Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly

Sparkhill JCP windowAs we have reported Sparkhill Job Centre was recently closed after a customer who had been sanctioned smashed several windows. Sparkhill Job Centre has drawn attention from campaigners as it is known as a high sanctioning office.
It is now coming to light that there are other developments in the office.

Several months ago Sparkhill Job Centre introduced early morning sessions for people making New Claims. When people were booked into these they were given a ‘Job Seeker Direction’ which made it compulsory to attend. Anybody failing to attend could have their benefit sanctioned for up to 4 weeks. Job Centres have been given targets for sanctions, and increasingly seem to be doing whatever they can to create situations where jobseekers will be sanctioned in order to reach those targets.

People we have spoken to who have attended these sessions have reported different numbers of attendees, but have also reported empty seats. From the reports we have we estimate that 25 or 30 people are expected, but numbers attending were 14 and 20. This means significant numbers of people will have been sanctioned for non-attendance. Others have reported arriving only 5 minutes late, at 8:20am, only to be turned away and find their benefit sanctioned for non-attendance.

It seems to us that these early morning sessions are just a way of catching people out and sanctioning them right at the start of their benefit claim. This is especially cruel as many will have recently lost their jobs and will be waiting for their first payment.

It appears that over recent weeks staff have been rebelling against this harsh regime. Upon investigation the Job Seeker Directions have been revealed as inappropriate, and since Monday 16th September 2013 people attending the early morning sessions are no longer given a Job Seeker Direction.

The PCS have stated that, according to the government’s own rules, Job Seeker Directions are only supposed to be issued as a last resort, if a claimant has a history of missing appointments. If you are issued with a Job Seeker Direction ask your adviser why – these should not be used unless you have missed appointments in the past.

This raises an important question. How many people have been incorrectly sanctioned over the last few months, and will they now have their sanctions repaid? If you have been sanctioned for not attending an early morning session insist on your right to appeal. If you have been sanctioned from one of these early morning meetings, get in touch with the Birmingham Claimants’ Union who can provide support to help you get your money back.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly

  1. John Smith

    Even if you appeal to a tribunal and succeed you will still have to chase the Jobcentre/DWP up for backdated JSA. I’m still waiting for £284 after a successful tribunal appeal on 23rd August and several emails to the DWP

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly

  3. What would happen, I wonder, if anyone took the DWP to the small claims court when backdated payments are left unpaid?

  4. Tam

    Gaffer is stood at the gate
    We’re out of pockets, our wages they’ll dock it
    We’ll have to buy grub on the slate

    Pverty poverty knock….

  5. Tracey Watton

    My daughter was sanctioned last year due to heavy traffic after an accident – she was 7 minutes late, JC told her her advisor had left early anyway !

  6. Anne

    I don’t know how the staff in these places can sleep at night. In clydebank job centre they are goin out of their way to sanction people. It’s more bonus’s for them at the end of the year. I just hope these animals will be on the other side of the tables next year.

  7. Quick thought I was back dated nearly £2000 for ESA after my tribunal…….granted like this I got a car and passed my test which has been great as living out of a town when disabled is hard with a car let alone without one, but it was after 2 years of living like a tramp basically when I COULDN’T work…..don’t get e started onn the DWP scumbags that make life impossible for tthe genuine but piss easy for the lazy sods who only know how to screw the system

  8. I know exactly how he felt. When sanctioned by a petty jobsworth I wanted to smash the place to pieces and the only thing that stopped me was the thought that others would have to travel further afield if I did.

  9. ED

    Benefit Sanctions Must Be Stopped Without Exceptions in UK?
    Petition Calling For Benefit Sanctions To Be Scrapped Hits Nearly 2000 Signatures In First Few Hours
    http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/benefit-sanctions-must-be-stopped-without-exceptions-in-uk

  10. Pingback: 400,000 Made Destitute By New JSA Sanctions Regime | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  11. Pingback: Ask Your MP To Support Early Day Motion 686 – Sanctions At Sparkhill Job Centre | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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