Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

Tribunal overturns sanction and upholds right to representation

Claimants in Edinburgh have won a potentially crucial victory in the battle for the right of unemployed people to be represented at DWP provider A4e – thanks to the courageous stand taken by brave ex-miner Peter. An independent Tribunal has ruled that a claimant cannot have his benefits stopped because he “felt the need to have the representative of his choice.”

Peter has stood up to A4e for over two years, despite the multinational attempting to have his benefits stopped on over a dozen occasions. Now the Social Security Tribunal's decision of 31 August has overturned the last remaining sanction against him.

The infamous multinational A4e have been denying the unemployed who are forced to attend their compulsory workfare schemes the right to be accompanied by the representative of their choice (A4e make a fortune from the taxpayer by running these schemes on behalf of the DWP, the Department of Work and Pensions).

Since 2009 Peter has attended over a dozen appointments at A4e's office at 34 Earl Grey Street Edinburgh along with his representative from Edinburgh Claimants, a welfare rights group affiliated to Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP). Peter decided he needed a representative after A4e falsely accused him of photocopying material not related to his job search and threatened to have his benefits stopped. Every single time Peter and his rep attended, A4e refused to hold the appointment, often then going on to apply to the DWP for Peter's benefits to be stopped. Three times A4e even called the police to have Peter and his representative evicted!

Making claimants' voices heard at A4e

A HUMAN RIGHT

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty say: “ On 9 September we wrote to Alison Nimmo, A4e area manager for Scotland, to point out that A4e need to comply with this legal ruling. We are still waiting for a response. And in the meantime, incredibly, A4e are still refusing the right to representation. But the Tribunal result is an important victory, and we are now stepping up our struggle for this basic human right. ”

Meanwhile Jobcentreplus District Manager Jim McGonigle has so far refused all calls that the DWP instruct A4e to recognise claimants' right to their own rep – despite the fact that this right is recognised at Jobcentres, Edinburgh Council, ATOS and even at the other Edinburgh providers, Ingeus and JHP. But now, in the language of benefits law, the Tribunal Judge has ruled that Peter had “good cause” to insist on having his own representative present.

A4e LIE TO GET CLAIMANTS' BENEFITS CUT

The Edinburgh office of A4e, headed by manager Dorothy Hewatt, is notorious for bullying and disrespectful treatment of claimants. Edinburgh Claimants have made several official complaints that employees, including Hewatt herself, have made untruthful statements to the DWP to try and get claimants' benefits cut.

But now hopefully the tide is turning, with more claimants demanding the right to representation at A4e. ECAP urge : “We encourage all unemployed people sent to A4e or any other workfare provider to join together and collectively stand up for our rights. We need to oppose the Work Programme and all work-for-your-benefits schemes. They're nothing but slave labour - and they attack all workers' wages and conditions.”

We invite anyone sent to A4e, Ingeus, JHP or any of these work-for- your dole schemes to get in touch – anonymity guaranteed.”

Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty

ecap@lists.riseup.net   www.edinburghagainstpoverty.org.uk

Demonstration at A4e's Edinburgh office at Earl Grey Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Carol Laidlaw

This is a good article, and good news, but it needs a bit more explanation for those of us who have not yet encountered A4e. What are they supposed to do for people referred to them, what do they actually do, why would some-one be summoned to an interview with them, and why would that person need a representative? I have heard half-stories about A4e setting up claimants up to lose their benefits under the "old regime" when they were supposed to get people into work within three months. They set up the people they couldn't find jobs for within this time, so as to disguise their incompetence. But I heard no details about how they went about this. What exactly are they doing now?

I only know one person so far, who was referred to A4e in Liverpool. She refused to sign the 'contract' they gave her the first two times she was given it because she didn't understand it, and they ordered her to leave the building. She signed it the third time because she got sick of arguing with them. They then told her to give them a copy of her CV, and to enrol on a college course, which she had already applied for a place on. That is, they told her to do two things which 1. she had already done and 2. had planned to do anyway. For this the government is paying them tjhousands of pounds per claimant?

I am trying to find out what is going on with workfare schemes in my locality, but my town isn't exactly a hive of political activism and there is no organised claimants group. And so far, I have met nobody interested in starting one.

http://carol-laidlaw.blogspot.com

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

Nice one. Ingeus are in partnership with dodgy PFI-PPP / consulting / corporate tax avoidance thieving bastards Deloitte ( one of the Big 4 'accountancy' firms) - the people that make money out of the wholescale thievery that leads to the 'crash(es)' and makes money advising after. revolving doors with politicians, 'think-tanks' ( lobby groups) and corporate crooks....Bring forth the guillotine.

BTW where's the A4E country hotel...I need a break 

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By ECAP member

Carol,

A4e are supposed to get claimants referred to them on the Work Programme into sustainable employment.  Basically, that's any job that lasts for 6 months +.

"Unemployed ex-miner Peter has been accompanied by Edinburgh Claimants reps at interviews at A4e.  Peter decided on this course of action after A4e falsely accused him of photocopying material not related to his job search and threatened to have his benefits stopped.  The paranoid bullies of A4e and Wise Group didn't like this - on  three occasions managers Hewat and Weir  phoned the police to evict Peter and his Edinburgh Claimants rep from their Earl Grey Street  office!  Not content with this, the vindictive duo then applied to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to get Peter's Jobseekers Allowance suspended.  At one stage Peter had lost six weeks benefits and was told by the DWP that he would be without benefits for an additional six months"
 
Sorry to hear your difficulty in setting up a claimant's group in Liverpool, of all places.  Liverpool used to be a hotbed of action in the old days.  How times have changed.
 
You can read the full background story about Peter by clicking the following link.

 

 

 

Anonymous wrote:

This is a good article, and good news, but it needs a bit more explanation for those of us who have not yet encountered A4e. What are they supposed to do for people referred to them, what do they actually do, why would some-one be summoned to an interview with them, and why would that person need a representative? I have heard half-stories about A4e setting up claimants up to lose their benefits under the "old regime" when they were supposed to get people into work within three months. They set up the people they couldn't find jobs for within this time, so as to disguise their incompetence. But I heard no details about how they went about this. What exactly are they doing now?

I only know one person so far, who was referred to A4e in Liverpool. She refused to sign the 'contract' they gave her the first two times she was given it because she didn't understand it, and they ordered her to leave the building. She signed it the third time because she got sick of arguing with them. They then told her to give them a copy of her CV, and to enrol on a college course, which she had already applied for a place on. That is, they told her to do two things which 1. she had already done and 2. had planned to do anyway. For this the government is paying them tjhousands of pounds per claimant?

I am trying to find out what is going on with workfare schemes in my locality, but my town isn't exactly a hive of political activism and there is no organised claimants group. And so far, I have met nobody interested in starting one.

http://carol-laidlaw.blogspot.com

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

A dreadful bunch of shysters and charlatans of the worst order bar ATOS Origin .

They make " Pauline " with the DWP Job Club on " The League of Gentlemen " look postively beneign in comparison . Their results are even worse ! .

There's You Tube Videos showing these poverty pimps in a very poor light , badly trained staff allegeing that people cut their fingers off to claim benefits . If that doesn't paint a complete picture of A4e , I don't know what does .

Congratulations to the guy who was strong enough to stand up to them . Like most bullies & cowards  they didn't like it all .

http://watchinga4e.blogspot.com/2009/07/a4e-company-that-doesnt-like-cri...

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Bill Kruse

I'd say the criminality here is becoming increasingly obvious. In my view welfare reform is no more than a very organised raid on the public purse, a criminal conspiracy, carried out by crooked businessmen and corrupt politicians. There's no political enthusiasm for prosecution because top-ranking members of all parties are up to their necks in it.

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

I now live in Oldham, which is definitely a political desert. I still have connections with Liverpool, some activists there are setting up a claimants union.

I am not due on the work programme myself until February, but if I get referred to A4e I am looking forward to seeing how much I can sabotage/annoy/take the piss out of/use the law against them. If I can't find myself "sustainable employment" after a year, there's nothing they can do that I haven't. By the way, I can't say it often enough, JSA sanctions are always appealable, very much so, and it isn't compulsory for the DWP to apply a sanction for the full 6 months or at all (speaking as a welfare rights adviser.) 

Anonymous wrote:

Carol,

A4e are supposed to get claimants referred to them on the Work Programme into sustainable employment.  Basically, that's any job that lasts for 6 months +.

"Unemployed ex-miner Peter has been accompanied by Edinburgh Claimants reps at interviews at A4e.  Peter decided on this course of action after A4e falsely accused him of photocopying material not related to his job search and threatened to have his benefits stopped.  The paranoid bullies of A4e and Wise Group didn't like this - on  three occasions managers Hewat and Weir  phoned the police to evict Peter and his Edinburgh Claimants rep from their Earl Grey Street  office!  Not content with this, the vindictive duo then applied to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to get Peter's Jobseekers Allowance suspended.  At one stage Peter had lost six weeks benefits and was told by the DWP that he would be without benefits for an additional six months"
 
Sorry to hear your difficulty in setting up a claimant's group in Liverpool, of all places.  Liverpool used to be a hotbed of action in the old days.  How times have changed.
 
You can read the full background story about Peter by clicking the following link.

 

 

 

Anonymous wrote:

This is a good article, and good news, but it needs a bit more explanation for those of us who have not yet encountered A4e. What are they supposed to do for people referred to them, what do they actually do, why would some-one be summoned to an interview with them, and why would that person need a representative? I have heard half-stories about A4e setting up claimants up to lose their benefits under the "old regime" when they were supposed to get people into work within three months. They set up the people they couldn't find jobs for within this time, so as to disguise their incompetence. But I heard no details about how they went about this. What exactly are they doing now?

I only know one person so far, who was referred to A4e in Liverpool. She refused to sign the 'contract' they gave her the first two times she was given it because she didn't understand it, and they ordered her to leave the building. She signed it the third time because she got sick of arguing with them. They then told her to give them a copy of her CV, and to enrol on a college course, which she had already applied for a place on. That is, they told her to do two things which 1. she had already done and 2. had planned to do anyway. For this the government is paying them tjhousands of pounds per claimant?

I am trying to find out what is going on with workfare schemes in my locality, but my town isn't exactly a hive of political activism and there is no organised claimants group. And so far, I have met nobody interested in starting one.

http://carol-laidlaw.blogspot.com

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

When I had to attend A4e six years ago, I was told I wasn't allowed time off to go to a doctor's appointment!

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

Sorry to hear your difficulty in setting up a claimant's group in Liverpool, of all places.  Liverpool used to be a hotbed of action in the old days.  How times have changed.

Re: Victory for Edinburgh unemployed over A4e

By Anonymous

You are entitiled to go for a doctor's appointment as long as you can show them evidence of it.

Anonymous wrote:When I had to attend A4e six years ago, I was told I wasn't allowed time off to go to a doctor's appointment!
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