Important: WRAG/sanction – don’t panic yet

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Earlier today the SKWAWKBOX published an article about the application of the Universal Credit (UC) ‘claimant commitment’ to disabled people. That article was based on information from a recent DWP employee and the details were confirmed before publication by a current DWP employee of 15 years experience. It indicated that disabled people not placed in the ‘Support Group’ by the DWP’s contracted medical assessors would have two years to find work and would then face sanction.

However, others have challenged whether the claimant commitment would be applied in this way, so the SKWAWKBOX has checked with other DWP veterans.

And has received mixed answers.

Some have stated that sanctions could be applied as claimants are removed from the ‘WRAG’ (work-related activity) group – but have pointed out that such sanctions would only affect the ‘standard’ element of UC and that child, housing and other elements would still be paid.

Others have said people face being kicked off ESA (employment support allowance) or the sickness element of UC after a period of two years because they failed their WCA (work capability assessment) – a deliberate decision to bully them back to work. People so targeted can appeal, but if unsuccessful then they are subject to job-seeker commitments – and sanctions.

In short, the only thing that appears universal about universal credit is the confusion among DWP employees about how it works.

So the real situation may not be as bad as sources originally indicated – but it’s so unclear that the only thing everyone agreed on is that the rules are opaque and confusing.

So don’t panic yet. We’ll bring you a definitive answer as soon as one can be obtained.

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  1. Why are you asking DWP employees about legal aspects of benefits? Very few of them know the law behind the decisions they make, they follow ‘guidance’ manuals. Talk to people like CPAG, Benefits and Work or Turn2Us who will have a better idea, also will be in a better position to suggest ways of resisting any negative measures.

  2. I am a 60-year-old Disability Studies specialist and disability activist from Montreal, Canada who has been communicating frequently and voluntarily, since January 2012, to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in Geneva, on the welfare crisis impacting the United Kingdom’s sick and disabled. My handler is Jorge Araya, the UN’s Secretary of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Fellow Canadian Leilani Farha is the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing; see http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/LeilaniFarha.aspx.

    I am writing to express my disgust at how poorly you’ve handled this. You should have initially sought definitive confirmation from the DWP itself, via its spokesperson. Instead, you published an unsubstantiated
    blog piece, which panicked sick and disabled Britons on social media sites.

    I have asked John Pring, a journalist who runs Disability News Service, to phone the DWP and determine the veracity of your allegations in this matter.

    1. Such is the mess UC is in that anything, however outlandish, should be treated with some concern. We have seen backtracking, u.turning and underhand rule changes as UC has been rolled out, is it any wonder people are suspicious of this Government and their weapon of choice, the DWP?

    2. “I am writing to express my disgust at how poorly you’ve handled this. You should have initially sought definitive confirmation from the DWP itself, via its spokesperson. Instead, you published an unsubstantiated
      blog piece, which panicked sick and disabled Britons on social media sites.”

      The DWP has done enough to cause widespread panic and misery. I don’t see any way @Skwawkbox can be held responsible. Put it this way, I know who I trust, because the DWP has misused staistics and knocked back FoI requests for the most frivolous of reasons – because they have PLENTY to hide.

      You say ‘spokesperson’ – well that’s all you’ll ever hear from RE: DWP because the SoS or ministers are NEVER available when the shit hits the fan – as it invariably does. It’s their policies killing people, yet they let the anonymous ‘spokesperson’ do the explaining.

      The UC system has wasted hundreds of millions of pounds and still nobody has a clue how to interpret it correctly. The DWP has spunked hundreds of millions on not just high court appeals, but secondary and tertiary appeals because they haven’t got a bastard clue what’s lawful and what isn’t.

      They could implement this right this instant and nobody’d be any the wiser for the time being, such is their M.O.

      Therefore I suggest you direct your disgust elsewhere.

    3. As one who is potentially affected, I think Skwarkbox has acted entirely properly in raising the flag as soon as this issue appeared. I trust Steve to act to try and validate or verify information. Where the DWP and disabity collide I would expect to worst. He has highlighted the interpretation some in the DWP are placing on the UC rules for Wrag. Skwarkbox has opened up yet another can of worms to scrutiny, and hopefully it will result in a clarification for all. I do not condemn him for this for as long as we have the WCA and the cuts to Wrag damaging us we have to show how the disabled are still being wrung out of every part of the benefits system. UC is a disaster for all, the disabled are now yet another step closer to annihilation under the Tories. .

    4. Disable news service give me a break they are a joke and not a nice one. They say they champion disabled people but allow no debate and present very narrow and biased views on disability like the ‘vile not dead yet lot’ on there so called stories.
      That is nothing more than conservative propaganda on offer usually, so I suggest you take your disgust and direct it at this disgusting government and false flag story mongers. That claim it’s for one group but allows no dissenting voices or counterclaims on their site. Unlike here and btw this site always checks there stories and allows others to have their say can you say that about disability so called news?

      OH, and the UN is a joke with no power or teeth that have let down every disabled person in this country so I suggest you stop talking to them as you’re wasting your time. As well as having a go at a Journest that cares about people in this country like you just have.

  3. As a full time carer of an adult disabled son yesterday I attended my compulsory interview at DWP re getting me back to work. UC is being rolled out in my area. So at end of interview I asked re how this would affect my son. I asked, specifically, if he would lose his ESA and then have to apply for UC. UC is paid 4 weeks in arrears and our local social services have received notification re the problems this will cause people. The woman I spoke to had no clue. She couldn’t answer my question at all. So I still don’t know if my son will be automatically transferred to UC or will have to reapply. One thing to note though is that the UC system seems totally computerised with check ins and info, instructions etc, all being done on line. Makes it easier for staff to activate a sanction?

    1. “Digital” makes it more difficult for many to even apply. It assumes many things, not least sufficient income to support broadband service.

  4. Reblogged this on Declaration Of Opinion and commented:
    This is understandable, I once made three calls to DWP asked same question to three different employees got an entirely different answer each time. Yes two yr WCA-go-round seems pretty standard they do it already so to continue when moved to or claiming UC would probably be the way of things. Mx

    1. The mobility vehicles (cars, electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters) are “allowed” to be retained for up to 8 weeks after the decision to cut benefit has been made. This of course is nothing as challenging any such decision has first to go through Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) which has no time limit. After that, (recent figures show less than 10% of MRs overturn the original decision). The next step is tribunal, again taking months. Hence the mobility aid is lost well before it is possible to gain reinstatement through appeal.

      The actual process when there is a loss of motability vehicles is explained in this link:-


  5. This wasn’t at all true and you need to retract and sort this out as it caused distress….In the last few days it has been widely reported by various bloggers that those disabled claimants claiming Universal Credit are subjected to finding a job within two years or face a 1 year sanction. This is utter fabrication and feeding many claimants fears which could potentially cause harm. So today I called Welfare Rights ,who called DWP while I remained on the phone, they denied that this information was correct and was downright alarmist and dangerous. That doesnt mean I trust DWP and have submitted a FOI too given 7 years of shenanigans. So you see folks, you can take the fear project and destroy it with Facts! https://blueannoyed.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/the-2-yr-job-rule-for-disabled-on-universal-credit-is-not-true/

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