Letter to the Job Centre

Discussion in 'The Coffee House' started by snarrylover, Jul 24, 2013.

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  1. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    So the Job Centre recently took my benefit away and I have to write a letter of appeal explaining why their decision to do that was wrong. I need opinions on this letter and would be grateful if you could give it a read, give me some tips, and make sure my attitude isn't showing in my words :p

    Also, has anyone else suffering from mental health had their benefits stopped because the people at the JC didn't understand?

    Thank you in advance :)

    ***

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    This is a letter of appeal against the decision made on the 12th July to stop my Job Seeker’s Allowance. The reason given is that the Job Centre was in doubt about my efforts to seek work, stating that I did not actively seek work between 29th June to 12th July. I do not agree with this.

    Looking at my Job Seeker’s diary shows that I looked for work in multiple online locations - including gov.uk, indeed.co.uk, totaljobs.com, and various retail websites - on 30th June, and 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 11th July, applying for two jobs in that time. This meets and exceeds the “at least 6 things a week” agreement I have been set as I checked multiple sites on those days. I always show up for my appointments at the Job Centre and have attended mandatory and non-mandatory meetings in the past. As of the 12th July I have also been checking online everyday.

    A large majority of the money I get from Job Seeker’s Allowance goes to my mother, whom I live with, to help with the payment of bills. Without this money we wouldn’t be able to afford food and so I take this very seriously and am eager to get back to work.

    However, there are things standing in my way.

    Previous employment led to a personal breakdown and a suicide attempt. I am terrified of putting myself back into a situation or workplace where I am made to feel ugly, paranoid, uncomfortable, and suicidal once more which is why I am being so careful about which companies I apply to. I suffer with depression and social anxiety; it is quite common for people with social anxiety to struggle on the phone, particularly when they are the ones that have to make the initial call. I also struggle with being around large groups of people by own age and this environment has effected the way I do my job in previous employment, leading to days and then weeks off sick, and then my resignation.

    Despite this, I am applying; I am a job seeker who is seeking employment each day. I am in this situation, writing this letter of appeal, because an advisor at the Job Centre couldn’t understand my mental health. Jobs that may seem within my physical capabilities are not always within my emotional and mental ones.

    I am trying my very best to meet all your requirements; I look in various places for suitable job vacancies each day and I apply for the ones that I am capable of doing; following a bad interview I have spoken to people within the Job Centre about interview techniques; during my various times of unemployment I have seen counsellors about gaining confidence with job searching and have even seen therapists for personal issues. I am a job seeker and that is exactly what I am doing - despite my confidence issues I have even started looking and applying for jobs that I once would have ignored, such as jobs through agencies, companies I have already applied for and been unsuccessful with, and even trainee positions (which led to the bad interview.) I am doing more and more to find a job yet I have been told the opposite by the Job Centre.

    I am actively seeking work each day, applying for suitable roles, and should be entitled to Job Seekers Allowance whilst I do this.

    Thank you for your time,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2013
  2. justMe7

    justMe7 Well-Known Member

    Hi. I can't particularly offer you much advise, but that is alot of personal information. If you're willing to share that with them, why not go see a doctor? It would strengthen your case if you had a medical reference.
    But if you think this is a good idea, maybe ask a few people who have gone to the doctors under similar circumstances. Could be a hornets nest in itself.

    Best of luck
     
  3. Mayflower7

    Mayflower7 Banned Member

    Hi Snarrylover,
    Have you applied for disability living allowance? Changing to another name. It's for those with medical conditions and well worth you applying. Local citizens advice bureau's are great help with the DWP, can your GP help with any medical evidence etc. should be a disability advisor at the job centre to help you. Are you sure you are well enough to work right now? Sickness benefits. If you want to work great, your letter seems fine to me no attitude at all. You can't be discriminated against. I think you are showing a willingness to work. The citizens advice are wonderful at helping.
    You don't need this stress, I am so sorry. Well done for handling so well, keep appealing etc follow the guidelines etc.
    I hope this is resolved ASAP and you find a job or need a break to get more treatment/therapy if possible.
    Take care
    Kate
     
  4. meaningless-vessel

    meaningless-vessel Well-Known Member

    I think your letter is well written and to the point required. And I concur with the others supportive encouragement/wisdom/wealth of options advice.
     
  5. pickwithaustin

    pickwithaustin Staff Alumni

    This letter will sooner hurt than help you. You start out stating you are looking for work, and then you follow that with reasons why you cannot work. Those reasons are not applicable for the people you are sending this off to. If you are unable to work, you should be submitting a request for disability through the proper channels. The ONLY thing they are interested in is your job seeking efforts. Mixing in reasons that might keep you from working will without doubt raise red flags. I also would not mention what you need the money for. Everyone needs their money to pay for bills and food. Shorten the letter to be more to the point because if it is too long they may not give it fair attention (remember, they are government workers who receive hundreds or more of these and they are basing decisions on requirements, not on emotion).
     
  6. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    I agree, it's a tad too personal but I have to bear in mind that the person reading this (the decision maker) knows nothing about me other than what the JC has told them, which is I'm "not looking for work" and "not applying for suitable work" which is a lie because I am.

    There are guidelines for the letter. It says if I think something has been overlooked then I have to mention that, as well as keeping in mind that they cannot change the law/rules of the system.

    I can't claim Disability. I checked but apparently I don't qualify under the new system as I can "function." I'd probably have to start seeing a therapist and taken medication again to prove a point to the people who quiz you about disability and I don't want that.

    pickwithaustin - I'm pointing out the reasons I can't do certain jobs, not all, but what you said makes sense. Maybe I should cut out all the personal stuff and just stick with the facts at the beginning showing that I'm seeking work. And if they still say no then bring the personal stuff into it the second time around? Thanks for mentioning that.
     
  7. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    If you can google to find the "checklist" or legal criteria - precisely what qualifies for looking for work- and stick completely to that point. This is a business letter/ legal finding appeal. Exactly as guidelines - I think something has been overlooked then I have to mention that, as well as keeping in mind that they cannot change the law/rules of the system anything that does not apply to rules or guidelines (such as health as this is not disability claim) cannot help your case - it will simply give them cause to do as an above poster said and refer you to a different agency and that you are not job seeking by their guidelines and rules. Since they cannot/will not change rules every word of legal appeal should be to support you did meet those guidelines. Things like what you do with money unless you say you are using to to fund jobseeking activities has no bearing and it is impossible for them to find in your favor based on it (as it clearly says in guidelines).
     
  8. Freya

    Freya Loves SF Staff Member ADMIN

    Speaking as someone how has done the job seeking thing in the UK, I can tell you that the only thing they care about is evidence that you applied for work. Saying you applied for work is not going to cut it since they would not have stopped your benefit without reason to believe you had not. When you go to the job centre (in my experience) you are issued with job information printouts by your adviser when you do the job search together. There are spot checks to see whether you applied for these positions (once they hand you the printout to apply it is no longer a choice - you have to apply for that position). If you didn't apply and a spot check flagged this up, you have a problem.

    If you did apply for jobs, you will need evidence of this. At a minimum copies of the applications that you sent in and specific details of the job applied to. They will then check with the company to ensure that you did apply. Without this, no amount of personal information or insistence that you did actually apply is going to fly. Everyone they stop benefits for because of failure to look for work is going to insist they did look for work.

    Further - emotional or medical reasons for not working in particular jobs or at particular times will hold no weight without verification from your doctor in the form of an official letter - otherwise everyone could claim mental health reasons for not working (unfortunately many many do so without cause other than reluctance to work.) When you did your initial Job Centre interview you will have been asked, and had recorded on your file, what restriction for working hours, distance, type of job etc you have. Anything you could not do for mental health reasons should have been highlighted and medically verified at this time. If it was not, nothing you say is going to matter in this regard without medical documentation.

    You need to actively apply for jobs, keep a record of applications and submit the company information that you applied to. You will need several weeks of such evidence before they will consider your appeal. Additionally, if your mental health issues genuinely impede your ability to work, see a doctor and a) get treatment and b) get medical verification to submit to the benefits office.

    Good Luck
    Lu
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2013
  9. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    NYJmpMaster, Freya - thank you very much! I have now cut the personal bit out and am focusing on proving what I've done.

    This is such a headache task. My advisor knows what I've done and why I can't do certain things, but this one woman I saw for less than 2 minutes said I wasn't and now I'm stuck with all this with no idea how to prove it.

    They've never given me those spot check print outs to apply for. Another woman I was told to go and see asked me why I hadn't applied for such and such a thing and I said it was because I don't like talking on the phone and she seemed to think that was nonsense. Then there was a vacancy in a makeup place and my reason for that was because I'm not pretty and have next to no knowledge about makeup and have no right to help people with their makeup. That was nonsense as well, apparently.

    I'm trying so frigging hard to get a job! Why can't they pick on someone else?

    What do I live on if they take my benefit away?


    ***

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    This is a letter of appeal against the decision made on the 12th July to stop my Job Seeker’s Allowance. The reason given is that the Job Centre was in doubt about my efforts to seek work, stating that I did not actively seek work between 29th June to 12th July. I do not agree with this.

    Looking at my Job Seeker’s diary shows that I looked for work in multiple online locations - including gov.uk, indeed.co.uk, totaljobs.com, and various retail websites - on 30th June, and 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 11th July, applying for two jobs in that time. with the email confirmations to prove it. This meets and exceeds the “at least 6 things a week” agreement I have been set as I checked multiple sites on those days. I always show up for my appointments at the Job Centre and have attended mandatory and non-mandatory meetings in the past. As of the 12th July I have also been checking online everyday.

    I am trying my very best to meet all your requirements; I look in various places for suitable job vacancies each day and I apply for the ones that I am capable of doing; following a bad interview I have spoken to people within the job centre about interview techniques and during my various times of unemployment I have seen counsellors about gaining confidence with job searching.

    I am a job seeker and that is exactly what I am doing - I am actively seeking work each day, applying for suitable roles, and should be entitled to Job Seekers Allowance whilst I do this.

    Thank you for your time,
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2013
  10. Adam

    Adam SF Supporter

    I apologise for the hostility of tone but I am not remotely professional right now. I am more used to helping people with ESA than I am Jobseekers. ESA is an outright blood bath of utter horror and suffering that constantly sends me thermonuclear to the point it feels like I may explode and take the whole planet with me.

    You my friend have just become a victim of targets. It would not matter if you had filled out seven billion applications to the point your hands fell off while simultaneously being the most pre eminent engineer on the planet.

    The DWP are mechanistic and do not give a damn about you or your mental health issues. They have no training in it, just some rather pathetic guidelines that mean nothing. They only care about meeting their targets. They sanction people for the most ridiculous reasons. As there is a deeply judgemental attitude at work and government figures to make look good regardless of the human cost. Don't let the bastards get you down though, that is just what they want.

    What was the reason given for the sanction? Was there any further explanation as to why they came to the conclusion you have not been seeking work? What evidence of that do they have?

    Make a request for a copy of your JSAg. This is evidence of what you agreed to. Did you meet your agreement and can you prove it in some way? Imagine this is a court of law and your word is not good enough, in fact imagine you are a chronic liar and nothing you say exists as truth unless backed up in some way. Treat it like that and back up every claim you make with some kind of evidence. In your JSAg is there any mention of your mental health and allowances for job search types and interviews and use of the phone? If not mentioning it is pointless as that is not in your agreement.

    Somehow demonstrate you were active on those disputed days in a way that is hard to dispute. This is not my area. Is there anything that can be printed off? Proof of logs? That sort of thing? They are too swamped to do the leg work so you have to do it. Always send recorded mail, because they have a tendency to lose everything! Then blame you for not sending it in. If you have proof of delivery they now have to find it. But you may still be asked to send it again. So prior to sending anything off copy it all.

    Ask your GP for evidence of mental health issues to back up your letter. But I am curious how your mental health played any part? If it is a dispute over not actively seeking work? Did you have some off days due to ill health? Did you inform your advisor? If so this comes under the British 2010 Equality laws and the Disability discrimination act. 'Allowance for reasonable adjustment.' Must be made under law but will require proof from your care provider and the Advisor that you called in. It is also in the DWP guidelines.

    A sanction will not be applied if you can show that you had ‘good reason’ for the action that led to a sanction being considered.
    'Good reason' is not defined in legislation,*it will depend on your circumstances.
    One such reason is.

    If you have a mental health condition or disorder, or if you are homeless.

    How long have they sanctioned you for?

    Are you aware of how to claim for hardship payments in the mean time?

    Appealing a JSA sanction is usually a two step process. Contact your Jobcentre office and explain the situation. Tell them that you want to have the sanction decision reconsidered. You may get put through to the Benefits Processing Centre dealing with your claim. A reconsideration means exactly that - the adviser or their manager or someone in the benefits office will reconsider the decision. If the decision is the same (i.e. sanction), then you need to request that it goes to formal appeal. In the case of a formal appeal, you will be invited to present all your evidence via a filled in form as to why you think you shouldn't have been sanctioned. All the evidence will be considered by a DWP decision maker located in another office. If they agree that the evidence before them merits no sanction decision, then your money will be backdated, your payments will be reinstated.*

    If the decision is still that a sanction period applies, then you can make a further appeal to the The Social Security and Child Support Appeals Tribunal. This is the point at which CAB would usually get involved if they themselves are not drowning in appeals or they have not all been closed down in your area. It would also mean attending in person in front of a three member panel and explaining the situation.

    Here is a more thorough guide than I can give.

    http://z2k.org/free-help-advice/appealing-benefit-sanctions/

    The final advice as this is the new devious tactic being used to screw people up.

    If you are ever told to apply for a job that is entirely beyond your experience. Do so even if it is ridiculous and you do not have a forklift licence. Why, because your advisor says so and they are god of your right to eat, looking for any excuse to use to stop paying you. Disobeying a directive from a moronic DWP droog can cause you to get sanctioned as it breaches your JSAg. Not all DWP staff are droogs but you never know.

    I hope this is helpful for you.
     
  11. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    "In addition I have sought and received counseling from the job center to improve performance on interviews and ways to enhance confidence for better performance in interviews and and on job applications in hopes of better results. This demonstrates not only seeking employment but efforts to make attaining employment more successful" or worded in an appropriately English manner :)

    Any place that you can add specific names/ dates/ and websites or companies - particularly during the 2 week time period in question and if possible verification of that should be included. You may be able to pull exact times and sates from browser history on computer. Anything with specifics will be much more valuable than generalizations.

    An idea , and it is just an idea and not sure it applies there - rather than not applying for a job they suggest - apply, and in application or if comes about than in interview where it asks any issues that would cause a problem tell them issues with phone , etc. You either will not get job through no fault of your own but be able to verify applied, or perhaps you will run across a sympathetic employer that says they would work with you out of appreciation for honesty (more likely the former but still accomplishes one goal and can always hope for a decent human being).

    Good luck and I truly hope you are successful in keeping your benefits so long as needed.
     
  12. snarrylover

    snarrylover Well-Known Member

    Ooh, bravo! I shall use that!

    You and Adam have just raised fantastic points and issues. Apart from the latest email confirmations I don't have anything to back it up as I regularly clear my search history and delete older emails, though I shall have to change that in future should this ever happen again.

    I have to hand the letter of appeal in on Friday so I don't have time to get to the doctors as there is a waiting period of up to 4 weeks unless you phone at 8am and are lucky enough to get an appointment with your own doctor. But that would mean talking about the person stuff and I think I've decided against that.

    Adam, I do feel like a victim. Considering I do quite a lot to find work I can't imagine what the people who have never been cautioned are doing! Like I said, it's only this one woman who has a problem with my search - everyone else I've seen has been satisfied I'm doing what I can. But this one woman has brought me up twice now - she said I haven't been seeking work between the dates mentioned...even though I showed her the emails of 2 jobs I'd applied for during those dates. I am most definitely seeking work but my mental health stops me from applying for certain roles - like admin, non-retail based customer service, etc. I did mention this when I first signed on to JSA but I'm unsure if they actually recorded it.

    I could always send the original version of the letter as a complaint at a future date?
     
  13. NYJmpMaster

    NYJmpMaster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    Adam likely knows the best places to file complaints or grievances but i suspect that is a different process (I am far too unfamiliar with UK systems specifically to know where or if worth effort). All such government agencies world wide have one similarity - they profess to standardized checklists as criteria but ultimately one person gets to decide if what you provide meets the standard for the appropriate box on checklist. If that person is reasonable then fine - if that person has personal issues they project on work or clients then there will be problems and you are stuck proving them wrong rather then they having to prove you in the wrong.
    Keep focused on details and proof - if not evidence quality proof like reply emails, then as much detail as humanly possible to give credibility. The argument of fairness is for another day, as is trying to get medical documentation Adam described at this point likely. In future as Adam suggested and I mentioned - apply for the job and when you do not get hired/qualify - is not your problem anymore. I am sorry the stress and really hope it works out fairly in the end for you.
     
  14. arrowpenny

    arrowpenny Member

    I have to agree with pick. These gov't workers receive tons of these letters each day. If you feel you cannot work due to mental health problems go to a doctor get a referral to a psychiatrist and a social worker to see every week. This will prove you are not fit to work due to mental health reasons.
     
  15. Adam

    Adam SF Supporter

    Yeah some DWP workers are scum of the earth on a power trip. Some of those I assist feel so harassed by them and stressed their mental health flares up again. This creates a downward spiral that leads grim places... I am so tired just thinking about it.

    Much credit to you for trying so hard to find work in these hard times. Get a copy of your job seeker agreement and see what is written on there in clear black and white as it defines everything. Let me know if mental health provisions are listed there. Document everything you do and create a paper trail you can bury any one in, so this can't happen again. This woman seems to have singled you out and disregarded presented evidence that would support your activities. (This is frustratingly common. With no way to prove as it is anecdotal.) Is she insulting or bullying at all? Even if she is, don't rise to it. They can then sanction you for being abusive. That is exactly what they try and goad people into doing. The DWP is behaving in a criminal manner and is coming under ever greater scrutiny by the judicial courts. There is even some traction in the human rights courts as well in regard to workfare. Ian Duncan Smith, or as we call him. I Doctor the Statistics, is going to get a grilling for spewing out false statistics of outright god damn nonsense you would have to be an inebriated slug to believe anything this man has to say. When this is all exposed the United Kingdom, a supposed bastion of civilisation will be revealed as the embarrassment to humanity it is. Damn I almost sound hopeful...

    This is a bit of a personal question. Have you ever been detained under the Mental Health Act?

    However Snarry I have to brace you for bad news, with no evidence you will likely not get anywhere with an appeal. So how are you going to survive in the interim? How long do you have to survive for before money comes in again?

    This link is to Mind in your area they may both be able to help advise you better than I can, I am a burnt out husk of misery currently. They also may help you maintain your mental well being in the face of stress. You are not alone Snarry so many people are going through this odious system.

    http://www.mind.org.uk/help/mind_in_your_area/337


    There is also CAB but they are likely drowning.

    http://www.manchestercab.org.uk/

    There is right now a sort of demonisation of those trying their best to find work, like they are all lazy scroungers. This scrounger rhetoric is not borne out in genuine statistics. So never feel this way regardless of what those around you tell you. None of this is your fault. You know you are doing your best. Freya has demonstrated the propaganda machine has eaten her brain as well, I must save it before all is lost! Have at you divide and rule.

    http://img841.imageshack.us/img841/8346/hxtc.jpg
    http://www.mind.org.uk/news/5713_mind_fights_back_against_benefits_stigma

    This is a good counter response to any one that is insulting you as a scrounger or bum.

    “In the 1930's every one spontaneously for no reason at all decided to loose their work ethic and watch their children starve. Yeah that makes total sense.”

    Take care Snarry.
     
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