A police state for benefit claimants?

It’s been brought to my attention that page 16 of the ESA Notes Sheet ESA40 04/09 contains this gem:-

You must also tell us if you or your partner (among much else):-

My parentheses and italics.

go away from home, even if it is for a day

WTF?

Are these arsewipes serious? In what even approximately sane universe does being on benefit mean you are subjected to conditions normally imposed on convicted criminals? And not just the claimant, but their partner?

Are there actually sanctions imposed if someone in, say, the ESA Support Group, as it might be, a seriously disabled person, let’s call them Claimant A, whose life is in the crapper, if they have the temerity to seek a little light relief by going to the seaside for the day? Or to visit friends?

Or their partner is away all day for whatever reason (and WTF does it matter – their partner is not the claimant?).

And how, pray tell, can this obscenity of a condition be enforced? And what constitutes a day?  Dawn to dusk? Dawn to dawn, or any other 24 hour period? What?

Who the bloody hell would know if Claimant A went to stay with friends for a day, or a week, or even a month? And who, really, would be so fucking petty and vindictive as to care?

Are checks being kept on them? I see no other way this condition would work – is there an ESA Gestapo lurking in the wings, ready to swing into action when the IB migration is completed?

Are disabled people (and yes, I know this applies to other groups too), actually living in a virtual police state, where everything they do is monitored?

This condition is designed purely to intimidate, and persecute, and can have no other possible function.

That, by any measure, is completely and utterly unacceptable.

January 31 update: I’d just like to make one thing absolutely clear. It doesn’t matter if this rule isn’t currently enforced – and there’s only anecdotal evidence that it’s not – what matters is that it actually exists. THAT should be an affront to very right-thinking person.

And as long as it does exist, you can be sure some bugger will try to find a reliable way of enforcing it and, as I said in a reply to a comment, that could be as simple as following through on Labour’s execrable plan to reward those who inform on “benefit cheats” – watch the net curtains twitch then!

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44 thoughts on “A police state for benefit claimants?

    • There are conditions like that imposed on the unemployed, always have been, because the conditions say it they’re claiming they have to be always have to be available for work.

      But a blanket condition like this? It’s got Freud and Purnell’s shitty fingermarks all over it (it goes back to 2009).

    • Yes Ron, JSA claimants also have such rule!

      ES40JP 06/11 Pg 4 (its always been like that though wording changed slightly) “You must tell us immediately if your circumstances change, for example if you or your partner: …change your address or are going away from home, even if it is for a day”

      I think its about if you spend a night away from home – even so with that taking care of, why should the Government demand to know this information?

      Its simple, they are trying to force you without proper authority to report a trivial “CoC” that will result in some dimwit DWP employee terminating your claim for benefits and you having to stress your eye balls out just to get reinstated and with back payments.

      All about making benefit savings

      They will say this “mistake” on their part, was them reacting to information YOU gave them, like you wanted them to do that and CONSENTED for such…. all for being honest.

      There is two things you can do:

      1) keep it quiet… its none of their business, keep with conditions of claim though

      or

      2) like I have done before on JSA, sign off… sign back on a day later… lost a days money, too bad it cost the DWP more to process my claim being stopped and reopened than it did for me… Its a very expensive and inefficient process which the DWP claims amounts to just over a weeks benefit money (their excuse for sanctions of being late/FTA as for JSA the claim used to terminate costing them money to reopen it)

      I was only playing by the rules… OK, I should have declared it via a CoC form or “holiday” (like WTF?!) but its not their business, and if a claim isn’t active then I am not obliged to do a CoC or holiday form.

      • Indeed – that was the case even in the days of “the dole,” when you had to be always available for work – they really did/do expect you to sit by the phone all day, just in case (when any sensible person, these days, will give then their mobe number and go fishing). Last time I was unemployed was after I’d been made redundant in 1982, I wanted to backpack the Oxfordshire Way. I arranged with my local office to sign on in Oxford, and all was well. Nobody cared that I wasn’t going to be available every day – they where more realistic back then.

        The rule makes sort of sense if you’re unemployed, as you must, in theory at least, always be available for interviews (good luck with that), but a day? That’s just intimidation, as it is with ESA.

        • Yes, you make good point about being “Available for Work” as they call it.

          The labour market (talking from experience and common sense lol) with exceptions to agency work and perhaps the odd few occasions never have such short turnaround to for interviews and begin work.

          When you are unemployed generally speaking you can start whenever… not only being unemployed (even for a day) stick you to a disadvantage over an employed candidate; but employers are aware of “notice periods” from a previous job, so always in most industries allow a 2-4 week gap from interview to the start of work normally its even longer.

          This is similar for job interviews… job vacancies have closing dates (well, recently on job points most do not) so you know an interview is unlikely to be before then. Mobile phones do exist and if the interview isn’t formal (i.e. a day or two of interview slots back-2-back), informal job interviews are by negotiation.

          I think the confusing part is what does a day actually mean?

          * Not there in “office hours” (most people are therefore guilty of this)
          * 24 hours (so midday to midday the next day, for example counts)
          * Spending the night elsewhere

          It is just to catch out honest people whom for example are sleeping around their bf/gfs house, so the DWP can make a benefit fraud allegations.

          Besides, for example, personally, “home” means Great Britain and not the place I reside at.

  1. I imagine, if you’re able to be out of the house for a whole day, then they’ll say that you’re able to work.

    If I go out for part of a day, I’m laid up in bed for a day or two. I’m sure my prospective employer will understand that though, and put up with me being off work 3 days out of 5.

    What my husband has to do with it, I can only assume that they will say that I can look after myself. Oops, what about my family and friends coming to help me?! Silly me – us disabled aren’t meant to have any friends, as we’re the outcasts of this society now. Grrrrr

  2. It’s really bad when the Disabled are treated like criminals, while the criminals live a carefree, free life in prison. Yes, the Rapist, those that Murder, the paedos etc, get days out, play stations, warmth a comfy seat to watch sky. But Disabled get a kick-in the groin, and treated like a criminal. Nazi UK PLC.

  3. This is absolute madness.

    so when I am unable to cook and stay warm (scoliosis) because my money has run out, instead of struggling to get to my daughter they expect her to drag a 5 year old out in the ice on a school night with food for me and money for heat to ease my pain, all at cost to her, on public transport through a very rough area with youths we all know are involved in gang warfare on said buses, putting my daughter and grandson at risk.

    Or, when I am so unwell I have started to “graise my arms” very late at night and again need the help of my daughter………..because my boyfriend lives with 3 other very vulnerable adults (family members) and is trying to hold down a full time job so he switches all phones off after 9pm ………… yet they are expected by my local health authority to “support me with my disabilities”

    Or when someone is medically advised to go out for the day to help them cope better with their lifelong chronic conditions and take a break from the norm, even if that one day results in them spending the next three days paying for one day of relative calm………

    What planet are these people from who make these rules? They obviously don’t have loved ones who face our challenges or they would be up in arms over these ridiculous rules.

  4. DWP like to impose these ridiculous conditions on all of us. My dads got terminal brain cancer, hes not going to suddenly get better and is supposed to be getting Attendance Allowance under special rules, but he was sent a letter today saying they may call him in for a medical assessment. He’s petrified. He starts radiotherapy tomorrow ffs! His application form says all treatment is purely to give him just a little longer with us, and hes retired! His Macmillan benefit advisor made me claim carers allowance today, she says its only fair, dads paid for it with 50yrs of work. Thanks to the stigma and constant political and media rhetoric of ‘scrounger’ my proud dad was in tears on sunday, devestated.

    I claim benefits myself, Im a single mum of 3, my youngest is 2yrs old. I get an interrogation about how I got to the job centre because getting a lift entitles them to interrogate me over who allowed me in their car in case, god forbid, it was a man! Im asked if I have a boyfriend, if I want one (yes really) and every time I go in that jobcentre they ask if Im back with my ex or thinking about it. The compliance officer asked me why I still spoke to him if I wasnt interested in him. We have kids I told her, its called being civil, we’re allowed to be friends arent we? Apparently not. It makes me paranoid about actually speaking to anyone who isnt a relative in case they’re out there, lurking.

  5. I wonder if this would apply to my parents, younger brothers (11&13) and older sister who lives in Cardiff in term time? Would I have to tell them exxactly when my sister came back for a visit, when my brother’s had sleepovers at their friends or when my mum went to visit her sister – how about my uncle who stays here occasionally?

  6. Re posting this as I’m not sure it came up. :
    This is very worrying, I have no idea why they would need to know if a claimant’s partner(or anyone else) goes away for 1 day. Perhaps they are insinuating that if you can go out for a day or if your partner can bear to leave you for a day then well – you’re just not disabled enough.

  7. Hi Ron, I’ve forwarded this post to #spartacusreport via their facebook page. Hope that’s ok. Thanks for posting. I can’t find the words to describe how utterly gobsmacked I am by this but to be honest, it’s got to be unworkable, especially if everyone reports in every time they are out of their house for the prescribed period of time. Call centres will be overwhelmed, the admin generated will be unmanageable and the resulting costs will hopefully soon cause system breakdown. Maybe that’s what those affected need to do and just basically bugger up the system.

    • I’ve held back one comment for suggesting just that – that people swamp the DWP, reporting in every time they go out.

      Don’t even think about that, the effect will be entirely negative and give the DWP the wrong idea about activity levels. For example, a person with ME might have one active day, swamp the phone lines and then crash for weeks or even months – which is what’s happening to me right now, one strenuous hospital appointment having totally wiped me out – but the DWP will think, “Aha! This bugger’s active. Let’s reassess him/her!”

      Ron.

      • I appreciate why you held that post back,but like you say,I only have 2 or 3 days a week I am well enough to go out. I then have to “play catch up” and try and do all that’s essential when I can,not knowing when and for how long I’ll be out of it for.
        The DWP know this about my condition so it’s ridiculous to think they could impose this sanction. My concern is how they would police it. Sometimes my wife has a day off from me,but it’s only when someone else is available to assist me.why should she have restrictions imposed on her as well?
        It’s a ridiculous imposition.

        • I don’t see how it can possibly be policed, but if someone thought it worthwhile to create the rule, you can be sure they, or someone else, are trying to figure out a way to make it work.

          Of course, for many people fear will do the job.

          But if, as was suggested under Labour (where this rule originated), benefit snoops were rewarded for shopping their neighbours, a little extra publicity would make enforcement reasonably effective.

  8. i think the DWP is getting dafter and how much paper work will it generate if i go to stay with a friend over night because my hubby is very ill and i am on the point of cracking up somedays he still has to have care and as my dughter lives over the road she is availible to do this if i went away it begger belief it really does xxjoyxx

  9. This is appalling.

    Until recently, I was on benefit. I’m one of the lucky ones: I had CFS, I got well enough to work again. Most people on benefit aren’t so lucky.

    Being too ill to work is miserable. Putting people under house arrest when they’re ill or disabled isn’t going to achieve anything except a reduced quality of life for people who are already struggling.

    Bloody hell.

  10. why cant the government catch the people who are getting benefits when they shouldn’t instead of putting the fear of god into us people are entitled to it!! Sometimes it does not pay to be truthful, honest and worry about what would happen if we did lie and got caught!! I know people who can dig up gardens, lift a motorbike and other wonderful past times I would love to have the energy (and money to do!) and they get full benefits and their partners get full carers and they have never been for a medical let alone watched!! Grrrrrrrrrr

    • One answer to that is because the actual numbers of people fiddling the system is low. We’re much easier to find. Though my personal view is that, on the subject of the sick and disabled, Cameron has lost his marbles.

  11. I wish it came as a shock, but being French, I am used to this being meted to anyone “on the sick”… In France (and please do not take this as approval, I am merely reporting the facts!), if you’re signed off, you are only allowed to go out between certain daytime hours (the exact numbers escape me, something like between 9-6), and yes, there could be a SS (Social Security, although the other definition would probably work just as well) officer knocking on your door at any time, they do random inspections and if you’re not home when you should be, things can go very badly for you… As for going away or abroad, no chance.

    Notwithstanding the above, seems to me that the little gem you have found is a clear breach of the Human Rights Act and the enshrined “respect for private and family life” part.

  12. Well my answer to the “tell us if you go out” will be to take it literally, ie every time I go out ANYWHERE I will call them. If everybody does this it will send the system into meltdown. Does anybody know how people already on IB+IS will be swapped over? Is there a time plan for this?

  13. In essence the Government appear to want us to be big brother and spy on our selves and our families. I think this one would be extremely difficult to enforce as the length of “a day” looks like it has not been defined clearly enough. The object is to cause as much fear and soul searching as possible, one must remember that the majority of people are honest when making a benefit claim, this little beauty preys on the “ultra” honest.

    Let me explain, if this rule was read by or read to someone who was mentally vunerable then because of thier own paranoia they could become a) housebound, fearing they were being constantly watched or b) cause them to constantly report going out, for whatever reason or c) and I think this is the aim, cause them to stop claiming. Its a mine field for the Government and for the claimant.

    My wife works, does that mean I should report her absence for the time she is “away”.

    What constitutes a day?

    So why impose such strict rules on benefit claimants? well it seems that this was the way of the previous Labour Government, which has been leapt upon by the present Tory led sham, who have siezed the opportunity of persecuting those they see as a drain on society.

    What next “useless eaters” then the euthinasia teams? Is that the distant rumble of cattle trucks I hear?

  14. when the New Deal was launched back in 1997 there was a clause in the provider guidance which stated that in the event of the death of a claimants child then one day’s discretionary leave ‘may’ be offered from the work experience programme

  15. Pingback: ‘A police state for #benefit claimants?’ asks Ron #mhuk #ESA | Dawn Willis sharing the News & Views of the Mentally Wealthy

  16. I picked up on this quite a while ago, during one of the many, stressful
    (and unnecessary) reclaims for ESA (assessment phase). I thought, “Well shit”, if I could be out of the house for that arbitrary period of time, I could put that time to good use. I could be on a course one evening a week and then spend the next 6 days recovering from that flurry of social interaction and mobility amongst the general public, at a classmates house, because I really need meds and sleep. I actually did that, a long, long time ago. But I hadn’t been diagnosed at that point. Makes sense now. Boy, if I got investigated, hope they didn’t find out I was trying to better myself! Clearly, that sort of behavior should be, at the very least, discouraged. If not stamped out entirely.

  17. So they want us to be permanently housebound in order to claim ESA. They don’t want you to leave the house at all, even for a day, but then they are saying that they want you to attend work-focused interviews and ultimately work!! Where’s the logic in that?? So each time I have to go to the doctors or hospital, I have to let them know, even though I have to have help and support to get out?

    If I want to see my family they come and pick me up and look after me…does that mean I will never see my family?? Shocking and diabolical breach of human rights.

  18. The requirement to notify jobcentreplus or any other government authority regarding a day out isn’t being enforced. It’s one of those ludicrous rules which has been invented by some whitehall mandarin who as previously stated hasn’t got a clue about the real world.

    I’ve had the odd day out myself and the jobcentre via one of my vindictive neighbours reported me to the jobcentre. The jobcentre mentioned it to me, i denied it, then they said don’t worry we can’t prove anything and i would need to be caught red-handed by an official which they wouldn’t assign to such a thing as it’s not cost effective.

    So iwould say to anyone go out and enjoy your day and relax!!

    • One experience proves nothing – as with so many things, people are the problem. Had you got a different person at the Job Centre, events might have gone differently

      As I’ve said so many times, I don’t see how it can be enforced – that won’t stop some prick from trying, and the fact that the rule exists means that, at some point, some bugger will try.

      Anyway, the very existence of the rule, currently enforced or not, is an affront to any right-thinking person.

  19. Right next to where i live theres about 4/5 disabled older ppl live. And almost everyday a big blue van with black windows pulls up and parks for hours at a time….makes you wonder,,well it makes me wonder anyway,i would put nothing past them.

  20. Ron, you said,
    “Anyway, the very existence of the rule, currently enforced or not, is an affront to any right-thinking person.”
    That it is. I had to make a somewhat expanded follow up on my own website. I hope you don’t mind that I used your picture.

  21. Soon they will implant microchips into our brains to check the bit that registers Willingness-to-Work.

    • Last year, when I learned I was dying, I was, well, just a tad uptight about it.

      Tomorrow, when Cameron rolls out the Parliament Acts to over-rule the House of Lords, I think I might just have the best of the deal.

      Ron.

    • joy, the only reason why they don’t is… you guessed it, criminals have rights.

      The Government is free to do what it likes under so-called administrative law, however, when it comes to criminal law, the criminal has rights and of course is “innocent until proven guilty”.

      Very sorry to hear that Ron.

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