Saturday, November 15, 2014

Judge brands DWP jobseeker’s agreement ‘unlawful’, after action by disabled claimant

A judge has told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that part of the agreement signed by out-of-work benefit claimants does not comply with the law, following a legal challenge from a disabled job-seeker.

The comments by Judge Christopher Ward in the upper tribunal could potentially affect millions of disabled and non-disabled people who felt they had to sign DWP’s jobseeker’s agreements in order to continue to receive out-of-work benefits.

Judge Ward said that this failure to comply with the law meant the jobseeker’s agreement breached Chris Hart’s rights, because he was told he did not have the right to have the document examined before he signed it.

Hart believes the jobseeker’s agreement – which sets out what someone has agreed to do to find work – is in fact a social behaviour contract, a conclusion he says DWP has not challenged.

This means that every jobseeker’s agreement – and its subsequent enforcement by DWP – is “potentially an utter violation of the principles of the rule of law”, because the basis of the contract is to enforce behaviour through mechanisms such as sanctions, without informing the claimant that that is what they are agreeing to sign.