BARNET – STOP BENEFIT SANCTIONS
Jobcentre Granta House
1 Western Rd
London N22 6UH
This was an action today in Barnet.
Barnet activists have a demonstration to complain about sanctions on claimants. The job centre in Granta House has the highest number of sanctions imposed in the local area, particularly the young people in the local YMCA.
“Job centre refusing us entry to advocate on behalf of claimants.
Job centre refusing to tell us name of manager or have meeting with us”.
The live video streams gives a better explanation.
1. A young man who lost his phone ended up getting sanctioned as the job centre could not reach him.
2. Job centre staff have targets to reach. So they will look for reasons in order to sanction people.
Reverend Paul Nichols liaising with the police.
Letter from Reverend Paul Nicolson to Lord Freud – Minister for Welfare
re: Barnet Housing Action Group Protest Sept. 11 @ Wood Green Job Centre – No Sanctions, No Targets
11th September 2014
Dear Lord Freud,
I have just returned from a demonstration with UNITE Community outside Wood Green jobcentre against the excessive numbers of sanctions they impose, particularly against young people. The jobcentre is failing to tell the people they sanction that they should immediately apply to Haringey council for the reinstatement of their housing benefit; but the council stops the housing benefit. It takes so long to reinstate it that young tenants have been known to be evicted for failing to pay the rent, even by the local YMCA.
I am wondering whether Wood Green jobcentre, which I understand is now run my G4S, is aware of the following assurances you gave the House of Lords.
We spoke about the Wednesbury principles at our seminar, and I can reassure noble Lords that the decision-making process is and will continue to be consistent with these fundamental principles of public law. The department strives to ensure that no decision is influenced by irrelevant factors and that decision-makers act in a rational and fair manner, taking into account all relevant matters before exercising a discretion. For example, the primary legislation expressly sets out that a conditionality sanction applies only if there is no good reason for the failure. In determining whether there is such good reason, decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial circumstances. 25 Jan 2012 : Column 1062 I accept that there is room for improvement here, and we will make that improvement.
If this jobcentre has been handed to G4S then I have to ask if the DWP contract with them contains the requirement to “be consistent with these fundamental principles of public law” in every aspect of their dealings with the claimants of social security and what training of the staff about it have you required G4S to underatake. If the jobcentre is not contracted to G4S then on what date, and in what manner, was the manager of Wood Green jobcentre made aware of the Wednesbury Principles, and how is it included in their staffs training.
There is a second problem with Wood Green jobcentre. A single mother is suffering extreme financial hardship as a result of the passing of the “social fund” by the DWP to an underfunded Haringey Council. She was not allowed a companion with her while she spoke to the jobcentre official with whom she had an appointment. If such a companion had disrupted the proceedings in the job centre then she would have reasonably been ejected by G4S. But she was stopped at the door. It is a well-established legal principle that people representing themselves are allowed a McKenzie Friend to support them in all legal proceedings in which they are involved. Jobcentre enforcing the law of the land are included. It is Wednesbury unreasonable to deny claimants a friend with them at their appointments with Jobcentre Staff.
We would all be grateful if you would re-confirm to G4S, and all jobcentre management, your commitment to the fair, legal and reasonable treatment of jobcentre claimants, who may be accompanied by a friend, and ask one of your colleagues to place a copy your communication with Jobcentres in the House of Commons library.
With good wishes,