This news from Boycott Workfare is apparently from last November, but I’d only just seen it:
Boycott Workfare is the only independent campaign to successfully oppose all forms of ”conditionality” aka sanctions and workfare, no ifs, buts, political strings attached or punches pulled. We are now stepping up to take on Universal Credit. The Conditionality of Universal Credit aka sanctions and workfare have received little attention in reports by campaigns, charities, mainstream media and alternative media outlets. Among other things, we will be exposing the realities of Universal Credit and those profiting from it, and challenging the current narrative of the Westminster Village political class. It’s time to reshape the discussion on Universal Credit to make a difference from the perspective of ordinary working class people living in the real world – not out-of-touch politicians, journalists, so-called industry professionals or policy wonks.
As of today, we are launching a new practical anti-conditionality resistance campaign focused on Universal Credit – the biggest change to social security for over 60 years – and as a starting point, we are now offering free welfare rights Universal Credit-related advice to claimants. Anyone needing help with Universal Credit is invited to contact us via email email@example.com. We will also offer face-to-face Universal Credit advice for claimants (currently only available in central London). These advice sessions are by appointment only, please email us to book one, along with brief details of the help you need in advance. The first of these sessions will be held on Saturday the 10th November from 14:00 -17:00, kindly hosted at MayDay Rooms, 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH.
The areas we can help claimants with include:
How to avoid claiming UC in Full Service areas if already receiving any so-called ‘legacy benefits’ (JSA, ESA, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, working Tax Credit) or on becoming unemployed
The possibility of returning to ‘legacy benefits’ in ‘Gateway/Live UC Service’ areas and when to withdraw a claim for UC in Live Service areas to avoid losing money for part of a monthly ‘assessment period’ – though please note these options are now much more difficult due to the rapid roll-out of Full Service UC.
Complaining if you’ve lost income after being wrongly advised to transfer to UC
Re-claiming Council Tax Reduction when transferring to UC
Making sure a 2-week Housing Benefit ‘run-on’ has been received along with a housing element in the first assessment period after transferring to UC
Changing ‘claimant commitments’ and moving to different UC conditionality groups
Understanding work search and work availability conditions in the ‘all work related requirements group’
Varying the general 35-hour a week work search and availability rule
Limiting or suspending work search and work availability requirements for claimants otherwise subject to ‘all work related’ conditions
Checking whether sanctions (reduced entitlements for alleged failures to comply) have been applied to UC claims and effectively challenging sanctions
Dealing with the conditionality regimes imposed by private and voluntary sector contractors on behalf of the DWP
Challenging Workfare-related sanctions
Appealing fines and penalties imposed under UC
Making ‘Mandatory Reconsiderations’ about UC decisions
Appealing to First Tier tribunals about UC decisions
Asking for compensation via the complaints systems
Dealing with practical problems in claiming UC, payment delays and claim closures
Claiming UC Advances and appealing recovery rate decisions
Overcoming some of the UC barriers set up for EEA migrants concerning ‘right to reside’ rules
Overcoming some of the problems for sick and disabled claimants on UC
How to be assessed as having limited capability for work under UC – even if working
Checking errors in UC monthly calculations
Complaining about DWP and 3rd party deductions from UC for overpayments/debts
Alternative Payment Arrangements’ (APA’s)
Understanding the ‘conditionality earnings threshold’ of the employed and the ‘minimum income floor’ of the self-employed claiming UC
Understanding how the timing of changes (e.g. to rent) and an earnings cycle (e.g. weekly) affect UC payments
Possible ways of claiming UC while studying
Possible ways of claiming UC if under 18
Overcoming housing element UC restrictions for single renters under 22
Applying for Discretionary Housing Payments
Applying for Discretionary Council Tax Hardship payments
If your problem isn’t in the list above, still get in touch and we’ll see if we can help but please remember, we are currently only able to offer welfare rights advice about Universal Credit, Sanctions and Workfare.
Unlike state-funded welfare advice organisations like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) with their ‘gagging clause’ restrictions, we will not hold back in our criticisms and demands for change while helping claimants. Much of the current focus of ‘UC support’ for claimants provided by charities and local authorities is on enforcing ”compliance”. Indeed, the DWP is paying CAB to concentrate on the IT skills needed to manage claims and on ‘budgeting skills’ – whilst the very same claimants are being plunged further into poverty via UC and ”conditionality”. CAB as an organisation has been paid off by the government to become a Universal Credit enforcer. Fail to attend a budgeting skills appointment with CAB? Then expect to be sanctioned as CAB will be contractually obliged to report it.
The only way to fight Universal Credit is to ensure that claimants know their rights and to actively challenge the narrative of punishment via conditionality. This is where you can come in to help. We plan to expand this part of our campaign and want you to get involved. We would love to hear from anyone and everyone interested in opposing conditionality and in working with claimants to help secure welfare rights. We’re especially keen on hearing from people with direct personal experience of the social security system. Why? We are claimants just like you, and the only way to win and get the welfare state you want is by coming together with like-minded people to actively expose and challenge the inadequacies of system we have. Work with us to help bring down Universal Credit.