Yet more DWP illegality


A couple of weeks ago, I drew attention to how DWP minister Mark Hoban was unable, even in a formal response to an MP, to get his facts straight on the law regarding what the DWP’s Jobcentre Plus (JCP) is legally allowed to force – or ‘mandate’ – jobseekers to do.

Hoban thought that the DWP and its agents have the right to issue a ‘jobseeker’s direction’ (JSD) – an instruction that results in a sanction (suspension of benefits) if the jobseeker doesn’t comply – to make jobseekers use the highly-flawed and controversial Universal Jobmatch (UJM) system to look for jobs. They do not.

But it’s not just Mark Hoban’s ignorance. JCP advisers continue to break the law by imposing claimant commitments (CC) – the precursor to a JSD – that are completely illegal – and the SKWAWKBOX has documentary evidence.

I’ve received a copy, from a JCP insider, of one such CC:


This CC is illegal on (at least) two counts. Firstly, it requires the jobseeker to access UJM when, as my article a couple of weeks ago already showed, the DWP has no legal right to do so.

Secondly, it states that no ‘written jobsearch’ is now acceptable and mandates that evidence of jobsearch activity must be provided by either giving the JCP access to his/her UJM account or by providing a print-out of the ‘application history’.

But the DWP knows this is untrue. Not only do they know it to be untrue, but they have stated in their own guidance to their own employees that it is untrue.

A recent Freedom of Information Act response by the DWP outlined at length the guidance issued to JCP advisers on what they can and cannot do, and in particular what they can and cannot mandate. Point 82 of this guidance, under a heading of ‘Actively Seeking Employment‘, addresses the issue of jobsearch activity:

82. We cannot specify to a JSA claimant how they provide us with records of their jobsearch activity and Universal Jobmatch will not change this – it is not therefore possible to require JSA claimants to give DWP access to their Universal Jobmatch account. 

Condemned by its own words – the DWP is fully aware that it has no right to demand any particular form of evidence that claimants have been looking for work. JCP advisers can require evidence – but not specify what form that evidence takes.

Yet this bandit department continues to ride roughshod over even the semblance of lawfulness. And as we saw last month, it has now formalised this lawlessness by decreeing that claimants have no right of appeal if a JCP adviser decides to illegally impose such conditions, even if they result in sanctions which are therefore also illegal.

Claimants can ask for a review by another adviser, but if the second adviser is equally ill-informed or reckless the decision – still illegal – can be upheld and enforced, and sanctions can be immediately applied for a failure to comply, even though claimants would be absolutely within their rights to do so, even according to the official guidance.

I’m tempted to call the DWP a maverick department. But that would be inaccurate. A maverick disregards the opinion and conventions of his/her peers, but the banditry of the DWP is entirely in line with the malevolence of the rest of the government toward any whom it considers lacking, or simply vulnerable to attack.


  1. If i change my cv to private on UJ will the change show in my activity history? can anybody help?

  2. Can you obtain the official guidelines with point 82 in it from the net?
    Would love to walk into my local JCP with it.

  3. DWP have rewritten the UJ guidance over 40 time and it changed again on 11/10/13.


    I believe it has been re-written again this week!!!.

    Actively Seeking Employment
    92. We cannot specify to a JSA claimant how they provide us with records of their jobsearch activity and Universal Jobmatch will not change this – it is not therefore possible to require
    JSA claimants to give DWP access to their Universal Jobmatch account.
    93. Personal advisers and assistant advisers will continue to review jobsearch activity and record the outcome on LMS in the usual way for JSA claimants and look at all the evidence provided by claimants to determine if there is an ASE doubt. This may be in various forms
    and these are explained in the Labour Market Conditions Guide.
    94. However, Universal Jobmatch will be a key tool you can use in appropriate cases to review whether a claimant has taken all reasonable steps to have the best prospects of finding work.

    99. However, the onus is on the claimant to provide evidence of their jobsearch activity (by whatever means they choose).

    1. 92 is regularly broken by jobcentres as they have a standard form they expect jobseekers to follow when writing down their jobsearch.

      For instance if an employer ignores your job application and takes down their advert you are expected to write “waiting to hear” instead of the truth that the employer has no intention of responding.

  4. Hi!

    I was wondering if you guys might be able to help me again? I got a letter from the DWP a few days ago, saying “We have been told that on26.10.13 you were notified to participate in a Work Program activity/appointment on 04.11.13 but that you failed to do so. Will you please reply on the backpage before 26.11.13 to explain why you did not undertake this activity.”

    If they’re saying I didn’t attend on the 4th, I should be fine, as I did attend. If they’re saying the the activity was attend every monday and friday starting from the 4th, it’s a bit more tricky. I attended on the 4th as requested and said I couldn’t attend on the friday due to a Introduction to CBT session I had. I was told this was ok. I then said that I was struggling quite badly with my depression and had been seeking help with that from the Surrey and Boarders IAPT service and from the Richmond Fellowship Employment Advisors. I said that my treatment by PPDG had been making my illness worse and was told by my WP advisor, Richard, that he would speak to his manager and that they would get back to me and that I should wait to hear back from his manager. This letter from the DWP is the first thing I have heard back since then. This is twice I’ve tried to contact the manager at PPDG about my treatment there and twice I have been ignored. That is why I did not take part in further sessions, as I was told by my advisor to wait to hear back from them first.

    As an aside, I’ve had at least a couple of people say I should look into switching from JSA to some form of disability allowance, to get the WP off my back, but I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not. I’m not sure I’m bad enough to get that, I’m not sure if it would make things worse and I don’t like the idea that PPDG might get their £15k backhander for getting me off their books. Do you guys have any advice? I just really feel I need some time and help to get myself well again and at the moment things are just getting worse…

  5. I was on ESA, went for work capability assessment, the so called nurse who assessed me clearly lied about everything i had said, even used my misfortunes against me, i had real bad problems in the flat i previously lived in, i have just recently moved, the flat i was in was horrendous, i had a big problem with mice, it literally cleaned me out, left me with hardly anything, that is how bad it was, all my whole lifetimes of posessions i had struggled to maintain and keep, Greenwich council did not help one bit, neither did they care, i put in a claim for compensation for my posessions belongings etc, they then denied there were no mice, which there clearly were, i got nothing, it caused me so much stress living with the problem, fighting the problem, and Greenwich council, i was ill, i was not eating properly, i had no be to sleep on, as the mice ruined it, ruined clothes, applicances a lot, i was already suffering from depression previously, which is a reason why i had moved to the flat in Eltham, it just made things worse, and Greenwich council added to it, causing me distress and more hardship, not doing necessary repairs, or helping with problem at all, i had to do another exchange, downsize, i got into debt with the bedroom tax, if i had been working which i had planned to be, due to this problem, it escalated the whole lot of everything, i had no quality of life, nothing, to top it all, i attended the work capability assessment, the nurse answered questions for me, when i read the letter, i see what they used against me, the fact i had to deal with a mouse infestation, and all the stress it caused me, which it did, because i did this, and attended a welfare reform meeting, i was capable of dealing with a problem, get that, i could not believe it, even moving home, i had to move with hardly anything, i am still ill from the effects of all this, not eating/sleeping properly all the time i lived in the flat, apart from everything else the problem caused me, i told my doctor i felt suicidal because that is how it was affecting me, i had no quality of life, in the end had no cooking facilities at all, i lost my dog, and a lot of it was due to the stress she was under, whilst living with the mice, i could clearly see how it was affecting her, she was old, and had the usual health problems old dogs are vulnerable too, but her quality of life was reduced because of the conditions we had to live under, she even refused to east her food inside the flat, as she was aware of rodent presence, this has caused me, and still causing me problems, i am fighting my case with the ombudsman, because i lost so much, it just seems the more you get caught up in the system the worse it is, and they see you are down and just put more pressure on you, and the problem i had was not something i wanted to deal with, i had to it was my home, and everything i owned, how can they use this against me, i could not believe it, i told the so called nurse, all this, wrote a supporting letter, and even told her i felt so depressed, so tired, it had all just caught up with me, even moving and trying to get my home together again, not just minor things, everything major, which takes money to replace, so someone who feels this way, and feels depressed and suicidal is fit for work apparently, and my problems were used against me, i have had to claim JSA, i had no choice, i scored no points at all, i was clearly distressed at the assessment the so called nurse could see i was, i told her i could not function or even focus properly, had no routine, which i have not had for over a whole year since moving to that disgusting mouse infested flat in Eltham, if fail to see, what they do not get about all of that, i cannot believe it, now i have to go to a work support programme People plus, where they make out they are there to help you, they are not, to help themselves more like, the more i read on line about all this, it seems they are working to targets to get people of benefit alltogether, by not helping anyone forcing them, i explained all this once again to the advisor at the people plus etc, and told him what work i wanted to do, and had planned to do previously, and had experience in, a community carer, which if you look they are crying out for carers everywhere, and it is a worthwhile rewarding job, i need my car to be able to do this in the community, you cannot do it by public transport, most places ask for the requirement to have your own vehicle to do this, beause of all the problems i had, not working, literally draining me from any little savings i had, i could not afford to maintain my car properly, it was only a matter of time before something, went wrong, and it did, now i have no car, people plus phoned me up after explaining all this, and saying they understood, phoning me, with a cleaning job in Walthamstow, which is nothing to do with what i want to do, and have experience in, he even tried to tell me that cleaning was to do with caring, which it is not, it is a completely different thing from caring for elderly people in the community by staying in their own homes providing a home caring service, i.e. administering medication, personal care, household duties, shopping etc. I told him i was not interested in this, and said he was bullying me into doing some dead end job i did not want, he tried to justify this by saying it was a stepping stone, what???? what mess my benefit up once again, my rent account which the system seems to be so good at doing time after time, even when there is the slightest change, and apparently all their systems are interlinked, only when it suits them, they deliberately mess it up, probably hoping that you will just get fed up with it, my ESA was stopped, then because of that it messed my rent account up, i.e. Housing Benefit, what a joke, although i was claiming JSA, and was told that it would be processed through the system by the Job centre, i.e. for Housing benefit etc, Was it, sorry, where was i then, yes you guessed it, they did it again, going back to work causes the same thing to happen, although they assure you it will not, and always does, happens time after time, i have done this in the past also a few times, i said this to the advisor, they do not care, they just tell you to take payslips to the council, i know the procedure, they try to treat you like you are some kind of retard, feed you with the same bullshit, because that is all it is, it is disgusting what they are doing, not just to me it seems, Seems i would be better off as an ex offender maybe, they seem to get all the help, when they are released into the community, have no worry of stress and bills, and all the rest of what the system causes for normal people who are trying, and people who cannot even work because of disability, this country is all wrong, i know its not a very positive approach saying that, but they are not helping anyone in a positive way at all, forcing people to work, in jobs they do not want to do, low paid,and making peoples problems worse, more depressed, ill, more stress, because they are totally sick, some people have been pushed over the edge because of these actions, that is the stress, if that is the correct word to use, worse than stress, they put on people, it is totally sick, and there is nothing anyone can do about it, So really i told the nurse i felt suicidal which i have done, and still do, So really what they are saying is, oh well never mind, just give you a bit m ore on top to send you over the top with it all, that is how it makes you feel, and they blatently dont care, may be if it is when you reach a certain age, they write you off, and target a particular age group more, or someone who is more vulnerable in some way, i do not know what criteria they use to work to their so called targets in getting people of benefit to get government figures down, where are obviously false, and the way they have gone about it to actually do this, we are all being brainwashed, about how things are getting better, they are not, they are making it sound like it is with their figures, and anyone who does not like it for whatever reason, just get on with it, and do what ever, because you really dont matter and dont count, and that is how it is, its disgusting the whole lot of it, and if you do committ suicide, then that is one less for them to pay out, may be they get bonuses if they push someone to that, who knows, nothing would surprise me, i have done everything to stop myself from getting in this position, the system has not helped me when i asked for help, then it seems they can use it all against you, make you worse, the more vulnerable you are, the more they will put on you, and that is exactly how it is.

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