“The claimant must move out of the household and is required to provide written evidence to their work coach that they are receiving help for domestic abuse before the easement can be granted.”
This is the shocking statement made by Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, (PCS), reveals how low the Department for Work and Pensions will really go.
This was just one of the issues Mr Serwotka raised in a letter to MP Frank Field, chairman of the Work and Pensions Committee.
When I read this I wasn’t surprised, but to be sure I checked it out. Sure enough there’s even an entire page on it on the DWP website, part of it I quoted below.
“You will need written evidence from a person acting in an official capacity showing that:
- your circumstances are consistent with those of a person who has had domestic violence or abuse inflicted, or threatened, upon them, during the 6 months prior to you notifying DWP
- you have made contact with the person acting in an official capacity to tell them about any incidents that have occurred in the past 6 months
You must provide your evidence to Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible but no later than one calendar month after you first told us about the domestic violence and abuse.”
So a victim of domestic abuse not only has to open up to work coach about their abuse, then they get asked for proof?
This conditions do not end there, when they’ve decided to accept that you have been a victim, you may be allowed a 13 week break from looking for work if, you satisfy the next set of conditions. One of them being, “you have not had a 13 week break from work-related requirements as a result of previous domestic violence within the last 12 months”.
In some cases of domestic violence, the victim may return to their abuser. The government and DWP will be well aware of this. So a benefit claimant who’s endured repeated abuse, just has to battle on now?
It is becoming widely accepted that the DWP like the Home Office has its own Hostile Environment policy. While I realised that their polices targeted the most vulnerable in our society, I didn’t realise that they went so low.
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the PCS Union
Mr Serwotka was writing to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Universal Credit to reveal, it’s members had reported that the training they receive on how to deal with domestic abuse victims ” lacks detail” with many stating; no training whatsoever is being delivered.
Mr Field MP, said of the letter “The lack of training and expertise at the front line in Jobcentre Plus is a thread running through all of our benefits inquiries – and now it is becoming apparent to the public how this is leaving them unprepared to deal with the most vulnerable claimants.”
This adds to the growing list of problems caused by the Government’s welfare reform policies.
Last week I reported that Trussell Trust end of year figures showed an average rise of 52% in referrals to areas, were Universal Credit’s full service had been in operation for 12 months or more.
It’s becoming clear that there is little evidence to show Universal Credit is getting more people into work, compared to legacy benefits like Jobseekers Allowance.
It does make me wonder what will it take for the government to admit that the system doesn’t work in helping the majority of claimants.
- women can call 0808 2000 247, the free 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge
- men can call the Men’s Advice Line free on 0808 801 0327 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) or ManKind on 01823 334 244