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“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). It reveals how low the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will really go to prevent having to help claimants.
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 an entire page on getting help if you’re a victim of domestic a abuse on the DWP website.
On the page it lists certain conditions, yes conditions, victims must meet.
“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
- 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?
The requirements do not end there. Once they’ve decided to accept that you have been a victim, you MAY be allowed a 13 week break from looking for work, but only if you satisfy the next set of criteria.
The most notable 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. This is well known and it’s hard to think the DWP wouldn’t have known this.
This means a benefit claimant who’s endured repeated abuse, just has to battle on because they’ve been unfortunate enough to be abused twice in a year.
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.
Mr Serwotka had written to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into Universal Credit.
The union boss revealed that 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.
I previously reported that Foodbank Charity, Trussell Trust’s 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.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd recently announced that a vote on implementing the full managed migration process would be delayed.
Although trying to brand it as a new development it was just confirmation of the same announcement made by her predecessor in October.
Nothing has changed in reality as if it really was delayed, the end date for full roll-out would have too. But it hasn’t.
Universal Credit does more harm than good. Foodbank use has risen, mental health issues in claimants are up and domestic abuse victims risk being trapped.
The only thing Universal Credit is worthy of is the scrap heap.
- 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