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TOPIC: Providing evidence of job search activity

Providing evidence of job search activity 27 Nov 2017 21:14 #5082

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This is a recent Freedom of Information response from DWP in answer to an enquiry about whether or not job coaches can make it a mandatory requirement for a claimant to use the online universal credit account/journal to provide evidence of job seeking activity, or provide a CV:

www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/441782/response/1075951/attach/2/4639%20Reply.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1

Useful to know for anyone who has been 'persuaded' to do this.. Looks like any insistence on using a universal credit account or journal for providing evidence of job searching activity and providing jobcentre access to it can be ignored, just like the old universal jobmatch account.

Has anyone had any experience of this?
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Providing evidence of job search activity 28 Nov 2017 10:00 #5094

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Interesting. That has come (quite recently too) from DWP themselves, so anyone printing this out might just save themselves from a sanction if producing their job search in another format, as mentioned in the request, by email or by hand/printed copy. The push to have everyone use a UC online journal seems to be another little DWP lie, but as always, make sure you know the rules book before applying your own variation.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 29 Nov 2017 19:45 #5133

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There is no law, clause of a law, statutory instrument, or regulation that requires a claimant to open a Universal Jobmatch (UJ) Account. In fact there is no mention of UJ at all in any legislation.

The statutory provision that the DWP/JCP invariably use to impose, or attempt to impose, the opening and use of a UJ Account on a claimant is Section 17 (3) (c) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

Here is the Section that they prey in aid:

17. Work search requirement

(1) In this Part a “work search requirement” is a requirement that a claimant take—
(a) all reasonable action, and
(b) any particular action specified by the Secretary of State,
for the purpose of obtaining paid work (or more paid work or better-paid work).

(2) The Secretary of State may under subsection (1)(b) specify the time to be devoted to any particular action.

(3) Action which may be specified under subsection (1)(b) includes in particular—
(a) carrying out work searches;
(b) making applications;
(c) creating and maintaining an online profile;
(d) registering with an employment agency;
(e) seeking references;
(f) any action prescribed for the purpose in subsection (1).

(4) Regulations may impose limitations on a work search requirement by reference to the work to which it relates; and the Secretary of State may in any particular case specify further such limitations on such a requirement.

(5) A limitation under subsection (4) may in particular be by reference to—
(a) work of a particular nature,
(b) work with a particular level of remuneration,
(c) work in particular locations, or
(d) work available for a certain number of hours per week or at particular times, and may be indefinite or for a particular period.

Not a peep about UJ. There are innumerable Freedom of Information responses, tribunal judgements, first hand evidence available that may be accessed online, too many to quote here. I'm sure specific examples of same will be added in the course of discussions on this forum.

Any claimant who wishes to can register with most general employment or recruitment agency sites, there
are plenty to choose from. They can then post a CV with profile on the site. Indeed, to compel a citizen to do what DWP?JCP insists on could be found to be in contravention of human rights and competition laws to name just two.

Thereafter, regular visits to the site, tweaks to profile as and when required, is all that is necessary. The claimant has thus created and is maintaining an online profile as the law requires without even thinking about UJ. Most of those sites also facilitate the instant application for the jobs they carry.

So, even under a fully fledged Universal Credit CC, far less a JSA/CC, any request, of any shape or form, to open a UJ account, far less allow access to one, can be ignored by the claimant if s/he takes the trouble to provide for themselves an alternative to UJ of their own choice.

If you accept that the information above is an accurate reflection of the legal position as it stands I can foresee no obstacles to getting it through to even the dumbest adviser. If you can identify or envisage the obstacles it should be easy then to help you devise a means of overcoming them. I feel sure that the members of this forum between them, with their experiences and knowledge accumulated over many years, could do it.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 00:12 #5137

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Yes Bolshie i have done it ref:your last paragraph :) :)

Used this as the CC is the JSA effectively :( .

administrativeappeals.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk//Aspx/view.aspx?id=2249
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 12:38 #5153

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The case you quote is a very high profile one and although it was heard over 11 years ago and 8 years before Universal Credit and UJM was introduced, and a couple of significant pieces of legislation have been enacted since, it's rulings continues to be referred to in current judgements relating to UJM.

A more recent case, heard in August 2016 and published in September 2017, brings the issues involved up to date and does take into consideration the current legislation as it now exists.

Check it out at this link:

www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKUT/AAC/...

Several other issues were raised and commented on by the Judge in his ruling which he regarded as dubious and requiring further consideration and clarification. He ruled that the case should be re-heard afresh by a First-Tier Tribunal and that all the issues raised be reviewed.

I don't know whether or not the case has been re-heard yet, or if it has, what the result was. It would definitely be very interesting and informative to know. Not sure where to start looking to find out.

Last year, in another place, I posted the following which could be used as the basis for an argument to avoid being compelled to use UJM. Feedback I got since informs me that the arguments put forward have has been used successfully:

1. In response to a Freedom of Information request the DWP stated the following:

“…The disclaimer on the Universal Jobmatch (UJ) service forms part of the Standards of Behaviour which are for jobseekers’ information. A jobseeker is not required to accept the Standards of Behaviour when they receive a Jobseeker’s Direction to create a UJ profile…”

The DWP response can be seen in full here:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/155118/re...se%20v1%200.pdf.html

And again:
“The disclaimer forms part of the Jobseeker Standards of Behaviour which jobseekers are not required to‘accept’.”
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/152647/re...%20Response.pdf.html

As stated in the response, the Standards of Behaviour are for information only and thus cannot be made mandatory. However, there is a tick box for the Standards of Behaviour on the UJ registration page that must be ticked to enable registration. I do not (as allowed) accept the Standards of Behaviour, cannot therefore tick the box, and consequently am unable to register with UJ.

2. There is a tick box for a “mandatory” equality questionnaire.
This is the DWP’s own message (from the UJ FAQ) regarding this:

“DWP requests equality information to help it monitor and continually improve the services it provides to the public. To help us to do this, we would like you to complete this questionnaire. Providing equality information is strictly voluntary. If provided, this information may be used only in accordance with applicable law and will not be shared with employers. If you do not want to answer any of the questions, please select Prefer not to say."

It is not possible to register with UJ without ticking the “mandatory” equality questionnaire box but, as clearly evinced in the DWP’s own statement, the equality questionnaire is “strictly voluntary”.

To be clear, being given the option to select “Prefer not to say” once in the questionnaire is not acceptable as, from a legal perspective, this constitutes a response to the questionnaire, i.e. taking part in it, and is in direct contravention to the “strictly voluntary” nature of the questionnaire. Clearly registering for UJ cannot be made conditional on taking part in a “strictly voluntary” activity.

I do not wish to take part in the equality questionnaire and until I can register without having to tick this box I am unable to register with UJ.

3. The Welfare Reform Act 2012, chapter 2, section 17(3)(c) states:

(3) Action which may be specified under subsection (1)(b) includes in particular—
creating and maintaining an online profile

This is the only legislation relating to online job-searching and it is clearly very generic. There is no mention of UJ, nor can there be as it would be anti-competitive and therefore illegal. Therefore, to demand that a jobseeker registers with UJ, particularly under threat of a possible sanction if not complied with, is not reasonable and would fail the Wednesbury principles’ test of reasonableness.

I maintain several online profiles through the many other job-search websites that I use and I have an email address. This is sufficient to satisfy the requirement of the Act and obviates the need to register with UJ which, as a job-finding service, adds nothing which would enhance the job-finding process compared to that which I already undertake).

It is also recognised by the DWP that other jobsearch engines are a sufficient substitute for UJM:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/167039/re.../FOI%203016.pdf.html

"Whilst those claimants for whom it is reasonable will be required to register with Universal Jobmatch, the Department also recognises that there are other job sites on which profiles can be created and maintained for the purposes of work search activity. Work search expectations will differ for each claimant depending on their individual circumstances and job goals and advisers will tailor requirements for each claimant."

As a consequence, any FLA issuing a JSD mandating a jobseeker to register with UJ would have to demonstrate why it is reasonable (Wednesbury principles) to single out UJ amongst the many other equally good, and usually better, job search websites.

4. The enforced acceptance of cookies is illegal.

The DWP has attempted to subvert the Data Protection Act by accepting cookies on Internet access devices (IADs) in Jobcentres. This is illegal. The requirements Under EU Data Protection Regulations (Directive 95/46/EC) are unequivocal. Consent must be informed, explicit, specific and freely given (for both the subscriber and the user).

By accepting cookies on a jobseeker’s behalf on Jobcentre IADs the ability for the jobseeker (the user) to consent freely to their use is removed. I would point out that this is a matter of common sense if nothing else. It is the individual user of the UJM website (the jobseeker) who is affected by the use of cookies and not the DWP. Which particular machine or device they are accepted on is immaterial. It is the act of accepting the cookies that is salient and to which the user’s consent, freely given, must be explicitly obtained. Pre-accepted cookies clearly subvert that right.

Specifically, DIRECTIVE 2002/58/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 12 July 2002 in point (17) states:

“For the purposes of this Directive, consent of a user or subscriber, regardless of whether the latter is a natural or a legal person, should have the same meaning as the data subject’s consent as defined and further specified in Directive 95/46/EC. Consent may be given by any appropriate method enabling a freely given specific and informed indication of the user’s wishes, including by ticking a box when visiting an Internet website."

You will see that whereas the “subscriber or user” phrase can be misinterpreted, as the DWP have chosen to do because it benefits them, the above makes it clear it is the “user’s wishes” that are paramount.

The DWP are of the mistaken belief that the subscriber (the DWP) can accept cookies on a user’s behalf on the IADs. It is in your interest to know that because the IADs are reset after each user a new set of “clean” cookies is used for each new user. These cookies monitor a uniquely identifiable jobseeker using UJ (as evidenced, for example, by an adviser’s ability to monitor the log in times of a user even if that user has not given full access to his account). The cookies are therefore user based and not subscriber or, more generically, terminal based. For this reason the DWP must explicitly obtain the freely given consent of each user to accept cookies as per Directive 95/46/EC.

I do not consent to the use of any cookies and consequently will not be able to use UJ.

5. The protocol for obtaining consent from the jobseeker has not been followed because it enforces consent through threats of penalties, i.e. sanctions.

DWP definition of consent:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/copy_of_d...docu#incoming-225710


ICO on cookie consent:
www.ico.org.uk/for_organisations/privacy...mmunications/consent

6. It is not mandatory for a jobseeker to reveal his email address to the DWP. This is confirmed in this DWP FOI response:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/169236/re...%20response.pdf.html

“Providing a CV, email address or telephone number is not mandatory, therefore is not sanctionable.”

Creating a Government Gateway account and registering with UJM both require an email address to be provided and that email address is made available to the Jobcentre even if the jobseeker does not give permission to access his UJ account (as evidenced by the default method of locating a new UJ registrant’s account by their unique email account per the UJ Toolkit). Therefore a jobseeker who does not wish to reveal his email address cannot be mandated to register with UJM.

7. The U&JM site is insecure and has advertising disguised as jobs etc. anyone can set up as a business because there isn’t even basic checks done.

8 I have not signed a data protection waiver (for which the Jobcentre has a form) and therefore retain my DPA rights to my personal information.

9. Use of IADs not mandatory either:

“A3. Claimants will not be mandated to use IADs available in Jobcentre Plus offices and will, therefore, not be sanctioned if they refuse to use them. Use of IADs by claimants is voluntary.”
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wireless_technology_safety

By attempting to enforce registering on UJM and giving consent for access by DWP to it through threats of penalties, you [Name of adviser] are in breach of the several laws and statutory guidances referenced above and the codes of practice put in place by your superiors and employers.

Unless you cease and desist, with immediate effect, from the action that you have chosed to persue, be advised that I propose to initiate proceedings against you, you personally, in the civil courts on a charge of maladministration which, may I remind you, carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

I reject your suggestion that I persue this through lengthy in-house DWP reconsideration processes that are in my view designed primarily for DWP to watch it's own and it's staff's backs. As you don't appear to have the sense to understand or assimilate the evidence placed before you it does not inspire me with any confidence in those to whom you intend to pass the buck.

Should you choose to pass the issue in dispute on for mandatory reconsideration be advised that, according to law, officers, agents, servants or others of the Secretary of State may not issue a direction, amend my Jobseekers Agreement/Claimant Commitment or make demands or impose penalties in regard to proposed changes unless/until they are agreed.

I will regard any undue delay in your response to this issue before you as contempt for the law and abuse of my legal and human rights.

The arguments put in the Tribunal Judgement I referenced above and in the argument as set out can't be said to be out of date and are as relevant to Claimant Commitments as they are to Jobseeker's Agreements.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 13:07 #5154

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It strikes me too BB that with all these good intentions and links providing information about not having to take certain actions etc....seems to be totally oblivious to JCP staff and they continue to take the DWP mantra that none of this applies and we MUST have UJM account and we MUST provide X Y and Z. Yet it seems all we have to do is look these links up, print off the relevant info and hand it to them and say, have you read this recently? It seems to contradict what you have just told me?!

I`m sure the secretary of state would be interested to know that all job seekers are arming themselves with documents that state we don`t have to carry out any of their demands. But it`s not that easy as we all know. I have always used initiative when dealing with work coaches or being asked to comply with something, but if I thought I could walk into my job centre and provoke a response by showing such documentation, I wonder what that response would be? No doubt it would meet with a raised eyebrow and a `wait one minute until I go and speak to someone`.....and then be told no, this piece of paper means diddly squat. And if that was to happen, where do we go from there? Walk out with a red mark against our claim?
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 15:24 #5161

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I can understand the hesitation and reluctance of claimants in taking the course of action as outlined in the above post and for the reasons you have set out. I can't agree with you that JCP/DWP staff will react as you suggest and why you are so sure of the response/result in advance.

I have prepared and set out above in writing the argument I used when an adviser tried to include activities on my Jobseeker's Agreement/Claimant Commitment involving the use of Universal Jobmatch for job searches, applying for jobs and recording job seeking activities.

I had with me a briefcase full of the documents found on the links that I have included above, and more, and as I worked through my presentation I threw the apropriate documents on the desk; boom, boom boom, one after the other. I lost track of the number of times he said 'I never knew that' and 'That's not what I was told' Watching his face going through various contortions and shades of pale was a joy to behold.

After about half an hour of this barracking he eventually went for his manager, what I had suggested he do several times. The manager came and seemed taken aback by the pile of documents on the adviser's desk. He read through the summary I had written in preparation for the meeting and he finally said that it seemed that any reference to UJM need not be included in the Committment if I had legitimate reasons for not having it so.

The result was that the Claimant Committment I had prepared myself was accepted in its entirity. No reference to UJM, no reference to workbooks, no reference to journals and no reference to 35 hours.

As an employee one is expected to know all about the job. As a claimant, the opposite is expected, although they keep telling us we are being prepared for the world of work.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 15:34 #5164

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I love it when someone really pushes their buttons. :)
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Providing evidence of job search activity 30 Nov 2017 16:32 #5167

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Looking back at what I said BB, I think confidence also plays a hand in this and I admit to being reluctant to face off with a work coach who may (or may not) take a different view, but I have to agree with everything you have said in your reply and applaud you too for giving such a detailed reply. Something we can all learn from, I`m sure.

So for the record (and for my own belief that I should practice the above when faced with UC) I should be looking at documents that say:

I do not need to have a UJM account under Universal Credit If I had `legitimate` reasons? for not having one) what are these please?

I am not required to job search 35 hours a week - I wouldn`t know how else to get around this unless it`s down to their disgretion?

Having a Universal Credit journal? - I thought everyone on UC had to maintain this for the purpose of checking any emails or notifications from JCP? Again, not something I know a lot about.

Just a few of the main points that we have at the forefront of our minds when claiming UC or what to question and not to question.

BB wrote:

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Couldn`t agree more.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 01 Dec 2017 13:41 #5171

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comply or die wrote:
Looking back at what I said BB, I think confidence also plays a hand in this and I admit to being reluctant to face off with a work coach who may (or may not) take a different view, but I have to agree with everything you have said in your reply and applaud you too for giving such a detailed reply. Something we can all learn from, I`m sure.

So for the record (and for my own belief that I should practice the above when faced with UC) I should be looking at documents that say:

I do not need to have a UJM account under Universal Credit If I had `legitimate` reasons? for not having one) what are these please?

I am not required to job search 35 hours a week - I wouldn`t know how else to get around this unless it`s down to their disgretion?

Having a Universal Credit journal? - I thought everyone on UC had to maintain this for the purpose of checking any emails or notifications from JCP? Again, not something I know a lot about.

Just a few of the main points that we have at the forefront of our minds when claiming UC or what to question and not to question.

BB wrote:

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Couldn`t agree more.

Confidence is crucial. A reluctance to press for the right to fair treatment under the law and legitimate benefit entitlements for fear of repercussions, real or imagined, mostly imagined, is the first, and probably biggest, hurdle.

The trouble with us British is that we tend generally to be too deferential. We regard anyone we have to deal with in situations like this with a sort of reverence, we try to be 'nice' to them, please them, appease them. We offer this deferential reverence to anyone from civil servants to shop assistants. We have concluded in our own heads that being such leads to a quiet life, less hassle, even though we often live to regret it.

I come from a part of the country where Jacobite sympathies prevailed for centuries, a revolutionary, rebellious lot where defiance, rejection of unquestioning submission to authority and antidisestablishmentarianism, so far as it kept us servile, was in the blood. I think that is why I tend to be a tad confrontational. I have no problem with people holding a view, or having an opinion, so long as its mine. A bit more support in 1745 and we wouldn't be in this predicament now.

Ever since the idea of Universal Credit was mooted back in 2010/11 those who advocated it always went on about how there had to be a change of culture, work was to be the be all and end all whether the work was available or not, whether the person was unable to work or not. Anyone lukewarm and breathing has to work, even dying is now being regarded as a ruse for avoiding work. Well they managed that pretty damn quick, they even surprised themselves to the extent that David Cameron and his government never prepared for after the 2015 election so sure was he that they were going to lose this culture fight. Social security has become welfare, jobseeker's allowance has become universal credit, jobseeker has become claimant, the right to a hand up has become scrounging. Even claimants themselves consider themselves complicit in their predicament and guilty, they can't explain why but they feel they dare not question or disagree with whatever a minion on the lowliest level of the civil service, their servant, paid for by them, demands. Well, I'm sticking with the culture we had, old dog, don't take kindly to new tricks, especially when being manipulated by some scraggy, snooty automaton, incapable of individual thought, who can barely string a sentence together.

So, building one's own confidence to counter all this is a prerequisite. Start off with a small thing. Some little act to throw the protagonist that can be looked on as a victory, one up, if you like. There is no end of stuff at your fingertips, tricks and tips that teaches assertiveness. Not only can you pick up some to try yourself but you may also discover ones your adversary tries on and be prepared to counter them. That's icing on the cake if you thwart his/her own moves.

The advisers at my Jobcentre have to walk down the length of a long office to the seating area to call waiting claimants to their interview. They, the advisers, usually stop and call out the claimant's name about half way along this long walk. I noticed that claimants, who have already waited past the appointment time, invariably look in the direction the adviser is coming from and they are up and off like a shot almost before their name passes the adviser's lips. This is one up for the advisers, already they have established control in their own little minds, that they have the claimant at their beck and call.

I try to sit or stand near the window furtherest away and avoid looking in the direction of the long walk like the plague. I hear him calling my name but I ignore him, reckoning to be engrossed in looking out of the window. This compels him to walk the full length of the long walk past the desks of several more of his colleagues and call my name again louder. He is now discombobulated, annoyed, colleagues are looking up from their work at him on the long walk back. I can almost see what they're thinking; 'Ha ha he's made you walk all the way down there', and the adviser, looking at them as he passes 'They're laughing at me'. He has a go at small talk on the long walk back, usually about the weather, Whatever he says, I say I can't understand it, the forecast says the opposite and just goes to show you can't believe anybody these days. Then, when we get to his desk he always moves the chair and indicates for me to sit down. I always move the chair back to where if was and sort some papers I've got with me before sitting on it. All little seemingly insignificant things but it gives me the feeling, rightly or wrongly, that I am in control. It's the feeling that's the thing, that is what sparks the confidence.

The next stage is a bit harder to master, having the confidence to present and argue your case without giving in at the first hurdle. Most signing-on appointments go off without a hitch, straight in and out. Any interview pre-arranged for a particular purpose obviously needs to be prepared for. If some proposal is put to you out of the blue that you are not prepared for you listen to the spiel politely without interruption if possible. When s/he is finished ask any question that occurs to you or for clarification on any point that was not not made clear. Try not to be dismissive straight away, determine whether the activity being proposed is mandatory or not and ask for more details and/or time to consider the proposal, this is your right. Remember any mandatory activity proposal must be in writing and a full description given to you along with time to consider it.

Interview and negotiating skills can't be taught in one short post, it take time but it can be done and it can be useful. Anyone with time on their hand would do well to brush up on those skills. Here again, there are any number of sites one can visit. In no time at all you'll be oozing confidence from every pore.

Most of the questions you ask are more than adequately covered by the post above and in the links included therein. A start has already been made on Welfare Central listing useful links. I won't be using the abbreviation (WC), doesn't seem appropriate.

The first step that anyone claiming Universal Credit has to take is to agree a Claimant Commitment (CC). This replaces the old Jobseeker's Agreement (JSAg), but much of the reasons behind it and the obligations under it remain the same. This applies from the point of view of the claimant as well as the DWP. The laws, referenced in another post that I posted, describes how CC is to be drawn up and operated. Those laws say that CC is still an agreement. An agreement means that both parties to it have accepted it. Any attempt by one party to impose a commitment/agreement on the other then it ceases to be an agreement, therefore illegal, because it is something else.

The Tribunal Judge in the recent case that I reference above suggested that the status of a CC is questionable because of they way it is being administered. If the law says it's an agreement and DWP forces a version of it written up by advisers in advance and imposed by them by deception, pressure and threats, then it is something else. The Tribunal Judge said that it is dangerously close to being a contract. This is work in progress but if it turns out to be as the good Judge fears because any resemblance to an agreement has been removed, then the whole of the Welfare Reform Act will have to be dumped since the whole point of it is the operation of UC which itself is dependent on CC. Millions, billions even, may have to be paid back to claimants for penalties and sanctions imposed on them wrongly because the pillocks at JCP/DWP misinterpreted and indulged in maladministration of the law. Not only that but there would have to be a reckoning to make amends and recompense for all those they have driven to their deaths.

That is the result to which we should all be aiming and working towards. So buck up, be confident, yours' could be the final push, the straw that broke their back.

Here's a wee message to any JCP/DWP snoops who might be reading this: “For you the day of reckoning is closer than you think, repent now and change your ways before its too late”.

Apologies for the brevity of the post, I hope, brief as it is, it has addressed some of your concerns.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 01 Dec 2017 16:48 #5173

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Really well written and explained BB, thankyou. I did pick up on something about the CC being an agreement though. Not sure if a claimant `commitment` is the same as a jobseekers `agreement`? Meaning, agreeing to something (between ourselves and the coach) but he title seems to have changed to commitment and not agreement?

BB wrote:
"Any attempt by one party to impose a commitment/agreement on the other then it ceases to be an agreement, therefore illegal, because it is something else."

Agreeing to do something.....or committing to do something. Not sure they meant the same thing but will google it! I totally understand what you mean though about control and feeling manipulated and fearful. This is totally unacceptable and the main point I feel, claimants have when dealing with work coaches or the system generally.

I don`t have a dictionary near me but my idea of being `committed` generally means you will commit to, or focus on something but whether that means you `agree` to it seems totally different in terms of what DWP seem to mean. So if they have missed something when writing these terms up, I hope someone with a lightbulb moment can find it!
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Providing evidence of job search activity 01 Dec 2017 18:05 #5174

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So if a contract is something signed and dated, by calling a claimant commitment a `commitment` seems to be just an oral agreement to carry something out, yet a claimant commitment is always signed and dated? So is it a contract or an `agreement? I think some clarity is needed here if we are to determine if our claimant commitment is just that. A NON contract. If it is just that, then it isn`t binding? So therefor, why can someone be punished (sanctioned) for failing to do or meet the demands within one? Calling all desk top lawyers!
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Providing evidence of job search activity 01 Dec 2017 22:35 #5175

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We appear to be getting bogged down with definitions. Obviously these have to be clearly understood, for the sake of one's confidence, if nothing else. This is where, as I remarked earlier, a nodding acquaintance with the English language, and the relevant legislation, comes in handy.

First of all, there are lots of words in the English language that can mean more than just one thing. In such cases the context in which the word is used will determine the meaning it is intended to convey. There are also instances where more than one word can be used to convey the same intention. Again the context determines perceived intention.

As to the words we are juggling with here. Here is their definitions in the context in which we use them here, taken from a reputable English dictionary:

Agreement: the statement (oral or written) of an exchange of promises.

Commitment: the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.

Contract: a written or spoken agreement that is intended to be enforceable by law:

We can dismiss the use of the word 'contract' to describe a JSAg or a CC because the laws governing then says they are not enforceable by law. (You can read the appropriate laws and Statutory Instruments at your leisure to confirm that fact).

That leaves us with the other two. Notice two other terms that have now crept into the mix; 'exchange of promises' and 'act of binding'. On second thoughts we'll ignore then, challenging enough with what we've already got to cope with.

Anyway, in the context in which we use the words here there is little or nothing to choose between then. The same legal authority to use them comes from the same Act; The Jobseeker's Act 1996.

The part of the CC, and indeed JSAg, that we are concerned with here is the part that lists the activities that the claimant has to undertake to look for and apply for work. This list consists of around half a dozen activities that have to be agreed between the adviser and the claimant.

This is what Section 16 of the CC Regulations says:

Agreeing and Completing the Claimant Commitment

16. At the Initial Work Search Interview, the Work Coach must have an in depth conversation with a claimant to build an understanding of their capability and circumstances relating to work. Information gathered in this interview must be used to complete the Claimant Commitment.

17. It is important that the Claimant Commitment is completed at the end of the discussion and not during the discussion itself. In this way, it demonstrates to the claimant that:
 the coach has actively listened to the claimant;
 the coach has given the claimant full attention;
 all the claimant’s circumstances have been taken into account when developing the Claimant Commitment, so it is personal to them; and
 the Claimant Commitment is reasonable and achievable.

Until the CC or JSAg containing that list is signed it is nothing more than a list whatever you call it and wherever you locate it.

It goes without saying that unless you sign it it remains a meaningless list. And you don't sign it unless you intend to commit yourself to it, in other words, agree to it. I think the use of the word 'commitment' is just a ruse designed to make the claimant believe that it enforces their verbal bumf, or raise a doubt in them as to the exact implications of what they are signing. At any rate I have not yet seen any other explanation for it.

I'm not sure whether you have to be intellectual to make the commitment, and I can't understand how you are expected to get emotional over it, before you ask.

I hope the reading of all this is doing something for your confidence, the writing of it is playing hell with mine.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 02 Dec 2017 08:39 #5182

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BB wrote:

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I feel this is the main concern where a CC is drawn up and signed (agreed to), but as the weeks/months go on, work coaches can manipulate this document by adding things to it and we are obliged to agree to what they add, be that a DWP skills course or a mind numbing list of other such treats. But as you say BB, we (the claimant) have to agree to these being added to OUR claimant commitment and if there are issues, we should announce them before they do.

We could say, for example, I have already done a similar two day course two years ago so I don`t see the benefit of doing it again. Their answer might be well, this is a different company doing different things. So then we have to arguing our case not to do this two day stint then becomes a battle of wits.

And because JCPlus don`t usually keep records of historical claimants actions on file, it`s important to keep print-outs of so called past courses or meetings with any training providers to prove our point.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 02 Dec 2017 14:20 #5188

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OK COD. I'll try one more time.

You tell me that you are worried that you're lack of confidence might let you down. I think that the confidence, verging on unwavering determination, that you show in holding on to negative views, irrespective of any evidence to the contrary, is unrivalled in rational discussion.

First off, it is not advisable to quote part of a statement with no regard for the context in which it was made and then basing your conclusions on it. Secondly, I did not write the comment you attribute to me. It is a part of Claimant Commitment Regulation, Section 17 to be precise and taken from an authoritative government document.

The Section sets out the procedure that an adviser has to follow when drawing up a Claimant Commitment:

17. It is important that the Claimant Commitment is completed at the end of the discussion and not during the discussion itself. In this way, it demonstrates to the claimant that:
 the coach has actively listened to the claimant;
 the coach has given the claimant full attention;
 all the claimant’s circumstances have been taken into account when developing the Claimant Commitment, so it is personal to them; and
 the Claimant Commitment is reasonable and achievable.

This Section has to be taken as a whole in order to make any sense. Anyone reading it can't fail but come to the conclusion that there must be interaction (discussion) between the claimant and the coach and that the CC must not be completed unless and until such an interaction has taken place and the coach has taken the claimant's circumstances into account. That being so, and it is, all I would say to a coach, or a claimant for that matter, is 'That's the law, be told.'

After the discussion and only then is the coach to complete the requisite parts of the document. The claimant is then expected to sign the CC. Obviously if the claimant finds that his/her circumstances have not been taken fully into account by the coach then s/he should not sign the document.

By the way, this is the most important stage of a claimant's career on UC. Anything included in the CC at this stage, you're stuck with, so its important, vital, that you do your homework before this interview.

Here's a link to an example of what a completed CC form looks like:
brianwernham.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/claimant-commitment.pdf

Just have a look at the activities expected of the claimant in this example, some are ridiculous, some are unreasonable, and any claimant signing this deserves everything they get, nice and obliging as they might be.

The idea that a coach can change the terms of your CC unilaterally is delusional. Your copy of the CC, the one you signed, is the only valid one until you accept and sign another one. The procedures covering any changes are set out in regulations and have to be adhered to just as those covering the original CC. Any proposal made by a coach to add to the activities already accepted have to be agreed. If the claimant objects to the proposal and can give reasonable grounds for doing so s/he must be ready to refuse it. The coach, during the interview, must give his/her reasons for proposing the activity to you. You then weigh up the weakness of the coach's case for proposing the activity and the strength yours' for turning it down. Looking at the situation then as a reasonable objective observer you should be able to assess the risk of standing your ground.

By the way, it is worth bearing in mind that the coach will not have had the time, and in many cases, the intelligence to make a sound case in advance of what you have to say, s/he will not have heard it yet. They expect you to react like everyone else does and accept whatever they propose without a whimper, they will not have thought past the inane rubbish that they have been pre-programmed to repeat on such occasions.

I don't know where you got the idea that JCP don't keep records, its not true. Anyone who has ever made a Subject Access Request (SAR) will tell you that every move you made since you began claiming, in some cases even before, is recorded in the minutest detail.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 02 Dec 2017 16:22 #5190

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BB wrote:
"Secondly, I did not write the comment you attribute to me. It is a part of Claimant Commitment Regulation, Section 17 to be precise and taken from an authoritative government document."

Absolutely BB, I should have pointed this out, so apologies. And you are correct too regarding a SAR (subject access request) holding the information they have. What I was meaning though was work coaches, when told that we have already completed something similar sometimes won`t bother to look that up on file and will just say sorry, you still have to do it regardless. Especially for people who don`t have LCW or are on ESA. I can argue that I do fall under certain criteria to be taken into consideration for any additional `support` they might offer me, but even so, that doesn`t mean they will accept my argument.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 02 Dec 2017 17:28 #5192

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The only reason I pointed the discrepancy out was to emphasise the fact that it is advisable to be precise, say what one means and mean what one says. For myself it is not such a big issue but when dealing with authority, especially those who would do you ill, it is imperative.

I agree that coaches don't always know every detail of every claimant they interview every day, if for nothing else they don't have the time or the capacity to have all that information readily assimilated in their heads. They don't decide what happens to you, that decision is taken by their superiors at a higher level. Their job is to get you to accept what has been decided for you. Their career depends on how well they can do that, by fair means or foul.

Be in no doubt that the records you say that don't exist will show how susceptible you might be to agreeing to whatever is suggested to you. Your behaviour and attitude over time will be well noted and they will be well aware of how far they can push.

If its the dread of being made to attend courses that concerns you, remember that there is a procedure they must follow there too. The first thing to confirm is whether the course is mandatory or not. If it is, then the 'request' to attend must be in writing giving full details of what's involved and why they believe it would be advantageous for you to attend,Then, is it appropriate in your circumstances? All this has to be followed as per procedure.

As we've discussed in a previous post, be prepared, and if you are not prepared ask for time to get prepared. They are obliged to give you that time. There is plenty of information available that explains the in and outs of mandatory activities.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 03 Dec 2017 09:17 #5204

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This:

Be in no doubt that the records you say that don't exist will show how susceptible you might be to agreeing to whatever is suggested to you. Your behaviour and attitude over time will be well noted and they will be well aware of how far they can push.

Noted BB and thanks for the reminder to be pin point accurate. There is no point in posting things if we can`t be assured that what we post is factual, so I take your lead on that. And from the links you have posted so far, I will also take some time to save a few bits and pieces that relate to my circumstances and make sure I know their plans before they do.
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Providing evidence of job search activity 09 Dec 2017 16:50 #5279

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the coach has actively listened to the claimant; :cheer:

Let me know when they start.
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