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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Income support, JSA and tax credits  →  Thread

Suing over sanctions

BC Welfare Rights
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The Brunswick Centre, Kirklees & Calderdale

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Benefits and Work is suggesting that people take legal action against the DWP over sanctions/mandated activity
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/other-benefits/jobseeker-s-allowance/jsa-sanctions?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Benefits and Work&utm_content=B+14+May+newsletter+2014
Anyone ever gone down that route?

shawn mach
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Paul_Treloar
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Welfare benefits caseworker, Mary Ward Legal Centre

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Dan_Manville
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Mental health & welfare rights service - Wolverhampton City Council

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I’m in the process.

The problem with this is Legal Aid; the Legal Aid Agency’s default answer is “no” at the moment and they are, to my mind, operating politically and not allowing certificates on potentially embarassing claims.

There is a way forward though; Work Programme sanctions that fall foul of the Equality Act might be within the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal which would allow lay reps such as us to rep and means solicitors can prepare the case under Legal Help funding. Much easier to deal with although I don’t know the costs implications yet. How long it will take to know for sure I don’t know, but DWP have applied for one application to be struck out recently. I’ll certainly update people on progress if there’s interest. I can say that Legal Minds are split as to whether it’s the correct route but we’re trying anyway

You can do the ET1 online but it needs to be submitted at the same time as the fee exemption form EX160a otherwise they’ll try and levy a fee. The fee for discrim claims is about £1200 IIRC

Ryan Bradshaw from Stephensons has been on here encouraging people to challenge on discrim grounds (we think we got them worried enough to revisit theire failure to attend guidance in DMG memo 2/14; the timing was very coincidental otherwise, we won’t know for certain for 30 years though) and I too would encourage it but, beware, as it’s very time consuming and bureaucratic if you’re to act as a third party.

Liz S
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Apparently at local Jobcentre level, requests for compensation up to £2000 can be considered and awarded…....having said that haven’t seen any documentation to confirm so email request sent and we shall await the response…...

Anyone else aware of that?

ringleby
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Benefits advice - Kirklees Council

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At the Nawra meeting at Sheffield there was a really good meeting on the Equality Act. The notes are on the NAWRA website. We were concerned in our area about the number of people with learning difficulites who were being sanctioned. We wrote to the local jobcentre threatening action under the Equality Act and they backed off. Claimants with protected characteritics have quite a lot of rights under the Act and legal aide is available to pursue claims.

[ Edited: 22 May 2014 at 01:51 pm by ringleby ]
Dan_Manville
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Liz S - 22 May 2014 10:33 AM

Apparently at local Jobcentre level, requests for compensation up to £2000 can be considered and awarded…....having said that haven’t seen any documentation to confirm so email request sent and we shall await the response…...

Anyone else aware of that?

The guidance is on here...

Dan_Manville
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I’m waking this up again as there has been a development that I think is worth sharing. The DWP might be liable to actions before the Employment Tribunal themselves, rather than solely the providers while DWP would have been insulated at County Court level (and thus out of our ability to bring a case directly).

I mentioned costs implications above as well; as BryanR has mentioned elsewhere costs can be found against a party if they “acted vexatiously, abusively, disruptively or otherwise unreasonably, or that the bringing or conducting of proceedings has been misconceived and the tribunal considers that it would be appropriate for the paying party to pay costs to the receiving party in those circumstances” however that happens in a very small minority of cases. A seasoned, well prepared, rep should be able to avoid that occurence.

I’ve got a feeling we might be on to something here…

[ Edited: 28 Jul 2014 at 02:43 pm by Dan_Manville ]