“Prove you’re a victim of domestic abuse” say DWP

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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.

They include;

“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.

If you have been, or are a victim of domestic abuse help can be found in many places such as Women’s Aid, for women and Mankind, for Men, helpline details below.

  • 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


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  • Truely shocking.You think the so called goverments can go no lower as universal credit has been proved not to work but to make a person go to such lengths after going through physical and /or physiological abuse when a fellow human being is at their lowest ebb but having to prove it in a massive building whilst being overheard by people at ajoining desks is worst than being cruel.Its a new question-how low will you go to save a few quid??I understand people abuse the system but there must be a better way than this.Its kicking someone when they are at rock bottom and have no self confidence at all.We should be building these people up not pushing them further down.No wonder peoples mental health in this country is at an all time low as a lot can be put onto the government making you jump through ridiculous hoops to get what you are entitled to.

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  • I have been the victim of both an abuser and then raped by the system. Victimizing victims, collective punishment is a War Crime, Crime Against Humanity. It is a classic text book tactic for “softening up” populations to better ensure the actions of REALLY oppressive systems of exploitation. Often the abuse is created from the abuse of the inhumane system it is their tool and they hone it. In a sick way they show us the one way to act, that to “get out’ away from the abuser-s any and all which is them.To change the status quo we would do well to be there for anyone ‘falling’ as much as we can with the aim that we are building a “shadow” society, a better, kinder one which together we may, nay, must make our real one.

    Thank you Alex, again

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  • Shocking really. I got ZERO points in an ESA Assessment. And they told me Domestic Violence wasn’t an illness when I queried it. Then they said I must not have used the exact words Domestic Violence. Then they said the assessor hadnt mentioned it so I must not have. Sigh. Of course I did. They fail to see the extreme mental suffering it can cause and the physical problems. Universal Credit is the most sadistic benefits system ever created. It’s designed to inflict massive mental pain and torture.

    I requested a mandatory reconsideration wrote an 8 page heartfelt letter. Attached police reference numbers, counselling referral letter, physio apt due to injury sustained and told them to contact my doctor for further information and that I was liasing with a womens organisation. I also told them I had been stalked and harrassed and my boyfriend had tried to break in after we had broken up. So I was very stressed out to put it mildly.

    They didnt contact anyone and didnt contact my doctor at any stage. Still got zero. They said it was not for them to contact my doctor! Em baffled. How do you do a medical assessment of someone if you dont contact their doctor? Me being on ESA was a temporary thing just till I got sorted re physio and counselling etc. But they act like you are fleecing the system. And it was the same low amount as JSA. There was no transitory period. I was just cut off. And the letter said my money had stopped at a date in the past. And nothing gets backdated. I seem to have lost about 2 months worth of benefits at least.

    My money stopped November. I got nothing till Feb when I got £249! (Including Rent!) I queried this and they went on about waiting times and lying months and assessment periods and nobody knows what they are talking about. Its a joke. My rent is £590 per month. I never know when my next payment is. Its like every 2 weeks and then every 3 weeks as theres like an assesment period every month. Plus its in arrears. I dont get it and no one can explain it to me. As the work coaches say theyre not trained on it. And even in advice centres people arent trained yet. And the system is “constantly changing”.

    Its horrific. I have a sick line and they have given me work commitments that I am finding it hard to cope with. And I keep getting threatened with sanctions which will be the next thing. I had to go in to hand in my sick note sit through a half hour appointment. Was given work commitments and told to accept them there and then on my phone. Pressure! I had no credit! She said if I didnt accept the work commitments Id be sanctioned.

    Then she said I had to come in the next week again. I said I didnt feel well. So she said shed phone me. Then she didnt and said she had but she had the wrong telephone number. Which I dont understand as I get constantly hounded by texts from Universal Credit. I didnt feel able to accept my work commitments on line but it said failure to do so will result in sanctions. So I had to. As Ive only got £249 in 3 months and cant afford to lose more.

    Anyway they said that having a sick line means nothing. As getting zero in an assessment overrides any sick line. I dont understand that. So are people going to get sanctioned for being sick! What if you get the flu or are in an accident. I have a sick line. I have given it to them. But they are treating me like I am 100% fit for work and disregarding it as I got zero in my ESA assessment. All this is really making me sick! Pushing me over the edge. 🙁

    The lady that did my assessment failed to mention domestic violence in my assessment even though I told her about it. Universal Credit is the worst thing that has happened to me in my entire life. I have 2 University Degrees and have worked most of my life. I hit a rough patch when my father died and I got sacked from a grim office job after he died. I ended up in low paid temping a while after that for a year or so. Then ended up in an abusive relationship then unemployed on JSA then ESA.

    They cut my ESA November. I had nothing over Christmas and New Year. I was not allowed to apply for a crisis loan. As they kept changing the goal posts. I am now financially destitute and in danger of imminent homelessness. And no money to even put my stuff in storage and I dont drive. As it was I was only getting about £70 per week and about 300 towards rent. So I was in debt anyway. But this new system does not even pay you what you are legally entitled to. Its just a total nightmare. And there is no help from anywhere.

    Its also not so easy to get a job and most are minimum wage and when you are not feeling well its even harder. I am just hoping to God that I can get some kind of crisis loan or I will basically get evicted. And all I really wanted to do was try and recover mentally from an abusive relationship I just managed to get out of before Christmas. Universal Credit are just as bad as being in a bad relationship!

    Oh yeah and I had to request an advance from them to help pay my rent. Which means I owe them money! Even though they owe me money! So I am already in debt to Universal Credit. AND in rent arrears. How is this allowed to happen to people. There seems to be no rules. This needs audited big time.

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  • Can’t believe that MSM say nothing about this wicked policy! Making victims bare their souls to the DWP so it can play god. The whole premise of this policy makes me sick. Thanks Alex, for continuing to expose our governments appalling treatment of people in desperate need of help. Amber Rudd & her toadies must feel almost omnipotent at times.