say that she needs to carry on looking for work within the constraints of the current labour market.
Obviously it would be worrying if because of the nature of someone’s previous work or their abilities it was the case that they were considered not to be in the labour market during the period of health restrictions, until their particular field of work opened up again. I haven’t got the impression that’s what DWP are doing though (to be honest I’ve had some decisions which seemed surprisingly positive, & then some clearly wrong decisions in situations that didn’t come up pre-covid, so it’s a complete mixture).
I think what would be necessary is showing your client hasn’t withdrawn from the labour market, which is pretty evident here as she was offered a job even though that didn’t actually start. And I think she’d need to continue to look - some jobs are still recruiting even without start dates, and she could make it clear that she’s ready & willing to start when restrictions allow if that’s a factor.
Thanks for the replies.
Daphne could you ask at the stakeholder meetings whether the DWP will issue guidance when they apply the GPOW to take account of Covid19 and the lockdown?
I appreciate that the HRT test is unlikely to be suspended but GPOW allows a certain degree of flexibility.