Author Topic: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses  (Read 19150 times)

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #30 on: March 20, 2015, 07:18:18 PM »
I met a 62 year old ex-scaffolder today who had been ordered to attend a 2hr course on Microsoft word. He doesn,t even have a computer!!!!

Given his age, this is even more of a waste of time and money. After all, he could apply to start receiving a reduced rate old age pension from the age of 63. If not, he'll be a pensioner for sure in three years time.

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #31 on: March 24, 2015, 04:54:08 AM »
Social Security are refusing to answer any more FOI requests about the Breach 3 jobseeker sanction - how convenient!

Today I received a reply from Freedom of Information refusing my request for information about which specific components of income support jobseekers were receiving when their claims were closed after the issue of a Breach 3 notice. It appears that Social Security have decided that they will not supply any further information relating to Breach 3 sanctions - not to me or to anyone else.

The SS has decided to make use of the 'aggregation of related requests' get-out clause in Regulation 3 of the Freedom of Information (Costs)(Jersey) Regulations 2014. They have linked together this latest request of mine with four earlier FOI requests also concerning aspects of the Breach 3 sanction and referred to them as "the same or similar information." By doing this, they can then aggregate together the total staff costs of supplying all five requests, thereby conveniently getting the total to exceed the statutory £500 specified amount. You can read the relevant costs regulations here:

http://www.jerseylaw.je/law/display.aspx?url=LawsInForce\htm\ROFiles\R%26OYear2014/R%26O-187-2014.htm

Regulation 3(2) states that "same or similar" requests can be aggregated if they are received "within any period of 60 consecutive working days or such longer period as is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case." Therefore, on the face of it, I could try resubmitting the same refused request again in a couple of months time. However, I am concerned that the wording of the law enables Social Security to extend this period beyond 60 working days. Given that the final say on extending this 60-day deadline would be in the hands of Emma Martins or one of her cronies, this is not encouraging news at all. After all, they are currently getting away with stopping the benefits of jobseekers for an indefinite period of time even though the law states that this breach period lasts for 6 weeks, so I can see them trying to indefinitely extend the 60-day FOI period too, if they think they can pull that one off.

The information that I had asked for was important because it would have revealed for the first time, amongst other things, whether any benefit paid in respect of children has been stopped as a result of a jobseeker receiving a Breach 3 sanction notice. During question time in the States on 3rd February 2015, Deputy Judy Martin asked the Social Security Minister to supply the same information. Deputy Pinel responded that she would. However, since then, no question about this has been asked in the States. Either the two politicians corresponded privately, which is of absolutely no benefit from a freedom of information perspective, or Deputy Martin just hasn't bothered to follow up on this. It should be pointed out that Deputy Martin first raised her concerns about the effect of the Breach 3 on other family members during the States debate on 8th October 2013, but to my knowledge, she has not lodged any questions on the subject since then.

I would hope that someone in the States Chamber would do the responsible thing and finally ask this question of the Minister, but I won't be holding my breath. In the meantime, here is my refused request in full, originally submitted on 12th March 2015 (FOI ref: 202-03-59871):

Out of the 107 income support claims that were closed after the issue of a Breach 3 or subsequent breach notice to a jobseeker between 15th October 2013 and 31st December 2014 under Regulation 5B (4) of the Income Support (Jersey) Regulations 2007 (information previously supplied in F.O.I. request ref: 2020352924 dated 16 February 2015), how many of these 107 closed claims were in receipt of the following components:

(1) The adult rate basic component under article 5(2)(a) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(2) The single parent rate basic component under article 5(2)(b) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(3) The child rate basic component under article 5(2)(c) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(4) The household rate basic component under article 5(2)(d) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(5) The housing special component under article 5(3)(a) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(6) The impairment special component under article 5(3)(b) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(7) The child day care special component under article 5(3)(c) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

(8 ) The carer’s special component under article 5(3)(d) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007?

« Last Edit: March 24, 2015, 05:23:27 AM by Jerry Gosselin »

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2015, 06:46:30 PM »
The States of Jersey website has now published the full disclosure to my request for a breakdown of the costs of Social Security's Employment Services in 2012 and 2013, which can be viewed here:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1262


This is the same disclosure that I previously referred to in a comment on another thread on 25th March 2015, where I revealed that £4 million of these £8.1 million costs in 2013 were staff costs. You can read that post here:

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3789.msg59862#msg59862


The FOI reference for this request is 202-03-58684. My request was submitted on 25th February 2015 and the response from the States was received on 24th March 2015.

A couple of things of interest- note that 'Employer Incentives and other grants' rose from £20,000 in 2012 to £707,000 in 2013 and in the very final paragraph they mention some of the things that come under the heading of 'other costs', including 'marketing' and 'rents'. A lot of their marketing is free because the Establishment media just reports whatever job scheme they're currently hyping without any criticism. Nevertheless, I reckon they still waste a huge amount on pointless marketing, for example by publishing a thick, glossy booklet to promote the Jobsfest 'season', like it was a major tourism event to get excited about or something.
Rents: I am sure we would all like to know how much per year they are chucking at hotels like the Radisson and The Royal, not to mention The Quakers of course.

If a dedicated costs slasher like Keen was ever given free reign to go into that Department and sort things out, he would probably have the best few months of his entire life and come out of it with his reputation enhanced, having saved the taxpayer multiple millions.
 

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2015, 11:17:16 PM »
Any disclosures on how much TTS are paying to employ and house trainee site supervisors from UK?
There are at least 8 of them I know of. (Probably more).

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #34 on: April 12, 2015, 06:00:20 PM »
Sorry Fritz but I can't help you on that one as I don't know enough about the circumstances of their employment and it would take a great deal of time examining lengthy States reports (like the 241-page one below and many others) to try to find some mention of it. I've done some searching today of States Questions but can't find any obvious reference to these site supervisors.

As for the cost of Social Security's 'Employment Services' (£8.1 million in 2013/ £4.8 million in 2012), this may now have risen a further £3 million for 2015!  :o

According to page 100 of the report 'Annual Update to the MTFP Department Annex for 2015' (R.167/2014 - link below), Social Security's 2015 revised net revenue expenditure for 'Employment Services' is now budgeted at an enormous £11,155,900 with a 2015 FTE staff headcount of 95. Remember that this is in spite of the number of registered unemployed having been dropping consistently since March 2013.

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyReports/2014/R.167-2014.pdf


Caution- the above document is 241 pages long!

« Last Edit: April 12, 2015, 06:03:24 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline boatyboy

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2015, 11:26:25 PM »


I agree that, Mr Keen certainly needs to examine staffing at social security and almost £12 million staff spend is completely nuts.

It may be admirable for the Government to try and help people get work, but here is the catch, if the Government creates a decent economic positive foundation for business.

Cuts red tape growth and employment should happen kind of organically not spend almost £12 million and  employ 95 staff at a job centre.

 BB

 

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2015, 06:23:28 PM »
Jersey jobseekers are NOT required to declare previous convictions or "out of court disposals" on the Jobseeker's Agreement form if they do not want to - despite the form's blatantly misleading words to the contrary

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 27th August 2015 after months of searching):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1307


FOI Reference No: 202-03-61247

Date of Request: 27 March 2015

Date of Response: 24 April 2015

Request:

1. Confirm that when income support claimants who are jobseekers are asked to disclose “previous convictions” on their Jobseeker’s Agreement form, the Department requires the jobseeker to include relevant details of any ‘out of court disposals’ obtained either as a child or an adult in the UK and other jurisdictions about which the Jersey Rehabilitation of Offenders legislation is currently silent, for example, UK warnings and cautions or “protected cautions” and “protected convictions”. If it does not require the jobseeker to provide details of such out of court disposals, explain why the jobseeker is not informed of this.

2. Confirm that in spite of the existence of a UK Supreme Court ruling in 2014 declaring that the UK Government had violated a person’s right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence (article 8 of the ECHR) by disclosing details of two warnings obtained during childhood on that person’s Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate, the Department nevertheless still believes that it is not breaching human rights law by collecting, retaining and sharing substantially the same data (including details of parish hall enquiries) in respect of all Jersey jobseeker benefit claimants.

3. Confirm that when it asks the jobseeker to disclose “previous convictions” on the Jobseeker’s Agreement form, the Department requires the jobseeker to include relevant details of any convictions that are classed as ‘spent’ under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Jersey) Law 2001. If it does not require the jobseeker to provide details of such ‘spent’ convictions, explain why the jobseeker is not informed of this or the existence of the Rehabilitation of Offenders legislation.

4. Confirm that the Department extracts the data obtained from the Jobseeker’s Agreement relating to criminal convictions and then uses it for the purpose of providing a general criminal conviction vetting service for the benefit of all prospective employers who contact the Department with details of a vacancy that they wish to fill, whereby such employers are asked at the first point of contact whether or not they will consider employing jobseekers with criminal convictions and depending on their answer, the Department then filters out the applications of certain jobseekers according to their known criminal convictions.

5. Confirm that by offering this criminal conviction vetting service to prospective employers, the Department thereby holds a database of the names of all jobseekers identifying them with respect to their criminal conviction status and that the Department does not routinely supply the information held on this database to jobseekers who make a Subject Access Request to the Department for details held about them by Back to Work and other similar Department entities.

States of Jersey Response:

1. The current JobSeeker’s Agreement (JSA) is designed to prompt a conversation regarding previous convictions so that the Employment Adviser can provide advice and assist in the search for suitable employment. The jobseeker is not required to declare previous convictions or “out of court disposals” if they do not want to, but the JSA is intended to promote honesty and to avoid wasted time in putting the client forward for unsuitable roles and to give advice on how to approach discussion of convictions with future employers. The JSA is completed by the adviser with the jobseeker present and is a record of the discussion between them when this is all explained.

2. It is not possible to answer the question with reference to the UK Supreme Court ruling as no reference code has been provided, and that ruling is made in consideration of a specific set of circumstances which may not apply to the department’s processes. However, as stated in the response to part 1, the jobseeker does not have to disclose criminal convictions but disclosing relevant convictions means the employment adviser can ensure the jobseeker is only put forward for suitable roles and this is done with the jobseeker’s agreement.

3. The Jobseeker’s agreement is completed as part of a discussion with the Adviser. Current procedure is that the jobseeker is not required to provide detail of any convictions including spent: it is up to the jobseeker what they choose to disclose. There are some jobs where even spent convictions would still class the jobseeker as unsuitable and so full disclosure ensures the jobseeker is not put forward for unsuitable roles. If disclosing convictions, either spent or unspent, then jobseekers would be advised appropriately regarding the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Jersey) Law 2001 and further advice sought if necessary.

4. The Department does not provide a criminal conviction vetting service for employers.

The current procedure is that employers are asked when placing a vacancy with the Department if the role requires a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (which the employer would carry out themselves after recruitment). This is asked so that jobseekers whose conviction would prevent them from carrying out certain roles do not apply unnecessarily.

If someone is working on an unpaid work placement organised by the

Department in a role where a DBS check is required then in this case the Department (rather than employer) will organise for this check to take place for the placement to go ahead.

5. The Department does not provide a criminal conviction vetting service for employers and does not have a database of jobseekers to identify them by their criminal conviction status.

Current procedure is that when any barrier or limitation to finding employment, including a criminal conviction, is declared by the jobseeker then it is recorded on the Department’s database if it is relevant to their jobseeking expectations. This information would be provided if requested in a Subject Access Request to the Department.


My comments on the above:


This is a landmark disclosure for me, as it has taken nearly two years of persistent hard work to get to the stage where Social Security have been forced to make a public statement (or any statement for that matter) conceding that jobseekers do not have to declare previous convictions on the Jobseeker's Agreement form (and presumably that also applies to other 'sensitive personal data' such as health problems and even information of a less sensitive nature). However, read the following statements that appear on the most recent version (5th February 2015) of the Jobseeker's Agreement form and see if you can spot the blindingly obvious contradictions between what they have said in their FOI response and what their Job Coaches and Mentors are reading out to jobseekers when they are alone together in a private interview room (I have added my own bold font to particularly misleading words or phrases):

Statement 1 extracted from the Jobseeker's Agreement form (version dated 5th February 2015):


“You need to be honest regarding anything which may affect you being able to find, carry out or maintain work – i.e. health problem, criminal record, drug or alcohol problem etc.”


However, what they actually mean to say here is you don't need to be honest if you really don't want to!  ::)

Statement 2 extracted from the Jobseeker's Agreement form (version dated 5th February 2015):


“Should you have any previous convictions, parish hall enquiries or prosecutions pending you need to advise us accordingly.”


However, what they really mean to say here is that you don't need to advise them of any of the above things if you really don't want to! (and particularly not parish hall enquiries as they are a private hearing and therefore analogous to UK "out of court disposals" - such as warnings and cautions - the retention and disclosure to third parties of which could violate the jobseeker's article 8 ECHR rights)

There is also a separate box on the first page of the form where details of "criminal convictions" can be included. However, there is absolutely no further description provided of what constitutes a "criminal conviction". The Jobseeker's Agreement completely fails to inform the jobseeker of the existence of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Jersey) Law 2001 and its underlying Regulations. Furthermore, it does not inform the jobseeker that offences which are defined as ‘spent’ in accordance with this law need not be disclosed unless a question is asked in certain specific situations that are listed in the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Jersey) Regulations 2002, which are available to read here:

http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f08%2f08.840.50_RehabiliationofOffenders%28Exceptions%29Regs2002_RevisedEdition_1January2015.htm


Information relating to criminal convictions and health problems are classed as 'sensitive personal data' for data protection purposes. This means that the explicit (i.e. absolutely clear) consent of the data subject is required. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office website contains the following information about consent:

Quote
“Consent obtained under duress or on the basis of misleading information does not adequately satisfy the conditions for processing.”

In the case of jobseekers, many of whom are desperate not to do anything which could lead to their income support being stopped, I would say that the manner in which the Social Security Department collects this deeply private information is not only clearly misleading but has also been obtained under duress, because the jobseeker is left with the impression not only that the information has to be provided but that failure to provide it could have serious consequences.

At which point I shall now quote a third and final extract which appears on the last page of the Jobseeker's Agreement, right next to the 'Declaration & Authorisation' that the jobseeker is forced to sign:

Quote
Warning

Any person who knowingly makes any false statement or false representation for the purposes of obtaining benefit for themselves or for someone else commits a criminal offence for which they may be prosecuted, and may also be required to repay the amount fraudulently obtained.”

The Adviser / Job Coach has explained the above to me and I understand my obligations and responsibilities as a Jobseeker. I also understand that by failing to comply with Income Support legislation, my Income Support claim may be affected. I am aware of whom and what constitutes my Income Support Unit, and that in the event of my Income Support being affected, all adult members of my Income Support Unit will be notified.


Regarding the threat of prosecution contained in the first paragraph above: whilst this statement would not cause a problem on the main income support application form (when the household declares its income and assets etc. in order to claim benefits), its inclusion for actively seeking work purposes is not only irrelevant but highly misleading. To be clear- the jobseeker cannot be prosecuted for failing to provide the 'sensitive personal data' that the Jobseeker's Agreement requests, yet the statement is strategically placed right above the space where the jobseeker signs to give his/her consent to disclose this information to third parties. It has been placed there in order that it is the most obvious and unavoidable thing that the jobseeker notices as he/she signs the authorisation.

Now here is the worst part of this. Both the Channel Islands Data Protection Commission and the States Complaints Board have received complaints during the last two years about the legality of the consent authorisations contained on the Jobseeker's Agreement and both organisations, in full knowledge, have refused to uphold those complaints. In the case of the States Complaints Board, it refused to convene a public hearing and rejected the complaint at an early stage.

This is a public scandal and refusing to deal with it won't make it disappear (well at least not as long as I'm still around and breathing).
« Last Edit: August 27, 2015, 09:58:39 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline boatyboy

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #37 on: April 24, 2015, 10:43:21 PM »

When I was 17 I did some thing stupid, after a small fine and a telling off by a judge, which was thoughly deserved I obviously had a record all be it for a minor stupid offence.

Many decades on should I be job hunting and did not disclose this to my interviewer, at social security it appears I could be in deep  trouble the way the form is worded. The form says I must tell all without mentioning, as you have found out Jerry that it should be optional for past spent crimes. So again a civil servant " non job " has put the department they work for above the law.

My only concern is what constitutes a spent conviction and was it a one off or a recuring crime. There needs to be some clarity to protect an employer. As an ex- employer, I never had the time or inclination to do police checks or anything of that nature just relied on past references as with most small businesses.

BB

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #38 on: April 26, 2015, 06:59:20 PM »

My only concern is what constitutes a spent conviction and was it a one off or a recuring crime.

BB

Good question. More difficult to answer though! First of all, let me make it clear that I believe Jersey's Rehabilitation of Offenders Law is unlikely to be compatible with article 8 of the ECHR as a result of the Supreme Court judgment that I referred to in paragraph 2 of my FOI request above*. This is because the 2001 Jersey law fails to even acknowledge the existence of out of court disposals such as UK warnings, cautions, reprimands and their Jersey equivalent- parish hall sanctions. Yet in May 2013, as a result of that ongoing court case, the government introduced a filtering system so that certain old and minor cautions and spent convictions became "protected" after, I believe, 6 years (cautions) or 11 years (convictions).  If a caution or conviction is recognised as "protected", the person no longer has to declare it even when applying for a job mentioned in the UK Exceptions Order, nor will they appear on a UK standard or enhanced disclosure certificate issued by the DBS. Remember that the Government didn't make these changes out of the goodness of its heart- it made them because it realised its previous disclosure regime was not compatible with article 8, ECHR. The latest detailed guidance on the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, valid from 10th March 2014, can be viewed here in PDF format:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/299916/rehabilitation-of-offenders-guidance.pdf


Disregarding these obvious human rights shortcomings in the 2001 Jersey Law, there are nevertheless glaring inconsistencies in the rehabilitation periods that apply to certain sentences before they are regarded as spent under Jersey Law compared to the equivalent 1974 UK Law. For example, under UK Law, a fine imposed on a person aged 18 years or over becomes spent after 1 year. However, under Jersey Law, it only becomes spent after 5 years. This means that a person who received a fine in the UK more than a year ago would not ordinarily have to disclose it when applying for jobs in the UK, but would still have to disclose it when applying for a similar job in Jersey - ridiculous! Likewise, under the UK Law, a custodial sentence of over 4 years or a public protection sentence can never become spent, whereas under Jersey Law, any sentence over 30 months (2.5 years) can never become spent.

It is not just Social Security who are likely breaching human rights law. For example, last year, Jersey Post were still asking for details of parish hall sanctions to be declared by applicants for seasonal postal delivery jobs. Presumably this means that Jersey Police would then have disclosed to Jersey Post details of the parish hall sanctions of these applicants and by doing, so, very likely breached human rights law themselves. This is despite the major shortcomings that were exposed a decade ago in the Harry Cole Royal Court case (I believe he lost his case against Jersey Post but later won against Jersey Police). I have so far been unable to identify under which source of law Jersey Police disclose conviction details to employers. In the UK, it was the Police Act 1997 which was found to be unlawful and had to be amended.



* This case started out in the High Court as R (T) v (1) Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, (2) Secretary of State for the Home Department (Secretary of State for Justice an interested party) [2012] EWHC 147 (Admin). You can read a brief account of it here (the government won in the High Court in 2012):

http://www.theopinionsite.org/crb-check-appeal-fails-over-police-warning-given-when-aged-11/


Then the government lost in the Court of Appeal in January 2013, prompting law changes:

http://www.panopticonblog.com/2013/01/29/court-of-appeal-declares-criminal-records-regime-incompatible-with-article-8/


Then the government lost its appeal in the Supreme Court in 2014 in respect of the incompatibility with article 8, ECHR of the Police Act 1997 but won its appeal in respect of the incompatibility of the Rehabiltation of Offenders Exceptions Order:

http://blog.justis.com/case-digest-r-on-the-application-of-t-and-another-v-secretary-of-state-for-the-home-department-and-another

« Last Edit: April 26, 2015, 07:11:41 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #39 on: May 11, 2015, 06:55:35 PM »
Here is something else that I did not mention regarding Social Security's potentially unlawful processing of benefit claimants' personal data (see my post of 24th April 2015 above).

If any benefit claimant has ever sought advice from the Jersey branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau on the legality of Social Security's policies, particularly in relation to data protection, fraud or compliance issues, they should be aware that CAB's Chief Executive, Malcolm Ferey, worked at Social Security before replacing Francis Le Gresley at CAB in November 2010. He held the position of Social Security's Data Protection Officer and before that he had responsibility for fraud and compliance.

Extract from a submission dated 27th May 2014 made by Malcolm Ferey to the Access to Justice in Jersey Review:
Quote
I am Malcolm Ferey, my career background is that after a period of time working in the finance industry, where I gained a qualification in financial planning, I moved into the Civil Service and worked at the Social Security Department, having responsibilities for Fraud and Compliance. After obtaining a qualification in Data Protection law, I went on to become the Department’s Data Protection Officer.

I would therefore regard Mr. Ferey and his organisation as not independent and impartial when it comes to advising benefit claimants on the legality of Social Security's policies. Yes- it is not denied that they are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to advising on Social Security issues but there is a good reason why they have managed to acquire that high level of inside knowledge and expertise and it is not the same thing as offering that advice with a truly independent and impartial mind, or with the intention of always giving priority to the best interests of the claimant. CAB clearly has very close and friendly ties with Social Security and the parishes built up over several decades and one has to ask what would happen to those ties if CAB advisers suddenly started telling benefit claimants that Social Security were potentially treating them unlawfully and suggesting ways to take action? The most recently released States information (see link below) confirms that CAB received £278,830 in grant aid from the States of Jersey during the year ending 31st December 2013, which is a sharp rise on previously declared figures. What would happen to Jersey CAB and the quality of its services if the States became annoyed with them and decided to drastically reduce the size of their annual grant? I am sure Mr. Ferey and his staff have very carefully pondered the same question. CAB is seriously conflicted - even a blind man can see that!

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyReports/2015/R.41-2015.pdf

« Last Edit: May 11, 2015, 07:00:36 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #40 on: May 12, 2015, 02:01:30 AM »
Are C.A.B. Going to,"Have their wings clipped", if they give proper advice to claimants on the benefits that they are entitled to?
SS Officers are already,"Very backward at coming forward", when it comes to fully informing claimants what they are legally entitled to. Its usually left to the claimant to ask around to find out what their legal entitlements are.
There are a few ,"Bar Fly Experts", already making a nice little earner as advisers for the price of a pint.
SS staff should be totally honest with claimants and let them know exactly what they are entitled to. IE . Advise them.
Folk who have never been out of work for 25-30 yrs should not have to turn to the ,"Expert Unemployed", for advice.

Offline boatyboy

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #41 on: May 12, 2015, 05:32:24 AM »
While on the subject of the Social security department, some time back they listed my earnings for the year at £500,000 at that time I had my accounts finalised by an accountant whom I phoned up. He urged me not to sign anything, so I did not, but sent him a copy and wrote back asking if the tea lady was now assessing earnings potential or maybe the new office junior as the figures were ridiculous.

My accountant said he would speak with them as my earnings were sadly no where near that high, sadly  ??? The accountant man new my liability for tax and social security.

Here comes the most desperately awkward and dishonest part.

A month or so later later my accountant after writing, received a phone call from a very senior bod from social security, it started well, he apologised saying the department was in a mess, and they had got my figures wrong so in future I needed to pay the much reduced  sum of ££££.

Now if you are reading this be afraid, be very afraid as I was lucky and had a senior accountant standing in front of me who new the system and formula's.

So Mr accountant says sorry that is  " FAR TO MUCH "  he should be paying this amount. The reply from the senior officer was ok go on then, I guess that will do, we will agree on your suggested amount.

My accountant slightly angry, phoned me and related the conversation he had just had. How many self employed small businesse's owners are paying to much ? If this is the attitude of a top man in the States Social Security Department God help us all.

If you think you are paying to much there is a good chance you are, get the formula and detailed small print regarding exceptions, allowances etc in black and white, or pay someone who knows their system inside out.

Boatyboy.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 05:40:43 AM by boatyboy »

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #42 on: May 13, 2015, 06:44:53 AM »
Off topic, but I,m sure there will be a few ,"Legal eagles", reading.

Does anyone know what should be done if a member of the public sends an anonymous letter to your office complaining about one of your employees?
Is it Slander or Libel?
I normally file these things in the bin simply because they are not signed.
However. I got one a few weeks ago about one of my employees which was particularly venomous,(I immediately gave the employee a hard copy and took no further action), and later found out it had also been sent to a ,"Hobby Bobby", who had approached a government department who in turn contacted me, "Officially", in order to record the,"Incident", and bring closure to the contract.
 What bothers me is that if I did not know the employee personally, and be in a position to explain what happened to the government department representatives and put the supposed,"Incident", to bed early. The guy could have lost his job on the say so of an anonymous complainant. The ,"Hobby Bobby", in my opinion, had no right to contact the government department without contacting me first. Also,in my opinion, should I decide to take this matter further. The ,"Hobby Bobby", is compliant in libel/slander against my employee if he knows the identity of the anonymous letter sender.
 Like I said. I hope there is a legal eagle reading this to advise me. (Just defining the difference between slander and libel will do for a kick-off. Then i want to know if harmful poison-pen letters are illegal). Like I intimated earlier. If i didn,t know this guy personally and we were a big company he could have lost his job on the strength of a poison-pen letter that a ,"Hobby Bobby", took forward to a government department.

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #43 on: May 16, 2015, 06:27:24 PM »

In effect, the States introduced an indefinite financial penalty when they approved Le Gresley's proposition, even though there was absolutely nothing mentioned in his report or uttered during the debate that suggested the disallowance period could continue to operate beyond that initial 6 week period. Another way of describing it would be an indeterminate sentence with the affected household members not having any guarantee of how long the maximum length of the sentence will be when it is imposed. Did States Members fully understand what they were approving and the potential legal ramifications for the island if and when a human rights challenge is raised by a Breach 3 recipient?

Moreover, the continuation of this indefinite financial penalty cannot be challenged by the affected claimant household by means of an appeal to the 'independent' Social Security Tribunal under the Income Support legislation. This is because the Department, whilst refusing to allow the claimant to re-apply for income support, doesn't actually make any official 'determination' as such, so no letter is sent to the claimant informing them of the decision, along with their statutory right to appeal it. Only one appeal on grounds of good cause (typically stating reasons for missing an interview) can be made against the issue of the Breach 3 itself, but even that takes at least 6 months to reach the level of a Tribunal hearing, by which time the household would most likely have been evicted unless alternative means of income could be found to replace the lost benefit. However, the disallowance also affects payment of the housing subsidy for tenants, so even if the sanctioned jobseeker quickly gained paid employment after the start of the disallowance but that employment was less than 35 hours a week, he/she would still be required to continue 'actively seeking work' nonetheless. If the jobseeker could not satisfy the ASW requirements as well as holding down a job, then income support (including the housing subsidy if applicable) would continue to be witheld indefinitely and the jobseeker might still face eviction despite having long since returned to paid employment. It's an absolutely insane system, the product of a diseased mind in my opinion.

Just two months after I described the Breach 3 financial penalty as indefinite and indeterminate, it seems that some powerful people in our government were reading my words and understood the possible consequences if a human rights challenge were to be brought against a Breach 3 decision. As a result, the law is about to be changed to try to defeat any such challenge, although States Members obviously won't be told that this is the real reason. The underlying motive is this: change the law very quickly before any such human rights challenge reaches the Royal Court so that by the time the Court sits in judgment on the Department, the penalty will no longer be an indefinite one but a penalty now restricted to one year's complete disallowance of benefit for all members of the household.

Last Tuesday (12th May 2014), the Social Security Minister quietly included a small amendment to Regulation 5B which is effectively conceding my point that the Department's current policy of forcing Breach 3 recipients to satisfy a separate 6-consecutive week actively seeking work requirement in addition to the statutory 6-week breach period is unlawful. Surely it can't be a coincidence? On page 9 of the report accompanying P.52/2015, the amendment is described in the following (highly misleading) terms:
Quote

Regulation 2 amends Regulation 5B of the principal Regulations. Regulation 5B
provides that a person who has been given a warning, because he or she has not been
actively seeking work, and is still not actively seeking work, may be given notice that
he or she is in breach of the warning. These amendments revise the duration of a third
or subsequent warning.

Currently, a third or subsequent breach of a warning lasts for 42 days. The amendment
has the effect that a third or subsequent breach will last until whichever is the earlier
of –

· the person in breach showing, to the satisfaction of a determining officer, that
he has been actively seeking work for a continuous period of 42 days
commencing on or after the day he or she was given notice of the breach; and

· the warning expiring.

The warning would expire 365 days after the day on which the person is last given
notice that he or she is in breach of it.

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2015/P.52-2015.pdf


So the Minister is admitting that under the current Regulations, "a third or subsequent breach of a warning lasts for 42 days", which is correct according to Regulation 5B(4):

http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f26%2f26.550.30_IncomeSupportRegulations2007_RevisedEdition_1January2015.htm#ID427


The Minister says that the amendment will "revise the duration of a third or subsequent warning" to a maximum of a year from the present 6 weeks and introduce a new ::) requirement for the Breach 3 jobseeker to satisfy a 6-consecutive week actively seeking work requirement.

Unfortunately, what the Minister has failed to inform States Members in the report is that although the 6-consecutive week actively seeking work requirement will be a new addition to the Regulations, the Department has nevertheless been enforcing this requirement on Breach 3 jobseekers since the current Regulations were passed in October 2013, without the knowledge or approval of the States Assembly.

Oh dear!  :-[

Jerry has caught them with their hands in the till. So the law has to change very quickly, but will any of the 49 States Members break ranks and use Question Time to ask the obvious questions that arise from this amendment:

1) Has the Department already been enforcing a 6-week actively seeking work requirement on Breach 3 jobseekers independently of the 6-week breach period stated in the Regulations? (The Minister would have no choice but to admit that the Department has indeed been enforcing this requirement).

2) If so, on what basis of law has the Department been enforcing this requirement and is it accessible to the public? (Err, um... I'll have to get back to you on that one!)

Unfortunately, I cannot see any States Member asking these questions, least of all Southern, and I cannot ask them myself because the Department is refusing to answer any more of my questions submitted by FOI request in respect of the Breach 3. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that this amendment to the law has been directly prompted by my campaigning efforts. I have finally got the States and the Law Officers on the defensive and believe me- this is just the start. I am aiming for a knockout before it is over.   
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 06:38:39 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2015, 08:05:47 PM »
The States Assembly today voted to legalise the Social Security Department's currently unlawful 6 consecutive week actively seeking work requirement imposed on jobseekers issued with a Breach 3 / Subsequent breach notice to make it lawful from next week (but can everyone please not mention the unlawful bit as it remains an official state secret within the Bailiwick, OK?). No questions at all were asked during the debate and only one person (Deputy Southern) spoke, but he appeared to be very confused between the various proposals contained in the three different propositions (P.50/51/52) and said nothing of any relevance. I can't quite believe how poorly researched he was, particularly as he is a member of the Scrutiny Panel that oversees Social Security matters. The 'debate'  ::) lasted well less than 15 minutes. Reform Jersey could not even get all their three Members to vote against the proposal, which says so much about the current standard of the opposition in the States.

The vote on retrospectively legalising the ASW requirement (although this obviously wasn't mentioned!) contained in P.52/2015 went as follows:

For: 35 Against 5 (Cameron, Southern, Vallois, Mezec and Doublet voting against).

It should not be assumed that these 5 Members who voted against were voting in full knowledge of what was being proposed because the concerns of Cameron, Doublet and Vallois actually related to the earlier proposals (in P.50/51) that affected women with children under school age and it appears that they were just carrying on these concerns into P.52. Southern was so confused that he mistakenly made his awful anti-sanctions speech two propositions too early. :-[

I actually heard Minister Pinel blatantly claim that the proposal does not increase the existing sanction period. First of all, the use of the word "sanction" by Pinel was legally confusing (deliberately?) as it strictly only relates to the 13-week sanction period of the adult rate basic component applicable to people who have been judged to have given up work without good cause. This was not at issue in this debate. She appeared to mean the "breach period" but I think she knew that if she had correctly used that phrase during the 'debate', she would be open to accusations from people like myself of misleading the House because it is absolutely clear that the effect of this amendment is to remove the current 6-week breach period contained in Regulation 5B(4) and replace it with a new stoppage of benefits to all members of the household (including children) that lasts until the jobseeker who has been issued with the Breach 3 either completes 6 consecutive weeks actively seeking work or the warning expires

As the warning officially expires after one year, it therefore means that, in statutory law at least although not in practice, the period that a household is in breach after the issue of a Breach 3 notice has now increased in law from a definite period of 6 weeks to an indefinite period with a minimum of 6 weeks and a maximum of a year, depending on whether or not, or when, the failed jobseeker in that household completes 6 consecutive weeks of actively seeking work.

Three important things must also be noted:

(1) Once the failed jobseeker is deemed to have completed 6 weeks of actively seeking work, it only allows that household to be issued with a new income support application form in order to start the re-application process, which itself is known to take at least a month or longer before payments actually recommence. So in reality, the maximum period that a Breach 3 household can remain without payment is longer than a year even after today's amendment;

(2) If the failed jobseeker finds employment but it is less than 35 hours per week, the Department still insists that the 6 consecutive week actively seeking work requirement is satisfied anyway, which means the jobseeker simultaneously working and visiting the Department during a period of financial chaos for that household when no income support at all is being paid and presumably they are getting behind with rent payments;

(3) There are no restrictions or limits in the Regulations on the amount of activities that the Department can require any particular jobseeker to undertake in order to continue to be classed as actively seeking work. If there are any such rules or guidelines in existence, they are not publicly accessible (unless through a FOI request but it is difficult to know how to request a document that may or not exist and whose title isn't known). This contrasts with UK statutory law, where any jobseeker who can prove that they took 3 steps to find work in a given week is legally classed as actively seeking work and can therefore rely on that clause of law for getting a wrongly-issued sanction overturned. In Jersey, a jobseeker could be able to prove that he/she took 20 or 30 steps to find work in a given week but still not have any idea whether or not the Tribunal would overturn a breach notice.
 
« Last Edit: June 23, 2015, 08:25:49 PM by Jerry Gosselin »