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Being Mandated onto WHP

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Post by MightyQunit on Fri Apr 12, 2019 11:59 am

Hi,

I have been reading and searching the forum for the last two days about this subject but there is a lot of conflicting advice on it.

I've been unemployed for nearly 2 years mainly due to me living in a crap seaside town with very few employment opportunities outside a few months seasonal work, at my next UC appointment I am going to be mandated onto the Work & Health programme, I do not know if I will be given a place yet, as I hear there are limited places, but I will begin the process at my next UC appointment and my name will go into the WHP hat.

This programme sounds like a nightmare, where you can be forced to do unpaid full time work under the cloak of "Gaining Experience..." in a job you probably have not interest in doing or pursuing, am I right in thinking this, that you can face sanctions to your benefit payments if you fail to comply and attend a work experience placement?

It seems the only way to avoid this scheme is to close down your UC claim and start a new claim 6 months later if I don't get regular employment by then, I am in the fortunate situation of being able to do this if I wanted to, if I was to close down my claim, am I right in thinking a period of 6 months would need to pass before a new claim would not be linked to an old UC claim?, and if I had started on the WHP the 15 month period you are on it would also cease if you stopped claiming UC and closed my claim?

Any advice on this is greatly appreciated, my head is spinning from all the reading I've done in the last 2 days...

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Post by Caker on Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:37 pm

Welcome to the forum M. Someone should be along with advice soon. In the interim, I would suggest not to close your claim. There are other ways to avoid it.

May I gather some details, ahead of someone else providing more information, please?

Has your work coach provided you with all the information about the programme? If so, has s/he answered all your relevant questions?

Has s/he provided you with all the information which justifies why s/he thinks you meet the criteria for the work and health programme? Is the justification an accurate description of your circumstances? or is there something which suggests you are not eligible?

I would suggest that your work coach needs to provide you with all details that you ask for in order for you to make fair representation before you are mandated. Asking for this information (and waiting for the response) could delay the referral process.

Not being supplied with all the information before referral would definitely help in the case that you wish to challenge any referral that is made without you being fully informed and having the opportunity to ask questions.

It would be helpful if you were to ask the work coach to provide the information in writing for you, even if this delays your referral, it is only fair to you. Don't be fobbed off by them telling you to research the topic for yourself. You are entitled to be fully informed by them.

I hope this helps for now and we can take it from there.
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Post by MightyQunit on Fri Apr 12, 2019 6:19 pm

Thanks for the reply Caker, the Work Coach, or after reading this forum Roach is far more appropriate, has just told me that at the next meeting in 3 weeks he'll put me forward for the WHP, no doubt with some forms to sign so they have me by the balls as they like to do.

He showed me a pamphlet briefly and listed a few things that this WHP provider could do for me, which were all things I'd already been doing or was already being provided with in my general WC appointments, it sounded pointless to me, just another way to get you off the books and provide more ways to sanction you if you didn't toe the line.

So that's as far as it went...

Am I right in thinking that if you close a UC claim down you would have to wait 6 months to open a claim again for it to be a true "new" claim and not associated with a previous claim?, as in everything would reset to day one.

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Post by Gallazz on Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:03 pm

This is all I could find on reapplying for UC - it seems to support what you're saying:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/claiming/reapply-for-universal-credit/

And if all else fails, make sure the roach issues you with the standard mandatory referral letter from the DWP. It might seem obvious but I know of people who've found out their referral was voluntary after being told or led to assume that it was mandatory.

This is the pre-assessment tool that work coaches use for WHP referrals:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/461555/response/1118126/attach/4/6.WC%20actions%20DCAMS.PDF.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1

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Post by Caker on Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:08 pm

Hi M
I am not an expert but someone will be along if you sit tight. Sometimes end of week is a bit quiet on this forum.

So he showed you a pamphlet and listed a few things. Did he give you the pamphlet to take away? It sounds like he just did not provide you with all the information that he should have.

You should not sign anything unless you have all the information you need. They don't have you by the balls, it just looks that way. From what you have told me, the roach has not done his job properly. He has not followed the proper procedure and therefore scored an own goal.

There might be more information at the following:

https://www.welfare-central.org/index.php/forum-home/workfare-programmes/3157-work-heath-programme-provider-forms-to-sign-assessments-data-consent
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Post by Gallazz on Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:32 pm

You get the forms from the Welfare Central thread at your first appointment with the provider btw.

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Post by Caker on Fri Apr 12, 2019 7:51 pm

So nothing to sign at the JC then?
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Post by Gallazz on Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:02 pm

All the Jobcentre work coach is supposed to give you in the way of paperwork is a DWP WHP referral letter - there's one for voluntary referrals and one for mandatory referrals. You might be asked to sign the mandatory referral letter, I don't know as my referral was voluntary. I wasn't given any letter, but I've seen them online.

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Post by Caker on Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:53 pm

Do you mind me asking, is the WHP just for those with a health issue or does it include those without?

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Post by Gallazz on Fri Apr 12, 2019 8:56 pm

Not at all, Caker. I think people without a health issue can be selected - unfortunately.

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Post by Absolut on Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:03 am

Yes, unfortunately after 24 months continuous unemployment (on whatever benefit and whether or not you have health problems) the WHP is mandatory just like the Work Programme was.

I'd suggest following the advice on the Welfare Central forum and definitely read the thread there - particularly the one about not signing any provider documents. When I was on the work programme I refused to sign their documents and there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it.

In the meantime (ie before you are made to actually go) read all the rules that the provider has to follow (links are on Welfare Central) so you can arm yourself with what they are supposed to do, never mind what you are supposed to do.

As for the full time work experience the best thing to do is get yourself a part time voluntary job (on UC I don't think it can be for more than 17.5 hours per week) - that way you've chosen the work yourself and you can't be sanctioned if you leave. It also shows you are willing to get current experience onto your CV.
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Post by Non Deficere on Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:14 am

MightyQunit wrote:Hi,

I have been reading and searching the forum for the last two days about this subject but there is a lot of conflicting advice on it.

I've been unemployed for nearly 2 years mainly due to me living in a crap seaside town with very few employment opportunities outside a few months seasonal work, at my next UC appointment I am going to be mandated onto the Work & Health programme, I do not know if I will be given a place yet, as I hear there are limited places, but I will begin the process at my next UC appointment and my name will go into the WHP hat.

This programme sounds like a nightmare, where you can be forced to do unpaid full time work under the cloak of "Gaining Experience..." in a job you probably have not interest in doing or pursuing, am I right in thinking this, that you can face sanctions to your benefit payments if you fail to comply and attend a work experience placement?

It seems the only way to avoid this scheme is to close down your UC claim and start a new claim 6 months later if I don't get regular employment by then, I am in the fortunate situation of being able to do this if I wanted to, if I was to close down my claim, am I right in thinking a period of 6 months would need to pass before a new claim would not be linked to an old UC claim?, and if I had started on the WHP the 15 month period you are on it would also cease if you stopped claiming UC and closed my claim?

Any advice on this is greatly appreciated, my head is spinning from all the reading I've done in the last 2 days...

Hello and welcome MQ.

Ask the wc to show you his/her answers within the WHP assessment tool.  Under freedom of Information you are allowed a copy of all the information DWP holds about you.

Before being mandated to any programme/provision you are entitled to make representation and take advice, before you are referred.

Do you have any thoughts already why you should not be referred?

To allay your concerns about work experience it is not mandatory. Very Happy
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Post by Committed Claimant on Sat Apr 13, 2019 1:27 pm

Hello MightyQunit.

It looks like you have 3 weeks before your referral interview with your coach.

Plenty of time to prepare yourself. The main thing is not to do anything rash in the meantime. Shutting down your UC claim would be seriously rash.

Like you, I am new to this Forum and haven’t really got used to what has already been covered or discussed.

Until such time as a comprehensive, informative thread, or set of threads, can be established here I would suggest, as others have, that you browse the following:
https://welfare-central.org/index.php/forum-home/work-health-programme

and specifically:
https://welfare-central.org/index.php/forum-home/work-health-programme/1578-work-health-programme-referral

If you need clarification on any point don’t hesitate to post any questions you may have.
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Post by Committed Claimant on Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:45 pm

MightlQunit:  You say in your first post that you have been unemployed for less than 2 years.

According to this Gov.uk guidance then the DWP itself says you would not be eligible if none of the other criteria apply to you either:
https://www.gov.uk/work-health-programme

The Work and Health Programme was introduced to help claimants who are out of work to find and keep a job.

It’s voluntary - unless they’ve been out of work and claiming unemployment benefits for 24 months.

Eligibility
You could be eligible if you live in England or Wales and you’re:
• disabled
• out of work and have claimed unemployment benefits for 24 months
• a carer or former carer
• homeless
• a former member of the armed forces or an armed forces reservist
• the partner of a current or former member of the armed forces
• a care leaver
• a young person in a gang
• a refugee
• a victim of domestic violence
• dependent (or have been dependent) on drugs or alcohol and it’s preventing you from getting work
• an ex-offender and you’ve completed a custodial or community sentence
• an offender serving a community sentence
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Post by Non Deficere on Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:15 pm

The 2 years may occur just before the next appointment or there may be linking rules that apply.

Worth checking out though.
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Post by Gallazz on Sat Apr 13, 2019 9:10 pm

Absolut wrote:Yes, unfortunately after 24 months continuous unemployment (on whatever benefit and whether or not you have health problems) the WHP is mandatory just like the Work Programme was.

I think there must be a shortage of mandatory places because a number of long-term unemployed people (cases I've read about on forums) have had voluntary referrals, myself included. Work roaches must be getting around it by telling claimants it's mandatory so they go unwittingly to the first appointment which means starting on the programme. One got out of it by not signing the forms (as the referral was voluntary) and the other by holding out for the mandatory referral letter from the Jobcentre.


Last edited by Gallazz on Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:05 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Committed Claimant on Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:05 pm

Here is an interesting document “WHP referral interview” which is a document spelling out the DWP guidance to work coaches for conducting referral interviews:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/460415/response/1110039/attach/10/8.WHP%20Referral.pdf

Claimants should take particular note of the section under the heading “Referral interview if selected for WHP” as it will prepare them for what to expect.


Remember, unless and until this referral interview is held, and held according to the procedure set out, claimants may not be referred to a provider.
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Post by Committed Claimant on Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:17 pm

Mighty Qunit:

It would appear from your first post that your eligibility for the Work & Health Programme has already been determined and that your selection for referral to it has also been decided.

This despite the criteria for eligibility clearly stating that one has to be:
“out of work and have claimed unemployment benefits for 24 months”

As you don’t quite meet that eligibility criteria at time of selection your selection would appear to be in breach of their own stated referral procedures.

It would appear from your second post that your referral interview has been arranged for 3 weeks hence.

This despite the regulations clearly stating what must happen:
3. “This meeting must take place within 10 working days of being selected. The appointment must be entered into your diary”.

Another breach of their own stated referral procedures.

It would also appear from your second post that you have been notified of your referral interview verbally.

This despite the regulations clearly stating:
1. Once the random allocation results are known, you must contact the potential participant and invite them in for a meeting. This will allow you to explain next steps. Use the WHPL006 'Your meeting details' invite to interview letter.

Unless you have been given this ‘invite to interview letter’, which is supposed to explain the next steps to you,  and they have not sufficiently explained those next steps verbally to you, they are in yet another clear breach of their own stated referral procedures.

If all this isn’t regarded as a case of maladministration and a breach of the Civil Service Code on the part of your work coach, I don’t know what more s/he needs to do, or not do, to make it so.

The initial selection process is outlined in the document reproduced in the link already provided. Any answers to questions and/or clarification on this should have already been provided to you by your work coach. Perhaps you could start the referral interview by asking for it.

It would be advisable to bear in mind, if and when things get that far, that merely attending the Provider’s initial appointment signifies acceptance of, and agreement to, the referral.

It would also be advisable, if you don’t already do so, to carry a pocket size audio recording device to all interviews. Evidence, or accurate recollection, of what transpires may prove invaluable should you need to challenge the legality or procedural integrity of the treatment you are being subjected to.
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Post by MightyQunit on Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:13 pm

Committed Claimant wrote:Here is an interesting document “WHP referral interview” which is a document spelling out the DWP guidance to work coaches for conducting referral interviews:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/460415/response/1110039/attach/10/8.WHP%20Referral.pdf

Claimants should take particular note of the section under the heading “Referral interview if selected for WHP” as it will prepare them for what to expect.


Remember, unless and until this referral interview is held, and held according to the procedure set out, claimants may not be referred to a provider.

I think my next Work Roach interview will mean I meet the threshold of 24 months, I remember opening my claim for the first time in April, so as my title to the post says, I am now being forced onto this WHP.

Thanks for all the replies and help with this, upto the last two years I have not claimed any benefits since the late 90's and it is astonishing what the last two terms of tory governments have done to the welfare system in this country, the whole thing is now based on a sanctions culture and threats.

I was under the impression I can be forced into unpaid work on this WHP, which is something I will refuse to do, I already earlier in my current claim had a Work Roach try to scam me with bullying tactics into work experience, trying to make out I had to do it and it was mandatory, I put an official complaint in and she was removed as my WC and that was that.

I don't see anything the WHP can offer me that I am not already being provided with by my work coach, I envisage being put up for any job going while on this programme, some involving a hours travel to and from work each day, which is just unacceptable to me. So I will be refusing to sign any of my data over to them that is for sure.

Can anyone tell me how long you have to wait if you close down a claim until a new claim would be unlinked to any previous claim?, it looks like it may be 6 months, I was thinking of doing a FOI for it from the DWP just to clarify it.

Has anyone been mandated onto the WHP, what happens while you are on it, is it a meeting once a week or what?

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Post by Committed Claimant on Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:11 pm

The first hurdle is your referral interview with your JCP work coach. During this interview you should be informed of what the Provider is offering and what is expected of you. You may ask for clarification on any questions you might have.  

If you wish to accept being referred, you agree there and then. If you do not wish to be referred then you need to say so and provide reasonable objections for not agreeing to the referral.

Remember, merely turning up to any appointment arranged with a Programme Provider will signify acceptance of the referral and all that that implies. If the Programme Provider contacts you before you have settled with your JCP coach asking you to contact them or attend an interview, ignore them, don't answer their calls either. They should not have your details anyway before you agree with your coach to send them. Coaches don't always wait for claimants to agree. Yours has already made it clear that the regulations don't apply to him/her

If you accept the referral, whatever is offered or whatever activity you may be expected to participate in will be for you and the Programme Provider to agree on. It is anticipated that this will depend on your circumstances and be geared to your requirements. Then again you’ll be lucky if you have much of a say.

Re signing off and reclaiming UC later. You are right, after 6 months you ned to make a new claim, with all the hassle that involves.

However, without trawling through all the WHP stuff I can’t tell you off hand where this would leave you vis-à-vis the WHP when or if you re-claim UC. If the referral remains ‘live’ irrespective of the gap in your claim then you would be back to square one.

Re signing any documents. As you have already said, you are not obliged to sign any document presented for signature by the Programme Provider. Say that you are not refusing to participate in the programme if they push you, merely exerting your right not to sign any documents.  They will doubtless try to force or coerce you but whatever they say they can’t sanction you. There are ample references to this right in the links already posted.
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Post by Absolut on Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:41 am

Committed Claimant wrote:Unless you have been given this ‘invite to interview letter’, which is supposed to explain the next steps to you,  and they have not sufficiently explained those next steps verbally to you, they are in yet another clear breach of their own stated referral procedures.

Ha, they do it all the time.  Rolling Eyes My particular job centre has verbally tried to get me to go on the WHP 4 times (voluntary) without once going through the referral procedure to see if I'm eligible and give me the chance to say no at the end of it. In one case the disability advisor hijacked my work search review without permission or prior notification in order to try to harass me onto it (tried to get me to accept a taxi to the train station ignoring standing issues on said train after that). I ended the hijacked meeting knowing I could do so because I'd had no written notification of the disability advisor's "intervention" to begin with. I've sent off for a SAR to see if any of those 4 verbal "suggestions" that I attend the WHP have ever been recorded. I fully expect they have not been.

Their own rules state the following: "If the potential participant declines the chance to be considered for the Work and Health Programme (WHP) at this stage, then that is the end of the process and JCP must not take any further action."

I believe this is why they do not go through the proper referral procedure - they know at the end of it if the "potential participant" says no they are not supposed to do anything more. By "verbally" harassing claimants onto the WHP it makes it appear that all referrals are "voluntary" when they are not.
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Post by Committed Claimant on Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:36 pm

You are absolutely right Absolut. Work coaches are not likely to explain to claimants the full implications of referral to WHP, or to follow the prescribed referral procedures. Doing so would defeat their primary objective.

Sadly, most claimants will be blissfully ignorant of what is involved in WHP when it is initially introduced to them and they will blithely take at face value whatever they are told. Coercion and misinformation, as with much else, reinforces the coach’s persuasive plugging of the Programme. All this will leave claimants up to their necks in the do-do before they realise what’s hit them and, along with everything else, leave them ducking and diving for the next couple of years.

The shit will really hit the fan when the claimant tries to juggle commitments under UC with commitments under WHP and find them contradictory and impossible to balance, and realise too late, that the whole thing is an exercise in entrapment.
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Post by MightyQunit on Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:59 am

Committed Claimant wrote:The first hurdle is your referral interview with your JCP work coach. During this interview you should be informed of what the Provider is offering and what is expected of you. You may ask for clarification on any questions you might have.  

If you wish to accept being referred, you agree there and then. If you do not wish to be referred then you need to say so and provide reasonable objections for not agreeing to the referral.

Remember, merely turning up to any appointment arranged with a Programme Provider will signify acceptance of the referral and all that that implies. If the Programme Provider contacts you before you have settled with your JCP coach asking you to contact them or attend an interview, ignore them, don't answer their calls either. They should not have your details anyway before you agree with your coach to send them. Coaches don't always wait for claimants to agree. Yours has already made it clear that the regulations don't apply to him/her

If you accept the referral, whatever is offered or whatever activity you may be expected to participate in will be for you and the Programme Provider to agree on. It is anticipated that this will depend on your circumstances and be geared to your requirements. Then again you’ll be lucky if you have much of a say.

Re signing off and reclaiming UC later. You are right, after 6 months you ned to make a new claim, with all the hassle that involves.

However, without trawling through all the WHP stuff I can’t tell you off hand where this would leave you vis-à-vis the WHP when or if you re-claim UC. If the referral remains ‘live’ irrespective of the gap in your claim then you would be back to square one.

Re signing any documents. As you have already said, you are not obliged to sign any document presented for signature by the Programme Provider. Say that you are not refusing to participate in the programme if they push you, merely exerting your right not to sign any documents.  They will doubtless try to force or coerce you but whatever they say they can’t sanction you. There are ample references to this right in the links already posted.
I've done a lot of reading around on this matter and to tell you the truth I'm leaning towards closing my claim for 6 months, it seems the only way to get around being forced into it and all that entails, am I right in thinking that they still can not force you into work experience even if you are a LTU and mandated onto WHP?, I suppose they can still send you on pointless training courses, it seems if you don't comply and play ball they can make things difficult for you.

I think it's maybe best I don't ever attend the WHP just to make sure it's not live for 15 months, I may make a FOI request online to clarify this as I can't find any details on if once you are on it it runs even if you are not claiming UC.

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Post by Absolut on Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:41 am

Committed Claimant wrote:Work coaches are not likely to explain to claimants the full implications of referral to WHP, or to follow the prescribed referral procedures. Doing so would defeat their primary objective.

They didn't even give me the address of the provider. I had to look that up for myself to see if the premises were accessible. Nope. Second floor location and I can't handle lots of stairs. As there was no email address for me to contact them to find out about access I do wonder why the hell they've been given a contract where they will be dealing with disabled people.

If am still claiming JSA in November (might get shoved onto UC in July though) I will see if I will be mandated to attend (at a location that is further than the travel distance agreed on my CC).

All this will leave claimants up to their necks in the do-do before they realise what’s hit them and, along with everything else, leave them ducking and diving for the next couple of years.

And worse, for disabled claimants, it exacerbating their medical conditions.
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Post by Gallazz on Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:11 pm

Committed Claimant wrote:You are absolutely right Absolut. Work coaches are not likely to explain to claimants the full implications of referral to WHP, or to follow the prescribed referral procedures. Doing so would defeat their primary objective.

Too true. I've yet to read an account of a referral being carried out in line with standard procedure. Mine certainly wasn't - they did it in two very short appointments, lied to me about what 'voluntary' participation meant for long-term unemployed claimants (basically, said I could drop out when they're actually supposed to mandate you if you do) and about the fact that that would be my last appointment with them. Another post details how I've avoided mandation thus far.

It's ironic for sure. For example, I suffer from anxiety and all the uncertainty around what my 'voluntary' referral meant, what I had to do on the programme, the provider's mishandling of and blatant disregard for my mental health issues and the realisation that I'd been tricked into joining by the work roach sent it through the roof, so it was definitely not beneficial to my health and the subsequent work coach seems to have accepted that as a mitigating circumstance - luckily.

MightyQunit, don't abandon hope. You might be able to challenge your referral, or even not signing the consent forms might mean you have a much easier time than people who do.


Last edited by Gallazz on Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typo)

Gallazz

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