We are being informed that Job Centre Plus advisers are wrongly informing claimants that following the High Court ruling ‘nothing has changed’. This is in fact incorrect. As things currently stand following the ruling by three judges in the Court of Appeal on 12th February, our understanding is that:
1) If people are currently under sanctions from the unlawful schemes, these sanctions should be lifted immediately and they should be put back to first tier sanctions. If you are currently under sanction from one of the unlawful schemes but it has not been lifted, please get in touch.
2) Unless people have been sent updated notices under reg 5 of the new regulations then there cannot be a requirement for them to attend any of the schemes they have been sent on (except Mandatory Work Activity). As Public Interest Lawyers put it:
“The DWP made it clear in submissions to the court that the immediate effect of the judgment was that they would be unable to require people to attend affected schemes and that must be the case. Until lawful Regulations are passed and new notifications are sent out I struggle to see how attendance can be required on the affected schemes.”
3) Unless the government wins the right to appeal to the Supreme Court and wins that appeal, then people who were sanctioned on any of the unlawful schemes should be paid the benefits that were withheld. The government has indicated it will not consider paying this until the appeal decision has been made and has issued misleading guidance to Job Centre staff to tell people that they cannot appeal before then. This is not the case and in some instances you can lose your right to appeal if you do not do so within a month. See the very useful update from Child Poverty Action Group here. As soon as a model letter to appeal is available, we will share it here.
So, for anyone say on a 6 month sanction that sanction should be immediately lifted, their benefits reinstated and they should then go back to the first tier of sanctions (they cannot impose the longer sanctions until there has been the repeated failure to participate).
This week workfare has been judged to have been unlawful. The following companies and charities are involved in workfare:
Poundland, Argos, ASDA
AGE UK, YMCA England, Salvation Army, Sue Ryder, RSPCA, PDSA
There are many more organisations which are profiting from people forced to work on unlawful schemes on this list here.
We hope this helps clarify the situation for people, and we ask them to remind these companies and charities of their shameful behaviour.