Urgent advice please re: The Work Programme

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Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hello PMsilver and roseblossom

Welcome along. I will email Laura and ask her to comment on the queries you have raised.

Posted on: May 19, 2012 - 9:22am
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DoppleMe

Roseblossom,

I hope I have answered your query.  Let me know how things are going and whether you have any luck finding out about home education and the benefit changes.  It would be good to post on this to help other single parents in a similar position.

PMsilver,

I am sorry to read about your experiences.  It sounds like you should try and see whether ESA would be a more suitable benefit to be on.  Perhaps this is something to raise when you go to your Work Programme interview.  Do let me know how you get on with your Work Programme provider and what support that they offer you.

 

Laura

Posted on: May 21, 2012 - 10:26am
I will survive
DoppleMe

Had my 1st Work Programme appointment yesterday, wasnt too bad, only lasted an hr :) My next appointment will be in about 2 weeks. They kindly arranged it around school hols/school run times. Hope yours went ok Domali, and good luck to Molliesmum for hers next weekWink

Posted on: May 25, 2012 - 4:11pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi helpmenow

Glad that it was not too much of an ordeal and it certainly sounds as if they are being sensible with the timings Smile

Posted on: May 25, 2012 - 4:51pm
Molliesmum

Thanks for thinking of me HMN x My experience was a bit different! Got to the job centre at five to ten for my ten o'clock appointment, the doors were locked and the shutters down, they were opened at four minutes past ten without explanation. I joined the queue and handed my letter in to be told the advisor had called in sick and I was to take a seat to sign on. I got called at twenty past ten to sign on and my appointment was rearranged for 12th June. 

Waste of time!

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 10:50am
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

That's VERY annoying, Molliesmum, GRRR

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 11:46am
I will survive
DoppleMe

Oh dear, sorry it didnt go well, at least you dont have to go again untill after the school hols. I must admit although it went ok, and I was just glad to be out, they didnt help at all. Just had to watch a download about what the programme is all about. I had lots of questions that I kind of wanted quick answers to, but that will all have to wait till the next appoinment! Mines the same week as yours molliemum. Will be interesting to see where we are, a few months from now!

Posted on: May 29, 2012 - 8:28pm
Molliesmum

Thats what I had a fortnight ago by the sound of it! I found it to be 90% what is expected of you and what sactions you may face if you dont stand on one leg at 4.15pm every tuesday or some other such nonsense rule! Very thin on their end of the bargain and exaxtly what they are going to do for us, just this generic 'tailored' plan and vague refereces to support.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out!

Have a good day all x

Posted on: May 30, 2012 - 8:23am
I will survive
DoppleMe

Just went for my 2nd appointment with WP, aware of so many people having been mucked around/appointments changed etc, I thought "this couldnt happen to me too".  How wrong was I. Bearing in mind I was offered a First Aid course, (that I applied for over a year ago), and I had to turn this down because it clashed with my WP meeting. Got there, to be told that a letter was meant to have gone out to me cancelling appointment! Needless to say there was no letter. I was advised that this is because they are so busy!

Now I just have to wait for them to contact me to re-arrange. You have to laugh. Do you think maybe its all just part of their evil plan. In the end we will be so confused, we will miss an appointment, and get sanctioned! Job done!

Posted on: June 11, 2012 - 1:46pm
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DoppleMe

Dear all,

Are you currently unemployed?  If so would you be happy to share your experiences with a journalist from a national newspaper.  If you prefer your name and names of your children would not be used. You could have the opportunity to have your say of what it is really like being a single parent looking for a job in the current economic climate.

I work for the charity the Single Parent Action Network which runs One Space. If you want to discuss further then please contact me by email

MODERATOR: please see below for email addressSmile

Posted on: June 11, 2012 - 4:43pm
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DoppleMe

Dear all,

Apologies, not sure why my email address came out so weird.  It is L.dewar@spanuk.org.uk

Many thanks

Laura Smile

Posted on: June 11, 2012 - 4:45pm
I will survive
DoppleMe

It just gets worse. I have now had a letter from WP saying that I failed to attend my first meeting! This is the meeting that I went to, signed in, was there an hr, and signed out. Cant believe they make so many mistakes. Phoned them, and they confirmed there was some type of error (again), and they will put notes on file etc, so hopefully I wont be sanctioned. Oh yeah that was two days ago, today I had a letter saying that I have a new appointment, when?, wait for it...... two days ago! The letter was even dated the same day as the appointment was meant to be for. Ive had enough of it all now. You sign on somewhere, get paid benefit from somewhere else, WP in another place, and their headoffice is a different places. So four different groups, not updating each other, its all getting a bit confusingYell

Just wondering how Molliesmum got on? Are you still with us, not left the country yet to get away from it all? xx

Posted on: June 14, 2012 - 11:19pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi help me now

The saga goes on! It is incredible, the stories we are hearing from round the country. Hope you can get through to them and get an appointment for a NEW time.  You would think if we can put a man on the moon, we could have a system whereby computers are linked up and a sensible format put in place!

Posted on: June 15, 2012 - 6:31am
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

sorry posted twice Undecided

 

Posted on: June 28, 2012 - 11:16pm
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

Hello i could really do with some advice.

I had to move from IS to JSA at the end of may my youngest is 6,i have signed on twice

in that time i have applied for several jobs,had an interview and attended college 1 day a week.

i went to sign on yesterday to be told that i have to take part in the mandatory work activity scheme, for 4 weeks.

i have a few questions that  my advisor couldnt answer

how will i attend this scheme in school holidays?

why have i been chosen to attend?

any help would be  great as i cant seem to find a definitive answer to these questions,

also when on JSA my advisor told me i have to be available for full time work is this correct ?

Posted on: June 28, 2012 - 11:13pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi three great kids

If you are a single parent of a young child then you are only expected to look for work that fits around school times. I am despairing but not surprised that your advisor did not know the answers to your questions.

The Work Programme provider should also take account of the fact that it is school holidays. You need to stress to them that you will need to find childcare and pay for it if they expect you to do this in the long school holidays. Read through this thread and also look at this one to get more details of what you can do. This might mean an MP letter!

Posted on: June 29, 2012 - 7:40am
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

Hello I got the details of my MWP today.

I am going to work in a charity shop!

for a minimum of 30hrs a week.

my placement starts on Thursday 12th July

my last day will be 9th August.

with a 13 year old and a 6 year old who finish school for the summer holidays on the 20th July.

I am not sure how i am going to arrange childcare at such short notice for my two especially just as the summer holidays start.

They did inlcude a letter saying that they would fund any authorised childcare that I may require.

 i have been a stay at home mum for last 13 years(with employed) partner but we split 18 months ago,he dosent pay,see or have any contact with us at all.(a whole different story )

It just really annoys me that now im being forced into sending my children to outside childcare,

I have only been on JSA since 29th May 2012

I read somewhere that it is only mandatory if you've been claimimg JSA for 12 months.Does that mean i can refuse?

I am quite happy to do what they ask,but not at my childrens expence,

 

 

Posted on: July 7, 2012 - 3:50pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

I am sorry that I do not know the answer to your question. I will email Laura to see if she can give you some information, Ok?

Posted on: July 7, 2012 - 4:09pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Hi threegreatkids

I'm horrified for you! I would make a real fuss about this if I were you. Your children surely have the right to their parents undivided attention during the summer hols, they must've had a hard time too. Surely this could be defered until they go back to school in Sept.

I'd:

- Contact the charity you're supposed to be working for. I very much doubt they'd want the bad press associated with taking a lone parent away from their kids over the hols. Make a real fuss, I'm sure some of the sympathetic national papers (poss Guardian, Daily Mirror, Independant) would be interested!!

- Contact your MP as a matter of urgency

- Google Against Workfare. There are a few sites and blogs that could prove useful.

Lone parents used to be able to restrict their working hours to school hours if their youngest is under 13 (I think). This is copied from the Lone Parents benefit advice on SPAN, so I think it still applies.

"If you are a lone parent, you can restrict the number of hours you are available in a particular week, as long as you are available for as many hours as your caring responsibilities allow. This must be for a minimum of 16 hours. 
 
If you have a youngest child aged under 13, you have the right to restrict the hours you are available to work to your child’s normal school hours."

Finding childcare is really hard - how can they possibly expect you to arrange this by the 12th? It's ridiculous, bullying tactics.

Also as you've only been claiming since May it sounds very wrong. Laura's really good at this, sure she'll be able to give you the right info.

Take care and try not to worry too much.

Sending lots of love

xx

Posted on: July 8, 2012 - 8:56am
rudimentary mary
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

J6767 you seem to know the system really well, and from where I'm sitting that all sounds like good advice.

I agree with all the other posters, threegreatkids, this sounds totally unfair in terms of what is expected of you - especially when you have been claiming JSA for such a short period of time.

Try not to get too stressed out by the situation (which I know is often easier said than done!) You're in the right place. I'm sure Laura will be able to offer some more pointers for action you can take.

Posted on: July 8, 2012 - 11:36am
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

i have just got back from my appointment with an advisor, not my advisor,she said there is nothing that she can do as she didn't set it up and has made me an appointment for tomorrow.

she said that it is definately mandatory and my money could be stopped if i dont attend.

all she seemed concerned with was that they will pay for childcare.

Im more concerned that by this Thursday i am expected to not only find suitable childcare but i have to leave my children there,

who have never been to any form of childcare, and the 6 year old has taken until now to settle at school.

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 1:22pm
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DoppleMe

Threegreatkids

I am lost for words!  This is quite unusual for me.

It would seem that Jobcentre Plus have transferred you onto Mandatory Work Activity.  This is different from the Work Programme where you can be transferred after 12 months.  Any directions given by Jobcentre Plus must take account of your circumstances as a single parent.  You will see on One Space that we have included details of the DWP flexibilities leaflet that sets out how your job search and obligations are different as a single parent (see front page of One Space).  The Single Parent Action Network, the charity that runs One Space are also in the final stages of a more detail guide which we want to publish over the summer (we are just waiting for DWP lawyer's views). With a child aged 6 you can restrict your hours to school hours (although this gets complicated in the school holidays which is when they have asked you to do work activity). 

Tomorrow, I have a meeting at the Headquarters of the DWP in London to talk with senior officials about policy relating to single parents on JSA.  I will bring along a copy of your post to discuss with them (they will have no idea who you are).  I will post on Wednesday to let you know their response. 

I hope to have the answers for you soon.

All the best

Laura Smile

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 1:26pm
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DoppleMe

Threegreatkids

I think we have been posting at the same time.  If you are unable to find suitable childcare this should be a reason to turn down an instruction from Jobcentre Plus. Again I will raise this issue tomorrow but this is getting very near your Thursday appointment.  Is there a manager at the Jobcentre that you can be put through to? 

Laura

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 1:40pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi Laura

            What would happen if anyone who was put in the same position as Threegreatkids  turned up with their children? Not all of us can find childcare that is suitable and as Threegreatkids says the concern isnt so much for the cost as that will be covered but for the impact that this might have on the children.

If the children were to have to accompany us to such workplacements, surely they would have to have insurance/risk assessments and CRB checks all in place, just a thought from me xxx

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 1:44pm
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Tiredmum

As I said not finding suitable childcare should be a reason for turning down a Jobcentre Plus instruction.  In terms of bringing children along, I am afraid that this might just distress the children.  I have known similar cases where people have arrived on the Work Programme with their children and have been turned away.  The parents, despite reassurances at the time, have then been threatened with sanctions for non-attendence!

I will raise with the DWP tomorrow.

Laura

 

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 2:02pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi Laura, I know it seems to me that lone parents are being demonized the most right now, I know of quite a few single people who are claiming JS and they get nowhere near the amount of hassle that we seem to get.

I found this on the DWP website, surely if it applies to taking a job then it should apply right across the board and not just as it suits xxx

Good luck for tomorrow and thank you for trying to get them to listen xxxLaughing

Can I restrict the number of hours I can work and will that affect myclaim for Jobseekers Allowance?
Most jobseekers must be available for at least 40 hours per week but we recognise the crucial role of parents and their need to have time to look after their children. The safeguards available within Jobseeker’s Allowance which allow parents to fit their job-search requirements with their caring responsibilities and childcare availability will continue.
If you are a lone parent, you can restrict the number of hours you are available in a particular week, as long as you are available for as many hours as your caring responsibilities allow. This must be for a minimum of 16 hours.
If you have a youngest child aged under 13, you have the right to restrict the hours you are available to work to your child’s normal school hours.
If you have a parenting contract/order agreed in relation to your child, you may also be able to arrange or reduce the hours you are available for work to fit in with your childcare responsibilities, providing the restrictions are reasonable in view of the terms of the order or contract.

 

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 2:09pm
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Tiredmum

Thank you for sharing.  The DWP tend to bury information about flexibilities.  We are wanting to them to be much more upfront with single parents and give them a written copy of their flexibilities.  After all this will help single parents move into work that fits in with the responsibilities for caring for their children.  The Welfare Legislation also contains a provision for protecting the well-being of children.  Dont get me started on that one!

Laura

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 2:18pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi Laura

            I totally agree with you that the information isnt easy to find and that in itself is wrong, I found it contained in this PDF but it took some finding xxx

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/...

 

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 2:32pm
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

Thank you all for your replies,and advice it is really appreciated.Smile I have spent all afternoon scouring the web and have a collection of documents to take with me tomorrow.

Laura that would be great,if they want my details you can tell them.

I am prepared to do the work activity but think it is totally unreasonable to expect me to take part in the summer holidays.

regarding childcare i did a search on the site i linked to off directgov and it came up with 3 providers,2 were in different towns,and the one that is local states they only accept children who have been paid for in advance.

 

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 6:22pm
Sally W
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hi threegreatkids, sorry to hear what mis information you have been receiving, you can get a full list of local child care providers from your local family information service.

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 6:41pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi Laura, I dont know if you will see this post before tomorrow but I would be very interested to know what DWP expects us to do re childcare for over 8 years old as here not one child minder wil take an over 8 and I know the stock answer is to ask relatives/friends but if you are like me I dont have any family at all and very few friends sounds more sad than it actually is but I have no one to ask to take care of my son.

I would also like for someone to be able to find out the statistics for accidents that have happened to children that have been left home alone whilst thier parent/s were at work, surely there must be some stats on this and also who would be held responsible if there was such an accident when the parent has been given no choice but to leave the child as the DWP states or you recieve a sanction xxx

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 7:10pm
J6767
DoppleMe

I find the sinister thing here is that they've offered to pay for childcare over the 6 week holidays - almost like setting it up to fail. It's rubbish to expect anyone to arrange childcare that quickly, I know I've tried in the past!

It may be worthwhile phoning these childcarers and keeping a note of the phone no, time and person you spoke, to prove to JobCentre that you have tried to get a minder. Have you spoken to your youngest child's school about this? Headmistresses/Headmasters can be very helpful where their pupil's welfare is concerned. Can you get to see your GP about the impact on their emotional welfare? Good luck, do keep us posted xx

Posted on: July 9, 2012 - 7:42pm
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

well today i went to see my advisor armed with lots of information off everyone on here, ans he has postponed the work activity until at least september,also i got him to agree about the single parent flexibilities so all in all a result.

thankyou all again for your help i wouldnt have been able to go in today like i did without the knowledge you all shared with me.

 

 

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 3:38pm
tiredmum
DoppleMe

Hi threegreatkids, well done to you xxx

I am so pleased for you it might take some of the pressure off albeit temporarily, hope you have a relaxing evening now xxxLaughing

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 4:05pm
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Three great kids

Glad you have had a positive result.  I did speak to the DWP policy person today and he was willing to take up your case with the Jobcentre but there is not a need for this now.  So pleased. Enjoy the summer with your children.

Laura

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 4:35pm
J6767
DoppleMe

Well done! I'm so pleased for you!! Knowledge is power lol. Have a lovely summer with your children x

Posted on: July 10, 2012 - 5:13pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

That is brilliant, three great kids and also a big well done to Laura for your continuing good work.

Posted on: July 11, 2012 - 8:42am
rudimentary mary
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

That is great news, threegreatkids. Have a fantastic summer Cool

Posted on: July 11, 2012 - 4:40pm
Sally W
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Phew what a relief that must have been threegreatkids, you can now enjoy the summer break with your children.

Posted on: July 13, 2012 - 12:15pm
threegreatkids
DoppleMe

Hi everyone,

Today i had to go into the job center and while i was there i listened to one of the advisors talking to other people and he was really pushing this work activity
infact everyone he saw the first thing he did was suggest the work activity,

just makes me wonder if they are on bonus's for getting people onto it?

Posted on: July 13, 2012 - 6:21pm
rudimentary mary
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

I'm not surprised you think that might be the case, threegreatkids. I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess at whether this is the case or not. I'm glad that you got your situation sorted out though.

Posted on: July 14, 2012 - 11:29am
cherry12

Hello everyone:)

I have been following your threads for a while now and found them to be very useful and it is reassuring to know i am not the only one struggling with single parenthood and finding suitable work around the children.  Been on JSA for 12 months now, advisor been great but with todays current job market have been unable to find anything suitable. I have now been told that i am to be referred to the work programme by my single parent advisor, during the summer holidays, and am a little concerned as i have three children to care for. I will be stressing to my advisor at my interview next week my concerns regarding referring me during the summer holiday period, as in a previous interview with her, she asked if i would like to take time off from signing as I had caring responsibilities to the children during the holidays and the DWP state that I can take up to 8 weeks per year.  Is this correct?Will keep you informed and let you know how any experience with the Work Programme provider goes:) Apparently, i have two to choose from A4E or Igneus. Have any of you had any experience with these agencies?  Thanks x

Posted on: July 27, 2012 - 3:45pm
Louise
Parenting specialist
DoppleMe

Hello cherry12

I know that you can arrange for postal signing on or to sign on less often in the holidays when you are looking after the children. Your advisor sounds very sensible and I am sure that if you discuss things, the referral to the Work Programme can be deferred until September.

Perhaps others can comment on the two Work Programme providers you have mentioned?

Posted on: July 28, 2012 - 8:35am
Cazzz80

Hi, i'm looking for a bit advice. I hope someone knows the answer.

I have been on the work program for several months now and it's been going okay so far.

I have an hour long appointment on Monday morning. We're in full swing of the school holidays and i have absolutely no help with childcare.  My advisor is on holiday this week and by the time she gets back it will be time to go for my appointment. 

My advisor was aware i had childcare issues from the start, she was made aware of this again when she booked the latest appointment and told me just to get a babysitter.... 

My question is can i take the children with me? All i do is sit at a desk with my advisor and update her on my progress so far. I can't leave them home alone (both are under 10) and i can't not attend either.

 

Help please :)  

 

 

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 2:48pm
hazeleyes
DoppleMe

Hi Cazzz. This is the link that I put for you on your thread. Did you read through some of these people's experiences? Hopefully, there will be an answer for you. In your thread I have said that I would take the children, and something to keep them occupied, but an hour is a long time for them. How old are they?

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 2:54pm
Cazzz80

I have just read it, thank you for your reply. They're 7 and 9 and at school full time, so it isn't usually a problem. 

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 3:02pm
Cazzz80

I have just read it, thank you for your reply. They're 7 and 9 and at school full time, so it isn't usually a problem. 

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 3:03pm
hazeleyes
DoppleMe

Do you know what sort of job you want to go for? It's very difficult isn't it, where there is no childcare, family or whatever around to help out.

I was very lucky, I started volunteering at my son's school, a job came up a year later for a support TA, and I got the job. Surprised myself really!! At least I don't have the worry of my son through the holidays now, which is the greatest relief for me.

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 3:09pm
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Cazzo80,

Is there a way of contacting your Work Programme Supplier before your appointment about whether you can bring your children with you?  I think it is worth checking because I know of cases where parents have been turned away from Work Programme Offices.  This is because the Work Programme caters for all sorts of job seekers including  ex-offenders and this can mean that they will not accept children on the premises.  The Work Programme Provider should help you with childcare (including paying for care when they ask you to carry out an activity).  Do you have an named adviser at Jobcentre Plus who you can discuss this issue with including whether it is appropriate for you to go to your regular WP sessions during the school holidays?  Of course this will need to be discussed and agreed (and make them confirm in writing). 

Hope this helps

Laura Smile

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 4:42pm
Cazzz80

I'm looking into school office based work. The hours would be ideal while the kids are still young. I have just completed an ECDL course, i start a Business Administration course in September. Even if it's just for a few years until the children are old enough to be left alone for an hour, that will do. 

 

Congratulations on the job, i know how hard it is fitting it all in. 

Posted on: August 1, 2012 - 8:50pm