Urgent advice please re: The Work Programme

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J6767
DoppleMe

I'm looking for some advice and information about the new Work Programme. I was made redundant 2 years ago, and I am the sole carer of my child (5). Her father lost interest, and my parents are elderly and not well, so very little support. I also suffer from bipolar depression and psychoic interludes. Not nice at all.

I have been told at the Job Centre I am to start the Work Programme in June. My first question was regarding childcare (my daughter is 5). I was told I have to 'negotiate' this. How?? There is no breakfast club or regular after school actvities she can go to. Perhaps I can find a childminder but how am I to pay for it? I also am told I will have to negotiate my weekly hospital appointments. How am I ever supposed to recover from the depression? The only drug I am being offered is lithium, which could turn me into a walking zombie... and then how can I work or look after my child? So I'm struggling without. I have already had 1 psychotic interlude since the Job Centre interview and am terrified there may be more.

There seems to be precious little info about the Work Programme, at the Job Centre or online. The advisor at the JC told me it is "a pool of minimum wage jobs" and is extremely patronising. Obviously thinks that mental health issues means you are stupid. Please, please does ANYONE have any solid advice?

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 12:05pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi there

There is no firm information at the moment regarding the work programme- I don't think the government have finalised things. I believe that the government will start to implement this from June, though if things aren't set in stone then you wouldn't be referred yet. You would be allowed flexibility on your hours so that it matches your jobseekers agreement. I understand that by going on the work programme you should not be out of pocket so check with your advisor if the provider will be able to help with childcare costs. 

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with your advisor at the jobcentre :(.  Are you seeing the Disability Employment Advisor? You should have been offered an appointment to see her or him - they deal with all sorts of health and emotional problems and have their own pool of resources which could help you back into work.

I am on the look out for more info on the work programme so if I do hear anything I will let you know.

:)

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 1:27pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thank you so much, that's really helpful. I do actually really want to go back to work, try and get some normality back in our lives.

I did used to see a disability advisor but for some reason was transferred. I don't know why. I do work with Remploy as well.

More information would be gratefully received, thanks again

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 1:56pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hello J6767

As mamaoftwo indicates, this is a new initiative. People who have been on Incapacity Benefit (as was) and have been transferred to Employment and Support Allowance are assessed as to their capability for work. There is talk of sanctions and some element of compulsion but this does not seem to have taken effect yet.

However, as your daughter is five, as as single parent you can transfer to Income Support, yes it is less money each week but no compulsion to work. Once your daughter is seven you will be expected to look for work. This gives you at least a breathing space to look at your health treatment and job options (and maybe do a course to enhance those options? you would then be in a better position to "choose" a job rather than just be shoved into one) Tell this advisor that you wish to apply for Income Support....although just an aside:this implies you are fit for work and NOT incapacitated.....still seems the better option for you at the moment, though.

With regard to your treatment, that is something for the medics but there are support groups around to advise you with that. Are you in touch with Mind and/or Saneline? They can give you some up to date information about your treatment and point you in the right direction for employment help.

Regarding childcare, as general information for people, Working Tax Credit will provide additional money to pay for the majority of your chldcare, and the hard thing is negotiating payment terms that fit in with as the benefit money arrives.

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 2:01pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi J6767

I will certainly let you know.  Do you have your hours restricted on your jobseekers agreement? Make sure it is all up-to-date before you go on the programme as the provider will work within the constraints of that.

x

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 2:03pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thanks Louise. I've been on JSA ever since being made redundant, never claimed ESA. Ironically, I didn't claim Income Support as I am actively jobseeking and want to work. I'm told that Income Support will end in October this year. But could buy me a couple of months.

And the hours on my jobseekers agreement are 9-5, Mon to Fri. Can I change these to part-time hours, ie 10-2? My next appt at the JC is on the 7th June and it helps to know what my rights are.

Thanks so much guys, this advice and support is invaluable x

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 8:00pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

If your child is only 5 then you dont have to work if you choose not to, however if you do want to work then you are allowed to restrict your hours to 16 up until your child is 12, you can also put times in that you can realistically work, so yes 10-2 would be fine, just bare in mind the school holidays of which there are 13 weeks, I too sign on for jobseekers and we have like you no childcare here at all so I feel for you.

Bi-polar is difficult and scary, I do have some knowledge of it as my ex`s ex partner had it and she eventually did take lithium, she wasnt like you though, she would not acknowledge her "issues" so I admire you in being very open and honest not only about your Bi-polar but also how it makes you feel xxx

Do you know what triggers an episode for you? Is it in part to do with the stress that the JC are putting on you? I myself have panic attacks and had pretty much combated them till having to sign on, now they are back with a vengence.

Thinking of you and sending you a hug xxxLaughing

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 9:14pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thank you tiredmum. You've all been brilliant here. Glad I logged on. First smile of the day :)

Yes the episodes are triggered by stress. I've been recently diagnosed but they think I've had it since I was about 15. I manage it quite well under normal circumstances but the last few years have been hell - very difficult relationship with father of my child (compulsive liar and emotionally abusive) which ended shortly after my redundancy, plus being unable to find another job. It's really frightening, you loose all control.

Panic attacks are horrible too, I do empathise big time. How do you manage them? x

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 9:58pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi, awwwh glad you are smiling xxxLaughing

This site is wondeful. everyone supports everyone without judging xxx

Please dont suffer in silence where the JC are concerned, it is wrong that they are putting lots of people under undue pressure, please do complain and stand your ground. Finding a job wont be easy at the moment, what is it that you do when working?

You are brave in acknowledging how it is for you and loosing control is something we all fear I think, do you have to go into hospital when that happens or is it managable at home? Do you have family/friends to support you?

My panic attaks are so frustrating, they come on in the most inappropriate places ie Asda, at traffic lights when I need to turn right, I usually manage them with a can of coke when driving as it does seem that low blood sugars make it worse, other than that I tend to use distraction as a way of coping, I read, or come on here or just sit and try to think of nice things xxx

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 10:12pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hiya

You can have your adviser put just 16 hours on your agreement and not define the actual hours per day or you can put 10 to 2pm.  You can make an appointment to see  your adviser or the lone parent adviser before your next adviser interview to get your agreement changed. Also make sure that with the reduction of hours they restrict your local travel to work area to something that is realistic.  You may come up against questions from your adviser as to why you previously had 9 to 5 and 'suddenly' want to change your hours. Be prepared!  Just explain about the lack of childcare and be firm.  Until your next adviser appointment though you will have to show that you have been actively seeking work adhering to your jobseekers agreement, otherwise it could have implications on your benefit.

 

xx

Posted on: May 28, 2011 - 10:14pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thanks and love to all xx.

I now have a list of things I can actually do. The main problem for all people who suffer from any mental health condition is loss of personal control - whether it's emotional, physical or day-to-day normality. The Government seems intent on adding stress by taking away even more control: how we parent or children and any career choices by forcing us into mandatory minimum wage work.

When I'm working, I'm a graphic designer with 20 years experience. You'd think I could find a job. But the fact is, there aren't enough jobs as so many small companies have been driven out of business by the greed of the bankers. Who are still awarding themselves huge bonuses and patting themselves on the back. Sorry if I sound angry today - I am!!

I'd be happy to offer my services to a charity, but none seem to want to know as I guess they have their design and marketing done in-house. And the last thing I want to do is make someone else loose their job by working for nothing... there are many who feel that unemployed people should be out there sweeping the streets. Fine, but who will then employ the street sweeper?

I've managed to avoid being in hospital so far apart from a couple of trips to A & E (not the best place to end up while you're undergoing a psychotic episode). I have a small group of friends - having mental health problems does make me withdrawn and feel like an outsider. Unfortunately other people can sense you're different somehow. But my friends are fab and I love them to bits, but I can't be with them 24/7 when things are bad. My parents are elderly and quite ill, I am also the first line of responsibilty to them as well as my 5yr old. They do have her for me when I'm having an emergency but I don't like to put too much on them, they'd be exhausted.

Have a good bank hol all xx

 

 

Posted on: May 30, 2011 - 11:12am
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Dear J6767

Thank you for your posts and thank you to all the single parents who have been sharing their experiences and advice.  Sorry not to have responded to you sooner.  I have two children and have been off some of this week entertaining them (unfortunately still cannot beat my children on Just Dance on the Wii!)

I work as the Parliamentary Officer at the Single Parent Action Network (which One Space is part of).  I lobby Government on issues that affect single parents, including welfare reform. It is good to hear about people's experiences although it sadden's me about the lack of clear information and support for single parents who have a hard enough job as it is.

Welfare reform is such a patchwork at the moment.  Somethings in place, somethings going to happen and somethings under discussion.  I think it leaves lots of people, including Jobcentre staff confused.  This is why at SPAN we are campaigning for much clearer advice being available to single parents.

The bottom line is that at present if you are a single parent and your youngest child is under 7 you should not be treated as a job seeker.  This does not mean that you cannot look for work, and you cannot ask what help is available to support you to do so.  But this is voluntary and should not affect your entitlement to benefit. The Government are considering including more single parents by lowering the age of the youngest child requirement to 5 but this is not currently in place.

When you become a job seeker (when your child is older) you can still restrict the hours that you work or the hours that you are available for training (including on the Work Programme).  You are also able to turn down a job where there is not suitable childcare. This is because the welfare laws recognise that as well as a job seeker you are also a parent who has responsibility to care for your child/children.

I work with senior civil servants at the Department of Work and Pensions (Jobcentre Plus is part of that Department).  They have reassured me that the system of providing support for single parents is still in place (what was called the Lone Parent Adviser).  There is going to be a new name for this but they havent come up with yet. Have you talked to such an adviser at Jobcentre Plus?  These specialist advisers are often better at addressing the needs of single parents and helping with voluntary work and job search.

All the very best to you and do let me know how you are getting on.

LauraSmile

 

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 12:56pm
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Hi Tiredmum,

Hope things are ok.  It would be good to know how things are going.  Really positive that you give messages to other single parents to stand their ground and that you use your experiences to help others.

All the best

LauraSmile

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 1:01pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Laura, I will post a reply asap about how its all going, as you see from my other post everything is a little up in the air right now but yes everyone should stand their ground always xxx

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 1:19pm
JaneHope
DoppleMe

Hey, just wanted to mention Disability allowance - have you applied / are you in receipt of it already?

If your condition has only just been diagnosed I'm guessing not? but if you fill the forms in as if it is one of your worst days/having a psychotic episode, you may find you're entitled to low rate mobility and care componant. Mention the medication as well and what it leaves you able/unable to do etc.

it's not much but it could help add to your finances and will also be a clear way of explaining to the job people exactly where you're at.

I went to a back to work interview, but after looking at my circumstances the lady advised me that there was no requirement for me to go on a program and that it was probably best to wait till my children were in school (one and 3 years old) to look for work. She did mention the new program but also said that it's not really been rolled out yet which has kind of left a bit of a limbo, although it will probly be similar to what has been run in the past.

I would like to work, but I think it is hard to do something which you're not sure how it will effect you - the lady used a calculator program which informed us that I would be £83 better off a week (I'm currently receiving income support). However I would lose free school meals and not sure how working a certain amount of hours ould effect my DLa.

I know that it would cost to work - it would take away time, add stress, but maybe takeaway other stress - having to be around people all day instead of your children :) and then there is the question of reliability - I don't kno how long I could manage to keep a job. The street sweeper job keeps on appealing to me:)

I've just come back from visiting a friend and it's really reminded me how much I can't drink alcohol - today am just a total shell and I hate being like that around the kids. Didn't notice we were on the quiet carriage of train. But it was really stupid - the only two places with wheel chair space (pram) were in first class and the quiet coach. I don't mind folding the pram but when you've got two little ones, a load of bags and multiple trains to catch ith little time to get off and on them etc. folding the pram becomes a nightmare best avoided:@

so yeh - my triggers are stress, caffeine (too much), alcohol, and lack of sleep. Hoping tomorrow I feel better:)

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 9:21pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thanks again everyone - and Laura, for advice and support here. I wish I'd found this site years ago.

Tired Mum, I'm really sorry you're stressed - have read you earlier post and so hope things get easier soon x

Hi JaneHope, thanks, yes, I do get DLA. I deepy suspect they want to cut that too - which is why I'm getting in the neck. My advisor is nowhere near as nice as yours. She acts surprised I can answer her coherently. I've even had the comment "depression is very good, because no-one can see it". Medical evidence apparently doesn't count. Think she was the matron in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' lol... Another advisor once asked my daughter "And where's Daddy today?"!! So I feel constantly as though I'm under scrutiny, even though I'm not doing anything wrong.

DLA should continue when you're in work but I'm suspecting the argument will be you must be OK if you can hold down a job... and you will probably have your benefits sanctioned if you leave it. Perhaps I'm paranoid lol?

It's good to know what your triggers are. Self awareness is so important with mental health problems. The more you can learn about how you tick, the better you can minimise major probs. Hope you feel better tomorrow!

x

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 10:06pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi there

I am appalled at how your adviser treats you.  You can put something in writing to the manager of the jcp where you go to if you wish to complain. "Depression is very good because no one can see it" - that made me seethe when I read that. Sorry you are going through this with your advisor :(

Well I said I would let you know if I got any more information. The work programme will start to roll out this month. Two years with a provider where they will monitor your jobsearch, look for suitable placements (which is why, if you continue to claim jsa you must make sure your jobseekers agreement reflects what you can and can't do), and you must still go in to sign every two weeks. However as your child is under the age to which you would have to claim jsa then maybe claiming income support is the best option. You can still work some limited hours and can still have the help of the lone parent advisor as you need.

JanetHope - hope you feel better tomorrow. 

:) x

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 10:19pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Apologies to JaneHope.... I typed JanetHope. Sorry :)

Posted on: June 3, 2011 - 10:36pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hello J6767

I agree with mamaoftwo that you need to put in a complaint about any rude behaviour or bad treatment. There is no reason you "should" lose DLA through working; DLA is because you have extra needs in terms of transport or care, or both. The benefit that says you are "unable" to work was Incapacity Benefit, being reinvented as Employment Support Allowance with the work programme attached.

Just to tell you, DLA is non means tested so that means it is unaffected by an increase in your income.

Hi JaneHope thanks for your input, good to hear from you and I am sorry to hear about you absolute nightmare of a train journey.

Posted on: June 4, 2011 - 9:33am
J6767
DoppleMe

Went along to the JC interview on 7th. When I got there I was told I should have a lttr telling me the appt was moved to the 10th. Had received a lttr, double checked, yes there was a another appt for the 10th, but no mention of the appt for the 7th being cancelled... wonder if I would've been sanctioned if I hadn't gone? I would suggest anyone in a similar situation should just go to ALL appts as I wouldn't be surprised if it's a tactic to find an excuse to apply a sanction.

The appt on the 10th seemed to be OK about changing hours & distance for childcare. Thanks so much for that!

Found out from Gingerbread, single parents can have 28 days to find a childminder, not 1 week as suggested by the advisor. So that's changed. And for people with mental health issues you have the right to Reasonable Adjustment, which covers hospital appts etc.

All this has been noted in the documentation sent to Work Programme provider (in my case CDG).

Lets just hope they honour it. I do not trust either the JC or any govt provider. I feel they are playing tactics to people they feel are vunerable.

I should be contacted in 2-3 weeks, which brings it close to school summer holiday, which will be interesting, as obviously I will have no childcare for that.

HOWEVER the advisor at the JC said I will be on the Work Programme, not for 4 weeks, not 13 weeks but for 2 YEARS. WTF??????????

I don't think Income Support will help as it's being abolished soon. ELA has been suggested to me but I don't think I've got the mental stamina to jump through hoops of fire to get it. The psychosis is hovering over my head and I might crack at the slightest push.

Again, I now have documents outlining the Work Programme (not much info but better than nothing). If it would help anyone to see a copy, let me know and I'll forward it.

x

 

Posted on: June 12, 2011 - 9:04am
J6767
DoppleMe

PS have also discovered what's going to happen to our lovely local libraries. They're being turned into Work Programme concentration camps... you gotta laugh if you don't cry

Posted on: June 12, 2011 - 10:28am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Yes many local libraries being closed down, mine too.

Income Support will be there until the proposed Universal Credit gets introduced, I think. If you want to check that out, do contact our specialist 1-2-1 Money Advice Service as they will know all the dates etc.

Thank you for your post, though, as it is helpful to know what is going on!

Posted on: June 12, 2011 - 10:47am
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Dear J6767

Thank you for letting us know about your experience with JCP and the new Work Programme.  The whole new system seems to be so rushed with so little guidance.  When I checked last week no guidance was available on the DWP website about the Work Programme.  I am going to a meeting at the DWP next month to meet senior people there and will raise this as an issue.  I will also be pressing for much clearer information about the flexibilities that there are for single parents to make sure that they are clearly stated for those single parents who have to go onto the Work Programme.  At the moment I am also working with a Group of charities to lobby on the new Welfare Reform Act.  I want it to become part of the new Claimants Commitement (which the Govt are very keen on) that they have a stated duty to let single parents know about the flexibilities that are open to them.  This will be discussed in Parliament in the next few days. 

It would be great to have a copy of the literature that you have been sent about the Work Programme.  But I do feel guilty about putting you to extra work.  You can send to SPAN's head office in Bristol (SPAN, Millpond, Baptist Street, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0YW)or email to me (L.dewar@spanuk.org.uk).

All the best

LauraSmile

Posted on: June 13, 2011 - 10:07am
J6767
DoppleMe

Thank you Laura, I've emailed that to you.

Posted on: June 13, 2011 - 11:16am
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi J6767

Yes the Work Programme is for 2 years. You would still need to go in to your alloted signing during this time or you could be sanctioned, so I hope your advisor explained that. It's good that you have got all your details up-to-date so the provider can work with that. I have just had a look at the direct.gov.uk website and there is information on there now about the programme.  The provider you are submitted to will assist you in all forms of jobsearch and work experience, you can use all of the provider's resources to do your jobsearch.  The provider should be in touch within 15 to 20 days I think of being referred over.

I think that if you need to find suitable childcare the costs should be covered (or part covered?) by the provider you are referred to.

Hope you're well :)

 

Posted on: June 13, 2011 - 8:04pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thanks Mamaoftwo

I'm hoping it will be in helpful finding a good job - not just being shunted into minimum wage work or forced into hopeless jobsearching for hours on end. I'm not the cold calling type either, gives me the horror.

It would be good to retrain, tho it's a damn shame to loose 20 years of experience as a graphic designer lol. And I'm very interested in the charities that are involved, working for one of them could be great. 

Childcare still worries me. If the costs are covered that is brilliant, however if only part covered, paying for that on benefit or minimum wage will be nigh on impossible, given inset days, school holidays, etc. Finances already stretched and creditors threatening legal action. Another worry - will I face a sanction if she's ill? Have looked on direct.gov.uk, but not found anything new about childcare pertaining to The Work Programme, please do you have a link to that bit?

My mental health is a concern too, as I can often have periods of time where I remember nothing - sometimes lasting several hours. Some days I can hardly speak. Other days I can't stop speaking. The fun never stops lol.

Posted on: June 13, 2011 - 8:40pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi there

The provider will adhere as much as possible to your jobseekers agreement with regards to finding work placements but if they are unable to then they will look for something else which could mean the chance to upskill in other areas. It would be a shame to lose all that experience you have though.

I say they may pay or part pay for childcare simply as I wouldn't like to speculate as to what the provider would cover. It should be pretty standard across the board though. Maybe give your advisor a ring at the jobcentre tomorrow to ask about this. Also ask about sanctions if your daughter is ill. I very much doubt (though I stress I can't be sure) that the provider would take any action to sanction you if you couldn't attend due to illness. Also (sorry another 'also') the provider may be able to offer some help and guidance relating to your health concern too.

I'll have another look at the direct gov website (I only found the link on there before I sent my message to you) and will let you know if I can get any further with the childcare cost thing.

I would recommend though that you chat to your advisor and then when you are contacted by the provider reconfirm all the details.

xxx

Posted on: June 13, 2011 - 8:52pm
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Hi Mamaoftwo and J6767

Thank you Mamaoftwo for your great advice.  It is difficult at the moment as the guidance on the Work Programme is so scant.  In terms of sanctions it is only Jobcentre Plus that can dish these out.  You will still have your signings at Jobcentre Plus.  The flexibilities that exist for single parents should translate into people's treatment on the Work Programme, limiting hours etc. 

I am going to meet with senior people at the Department of Work and Pensions in early July so please all keep me informed about how the Work Programme is going and any issues (apart from the ones already raised) that you want me to raise with the people in charge.

All the best

LauraSmile

Posted on: June 14, 2011 - 9:15am
J6767
DoppleMe

I do hope so. Have combed the internet and still can't find any reference to childcare provision while on the scheme. So the link would be fab if you can find it again.

Think it's worth mentioning that The Work Programme is quite simply a political means to an end. The Govt are manipulating unemployment figures. I know many people who haven't worked in 10 years + (through no fault of their own), yet they have not been refered, or had any mention of The Work Programme. Conversely, I also know someone who was made redundant 4 months ago - and they have been told if they are not in work by July the will be entered on The Work Programme. The would seem that Job Centres are cherry-picking those easier (on paper) to place rather than helping the very long-term unemployed with back into the workplace.

x

Posted on: June 14, 2011 - 9:24am
J6767
DoppleMe

Another thought...

I'm on a right rant today, sorry everyone... is it full moon? lol

I'm not being a pain, but I would class myself as a highly skilled worker. The going rate for my profession is between £22k thru to £35k. Obviously I'm not sticking out for the highest range, but feel with my experience am a bargain at the lower range, and would consider a bit less to prove myself. More than happy to do work trials that consider childcare.

So will The Work Programme find people like me work for opportunist companies only prepared to pay minimum wage, ie £6 per hour?

I would rather work for a genuine charity.

Don't expect any help with this one - just wanted to get it off my chest!

Grrrr!

Posted on: June 14, 2011 - 9:50am
J6767
DoppleMe

Meant to say -

"So will The Work Programme find people like me work in our field for opportunist companies only prepared to pay minimum wage, ie £6 per hour?"

 

Posted on: June 14, 2011 - 9:52am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

I think that is an excellent point, J6767!

Posted on: June 14, 2011 - 1:25pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

J6767 I think you are 100% right and they will cherry pick the "best" for the least amount of money you can just see it coming!

Posted on: June 15, 2011 - 9:46pm
J6767
Posted on: June 16, 2011 - 8:33am
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Dear J6767

Thank you so much for e-mailing details of the Work Programme.  I have to say you have inspired me to carry on with my campaigning work.  It makes me so cross that you have been given so little information and the tone of the letter to you....arh.  I will do my absolute best to get Jobcentre Plus to change their letters and literature.  At SPAN we are determined that single parents are informed of the flexibilities that exist for them both when they deal with Jobcentre Plus and any contracted provider.  I intend to show your letter (but not your personal details) to senior civil servants at my July meeting.  Please let me know when you hear from CDG and any literature that they send you.

All the best

Laura Smile

Posted on: June 16, 2011 - 12:29pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Thank you again Laura, your work is so appreciated. I can tell you that at no time, ever, have I had any flexibilities for single parents mentioned to me at the Job Centre. Everything I have found out has been from you, other members on this site and Gingerbread. I did try to make an appt to see a Single Parent Advisor as someone suggested but told I can't because I have to be on Income Support to qualify to see one...

I'm not totally convinced that The Work Programme is even legal under EU law, but am not a solicitor or do I have the money for one lol.

I'll keep you up-to-date. Thanks again :)

Posted on: June 16, 2011 - 8:25pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi J6767

            Thank you for posting those links.

I am very concened about the legality of this, how can we be expected to work for less than minimum wage, that in itself is I think illegal isnt it?

Posted on: June 16, 2011 - 8:52pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Hiya Tiredmum, I hope you're feeling a bit better now?

I've got a couple of downloads that might be helpful to people, 1 is a memo from DMG 11/11 outlining the JSA and Mandatory Work Activity Scheme, the other is a report from the Social Security Advisory Board. They're PDF's not sure if I can link em but try this:

www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-11-11.pdf

http://ssac.independent.gov.uk/pdf/MWA_report.pdf

I can email them to anyone if the link doesn't work, or try a google search.

Not sure how accurate this is, but this blogger has created a template letter outlining the legality (or lack thereof lol) of The Work Programme:

www.workprogramme.org.uk/201106141494/mandatory-work-activity-unenforceable.html

There might be more info here on 15 June

http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2010-11/welfarereform.html

Thanks to all x

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 7:58am
J6767
DoppleMe

Also, the reason so many people are unemployed is beacuse there are so few jobs available. Yet the Government see fit to blame this situation on the unemployed. They refuse to tackle enoromous 'fat cat' bonuses in the banking industry and allow mega companies to get away with tax fraud. Is it any wonder no-one trusts their so-called scheme? At my last interview my advisor told me we are expected to jobsearch 24/7. Even going for a walk, I feel as though I'm being watched for signs I'm breaking my JSA agreement.

I feel like a criminal.

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 8:11am
HELLY13

Hi Everyone,

I had to do a word search and came across your forum!

I too attended my usual signing-on day yesterday to be told about the back to work programme! Basically the advisor couldn't tell me a great deal about it apart from the companies concerned 'Action for Work and another I think 'Senco Deloitte'. I have my referel appointment next week and then wait to see the above companies. She made not mention of placement, which alarms me as I can't see how I can look for work, attend interviews when I am 'working' on these placements. It makes no sense and I am worried I will be considered  braindead by the employers.!

 

I came from a profession paying £25k per year , company car all the usual great benefits. I also worry as myself and my son attend regular appointments at Alder Hey Hospital (we both have a rare genetic bleeding disorder), which requires regular monitoring-how will they view these appointment?

I also have had a discussion regarding my Parents helping with childcare for full time hours, my Father has Vascular Dementia and is deteriorating fast with constant paranoia, verbal expletives , the list is endless. I don't think it is an an envioroment for my 12 year old boy. Would I be able to amend the working hours to part time 20hrs on the referal interview. I want to make sure the above companies have the right information.

Sorry this is so long, but wanted to make sure I covered all bases!

 

Thanks ;o)

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 2:07pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi Helly13

I am sorry that I do not know the answer to the question about the working hours but I would have thought hospital appointments would be honoured in the same was as if you are out at work. I see no reason why you should be considered "braindead" as it is a limited programme and you can continue to look for work at your own level (alhtough personally I don't see what time or energy anyone will have left for job-seeking if they are on a 30 hour a week placement). You will have to ask abut the hours variation when you get the appointment with the provider. Do you have a "job seekers agreement" at the moment, with things that might affect your hours? One thing that the work programme conditions allows an exemption for is "caring responsibilities" but it depends on what age they deem a child to be able to be left, and for how long.

As far as childcare goes, the initial concern for me would be whether the "placement" would be in the school holidays, when the care needs would be greater, whereas a term time one would at least mean your son was at school.

Please also consider completing this to air your views about childcare issues.

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 3:49pm
HELLY13

Hi Louise,

Thanks for the reply, I cannot for the life of me think how they can work this programme tailored to the individual needs. I now remember the adviser saying she hoped they would look at people individually not as group, I can see what she was getting at now! My Mum is 76 and not in the best of health, she receives life time disability and my Father whi 83 receives carers allowence which to be honest the dynamics are in reverse, he has had a few strokes already and it breaks my heart to see him disappear slowly. He can't remember anything, I have to go in twice a day for five days at the end of June whilst my Mum is away on a much derseved break!

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 4:37pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hello Helly

Your JCP advisor should amend your hours accordingly to incorporate any childcare responsibilities or caring or health issues. I'd just advise you to make sure your agreement and action plan reflect EVERYTHING so that your provider can work around your restrictions accordingly.

I think it is a bit strange that your advisor said she hopes they would look at everyone individually and not as a group. The provider on the WP is to work on tailor made plans for individuals, not groups.

Do make sure you have your restrictions in place

 

Posted on: June 17, 2011 - 7:30pm
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Dear Helly 13,

Sorry not to write sooner.  At the Single Parent Action Network (which runs One Space) we are very interested in how single parents are treated in the transfer to the Work Programme.  We are worried that some single parents are not being told about the flexibilities that are open to them to for instance restrict their hours.  It would be great if you could let me know how you got on with your training.  Did they provide childcare or make sure that the training was when you child/children were at school.  What was the literature like that they sent to you?  Did they point out that there were flexibilities open to you because you are a parent.

As part of my work I have direct contact with senior civil servants in the DWP it is great if I can point out where there are problems (or where things are working well so other providers can improve).  So please get in touch.  You can do so through this forum or through my email L.Dewar@spanuk.org.uk

Many thanks

Laura Smile

Posted on: July 4, 2011 - 11:29am
HELLY13

Hi laura I shall certainly let you know how it goes on the programme. keeping my fingers crossed as had another interview at lunchtime for a role. Praying I may get either of the jobs, then I don't have to go on it......

Posted on: July 22, 2011 - 2:22pm
sharbe

hi im new, i have been told i have to take my 11 year old twins to the work programme induction (3 hours long),its now the summer holidays and i have no money for child care. My mums on holiday,my brother is at work, my freind looks after someone elses children, so off we go together, should be fun. But not a very nice place for my children.

 

Posted on: July 31, 2011 - 9:14pm
sharbe

Gingerbread says"single parents do not have to accept a job or follow an instruction given by thier jobcentre plus adviser where there is no appropiate or affordable childcare available" does this include my above post?..ive heard about the "new leaflet"coming out...where is it??? us single mum/dads need it!!!! something is going to happen to a little girl or boy left alone one day soon with all these bullying tactics,im sure im not alone feeling ill with worry...so sick of it all.

 

Posted on: July 31, 2011 - 9:54pm
mamaoftwo
DoppleMe

Hi Sharbe

Sorry to hear you have been told you have to take your twins with you to the induction. How utterly ridiculous. How does that help any one??? They will be bored. and you will be worried about them. The providers are supposed to cover any out of pocket expenses including paying for any childcare while you are on the programme. Don't know if this helps.  Good luck with the induction. When is it?

 

Posted on: July 31, 2011 - 10:40pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Hi Sharbie, I really feel for you. This programme is potentinally a nightmare for single parents. I took the advise on these posts and limited my hours available for work with the Job Centre to school hours only, with reasonable travel distances. You are def allowed to do this (as long as your children are under 12 I think). Gingerbread have an excellent helpline, you could try and give em a call tomorrow.

The worry and stress is making people ill.

Having to take your children to the interview is absurd. I wonder if they are well insured? I would make sure you don't let them out of your sight and tell them to behave as badly, disruptively and loudly as they like for the 3 hours - and hopefully you'll be out fast!

Good luck and let us know how you get on :)

Posted on: August 1, 2011 - 12:08am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hello Sharbe

Please contact the provider of the course, and tell them that it is likely that two 11 year olds will be disruptive to the WHOLE class and suggest that you join another induction in September or that a holiday club (research one and find out the cost) should be paid for as part of your expenses for attending this.

J6767 makes a good point about the insurance, ask them if they have insurance to cover children.

Posted on: August 1, 2011 - 8:12am
SPAN Parliament...
SPAN Parliamentary Officer
DoppleMe

Hi Sharbe

Sorry not to be in touch sooner.  I have taken a few weeks off with my children.  I am very interested in your experiences of the Work Programme.  I agree with Louise's advice.  The DWP which runs Jobcentre Plus and oversees the Work Programme are going to produce a leaflet on flexibilities for single parents on benefits.  This was due over the summer but the wording is still being agreed.  J6767 is right that you can limit your hours of work to within school hours (infact you can do this until your children reach 13). 

Do let me know how you get on with your Work Programme Provider.

Laura Smile

 

Posted on: August 1, 2011 - 11:05am