Know your rights at the jobcentre

It’s often really hard to find out what you can and can’t do when dealing with the DWP, and many claimants are understandably afraid of getting sanctioned.  If you can, it’s always a good idea to try and get in touch with a group who might be able to help you – as far as relatively stable and long-lived local groups go, there’s Edinburgh Claimants, the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network, Kilburn Unemployed Workers, Haringey Solidarity Group, Ipswich Unemployed Action, and Community Support Centers in Tower Hamlets, Barnsley and Durham. If you’re not in one of those places, try checking to see if the Industrial Workers of the World or Unite Community have a local branch near you.

For up-to-date advice and tips, I’d recommend checking the Jobseeker Sanction Advice Website.

The following list of tips are a few years old now, so I’d advise you to be careful in case any of the rules have changed in the mean time:

Saying no to zero-hours contracts

Refusing changes to your jobseekers’ agreement

Universal Jobmatch

Don’t face the jobcentre alone: you have the right to be accompanied to all benefits interviews

How to avoid workfare

How to appeal or dispute a decision (if you or anyone else you know can afford it, there’s also a book on how to win appeals from the Child Poverty Action Group that might be a good investment for a claimants’ group)

You have the right to refuse to sign any provider document while on a mandatory placement

Claiming hardship payments

Voluntary work

Withholding consent from work programme providers

Refusing to sign work programme documents

Conscientious objection to certain kinds of work

Claiming benefits without an email address or telephone number

Make an official complaint about the jobcentre

Make a complaint about a work programme provider

Claiming compensation for poor service

Thanks again to refuted.org.uk for compiling these. DWP guidance changes frequently, so these may well be out-of-date by the time you read it – at the time of writing, the Job Seeker Sanctions Advice service seems to keep up with the latest developments.

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