Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

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Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

Post by Admin on Thu Jul 20, 2017 9:56 am

A conversation in theory involves balance of bargaining power and ability of both sides to discuss their concerns. If you follow the link, you will realise that such conversations with benefit claimants is not what this Conservative Government is about. wrote:

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Re: Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

Post by Caker on Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:54 pm

This article is so useful that I thought it wise to capture it in case it is deleted from the original source at some point in the future.

From admin's link:

Benefits and work July 2017 wrote:New employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants subject to the Health and Work Conversation (HWC) should be aware that if they are asked to carry out a ‘My Values’ exercise then they are potentially being considered for a sanction.

Health and Work Conversation
Following a Freedom of Information Act request, Benefits and Work has received a large bundle of documents relating to the HWC currently being rolled out to new ESA claimants across the country. We’ve published these documents in the ESA section of the members area.

Full roll out of the HWC is expected to happen by the Autumn.

The HWC is a compulsory interview which new ESA claimants will be obliged to take part in at around week four of their claim, long before there has been any decision as to whether they should be in the support group and thus not required to undertake work-related activities.

The DWP claim that the HWC is necessary because its staff do not not engage with ESA claimants until after their work capability assessment, which can take many months, but ‘People who have developed a health condition or disability are likely to be facing a stressful and challenging period in their lives’.

In the view of the DWP, their early intervention will ‘help claimants identify small steps they can take towards their goals’ and this ‘will build motivation and resilience and increase the likelihood of work-related activity and ultimately finding work’.

So, the DWP believe that the best way to help claimants deal with the stress of developing a health condition is to force them to attend an interview which can result in their benefits being sanctioned.

There is a list of claimants who are exempt from the HWC, including claimants who: are terminally ill; have a life threatening illness; are full time carers or where there would be a risk to themselves or others if they were obliged to attend a HWC.

The problem with health-related exemptions, however, is that it is likely to be a completely unqualified work coach who will have to realise that an exemption may apply and take action.

Claimants who fail to attend the HWC without good cause or fail, in the view of the work coach, to fully participate in the conversation can have their ESA sanctioned.

About Me
Each new claimant will get a phone call from their work coach two days before their HWC. The work coach asks the claimant to turn up 10 minutes early for their interview in order to complete an ‘About Me’ questionnaire, which asks questions like:

What kinds of things do you like doing in your life and at work? For example, cooking, speaking to people, being outside.

How does your health affect your life and your ability to work? For example, you cannot sit for a long time, or you are nervous in some situations.

What help do you need to get back to work? Tell us how and what you want to do and if you need support.

The claimant’s ‘About Me’ answers are discussed with the work coach at the start of the HWC. Work coaches are told:

“Start the discussion by acknowledging the claimant’s health condition but then quickly move onto something positive they have mentioned, such as an activity they enjoy doing.”

My 4 Steps
After the ‘About Me’ discussion, the claimant is required to undertake a ‘My 4 steps’ exercise.

In this they think about something they want to do, say how they would feel if they achieved it, think about the obstacles that are stopping them achieving what they want and then make a plan to get over the obstacles.

Clearly if the claimant is someone with a health condition that can only deteriorate, and which has already led to them having to stop work, this might be a rather distressing exercise.

My Values
Some claimants will be asked to complete a ‘My values’ exercise before moving on to their ‘My 4 Steps’.

In this exercise they will be asked to think about ‘what they value in life beyond work and health’.

Suggestions include:

Being good at art.

Enjoying sports.

Following government or politics.

Relationships with friends or family.

Claimants are asked to spend 10 minutes on the ’My Values’ exercise and are assured that they don’t have to discuss their answers if they don’t want to.

The theory is that the exercise ‘helps people to feel more open to taking on challenges by placing those challenges in the broader context of other things that matter to them in their lives.’

Work coaches are told to use this exercise with claimants where, in the work coaches opinion:

‘The claimant is quite defensive – they really aren’t engaging with me.’

‘I think the claimant would benefit from spending some time thinking about what’s important to them.’

‘The claimant just doesn’t want to open up to me at all and have this conversation.’

Given that you can have your ESA sanctioned if the work coach considers that you have failed to participate in the HWC, you should be aware that being asked to do the ‘My Values’ exercise could be an indication that the work coach is considering a sanction unless you participate more fully.

Action plan
Finally, the claimant is required to create a ‘Labour Market System Action Plan’.

This is a list of at least two or three actions the claimant can take ‘to move closer to goals that relate to work or health’. The actions are supposed to relate to ‘external obstacles’, such as training needs, housing, debt, health management or child care.

The action plan has to include :

1 Action (what you’re going to do).

2 Where you’re going to do it (for example “at home”).

3 When you’re going to do it (for example, “this Saturday”).

Examples of actions given to work coaches are:

“On Friday morning I will call at least two course providers and discuss doing partial study from home. I will do this at home.”

“I will call the number for Mind that my Work Coach gave me at 10am on Tuesday. I will do this at my mum’s place.”

Claimants should be told that the action plan itself is voluntary, they do not have to carry out any of the actions if they do not wish to.

However, the work coach is also expected to arrange a follow-up activity, which may be another interview or a phone call to discuss how the claimant has got on.

Clearly this will put considerable pressure on claimants to carry out the agreed actions, even if they have been clearly told that they are voluntary.

Reinventing the - square - wheel
The HWC bears considerable resemblance to the work-focused health-related assessment (WFHRA) which was an interview which used to take place, in theory, immediately after a WCA.

The purpose of the WFHRA was to “assess the extent to which your capability for work may be improved by the taking of steps in relation to your physical or mental condition.”

The WFHRA was abandoned in July 2010 due to having achieved only “mixed results”.

We suspect the WHC will go the same way before many years have passed. However, many claimants may have suffered sanctions or undertaken steps that put their health at risk before that happens.

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Re: Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

Post by Brutus on Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:10 am

My main worry is that the Health and Work Conversation (HWC) will fail to attract any number of "ESA clients" and the relatively small budget of £300 Mil or so will end up taking on the long term, but healthy, unemployed.

It is early days but I think that the bureaucracy will want to make a success of this insane and cruel program by quickly staffing it with slaves better suited for providing free labour to the providers.


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Re: Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

Post by Absolut on Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:25 am

Brutus wrote:will end up taking on the long term, but healthy, unemployed.

The under-employed will be sent on the HWP as well. Anyone defined as long term unemployed, which in the DWP's rulebook includes the working partner of a joint claim couple, will be forced to go just as they were under the old regime. This means anyone who went through the old work programme (like we did), despite being told they would never have to go again, will be made to go again, most likely to the same provider who failed them the first time round.

The security guard at the WPP we attended couldn't understand why my hubby was there. He said, and I quote, "But you've got a job. This place is only for unemployed people." Er, no it isn't. Rolling Eyes

While on the WP the woman assigned to my hubby tried to get him sanctioned 5 times and the woman assigned to me actually got me sanctioned for going to an interview instead of to the work programme (the sanction was overturned). Much to their chagrin sanctioning us had no effect as we still had an income coming in they couldn't touch Razz

As UC is rolled out more and more working people will end up at a WP provider's premises none of whom can remotely be classed as "unemployed" and some of whom may only be getting a paltry amount of benefit. I can see trouble brewing.

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Re: Health & Work Conversations is actually pre-sanction interrogations

Post by helping_hand on Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:02 am

Who is the eligible group for the Programme?
Any claimant with a health condition or disability:
• should be referred at the most appropriate time in their claim
• on a targeted basis, when:
– the individual can be helped by the offer;
– JCP has already helped the individual with their core job search activity;
– the claimant needs more support than can be provided within the standard
JCP offer; and
– the claimant has signed up to the goal of finding and/or increasing their
employment within a realistic time period

The Health & Work Conversation is based on the ESA WFI, which includes:

Taking part in a WfI
53020 A claimant is regarded as having taken part1
in a WfI if they
1. if required to attend in person, attend for the interview at the place and at the
date and time notified as in DMG 53018 and
2. if not required to attend in person, are available and respond at the date and
time notified as in DMG 53018 to any contact made at that time for the
purpose of carrying out the interview and
3. provide information, if requested, about any or all of the matters set out in
DMG 53021 and
4. participate in discussions, to the extent that is considered necessary by the
Secretary of State, about any or all of the matters set out in DMG 53022.
1 ESA Regs, reg 57(1)
53021 The matters referred to in DMG 53020 3.1
1. the claimant’s educational qualifications and vocational training
2. the claimant’s work history
3. the claimant’s aspirations for future work
4. the claimant’s skills that are relevant to work
5. the claimant’s work-related abilities
6. the claimant’s caring or childcare responsibilities
7. any paid or unpaid work that the claimant is undertaking.
1 ESA Regs, reg 57(2)
Vol 9 Amendment 14 June 2013
53022 The matters referred to at DMG 53020 4.1
1. any activity that the claimant is willing to undertake which may make
obtaining or remaining in work more likely
2. any such activity that the claimant may have previously undertaken
3. any progress the claimant may have made towards remaining in or obtaining
4. any WFHRA the claimant may have taken part in
5. the claimant’s opinion as to the extent to which the ability to remain in or
obtain work is restricted by their physical or mental condition.
1 ESA Regs, reg 57(3)

Failure to take part in a WfI
53028 The DM must determine whether a claimant who is required to take part in a WfI
has failed to do so and if so, whether they have shown good cause for that failure1

The claimant must show good cause for that failure within 5 working days of the
date on which the Secretary of State gives notification of that failure2 or the
claimant’s ESA may be reduced. See DMG 53012 for the definition of working day.
Any notification sent by post is to be taken as having been received on the second
working day following posting3
1 ESA Regs, reg 61(2); 2 reg 61(1); 3 reg 65

The paper questionnaires/interrogations are in my view lazy diagnostic tools.

Healthy JSA/UC claimants are not eligible at this time to participate in the H&W Programme.

During the H&W programme trials, a friend of mine in Manchester who is a long term, unemployed JSA claimant with stress was referred to the programme on a voluntary basis.

An unemployed person was sanctioned for failing to provide their UJ information during a JSA WFI (failure to participate).  The case was escalated to a Tribunal.  The case was won and the DMG was subsequently updated.  Decision Makers' should have access to DWP policy guidance used by Jobcente staff! Ha!  Ref: CJSA/4095/2014.

Last edited by helping_hand on Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:48 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Typo and add info)

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