Planet Jersey

Peoples Politics Election 19th Oct. 2011 => States Departments => Topic started by: Jerry Gosselin on January 31, 2015, 05:31:29 AM

Title: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on January 31, 2015, 05:31:29 AM
I have created this thread to allow anyone to publish the responses they receive to their Jersey FOI requests. If the responses are that newsworthy, they might end up being quoted by official media outlets. In effect, from now on, ordinary members of the public who ask the questions that need to be asked could well end up writing a future front page headline in the JEP. It really is up to all of us individually to use the power of the FOI to create our own political agenda. If you feel, as I do, that our States Members consistently fail to ask the questions that need to be asked, then now's your chance to embarrass them and show that you're actually more worthy of the job than they are. I have a feeling that in the long term, FOI might have the indirect benefit of making some of Jersey's backbench States Members ask more relevant questions, or better worded questions that hit the target more effectively, or questions that are more capable of causing controversy or are of such politically sensitive nature that previously they would just not have been asked at all. States Members may react this way if they come to fear that by not asking such questions, a troublesome member of the public will take up the mantle on their behalf by asking them anyway in the form of FOI requests and then publishing the replies online. This could leave some States Members who try to promote themselves as fiercely anti-Establishment looking a bit vulnerable come re-election time, as the voters re-assess whether they are actually that effective after all. Obviously if the people of Jersey choose to waste this great opportunity then this will not happen. Let's just hope that this thread really helps to give the previously voiceless majority in our community the chance to influence the political agenda of the elite...

And now without further ado, I hereby publish the first successful response that I received earlier today. The request was made to the Social Security Department. Is this the very first response received under the new Jersey FOI Law to be published? Let me know if you are aware of any other responses that have already been published elsewhere.

Headline:

Only 1 out of 122 Breach 3 sanctions issued to unemployed jobseekers by the end of 2014 was overturned after a reconsideration. A further 15 were overturned before reaching the reconsideration stage  :o


Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 19th March 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1193

FOI Reference No: 202-03-50084

Date of Request: 12 January 2015

Date of Response: 30 January 2015

Request:

1) The number of 'Breach 3' notices issued to jobseekers DURING THE CALENDAR YEAR 2014 under Regulation 5B(4) of the Income Support (Jersey) Regulations 2007?

2) The total number of 'Breach 3' notices issued to jobseekers since Regulation 5B (4) of the Income Support (Jersey) Regulations 2007 came into force on 15 October 2013 up to the end of the calendar year 2014 (i.e. the number of notices issued for the calendar year 2014 asked for in 1) above in addition to the number of notices issued between 15 October 2013 and 31 December 2013)?

3) Of the above total number quoted in 2), the number of these 'Breach 3' notices that were subsequently reversed/withdrawn by the Department after being issued but before reaching an independent appeal tribunal.

States of Jersey Response:

Between 01/01/2014 and 31/12/2014, 117 ‘Breach 3’ notices were issued.

2)     Between 15/10/2013 and 31/12/2014, 122 ‘Breach 3’ notices were issued.

3)    Of the 122 ‘Breach 3’ notices issued between 15/10/2013 and 31/12/2014, 16 of them have been reversed. Of these, 1 was removed following a reconsideration, while the other 15 were removed by the initial determining officer after new evidence was presented, without reaching reconsideration stage.


My comments on the above response:

Only about 13% of the 122 third breach of a warning ('Breach 3') sanctions that were issued to jobseekers by Social Security Determining Officers between the 15th October 2013 (the coming in to force of the tougher sanctions regime) and the end of 2014 were subsequently reversed. The fact that only one out of the 16 decisions to reverse the issuing of the Breach 3 came through the department's internal reconsideration process only seems to strengthen the view (voiced by Deputy Geoff Southern in the States last Tuesday) that reconsideration is merely a "tick box exercise", despite the strong rebuttal of Social Security Minister Deputy Susie Pinel.

This response does not reveal the actual number of Breach 3 sanction decisions where a reconsideration was requested by the jobseeker, or the number of reconsiderations that the Department actually carried out, or the number of reconsideration requests that were turned down for being lodged outside the very short 7-day deadline (imposed by Le Gresley using his ministerial powers without informing the States beforehand that he intended to cut the reconsideration deadline from 21 days to 7 days). This is because I didn't ask for this information in this particular request. Instead these have been separately asked for in subsequent requests for which I am still awaiting a response.

Statistics relating to Breach 3 sanctions are very important because of the hugely disproportionate impact that they can have, not only on the lives of the jobseekers who are issued with one, but also on the lives of all other individuals (including children) who live in the same household as the jobseeker, because their benefits are immediately stopped too. The States were told by then Minister, Francis Le Gresley MBE, when he proposed these amendments that the Breach 3 breach period was 6 weeks and the law does actually state this as the period during which a claimant has no entitlement to any income support. Frankly this is bad enough, because a total disentitlement to all means-tested benefits for 6 weeks is more than long enough for the household to be facing eviction because of rent arrears, starvation or possibly long-term debt problems where previously no such problems may have existed.

However, States Members did not bother to consider the possibility that the stoppage of benefit could continue well beyond those 6 weeks and failed to subject his proposals to rigorous analysis or scrutiny. Le Gresley did not reveal that the disallowance period, ostensibly 6 weeks, has the capability to continue to remain in force for an apparently indefinite duration after the initial 6 week breach period has ended, at the total discretion of Department functionaries, without any guarantee of periodic review and without any way of the claimant being able to challenge the continuation of the benefit ban through means of an appeal. Not only does the disallowance stop 100% of the claimant's weekly income support entitlement (including vital housing subsidy for tenants), but it also prevents any hardship payments from being paid to the claimant in the form of 'Special Payments' In these last two respects, the Jersey system is far tougher than the already tough UK DWP equivalent, which has itself caused widespread hardship, starvation and even death. The imposition of a UK sanction does not affect the payment of a jobseeker's housing benefit, which is paid separately by local authorities, nor does it bar the jobseeker from applying for hardship payments. The fact that the Jersey Breach 3 does stop these things must therefore be subject to urgent investigation to see what level of hardship the recipients of the Breach 3 have endured and are enduring. The States Assembly has a vested interest in keeping quiet about the affects of the Breach 3 because most of its members voted for it. In that case it now falls on the shoulders of members of the public to begin making the relevant enquiries themselves through the FOI request system.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on January 31, 2015, 06:24:31 AM
I actually asked Senator Paul Routier some time ago in  B&Q if he read up important information on the local internet blogs? To which he replied, he did not bother with the internet ( or words to that effect ).

Not so much naive more lacking an equiring mind.

I suggested that he should really be on top of subjects under discussion and in the now, and to read the local blogs would help him catch up.

Elected leaders that cannot be bothered to read Jersey blogs are looking more like dinosaurs and not interested in local opinion, or possibly just in Government for an ego trip, or financial reasons.

Your well researched article, should send shivers down the spine of the elected who care, as the sanctions system as delivered  -  yet again works against the most vulnerable who are desperately in need of work, and getting their working lives back on track to help their self esteem.

BB
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on January 31, 2015, 05:02:13 PM
what is breach 3?
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 01, 2015, 06:11:14 AM
what is breach 3?

It is a third breach of a warning notice issued to a jobseeker for something as innocent as failing to attend a routine ‘actively seeking work’ (ASW) interview, resulting in a hugely disproportionate financial penalty (effectively, an unlimited fine) that can - and does- run into the thousands of pounds in lost benefit entitlement. Here is the latest official description of the regime on the States website:

http://www.gov.je/Benefits/IncomeSupport/Pages/IncomeSupportSanctions.aspx#anchor-2

However, the official States description only shows you the exterior of the vehicle- not the condition underneath the bonnet!

States members were led to believe that a Breach 3 sanction stopped the jobseeker's benefit for 6 weeks- bad enough, but seemingly clear, a layperson might think, as Regulation 5B(4) states that the breach period is 42 days. However, a separate clause in the new Regulations -5E(5)(a)- has been interpreted by the Department as requiring the jobseeker to continue actively seeking work requirements throughout that entire 6-week breach period, without any breaks at all. 5E(5)(a) doesn’t even directly state that there is a requirement to complete 6 consecutive weeks actively seeking work but the Department is nevertheless applying it that way, without doubt backed up by secret Law Officer’s advice. Nor will the production of a valid medical certificate for a period of time during the initial breach period be automatically offset against the total 6-week ASW requirement. It is known that last year, a jobseeker who was signed off by a GP as unfit to work for several weeks during a 6-week breach period was verbally informed by a Department Work Adviser that the period of certificated illness would not be taken into consideration and that the jobseeker therefore still had to complete 6 consecutive weeks of ASW after the medical certificate had expired. :o No- I’m not making this all up. It is 100% provable so the Department can’t deny it.

http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f26%2f26.550.30_IncomeSupportRegulations2007_RevisedEdition_1January2014.htm#ID432


This means that, for a whole variety of reasons, the jobseeker who is serving a 6-week benefit ban after being issued with a Breach 3 may not have been able to satisfy 6 consecutive weeks of actively seeking work by the time the initial 6-week breach period officially ends. So what happens then? Is there an automatic review? Does the jobseeker receive a letter from the Department explaining that he/she is still deemed not to have satisfied actively seeking work requirements? Does the letter clearly state how many (if any) ASW weeks have been completed and how many are still left to complete? Does the letter inform the jobseeker that there is a right to appeal the decision?

NO! The Department does not send any letter at all to the jobseeker after the 6 week breach period ends in order to clarify the situation. There is also no right of appeal, because no decision has actually been taken by the Department - the status quo has merely been maintained by the Department failing to act. The Department believes that the onus to become entitled to benefits again rests solely and entirely with the individual- not with the public authority that took the action to stop benefits in the first place, despite the obvious interference with fundamental human rights, particularly if the jobseeker is evicted as a direct consequence of the stoppage of benefits.

So what happens if and when the Department finally agrees that the jobseeker has completed 6 consecutive weeks ASW? Surely benefit payments immediately recommence? No- absolutely wrong! By completing 6 consecutive weeks of ASW, the jobseeker has merely qualified to be given a new Income Support claim form to complete in order to begin the very arduous task of re-applying all over again for Income Support. Last summer, this re-application procedure was known to be taking 7 weeks in total. So this re-application time period must therefore be added to the original 6-week breach period, plus any unlimited extra period of time beyond the initial 6-week period that the Department decides to add on, to get the total period during which the jobseeker receives no benefit payments.

If the jobseeker was deemed to have completed ASW requirements after the absolute minimum period of 6 weeks then the expected length of time he/she would have to survive without benefits would be 13 weeks (6 weeks breach period + 7 weeks average re-application). To put this into perspective, an unemployed claimant renting a one-bedroom flat would probably have lost more than £4,000 of Income Support during those 3 months, while a person who was only entitled to the adult component (typically a young adult living at home with parents) would lose almost £1,200. These are simply mind-boggling financial penalties that can’t fail to have drastic consequences for the individuals affected. It is true that once payments recommence, the claimant's benefit might be backdated to cover some or all of the 7-week re-application process, but only if they manage to complete their forms and submit all evidence within two weeks of receiving the form and in any case, by the time they are finally back on benefit, they may have lost the roof over their head so the damage has already been done.  Moreover, there is nothing to stop the Department issuing the jobseeker with another Breach 3 if there is a further missed appointment. In that case, the jobseeker faces another 3+ months without income all over again...
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on February 01, 2015, 08:32:56 PM
Not sure I'm with you on this one.Whats the big deal with an unemployed person going to an interview once a week.A small price to pay for the benefits they receive.I know a couple who have been on benefit most of their life and now have been moved to a shiny new Andium apartment at Quennevais,and yes they do have a massive flat screen TV.me on the other hand have to slave away 40 hours a week to pay a greedy landlord for a dilapidate old property that he doesn't maintain.I quite often think I'm the stupid one.So I don't have much sympathy for someone who cannot be bothered to attend an interview once a week.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 04, 2015, 07:19:44 PM
Not sure I'm with you on this one.Whats the big deal with an unemployed person going to an interview once a week.A small price to pay for the benefits they receive.I know a couple who have been on benefit most of their life and now have been moved to a shiny new Andium apartment at Quennevais,and yes they do have a massive flat screen TV.me on the other hand have to slave away 40 hours a week to pay a greedy landlord for a dilapidate old property that he doesn't maintain.I quite often think I'm the stupid one.So I don't have much sympathy for someone who cannot be bothered to attend an interview once a week.

Unfortunately your belief that unemployed claimants only have to attend an interview 'once a week' with no other commitment is outdated and completely inaccurate, particularly in respect of those who have been unemployed for more than a few months. Different jobseekers have different levels of commitment but the typical level of commitment is 2-3 interviews or compulsory jobsearch activities per week, lasting up to 1.5 hours per visit. Therefore with travelling time on top, that is more than half a day's minimum commitment per week. In addition, each jobseeker is forced to attend one of the vast range of 'courses' on a very regular basis. It is hard to say what the average level of course commitment is but I have heard of claimants attending courses every working day of the week, or as little as one course every 2-3 weeks. In addition to the courses, there are also forced attendances at regular public promotional events, the best known being Jobsfest and Jobsmatch, where claimants can expect to be photographed and filmed by Establishment media (without their consent, obviously) as they queue up to speak to employers. Courses sometimes last all day and there are often no guaranteed refreshments or travel expenses provided. At the last Jobsfest event at the Radisson, refreshments were provided but presumably only because employers (and the media) were there. However, only a small handful of spare seats were made available. Presumably this was to ensure that jobseekers had no option but to remain standing in queues all afternoon (while the employers sat down, naturally). In addition to all of these things, the Department holds regular events, mainly at the Royal Hotel, David Place, on behalf of individual employers, which claimants are forced to attend. One such event last summer was a glorified promotion for Specsavers, allowing that company exclusive access to potential new employees. This obviously gave Specsavers an advantage over its smaller Jersey competitors. Of course it does not cost Specsavers a penny to recruit any of the jobseekers that catch their eye because the Department's various employment schemes will cover this for up to a year. One of my future FOI requests will be enquiring as to the exact costs of holding promotions on behalf of companies like Specsavers. For example, who is paying for the hotel room hire- Specsavers or the taxpayer or both? Whoever is paying, the arrangement stinks. It either allows larger employers to pay for exclusive access to claimants who are forced to attend, or, just as bad, the taxpayer is mainly footing the bill, something that the competitors of these companies may not be happy about.

As I have previously pointed out on a separate thread, some courses are held in recognised places of worship and those who refuse to attend have been questioned as to their religious beliefs in order to explain why they have refused to attend. Remember that these commitments do not include time for any additional interviews with employers. Therefore a jobseeker who is being invited to a lot of interviews is going to have a very busy schedule indeed, most likely with no one day during the working week when they don't have some sort of jobseeking activity to complete. In fact, jobseekers are supposed to be constantly available for contact between the hours of 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday and if there are occasions where, for example, they have not answered the phone for any reason, the Department gets them to sign a form whereby they agree to be constantly available by telephone during those hours. Therefore a failure to pick up the phone can lead to a sanction. As I have already stated above, if it is a Breach 3 sanction, it is an unlimited fine that will definitely result in the loss of more than £1,000, in some known cases, more than £5,000. What happens if the jobseeker has never used a mobile phone, as is their free choice? Well the Department will use its full sanction powers to make sure that the jobseeker complies, but if the jobseeker still refuses, then they will be forced to attend the Department 5 days a week.

Where are the rules for you to check that the things I have said above are actually true? Answer: There are no rules or guidelines available to the public setting out the detailed level of actively seeking work requirements that jobseekers are being forced to undertake. They are classed as confidential and the States Assembly has never seen such rules or been asked by the Minister to approve them. Needless to say, my very first FOI request on 5th January was to ask for the document which I believe might contain some of these rules, if indeed they exist at all. The Department has been using delaying tactics to extend the 20-day FOI response deadline to my request, but the extended deadline is set to expire by the end of this week. It will be very interesting to see whether they release this document to me....
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on February 05, 2015, 01:21:56 AM
The one that worries me is the amount of money being spent on ,"Courses", that have little or no value. (Except to the private company providing them). I, personally, know a guy who was texted every week to attend courses on ,"Microsoft Word", despite the fact he held a full ECDL,(European Computer Driving license). He attended the course five weeks on the trot and was awarded a little certificate each time.
He knew more about Microsoft Office than the private consultant/tutor.
All the private firm wanted was his signature on their attendance form so they got paid.

All his ,"Job Club", mentors,(?), were quite happy ticking their boxes that they had arranged the courses and got a ,"Client", to attend.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 05, 2015, 04:25:46 AM
The one that worries me is the amount of money being spent on ,"Courses", that have little or no value. (Except to the private company providing them). I, personally, know a guy who was texted every week to attend courses on ,"Microsoft Word", despite the fact he held a full ECDL,(European Computer Driving license). He attended the course five weeks on the trot and was awarded a little certificate each time.
He knew more about Microsoft Office than the private consultant/tutor.
All the private firm wanted was his signature on their attendance form so they got paid.

All his ,"Job Club", mentors,(?), were quite happy ticking their boxes that they had arranged the courses and got a ,"Client", to attend.

You are 100% right here- the 'Advisers' are clearly under orders from above to get as many jobseekers as possible on particular courses. Much time is spent during these ASW interviews hard-selling the courses to the 'customers'. If the 'customer' points out that he/she completed the same course last year, it has been known for the Adviser to respond that now would be a good time to do a refresher! This gross waste of public funds is just one of the reasons why the year-on-year cost of employment services rose 68% between 2012 and 2013 - figures that I exclusively revealed on this site last September after carefully reading between the lines of the Department's 2013 annual report. I expect 2014 to top £9 million but best to wait and see:

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3789.msg59428.html#msg59428
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 05, 2015, 05:23:32 PM
The Establishment media are now starting to get responses back to their first FOI requests. Having waited 20+ years for the States to introduce the law, here is what the BBC and Bailiwick Express thought was the most important secret to ask for:

BBC Jersey (according to their radio news coverage this morning): The States spends £62,000 a year on bottled water.

Bailiwick Express: Four drivers were clocked doing more than 70mph by police speed checks last year.

http://www.bailiwickexpress.com/jsy/news/speedsters-hitting-victoria-avenue/?t=i#.VNNN4y48qSo


Staggering. Gorst and his patsies will probably have to resign as a result of these explosive revelations, to be replaced by a new coalition government led by Geoff Southern.  ;)

What more is there to say about the pathetic standard of journalism in this island other than to worry what level of crassness Channel's first FOI request might plunder...  :-[
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on February 06, 2015, 01:20:44 AM
They media have made a start Jerry and a good one. Remember the reason the FOI law was delayed for so long was that ( its hard to believe with so many employed)
States departments filling / record keeping was in such a mess that they truly dreaded FOI requests. Also note they have shredded much information in getting the filling system fit for purpose. We also do not know fully what other FOI requests are sitting on worried Civil servant managers desks which by law must be answered which brings me neatly to the the question on Water.

How much did the States spend on bottled water ? = £62,000

How much did the States spend on alcohol submitted at the same time = offical answer it would take too long to get that information so no answer = we do not know ? or we do know but would rather keep this information secret and away from taxpayers.

Are the States departments now going against the will of the elected politicians and the law by making up excuses ?

FOI to be clear stands for FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW.

Will the department responsible under law for providing this information be taken to court ? Or as annouced by ITVChannel if have they actually no clue how much they have spent on alcohol ( and by default other commodities ) how can proper accountancy and accountability exist in Jerseys' administration ?

There should be nothing revealed to endanger the security of Jersey and it's islanders. How not answering a simple question about how much alcohol was bought by Jerseys public sector I suggest, does not come into that category, and more importantly if the States department ( statistics or chief ministers office ? ) allows no answer, then clearly  something is very wrong with an administartion that needs to be so secretive.

Boatyboy.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on February 06, 2015, 05:23:40 AM
You are 100% right here- the 'Advisers' are clearly under orders from above to get as many jobseekers as possible on particular courses. Much time is spent during these ASW interviews hard-selling the courses to the 'customers'. If the 'customer' points out that he/she completed the same course last year, it has been known for the Adviser to respond that now would be a good time to do a refresher! This gross waste of public funds is just one of the reasons why the year-on-year cost of employment services rose 68% between 2012 and 2013 - figures that I exclusively revealed on this site last September after carefully reading between the lines of the Department's 2013 annual report. I expect 2014 to top £9 million but best to wait and see:

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,3789.msg59428.html#msg59428
The guy is a highly experienced ,"Project Manager", (Who has since found employment,without the aid of a mentor or adviser). He is a bit," Old school", and suggested to his mentors/advisers that they put him on a one week course,(Prince 2 Project Management), that would bring his qualifications up to date and almost guarantee him a job. Apparently it doesn,t work that way. SS have a deal with certain training Consultancies who provide basic ,"Computer literacy", courses at about £200 per person for a 2 hr session for 10 people. The,"Certificates", awarded may as well be on an Andrex roll as far as any prospective employer is concerned.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 06, 2015, 07:13:58 PM
... "Computer literacy", courses at about £200 per person for a 2 hr session for 10 people.

What you're saying sounds entirely plausible, but I presume that's a typo and you meant to write £200 per course session? Therefore divide £200 into 10 claimants and the cost would be £20 per person, which seems realistic. It would explain the constant incentive for Work Advisers to fully book each session because if a course ran, let's say, with only 5 claimants, the cost per person would double, in this case to £40 per claimant. If the other 5 claimants were supposed to attend but failed to turn up, sanctioning just one of those five claimants with a Breach 1 (effectively a £184.24 fine) would more than make up the theoretical loss of £100. Hmmm. I expect that if I tried to obtain these details by FOI, they would refuse it if it revealed the particular amounts that any one identifiable course provider was receiving.

Re Geoff Southern's question on jobseeker sanctions from this week's States Meeting (3rd February), which led to Wednesday's JEP front page and predictable comments of the Editor-

First of all, I note that this particular question has failed to appear on the 'Questions' page of the States Assembly website so far. I presume this is because it was an oral question with a lot of discussion which will therefore take longer to transcribe.

Nevertheless, the Hansard record of this question and answer session is now available, so I have copied and pasted it below. Please take note of Deputy Pinel's references to the Breach 3 sanction where she claims that "it does not apply to somebody who is sick, vulnerable or with disabilities". This is totally misleading. I can confirm that last year the Department issued a Breach 3 sanction to a person while that person was signed off with a valid medical certificate. Although the jobseeker's medical certificate didn't cover for the actual day when the missed appointment (resulting in the sanction) happened, it was definitely valid a few days later when the sanction itself was issued. Despite the Department knowing about the jobseeker's medical certificate, the Breach 3 was not reversed and the claimant lost a four-figure sum (thousands of pounds) in income support. For clarity, the medical certificate only lasted a couple of weeks. The Department also failed to offset those couple of weeks of certified sickness against the requirement for the claimant to complete 6 weeks of ASW. They simply ignored the 2 weeks of sickness and still insisted that the claimant complete 6 weeks of ASW after the medical certificate had expired. Just for further clarity- the claimant had no entitlement to either income support or contributory Short-term Incapacity Allowance during the period when the medical certificate was valid and the claimant was a tenant with sole responsibilities for paying the rent.

4.2 Deputy G.P. Southern of the Minister for Social Security regarding sanctions imposed on job seekers leaving a job without sufficient reason:

Will the Minister inform members of the number of sanctions imposed on job seekers for leaving a job without sufficient reason or failing a task by quarter since the adoption of P.101/2013 (Income Support (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Jersey) Regulations 2013) and detail the measures, if any, which have been put in place to assess the impact of these sanctions on the behaviour or well-being of those sanctioned?

Deputy S.J. Pinel of St. Clement (The Minister for Social Security):

The Regulations made in P.101/2013 came into force in October 2013.  During a period of bedding-down at the end of 2013, 358 sanctions were applied, however the figure for the first quarter of 2014 onwards most accurately show the new sanctions coming into effect.  The following numbers of sanctions have been applied to people in receipt of income support.  In the first quarter 2014, 463 sanctions were applied; in the second quarter, 404 sanctions were applied; in the third quarter, 373; and in the fourth quarter, 299 sanctions were applied.  Financial sanctions are a last resort and are not required for the great majority of job seekers.  However, the enhanced sanctions were brought in as a response to very clear evidence that the previous regime did not do enough to change the behaviour of a minority of job seekers.  It is not right that the people have the option of choosing not to seek work.  For this commonsense reason, the new sanctions were strongly endorsed by this Assembly.  Our subsequent experience reflects the success of this policy; the figures show that the number of sanctions are falling and that for most people the receipt of a written warning is enough for them to change their behaviour.  I am very pleased to report this reducing number of sanctions as the new system is settled-in.  Job seekers are now more aware of their responsibilities and are taking up the opportunities and training offered to them through the Back to Work teams.  This has been reflected in the actively seeking work total at the end of 2014, which stood at 1,440, the lowest figure since September 2011.  We have had a particular success in this last year with our foundation’s programme which is designed to support job seekers with barriers to employment and further from the labour market.  Many clients benefiting from this programme have in the past been sanctioned because they failed to demonstrate sufficient commitment to job seeking.  But we have given them an opportunity to prove themselves and the results show that motivation for work increases.  Work is always undertaken to identify vulnerable individuals long before a financial sanction comes into play and whenever a financial sanction may affect children or other members of the household.  It is however worth noting that most job seekers who reach the higher stages of the sanction progress are young, single people with no family responsibilities.  The majority of these are living at home with their parents.

4.2.1 Deputy G.P. Southern:

It does strike me that with 1,400 job seekers and 460 sanctions at one stage that this was an inappropriately harsh measure designed to focus on the minority and not the majority.  Does the Minister believe that focusing and making up rules for the minority is not a sound principle on which to base her policies?

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

The job seeker, if he or she does not comply with the job seeking requirements, will have a written warning and if this is breached by the potential job seeker not complying with the written warning, i.e. not attending a job interview or a work experience or a training session, then a breach of this warning is what is the next sanction.  That will require the removal of the adult component of income support for 2 weeks.  If this continues in breach of the job seeking compliance then another sanction will be applied.  But during all this time an adviser will be with the job seeker and the warning will be made very clear that this will happen if they continue to disregard the obligations that they have as job seekers.

4.2.2 Deputy J.A. Martin:

In the reply the Minister said vulnerable families with children are always spoken to before financial warnings.  Can the Minister tell us, out of all these numbers, and she did say the majority are young people still at home, the number that have gone on to the second sanction, gone beyond the adult component and had the whole household income taken away, including rent.  Could she tell us that figure and would she agree that it is not in the best interests of anyone to leave children without their rent paid or any food?

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

Any person who continues to ignore warnings and reaches a third breach of a written warning will lose all entitlement to benefits for 6 weeks.  Since the sanctions were brought in, 106 have reached this stage of the sanction process.  But, as I have said before, it does not apply to somebody who is sick, vulnerable or with disabilities, and it is very much the majority of people who are young, single and at home.  It appears that the home situation picks up the loss of the adult component, which does not encourage the young person to keep job seeking.

4.2.3 Deputy J.A. Martin:

The Minister said “it appears”.  The figure of 106 to have that total household income taken away is quite worrying.  Could she break that down later for the Assembly and let us know how many of these are families with children and have 6 weeks no money and no rent paid?

[10:00]

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

Yes, of course I can fund the Deputy with some more figures.  There is always the ability to appeal and in the whole year and quarter of this being in effect, there have been 7 appeals to the tribunal and all of these appeals have been from only 2 people.

4.2.4 Deputy M. Tadier:

It seems to me symptomatic of this Tory Government that they like to impose sanctions and facilitate unfair dismissal before they have even got three-quarters of the remainder of the discrimination law passed.  This is where the priorities of this government lie when it comes to work.  Is the Minister for Social Security, as part of this government, proud of the mental duress the increased poverty and the social instability that these sanctions being applied across the board punitively, often in my experience it is in cases of unfair dismissal, are being compounded by the action of her department?

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

No, I do not think the sanctions are punitive.  A job seeker is constantly, constantly, advised, helped, encouraged and motivated to look for work.  It is quite clear from all evidence that everybody is happier when in work.  If a job seeker consistently refuses to comply with the terms that have been made very, very clear to them, is it also right that taxpayers should subsidise these people who are not complying with quite minor requirements to job-seek?

4.2.5 Deputy M. Tadier:

I do not see how any sense can be gained from question time when we are given answers saying sanctions are not punitive.  I was under the understanding that sanctions were deliberately designed to be punitive to put people off, the so-called work-shy we are told, who do not like to work from otherwise claiming benefit when they could be working.  So I think this line of communication for this question is certainly closed, as far as I am concerned, until we get more sensible answers.

The Bailiff:

Was there a question there, Deputy?

Deputy M. Tadier:

No, Sir.  I mean if there is a question…

The Bailiff:

It is question time.

Deputy M. Tadier:

The question would be to ask the Minister in future to give sensible answers and courteous answers, which do not undermine the basic intelligence of other Members.

4.2.6 Deputy G.P. Southern:

Will the Minister address the second part of the question which asks what measures have been put in place, if any, to assess the impact of these sanctions on the behaviour or well-being of those sanctions?  In the U.K., where sanctions are used, it is known that 20 per cent of people sanctioned leave schemes altogether and disappear from the D.W.P. (Department for Work and Pensions) records.  There are investigations going on into a number of suicides where people have been sanctioned, and that has caused them terrific distress and hardship.  What research has she done into the impact of these sanctions on particular individuals?

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

The Deputy keeps trying to refer the Jersey situation to the U.K. situation.  The 2 situations are not comparable.  Having said before that this law has only been in implementation for just over a year and out of that we have had only 7 appeals from 2 different people, I do not think we are neglecting our duty in looking after these people with sanctions.  They have put themselves in this position against the advice of their advisers and mentors.  There has to be a carrot and stick situation in any occurrence like this and I do not think in any occasion that a member of the public who cannot job seek through illness or disability is asked to do so.

4.2.7 Deputy G.P. Southern:

Has any effort been made to assess the impact - please answer the question - on these particular individuals, the impact of these sanctions, and if not will the Minister undertake to do so in the near future, because these are significant measures?

Deputy S.J. Pinel:

Of course all job seekers are registered with the Back to Work team and of course they know all of them, unlike the U.K. situation where it could be in different councils over different counties, different training areas.  We know all our job seekers and they are monitored the whole time.  If the Deputy wishes me to give him a list of job seekers who have gone through the full sanction treatment I am not able to do so.  It is individual cases.

Deputy G.P. Southern:

So the Minister has not committed herself to making any effort research the impact of these sanctions.

The Bailiff:

I think her answer was that they know in the department those who are receiving the sanctions but it is a matter for Members.

Deputy J.A. Martin:

Sorry, the Minister just said to the other Deputy she could not supply because they are individuals.  Earlier she said she could supply numbers to me that were sanctioned fully with children.  That is fine, thank you.

The Bailiff:

Although I cannot see him I understand the Minister for Treasury and Resources may be somewhere near.  [Aside]  I excused him, you are quite right, Senator.  Thank you very much indeed.  I did excuse him.  So we will go back to question one and Deputy Mézec has a question to ask of the Minister for Treasury and Resources.  I can see him.


http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/Pages/Hansard.aspx?docid=c84cc280a12c0e09b335d1250116c5b5_StatesAssembly


http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/02/04/benefits-slashed-for-hundreds-of-islanders/
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on February 07, 2015, 03:16:29 AM
Its not a ,"Typo". Just try and book a course,(Refresher or otherwise),with one of these firms and you will find out for yourself how much they cost.(They are not ,"Block-Bookings".They are charged at individual rates).

All the ,"Appointed Consultant", does is rent a room to hold a class at a specified time and date. SS pay Consultant/Tutor on a ,"Head-count", basis. (IE: They get paid for anyone who attends and signs in).
Each ,"Attendee", receives a certificate,(Sheet of Andrex), regardless.
Its a ,"Win-Win", for Private firm and SS BTW team. Firm get paid and BTW get ,"Brownie-points", all at Tax-payer,s expense.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 07, 2015, 08:02:11 PM
OMG! The Comptroller and Auditor General should be investigating this.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on February 08, 2015, 08:22:21 PM

How much did the States spend on bottled water ? = £62,000

How much did the States spend on alcohol submitted at the same time = offical answer it would take too long to get that information so no answer = we do not know ? or we do know but would rather keep this information secret and away from taxpayers.

Are the States departments now going against the will of the elected politicians and the law by making up excuses ?

FOI to be clear stands for FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW.

Will the department responsible under law for providing this information be taken to court ? Or as annouced by ITVChannel if have they actually no clue how much they have spent on alcohol ( and by default other commodities ) how can proper accountancy and accountability exist in Jerseys' administration ?

There should be nothing revealed to endanger the security of Jersey and it's islanders. How not answering a simple question about how much alcohol was bought by Jerseys public sector I suggest, does not come into that category, and more importantly if the States department ( statistics or chief ministers office ? ) allows no answer, then clearly  something is very wrong with an administartion that needs to be so secretive.
I always thought this law would be a farce.No doubt many requests will be turned down.I wonder if there will be a registery of unanswered requests.It will almost be as revealing as what is revealed.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 26, 2015, 09:11:59 AM
Only 7% of reconsideration requests against the issue of a Breach 3 jobseeker sanction are successful

FOI Reference No: 202-03-54833

Date of Request: 26 January 2015

Date of Response: 16 February 2015

Request:

1) Out of the total number of Breach 3 notices issued to jobseekers between 15th October 2013 and 31st December 2014 under Regulation 5B (4) of the Income Support (Jersey) Regulations 2007 (previously requested in F.O.I. ref: 2020350084 dated 12 January 2015), how many such notices were subject to a request for a reconsideration of the decision by the person to whom the Breach 3 was issued?

2) Out of the total number of requests for reconsiderations asked for in (1) above, how many (if any) requests were consequently denied by the Social Security Department for the reason of not having satisfied the 7day deadline for submitting a request, pursuant to article 13(3) of the Income Support (General Provisions)(Jersey) Order 2008?

3) Out of the total number of reconsideration decisions of Breach 3 issue notices that were actually carried out by the Department between 15th October 2013 and 31st December 2014 (the total asked for in (1) above less the total asked for in (2) above), how many such reconsiderations upheld the original decision by the first Determining Officer to issue the Breach 3 and how many (if any) reversed the decision in the claimant’s favour?

States of Jersey response:

1) Of the 122 Breach 3 notices that were issued between 15 October 2013 and 31 December 2014, 14 clients requested reconsiderations.

2) Of the 14 requested breach 3 reconsiderations 1 was outside of the 7 day deadline. Please note that this response has been collated using client records which were analysed for a 14 day period following the issue of the breach 3 notice.

3) Of the 14 breach 3 reconsiderations conducted 12 upheld the original decision made by the department and 1 reversed the decision in favour of the client.

My comments on the above:

These were my three reasons for making this request-

1) To discover how many jobseekers are challenging the issue of Breach 3 sanctions by way of a reconsideration;
2) To discover if any jobseekers who had requested a reconsideration had done so outside of the very short 7-day deadline, thereby losing all subsequent rights to request an 'independent' appeal hearing by the Social Security Tribunal;
3) To discover how successful these requests for reconsiderations had been.

The short answers are-

1) 14 reconsideration requests out of 122 notices issued - 11.5% request rate;
2) 1 out of those 14 requests missed the 7-day deadline, thereby losing all further appeal rights;
3) Only 1 out of 14 requests was successful - about 7%.

We already know from my first request posted on this thread on 31 January that 15 Breach 3 sanctions were reversed before reaching the reconsideration stage and only 1 was reversed after reaching the reconsideration stage. Now we see that the chances of getting a sanction reversed are incredibly small once a reconsideration is requested. The exact reasons for this are a matter for speculation but it would appear to me that the Department's Determining Officers might be looking far more favourably on jobseekers who present reasons for good cause immediately or very soon after the event, whereas those who wait a bit longer and request a formal reconsideration (thereby causing the Department extra expense and bureaucracy because a second Determining Officer has to review the decision) are being punished for doing so with a far lower chance of success. It is almost like the Department is using the reconsideration as a means of getting the jobseeker to conform to the pattern of behaviour that most suits its officers: cause us less hassle by contacting us immediately to explain your absence and you'll have a better chance of getting the sanction lifted; cause us more hassle by using the reconsideration process and you will stand virtually no chance whatsoever of getting it lifted. This is all very worrying.

However, not as worrying as the confirmation that one jobseeker who wished to appeal this very serious sanction could not do so because their request for a reconsideration wasn't received within 7 days. Just to clarify- if a UK jobseeker missed an appointment, the first officer would have to pass it to a second officer who would then post a letter to the claimant inviting reasons for good cause. The jobseeker would have to supply a reason within a week. Only at that point would the sanction be issued. Then the jobseeker would have a month - not just 7 days - in which to request a reconsideration and UK guidelines for Decision Makers even allow a request to be accepted if it is received later than the one month deadline.

By contrast, if a Jersey jobseeker misses an appointment with a Work Advisor, that Advisor does not have to pass the matter on to any second officer for investigation, nor does the Advisor even have to post a letter to the jobseeker and wait a set period of time for a response before issuing the sanction. In fact, the Advisor doesn't have to carry out any sort of investigation that comes anywhere close to complying with the rules of natural justice and the sanction can be issued almost immediately after the missed appointment, usually after a token attempt or two to reach the jobseeker by mobile phone and/or e-mail.

From the day the jobseeker receives the sanction notice, they have just 7 days to request a reconsideration or lose all appeal rights. Unlike the UK, Jersey's Social Security Department does not accept requests outside of those 7 days. When the new sanctions proposals were approved by the States on 8 October 2013, Le Gresley made no mention that he intended to use his ministerial powers to reduce this reconsideration request for jobseekers from 21 days to 7 days. He did this separately and without publicity after his sanctions measures were approved by the House.

If the sanction is later appealed before the Social Security Tribunal, the panel completely disregards any procedural errors or maladminstration that occurred at any time before the reconsideration (the review of the initial decision undertaken by a second Determining Officer). :o The Tribunal only enquires about the manner in which the reconsideration was conducted- not the manner in which the first officer initially issued the sanction. The Department plays along with this charade by only sending the second officer to the appeal hearing - not the first one who issued the sanction. If an appellant asks in advance of the hearing for the first officer to attend in order that the appellant can question them, the Tribunal will refuse this request. The system has been set up so that the appellant is officially appealing the reconsideration decision - not the first decision, even though the sanction has legal effect from the date it is issued and the penalty begins to be deducted from the jobseeker's benefit before the reconsideration is even completed.

The whole set up is an utter disgrace that would not be legal outside of Jersey, but the Department has been relying on secret legal advice for several years to justify not having to comply with the rules of natural justice at the first decision-making stage and the Chairman of the Social Security Tribunal, Advocate Charles Thacker, has backed the Department in this respect.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on February 26, 2015, 04:37:33 PM
Quote:

The whole set up is an utter disgrace that would not be legal outside of Jersey, but the Department has been relying on secret legal advice for several years to justify not having to comply with the rules of natural justice at the first decision-making stage and the Chairman of the Social Security Tribunal, Advocate Charles Thacker, has backed the Department in this respect.

Agreed.

Why is there no dialogue or questions being asked in the states about a system which is biased against the unemployed person and does nothing to hold mistakes made by the social security department to account. Mr Le Gresley if you are reading this, bow your head in shame and Suzie Pinel the present Minister is worse.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on February 26, 2015, 06:11:30 PM
Unfortunately the questions that are being asked in the States are overly simplistic, like how long it is taking the Department to deal with reconsiderations. To a certain extent this is understandable as most backbench States Members simply don't have the superior knowledge of the way the system is operating behind closed doors. Only the Minister and the civil servants know this.  What you don't know about you don't ask questions about, but the majority of backbench politicians simply don't care enough to ask anyway. Remember that Deputy Hilton's Scrutiny Panel deliberately chose to turn a blind eye to Le Gresley's proposals.

I should also have pointed out in my previous post that the fact that the jobseeker's chances of successfully appealing a sanction decreases the longer it takes them to provide an excuse is not just pure coincidence. Part of the secret legal advice that the Department relies on is this 2009 UK Upper Tribunal judgment - NS v Secretary of States for Work and Pensions (link below - Word document):

http://www.administrativeappeals.tribunals.gov.uk/judgmentfiles/j2722/CIB%200927%202009-00.doc


The Department tells its Determining Officers that as a result of this obscure judgment, they can treat an excuse that is only provided after the interview has actually been missed as a weaker one than an excuse provided before the interview starts. The problem is that the Department does not inform jobseekers beforehand that their chances of appealing a sanction are legally stronger if they ring to cancel beforehand. There is no possible way that the average jobseeker could expect to know this without being informed by the Department. In fact they won't even be informed of the consequences of this judgment unless the case eventually reaches a Tribunal appeal. Even then, the Jersey Social Security Tribunal case law is secret so other jobseekers can't just go online and discover that as a result of a previous case, they will be regarded as having a weaker argument unless they provide an excuse before the interview starts. Mind you, if any of them bother to read this post ...
   
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 02, 2015, 05:17:30 PM
Names and addresses of Jersey Vetting Bureau members no longer a secret :-)

FOI Reference No: 202-03-55145

Date of Request: 27 January 2015

Date of Response: 24 February 2015

Last week I received a response to a request I made to States of Jersey Police. This is the first in a series of FOI requests that I will be making to that organisation concerning matters that our elected politicians traditionally shy away from for fear of becoming electorally unpopular. Unlike Social Security and other States Departments, the Police are actually achieving one of the intentions of the law by publishing their FOI disclosures online so that everyone can view them, rather than just releasing them to the specific individuals who made the requests (good). It is ironic that many disclosures must have already been made under the new law but we, the public, will remain unable to access most of them (other than Police disclosures, it would seem) unless the person who made the request bothers to let us know what was disclosed. I would argue that this effectively defeats the intention of the law. For example, one of my requests made to Social Security resulted in me being given a copy of a 929-page document. Because of the sheer size of the disclosure file along with a number of other technical problems, I cannot publish it in full here or anywhere else, so the contents of the document remain effectively unavailable to any member of the public except myself.  :(

My above-mentioned request to the Police was to be provided with a list of the names and addresses of all Jersey Vetting Bureau members as at 31st December 2014. You can view my request in PDF format here:

http://www.jersey.police.uk/media/290607/55145-Response.pdf


You can view the response with the individual names and addresses of all Jersey Vetting Bureau members here (again in PDF format):

http://www.jersey.police.uk/media/290604/202-03-55145-Response-Attachment.pdf


If you wish to view all the other FOI disclosures made by the Police, follow the link below:

http://www.jersey.police.uk/accessing-information/freedom-of-information/foi-disclosure-log/


Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 03, 2015, 10:03:27 PM
Advance Plus used the Jersey Vetting Bureau to obtain 72 disclosures of criminal records during 2014

Now the interesting unanswered follow-up question to this is: were as many as 72 Advance Plus course participants employed in trustworthy positions of work during 2014 that are specifically mentioned in the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) (Jersey) Regulations 2002 (link below)?  :-\

http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f08%2f08.840.50_RehabiliationofOffenders%28Exceptions%29Regs2002_RevisedEdition_1January2013.htm


FOI Reference No: 202-03-58656

Date of Request: 25 February 2015

Date of Response: 02 March 2015

This is my first follow-up request to the previous States of Jersey Police disclosure that I published on this thread only yesterday. This time I have requested further details about criminal record check disclosures made to Social Security or its affiliated organisations. Jersey Police have already published the answer to this request on it FOI Disclosure Log page. You can view it here in PDF format:

http://www.jersey.police.uk/media/291234/Jersey-Vetting-Bureau-No-of-disclosures-in-2014-March15.pdf


At this point I had better explain that for the past couple of years I have suspected that Social Security's collection, retention and disclosure of data relating to unemployed claimants is unlawful in several respects. I suspect that they have been unlawfully carrying out criminal record checks on unemployed claimants without obtaining their explicit consent. Disclosures of criminal records made through the Jersey Vetting Bureau contain details of spent convictions as well as unspent convictions. By law, criminal record convictions are defined as "sensitive personal data", which means that the explicit consent of the data subject must be obtained. However, historical versions of the Advance Plus application form asked the applicant to disclose "details of any criminal convictions" without differentiating between spent and unspent convictions and the explicit consent of the data subject was not obtained. It is a very similar story with the Jobseeker's Agreement form, which all jobseekers are forced to sign: they are deliberately misled into disclosing all past criminal convictions, whether spent or unspent.

One previous version of the Advance Plus application form contained the following "Confidentiality/Privacy Statement" which the applicant had to sign:
Quote

The information you provide will be processed for Advance Plus Scheme purposes. To ensure confidentiality and privacy, all processing will be carried out under the requirements of the Data Protection (Jersey) Law, 2005. This information may occasionally be disclosed and used outside of the Social Security department, where it is considered to be in the delegate’s or the employer’s best interest to do so. If you do not wish us to disclose information in these circumstances, please advise us in writing.  We may check other information held with the Social Security department.

I certify that the information provided in this application form is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I provide the information knowing that I shall be liable to prosecution if I have stated anything I know to be false.

So the applicant, who was most likely pressured into participating on the scheme under threat of the withdrawal of Income Support benefit, was not informed of the existence of the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Jersey) Law 2001 but was nevertheless vaguely threatened with "prosecution" for making false statements (under what provision of what law?). You will notice that the wording of the above statement does not include the explicit consent of the data subject. There is merely a vague reference to the applicant's data occasionally being "disclosed and used outside of the Social Security department, where it is considered to be in the delegate’s or the employer’s best interest to do so."  It is totally unacceptable that sensitive personal data of a medical or criminal nature could have been disclosed to outside organisations or even employers without the applicant even being expressly informed of the names of such organisations. If the Jersey Vetting Bureau supplied details of the applicant's criminal convictions based on the above-worded Statement alone then I would argue that this was unlawful, although the victims of this unlawful activity will be blissfully unaware of it... unless they happen to read this post!

If any readers have experience of either the Advance Plus or Advance To Work schemes and can recall what forms they signed and whether they knew about a criminal record check being conducted on them, please share your information on this thread to help me uncover the truth.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 04, 2015, 06:35:31 PM
It is also interesting to note from the Police's last response that until October 2014, Advance to Work "came under Education Sport & culture" for the purposes of criminal record checks.

Yet on page 45 of the States of Jersey Annex to Financial Report and Accounts 2012, it says that "The Advance to Work and Advance Plus schemes transferred to Social Security in September 2012."

I also note with disappointment on the Police's FOI Disclosure Log page the appearance of the first vexatious request - a long and totally pointless set of virtually unanswerable questions about damage to flags, which you can read here if you're that bored:

http://www.jersey.police.uk/media/291231/Damage-to-flags-since-2000-Feb15.pdf

This request must have wasted a fair bit of taxpayers' money. It is hard to understand the motives of the individual behind it but my personal belief is that people who misuse the FOI law in this way do not actually support the concept of freedom of information legislation. They may be deliberately trying to damage the reputation of FOI requests in the hope that States Members who never wanted this law introduced in the first place will point to examples like this as a means of tightening future expenditure on FOI, to the ultimate detriment of all genuine FOI supporters who want to hold their government to account.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 09, 2015, 08:53:54 AM
Only half of the 107 claims closed by the issue of a Breach 3 received actual notification by letter of the closure of the claim together with the name of the officer who closed it and 21 days in which to request a reconsideration

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 19th March 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1192

FOI Reference No: 202-03-52924

Date of Request: 19 January 2015

Date of Response: 16 February 2015

Request:

“Breach 3” notices issued to jobseekers between 15 October 2013 and 31 December 2014:

1. Out of the total number of Breach 3 notices issued to jobseekers between 15th October 2013 and the 31st December 2014 under Regulation 5B (4) of the Income Support (Jersey) Regulations 2007 (requested in F.O.I. ref: 2020350084), how many such notices resulted in the consequent closure of a claimant’s Income Support Claim?

2. Out of the total number of income support claims closed after the issue of a Breach 3 notice (asked for in (1) above), how many such claim closure decisions were officially notified to the claimant by means of a written decision sent by letter post to the claimant’s home address, informing the claimant of the decision to close their income support claim, the name of the officer who took that decision, and also of their right to request a reconsideration of the decision to close their income support claim within 21 days of receipt of the letter?

For clarification, what I am asking for in (2) above is confirmation of how many claimants whose income support claims were closed after the issue of a Breach 3 notice were then additionally notified in writing of that closure decision, the officer who took the closure decision, and their right to request a reconsideration within 21 days of the decision TO CLOSE THEIR CLAIM, separate to a reconsideration within 7 days of the decision to issue a Breach 3 notice. However, I am not currently aware of how many of these claimants have been separately notified of their additional right to request a reconsideration within any additional right to request a reconsideration within 7 days of the decision to actually issue the Breach 3 notice itself. I am already aware that such claimants are being notified of their right to request.

States of Jersey Response:

We have now finished searching for the information you requested.

A copy of the information which can be disclosed is below:

1. There were 122 Breach 3 notices issued between 15/10/13 and 31/12/2014. 107 resulted in the closure of the Income Support claim.

2. All 107 claims that closed as a direct result of the Breach 3 in the period 15/10/13 and 31/12/14 received letters from the Department. In addition to the Back to Work letters sent, 54 claims received an additional letter from Income Support stating that they had 21 days redetermination period.

To improve our customer service the Department have reviewed this process and going forward only 1 letter will be sent. The letters will come from Back to Work as the decision makers of the Breach process.

My comments on the above:


Admittedly both the question and the answer may not be that easy to understand but I'll try to explain the significance of it as best as I can.

In essence, the Regulations adopted by the States on 8th October 2013 introduced the third breach of a warning (AKA the 'Breach 3') with the resulting closure of the income support claim for the whole household, including the stopping of payments to any spouse and children. Regulation 5E (3) states: "Any claim for income support by the original household of the person in breach shall be taken to be withdrawn upon the commencement of the breach period."

http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f26%2f26.550.30_IncomeSupportRegulations2007_RevisedEdition_1January2014.htm#ID432


Immediately after the States debate and without having mentioned what he intended to do, Senator Francis Le Gresley used ministerial powers to lower the time limit in which a jobseeker can request a reconsideration of a sanction decision from 21 days to 7 days. However, for all other income support decisions, the time limit remained at 21 days. Strictly speaking, the administration of income support claims and the administration of actively seeking work through the Work Zone and Back to Work are meant to be separate, so a Job Coach/Mentor should not have the power to individually take a decision that closes the claim of a household, which might consist of several adults and children, possibly resulting in the eviction and homelessness of everyone in that household.

However, what has been happening is that the Job Coach/Mentor issues the Breach 3 and sends the notice by post to the sanctioned individual. The notice informs the recipient that "The entire Income Support claim which you are part of will close and NO benefit will be paid. For the avoidance of doubt, this will result in all components of your claim being stopped in respect of every member of your household." The recipient is then informed that he/she has just 7 days to request a reconsideration of the decision, otherwise all rights to an 'independent' Tribunal appeal are lost. For half of recipients of the Breach 3, that is the only letter they receive to inform them that their claim has been closed, with only 7 days to try to challenge it. Effectively, the closure of the claim is happening as an automatic consequence of the issue of the Breach 3, with no questions asked by the Income Support section.

However, it is presumed that each time a Breach 3 is issued, Back to Work must have notified the separate Income Support section, the latter who would logically be responsible for actually closing the claim, in the same way that they are responsible for opening all new claims. I would argue that a decision by Income Support to close a claim is a 'determination' which must be notified in writing to every adult member of the affected household and it must inform them that they have 21 days in which to request a reconsideration, because this determination is to close the claim - not to issue a jobseeker sanction. However, in half of all cases where a Breach 3 was issued, this FOI response reveals that no such separate letter was sent by Income Support and consequently the household only had the right to appeal within 7 days the decision by Back to Work to issue the sanction - not the right to appeal within 21 days the apparently separate decision by Income Support to close the claim. In addition, the response reveals that Social Security now regard Back to Work as the "decision makers of the Breach process" and henceforth, only one letter will be sent, presumably meaning the sanction notice and presumably only carrying a 7-day right of appeal.

It is not clear if Social Security have been separately notifying each adult member of the household of the closure of the claim as they are legally supposed to do and it is not clear if this will be happening now that Back to Work will solely send out the letters.

Is this legal? Obviously the advice they are presumably receiving from the Law Officers must be telling them it is, but in my opinion, this advice is bent anyway and won't hold up to serious judicial scrutiny. More questions need to be asked urgently in the States Assembly about the arbitrary manner in which Social Security are closing these household claims.


 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 11, 2015, 05:22:52 PM
Only a quarter of the 107 income support claims that were closed after the issue of a Breach 3 were reopened within 8 weeks of the closure - a further half of these claims have not been reopened at all

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey FOI Disclosure Log web page (added by me on 20th May 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1356


FOI Reference No: 202-03-56393

Date of Request: 02 February 2015

Date of Response: 02 March 2015

Request:

1) Out of the total number of income support claims closed after the issue of a Breach 3 notice between 15th October 2013 and 31st December 2014 (asked for in (1) of FOI Request Ref: 202-03-52924 dated 19 January 2015), how many claimants to whom a Breach 3 notice was directly issued resulting in their claim being closed had not yet recommenced receiving income support payments from the Department:

a. 8 weeks after the applied breach date?

b. 16 weeks after the applied breach date?

c. 20 weeks or longer after the applied breach date?

To be clear, I am NOT asking for the period between the applied breach date and the date when the claimant’s new claim was first opened on the system to enable the income support reapplication process to begin, nor to the date when the Department agreed to back pay the claimant – I am instead asking for the actual length of time that each Breach 3 recipient had to wait between the last payment received before the breach was applied and the next date when payments eventually recommenced. If the Department already records such data but in slightly different time periods to the ones I have requested, then the Department’s alternative time periods may be acceptable provided they do not differ substantially from the ones requested.

2) Please also clarify whether or not the statistics supplied in response to (1) above – the 8 week period – include or exclude the 16 known occasions where the Department reversed its decision to issue a Breach 3 notice at or before the reconsideration stage (figures previously supplied by the Department in response to FOI request ref:2020350084)

States of Jersey Response:


1) The timescales between a claim being closed and a new claim being re-opened are detailed below:

Duration: 0 – 8 weeks = 24 claims; Clarification on scenario: Timescale in which a new claim was opened

Duration: 9 – 16 weeks = 11 claims; Clarification on scenario: Timescale in which a new claim was opened

Duration: 17 weeks or over = 10 claims; Clarification on scenario: Timescale in which a new claim was opened

Duration: No claim currently requested = 56 claims; Clarification on scenario: After initial claim closed no claim has currently been opened

Duration: Pending Claims = 6 claims; Clarification on scenario: The current amount of claims going through the application process

Total claimants = 107

2) Yes, the details above includes any claim closed but reopened due to new information received or redetermination.

My comments on the above:

These statistics are extremely important, not least because they confirm for the very first time that the 6-week stoppage of all income support benefit payments, as adopted by States Members and as stated in the Regulations, not only has the ability to continue operating indefinitely beyond that statutory 6-week period, but in fact does continue to operate well beyond that statutory 6-week period for about three quarters of affected claimant households, half of whom have failed to get their claims reopened at all.

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.

It would appear that an individual Job Coach/Mentor not only has the power to stop all the household's income support payments for a period of 6 weeks by issuing a Breach 3 in a procedurally unfair way, but that the same Job Coach/Mentor can then continue to keep that household from making a re-application after that 6 weeks has expired simply by refusing to accept that the sanctioned jobseeker has successfully completed 6 consecutive weeks of actively seeking work - and the jobseeker cannot challenge this. It appears that the Job Coach/Mentor has been given absolute discretion not only to decide how long the jobseeker has to continue actively seeking work before benefits can resume, but also to dictate how many particular activities in any given week the jobseeker must undertake. There are no known guidelines and nothing in the law that limits the number of activities that a jobseeker can be asked to undertake in a given week. It therefore seems likely that jobseekers under a Breach 3 penalty are being required to undertake a much higher level of actively seeking work activities than other non-sanctioned jobseekers, regardless of the consequences if the jobseeker can't satisfy that high level of activities, maybe because they are having to spend time selling their personal household items or fight eviction proceedings.   

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on March 12, 2015, 01:20:51 AM
It seems to me that all these new sanctions being brought in are simply to keep the,"Back to work","Advance to work","Look as if we are helping you to find work", teams in employment.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 12, 2015, 06:59:17 PM
True.

The States has finally created a Freedom of Information disclosure log page (separate from the Police disclosure log page that I've already referred to):

http://www.gov.je/Government/FreedomOfInformation/Pages/FOIDisclosureLog.aspx


Three requests of mine have so far been published, but you can't actually view the request I made for the Income Support Determining Officer's Guidelines, which kind of defeats the purpose of it all. Check for yourself here:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1160


This is the request which they supplied to me on a CD and ran to more than 900 pages, hence I can't publish it on here. Surely they should find a way of publishing it on the States website at the link above? As it stands, it is a disclosure that only one member of the public can actually read - me.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 16, 2015, 06:42:58 PM
The number of applications being made for income support ministerial discretion payments in exceptional circumstances during 2014 has quadrupled compared to the first year of the income support scheme (2008/09) and the proportion of such applications being rejected by the Minister in 2014 was almost double that of 2008/09.

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 19th March 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1227


FOI Reference No: 202-03-58021

Date of Request: 16 February 2015 (this information corrected by me on 17th March)

Date of Response: 05 March 2015

Request:

1. The total number of applications made during the calendar year 2014 for Ministerial discretion payments in exceptional circumstances under article 8(2) and (3) of the Income Support (Jersey) Law 2007.

2. Out of the total number of applications made for Ministerial discretion payments during the calendar year 2014, as requested above in (1), how many of these applications resulted in an exceptional payment being made and for what type of exceptional circumstances were the payments made in each individual case?

3. Out of the total number of applications made for Ministerial discretion payments during the calendar year 2014, as requested above in (1), how many of these applications resulted in no payment being made and for what type of exceptional circumstances were these applications rejected in each individual case?

States of Jersey Response:


Applications made for exceptional circumstances by their very nature often include specific details that may allow individuals to be identified or identity assumed. Therefore to protect applicants’ privacy this personal data is exempt under Article 25 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011, detailed below. The information is provided below under category type.

Unique circumstances may include specific family situation or medical grounds.

1. 42 applications for a Ministerial Discretional Payment were made in 2014.

2. 34 out of the 42 applications made for a Ministerial Discretional Payment resulted in an exceptional payment being made in 2014. The different types are categorized below:

a. Personal Care 10

b. Failed Jobseeker 8

c. Unique Circumstances 8

d. Hospitalisation 6

e. Residency Status 2

3. 8 out of the 42 applications made for a Ministerial Discretional Payment did not result in any exceptional payment being made in 2014. The different types are categorized below:

a. Residency Status 3

b. Failed Jobseeker 3

c. Unique Circumstances 2

Exemption: Article 25 Personal Information

(1) Information is absolutely exempt information if it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005.

(2) Information is absolutely exempt information if –

(a) it constitutes personal data of which the applicant is not the data subject as defined in the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005; and

(b) its supply to a member of the public would contravene any of the data protection principles, as defined in that Law.

My comments on the above:


Ministerial discretion payments should not be confused with general special payments. The former are payments made in exceptional circumstances which cannot be made by means of a general special payment. Ministerial discretion payments can be made to people even if they are not ordinarily resident in Jersey and not part of an eligible income support household. My reference in the main headline to such applications having quadrupled since the first year of the income support scheme has been made by comparing the number of applications made in 2014, revealed by this FOI disclosure, with the answer to a question asked of the Social Security Minister by Deputy Geoff Southern in the States Assembly on 24th March 2009 (link below):

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyQuestions/2009/Deputy%20Southern%20to%20SS%20re%20Ministerial%20discretions%20over%20IS%20determinations%20and%20decisions.pdf
 

The income support scheme came into force on 28th January 2008 and the answer to Southern's question of 24th March 2009 reveals that 10 applications had been made up to that date, of which 9 had been approved and 1 rejected. Therefore 10% of applications were rejected by the Minister.

By comparison, the response to my FOI request above reveals that 42 applications were made during 2014, of which 34 resulted in a payment being made. Therefore 19% of such applications were rejected in 2014 - almost double that of 2008/09. The majority of these decisions in 2014 would probably have been made by former Senator Francis Le Gresley before he left office.

For the first time, we can see how the devastating effects of Le Gresley's jobseeker sanctions regime, introduced in October 2013, are forcing some jobseekers (or other members of their household) to apply directly to the Minister. 11 such applications were made in 2014, of which 8 resulted in a payment being made.

During the States debate on jobseeker sanctions in October 2013, Le Gresley said:
Quote

In these situations [where there has been a complete withdrawal of benefit] the Minister, that is myself at the present time, has the ability to create an exceptional payment to support only the other members of the household.  This support would be dependent on all of the circumstances of the household at that time.
 

The reference by Le Gresley to "only the other members of the household" implies that applications made by sole person households who have had all benefits withdrawn after the issue of a Breach 3 notice are being rejected for exceptional circumstance payments by the Minister. However, because the Department has cited article 25 of the FOI as a reason for not providing the exact circumstances which led to each of these payments being made in 2014, it is not known if this is actually happening in practice. If it is the case, it means that sole person households whose income support claims have been closed cannot receive hardship payments, no matter how exceptional the circumstances are. This would surely increase the likelihood that such a regime would be found to be in violation of human rights law.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 19, 2015, 07:24:27 PM
Confirmation that Back to Work is using public funds to run "assessment centres" at local hotels free of charge on behalf of individual businesses looking to fill vacancies

FOI Reference No: 202-03-57637

Date of Request: 11 February 2015

Date of Response: 05 March 2015

Request:

The total costs of running four Back to Work “Assessment Centres” for jobseekers at the Best Western Royal Hotel, David Place, St Helier on various dates during the first week of August 2014 in order to help Tesco by Alliance recruit general assistants and supervisors for its new retail store in Charing Cross.

Identify which costs, if any, were incurred by Back to Work and which costs, if any, were paid by Tesco by Alliance.

Confirm whether these costs include any estimate of the time spent by Social Security Department staff in arranging for jobseekers to attend the centres and in staff attending the centres themselves, or any other staff costs that may have been incurred.

Confirm who paid for the hire of the facilities at the Best Western Royal Hotel, David Place, St Helier.

States of Jersey Response:

Answers provided in order requested:

Q1 There were 5 Assessment Centres run over the 2 days. 04/08: 1.30 – 3.00pm; 3.30 – 5.00pm

05/08: 9.30 – 11.00am; 11.30 – 1.00pm; 1.30 -- 3.00pm

We negotiated a total discounted rate of £320 for all 5 events. This was for room hire.

Q2 The total costs were paid by Back to Work. There were no costs paid by Tesco by Alliance

Q3 These costs do not include an estimate of staff time. No additional staff costs were incurred other than normal salary.

Q4 Back to Work paid for the hire of the facilities

My comments on the above:

The answer to this request won't come as a major surprise, but it confirms what most of us have long suspected: that the taxpayer is picking up 100% of the bill when Back to Work organises specific recruitment events on behalf of local employers.

We are all aware of major recruitment events such as Jobsfest because the Establishment media heavily promotes them on behalf of Back to Work without asking any difficult questions (the latest of these free publicity puffs, about a 'Job Match' event held on behalf of the hospitality sector, was broadcast on ITV News Channel TV on Monday evening, 16th March - reporter: 'Senator' Leah Ferguson):

http://www.itv.com/news/channel/update/2015-03-16/jobseekers-being-matched-with-jersey-hospitality-businesses/


However, there are also many other smaller events that take place throughout the year, usually located in conference rooms in the Best Western Royal Hotel, David Place. These smaller events are different because they are run on behalf of just one individual employer at a time rather than many different employers competing equally for the attention of jobseekers. Consequently, that particular employer gets a clear advantage over its commercial competitors because Back to Work staff select jobseekers who supposedly have suitable skills or experience matching the employer's requirements and force them to attend. The employer not only gets exclusive face-to-face access to these jobseekers for several hours, but can rely on their full participation and concentration because Back to Work staff are conveniently positioned on each communal table in order to 'police' the jobseekers and ensure that any acts of non-cooperation, disinterest or dissent are spotted, reported and sometimes punished by sanctions.

The jobseekers who are selected by Back to Work staff have no free choice as to whether or not to attend - they will be sanctioned if they fail to provide 'good cause' for non-attendance and as my previous FOI requests have already begun to reveal, those who fail to provide an excuse for non-attendance at or before the event starts have virtually no chance of getting a sanction overturned later on appeal, no matter how convincing their excuse is. Persons who are issued with a Breach 3 sanction for non-attendance at these events could well end up homeless as a consequence, regardless of whether or not they ever make it as far as an 'independent' Social Security Tribunal hearing, which they have absolutely no chance of winning anyway.

The atmosphere during these events is very false with an underlying sinister element. The jobseekers are pretending that they're really pleased and privileged to have been selected to attend the event and those amongst them who really don't give a flying f*ck for this employer or its employment practices are desperately trying to conceal such dissident thoughts from their Job Coaches. Meanwhile, the employer's fresh-faced representatives, usually females from the Human Resources Department, try to create a jokey, relaxed ambience. These events are very often thinly-veiled attempts by the employer to promote itself and its commercial products in a positive light. Typically, the jobseekers will be forced to listen to a boring speech, usually conducted with the aid of Powerpoint. As is standard practice, a cheap hotel pen and notepad is supplied to every participant, with the compulsory jug of mineral water at the centre of each table (is this sounding all too familiar?). Then after the speech, everyone participates in pointless 'team-building' exercises in groups, with Job Coaches closely monitoring what is being said at each table. Very often these team-building exercises have little or no relevance to the type of duties that would be performed in the jobs on offer, so nothing of great importance is actually learned.

With respect to my specific request concerning the event held on behalf of Alliance supermarket last August, we have learned that the declared cost of room hire was £320 and that "There were no costs paid by Tesco by Alliance". The actual declared cost of hiring the room is of little relevance in itself. What we really learn from this response is that similar events taking place under the auspices of Back to Work must also be charged completely to the taxpayer, with the employer contributing nothing at all. No wonder then that the total cost of providing employment services topped £8 million in 2013 and is believed to have risen again substantially during 2014.

However, this response makes it clear that the £320 declared costs "do not include an estimate of staff time". This is a major omission as the staff costs of organising and attending each event might well exceed the £320 cost of the room hire. If Back to Work stopped organising all these events, many hundreds of hours of staff time would be saved each year and the resources could either be re-allocated where they are more urgently needed (such as on the front desk at Income Support in La Motte Street), or it would be possible to cut the States wage bill by laying off some of the Job Coaches (perish the mere thought!). Anyone who has to regularly endure waits of more than half an hour to get to speak to one of only 2-3 staff on the Income Support desk will understand how desperately that re-allocation of resources is needed.

In the near future, I hope to reveal exactly what the staff costs of Back to Work amount to as a proportion of total Back to Work costs- I am currently awaiting a FOI response on that subject...   
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on March 19, 2015, 09:49:52 PM

Looks like Jobs for the boys and girls from social security. Interesting that the employer pays not a penny, surely Tesco is capable of interviewing candidates without help from Government, a super job promotion organised by several private companies is cool. One private company holding one event run and funded by social security is well past the  acceptable line of Government involvement.

The Bailiff really does have a terrific sense of humour when he talks about the  " Jersey Way " being maligned. Clearly those in the driving seat at states departments are more than happy to overstretch their remit, and grow their departments known as  empire building.

 " The Jersey Way " is alive and well, costing the taxpayer dearly.

bb
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 20, 2015, 12:30:11 AM
Maybe it could be argued that Alliance was not based in the island at that time and therefore a recruitment event held in a Jersey hotel was the best way to find employees in this particular example. Unfortunately, that argument kind of evaporates in the added knowledge that Back to Work has organised similar events at the same venue for other employers who definitely are based in Jersey. For example, there was a similar event held for Specsavers last year and this company has had more than one established trading outlet in the island for years.

I noticed today that the States website has published another of my requests before I even had time to mention it here! So if you want to check it out, here's the link:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1234

Here's another published FOI response (link below) which has nothing at all to do with me but I thought I'd just point it out because it concerns the installation of those glaring new street lights, which I briefly mentioned off-topic last year:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1231

Since I mentioned this last year, I have had the damn things installed right outside my own residence. I have to admit that my greatest fear - that they would vastly increase the amount of light pollution entering my property after dark - doesn't seem to have materialised. This seems to be because the design of the new lamps concentrates most of the light directly downwards and much less light, if any, escapes sideways or upwards, as happened with the old design. Consequently, I found that my residence was actually darker at night than before, even though the street lamp is located directly bordering the property, just a few metres away.

There might possibly be advantages to this from a light pollution/astronomy perspective, presuming that these lamps can actually be proven to achieve that. Nevertheless I am still concerned about possible side effects that may only become known over a longer period of time. For example, could this type of lighting have any detrimental effect on wildlife/birdlife that happens to be present in hedgerows located directly beneath the intense beam, just bordering the public pavement? Has any research been conducted about the possible effects on wildlife? Whilst it may be darker if you are located a small distance away from the beam, it must surely be brighter if you happen to be positioned directly beneath it.

Could these more intense street lamps possibly inhibit birds and other wildlife from breeding or disrupt their behaviour patterns in some other ways? I have no proof to call on and maybe they have no detrimental effect at all but I think it's worth asking the question nonetheless...
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on March 20, 2015, 02:11:40 AM
The ,Back to ,Advance to, Hop Skip and Jump to Work,(Whatever they want to call it), is simply a window dressing exercise to show how hard SS are working to encourage folk into non-existent jobs.
Most of the folk running these schemes would be unemployed themselves if it weren,t for the high level of unemployment in Jersey.
The sad thing is that the SS OFFICERS have the power to cut the benefits of genuine job-seekers,(Often highly qualified), if they do not attend organised events.

I, personally, know a construction design professional who was threatened with sanctions if he didn,t apply for a job driving a fish delivery van.
His reason, that I totally agree with, was that he could have applied for the job but once the potential employer saw his CV, they would immediately realise that he wouldn,t be staying long, and the position should be offered to someone more suitably qualified.
BTW supervisor response: "But you do qualify for the vacancy, You,ve got a full driving license".   This is the level of management that, "Back to.....whatever", entrusts tax-payers money with to organise events and courses. 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!!!!
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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?

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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.
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz 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).
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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!

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy 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

 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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).
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy 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
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz 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.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy 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.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz 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.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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.   
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin 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.
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on June 25, 2015, 05:36:13 PM
I've belatedly received an answer to a Freedom of Information request today that I made as far back as 29th May, asking the questions about Pinel's actively seeking work amendment in P.52/2015 that all States Members mysteriously failed to ask before Tuesday's 'debate'. I'll post the full reply another time but the disclosure confirms the following:

1) Despite Pinel stating in the report accompanying P.52/2015 that her proposals "had been subject to a human rights audit", States Members "do not receive a copy of the Human Rights Audit" (quote from today's Freedom of Information response). So despite the very obvious human rights implications of removing for up to a year 100% of a household's entitlement to all means-tested benefits (including benefit paid in respect of children and housing subsidy to pay the rent, as well as regular hardship -'special'- payments), States Members passed this amendment on Tuesday without even knowing the grounds on which the Law Officers were claiming that this is human rights compliant.

This would not be the case if similar proposals of this magnitude were going through the UK Parliament- all legislators would be able to access the full deliberations of the relevant committee charged with examining the human rights aspects, which would include a copy of the government's reasons why it believed its proposals were compliant with the Convention. I presume that these UK Parliament documents are usually fully accessible to the public too.

The form of words used in the FOI response ("do not receive a copy of the Human Rights Audit") is also taken to confirm that States Members didn't receive a copy of the earlier Human Rights Audit mentioned several times by Le Gresley during the October 2013 debate. In any case, the Hansard transcript for the 2013 debate makes reference to the fact that States Members hadn't been supplied with a copy of this human rights audit.

2) The 2013 Scrutiny Panel (de facto controlled by Deputy Hilton at the time) received a briefing of the Le Gresley proposals on 9th September 2013 but this was held in private and no transcript was made (during the States debate a month later, Hilton rejected the opportunity to scrutinise the proposals).

3) No- I cannot have a copy of either the 2013 or 2015 Human Rights Audits as they are "subject to the Legal Professional Privilege" and therefore exempted under article 32 of the FOI Law.

4) I asked for confirmation that States Members were "made fully aware" before the October 2013 debate of the 6 consecutive week actively seeking work requirement. The response does not confirm that this was the case. It merely says that "States Members were briefed on the implications of P101/2013. The requirement to complete six consecutive weeks of actively seeking work was included within the legislation and is not an additional requirement."

I think its really telling that the FOI response doesn't go on to reveal exactly where in the legislation the requirement is currently included....


Well we know it will be included in the legislation from next week as a result of the States approving P.52/2015 on Tuesday, but I invite anybody to take a look at the current Regulations (specifically Regs 4 and 5), as they stand at the moment and as the States passed them in October 2013, and tell me if they can spot exactly where that requirement is explicitly mentioned (but please note that the 42 day "breach period" mentioned in Reg 5B(4) is not the same as a requirement to complete 42 consecutive days actively seeking work because the breach period clearly expires 42 days after the person is given notice of the breach - Reg 5b(5)(a) - whereas the ASW requirement being demanded by the Social Security Department currently extends indefinitely beyond those 42 days, theoretically until the failed jobseeker dies):

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


If you're that dedicated, you can read the original Le Gresley proposition (P.101/2013) upon which States members made their decision in October 2013. Decide for yourself whether you think States Members could have reasonably known that what they were about to approve was not, in fact, a stoppage of benefits to Breach 3 households restricted by statute to a period of 42 days, as appeared to be the case, but a stoppage that was capable of continuing indefinitely until such time as the failed jobseeker completed 42 consecutive days of actively seeking work:

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2013/P.101-2013.pdf

Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Chevalier Blanc on July 01, 2015, 04:14:12 PM
Pinal is a right B*****d, full on establishment!
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on July 17, 2015, 06:41:48 PM
The States has now published its response to my FOI questions about the 6 consecutive week actively seeking work (ASW) requirement that I quoted extracts from in my previous post above dated 25th June. You can read it here:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1488


The answers reveal the extremely secretive way the States went about passing Le Gresley's 2013 amendments into law - why? Here are some extracts from the FOI response, with my added comments:

(B) "A formal States members briefing was held on 1 October 2013, which explained the proposed actions."

This was a private meeting of States Members to which the public and media were not invited, so we have no idea what was said and whether or not States Members who attended that briefing might have been informed of the true nature of the Breach 3 penalty - that the stoppage of household income support was not merely restricted to a 6-week breach period as the proposition clearly stated but could continue to run indefinitely through a separate (and completely invisible in law) 6 consecutive week ASW requirement. If States Members were informed of the true nature of the Breach 3 at that private briefing then every last one of them who attended stands condemned for saying nothing about it during the subsequent debate in the House a week later. However, there is simply no evidence at the moment to suggest that those on the backbenches knew about the secret ASW requirement or fully understood its significance. If they did know and it could be proved, then they were collectively involved in a very serious cover-up which could damage the island's international credibility in terms of its desire to govern itself independently in the future without the intervention of Westminster.

(C) "The Scrutiny Panel received a private briefing on 9 September 2013. This was not a public Scrutiny hearing and no transcript was created."

This answer pretty much says it all. I would just add that the Scrutiny Panel refused to carry out official Scrutiny of the 2013 Le Gresley proposals, yet they still received this private briefing. Why? Was there something in these proposals that Deputies Kristina Moore (St Peter), Jacqueline Hilton (St Helier No. 3) and James Reed (St Ouen) knew about but wanted to avoid becoming known to all and sundry through the publicly accessible Scrutiny process?

(D) "The Human Rights audit is subject to the Legal Professional Privilege and is exempt from disclosure under Article 32 of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011."

(E) "States members do not receive a copy of the Human Rights audit."


Why can't States Members or the public have access to a Human Rights audit, especially when it involves a clear interference with the human rights of its citizens, through the arbitrary and indefinite removal of 100% of means-tested benefit entitlement (including regular hardship or 'Special' payments) to all members of a household simply because one member of that household missed a jobseeker interview at the Department?

Yet below is an example of a recent States proposition (Draft Video Recordings (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 201-) which includes a full two pages of 'Human Rights Notes' prepared by the Law Officers' Department. These notes explain in some detail the potential interference with article 10 ECHR (freedom of expression) and why they feel the interference is justified and legal. See pages 5 and 6 of the proposition:

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyPropositions/2015/P.010-2015.pdf


So they do sometimes publish the opinions of the Law Officers in relation to the human rights compliance of propositions, contrary to the impression given by the FOI answer. However, they only do so when it suits them politically. Clearly an amendment to the Video Recordings Law is a lot less controversial than removing 100% of benefit entitlement from some Jersey families in desperate need of financial support. What was so controversial about the Law Officers' notes prepared in respect of Le Gresley's 2013 jobseeker sanctions proposals (and also Pinel's unexplained trojan amendment in P.52/2015) that made them decide not to allow even States Members to read them before they voted them into law? We need to know.

(B) "As stated above, the six weeks actively seeking work compliance before making another application for income support was not an additional requirement, but part of the legislation changes within P101/2013."


If that is true, why was the six week ASW requirement only expressly introduced to the Regulations by Deputy Pinel's trojan amendment in P.52/2015, which did not come into effect until 30th June 2015? Why doesn't the FOI response reveal which part of the legislation contained the ASW requirement for the 20 months prior to her amendment becoming law? In my previous post on this thread (25th June), I provided links to the relevant legislation and to Le Gresley's 2013 proposition and invited everyone to find the clause which includes the 6 week ASW requirement. So far, nobody at all has responded to that challenge... 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Chevalier Blanc on July 18, 2015, 06:34:22 PM
Listen when the ministers etc refuse to share information then it can only be because they are making something out of it. They would not put up with all the crap that comes their way for £44,000 per year when they made more than that in their private businesses. So there must be something in it for them.
We employ the government so they should and must disclose any and all information to the rest of the states.
We can sack them at the elections so we employ them, we are their boss. By law should not be able to with hold information from us.
so they must be crooks!!!!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on August 12, 2015, 10:35:29 PM
ONLY 4 OUT OF 36 TRIBUNAL APPEAL HEARINGS AGAINST SOCIAL SECURITY AND INCOME SUPPORT DECISIONS BETWEEN 2013 AND 2015 (UP TO 23RD JULY 2015) RESULTED IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY DEPARTMENT'S ORIGINAL DECISION BEING REVERSED IN FAVOUR OF THE APPELLANT*

* 5 of these 36 appeals were listed in the FOI response as either "awaiting judgment" or "adjourned" as at 23rd July 2015 - 1 of these 5 outstanding appeals is known to have been decided in the Department's favour after 23rd July 2015, leaving 4 appeals currently outstanding


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

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1596


http://www.gov.je/Freedom%20of%20Information%20library/ID%20FOI%20attachment%20to%20request%20relating%20to%20SSD%20LH250815.pdf


A recent response to my Freedom of Information request has revealed these statistics, which confirm the abysmally small chance (little more than 10%) that a Jersey benefit claimant has of getting a Department decision reversed on appeal to either the Social Security Tribunal, the Social Security Medical Appeal Tribunal or the Income Support Medical Appeal Tribunal. In fact, the 4 appeals that were successful all occurred in 2013. There have been no successful appeals in either 2014 or 2015 up to the date when the response was issued to me.

Furthermore, a written answer supplied by Senator Francis Le Gresley in the States Assembly on 24th September 2013 (when he was still Social Security Minister) revealed that since the Income Support scheme had been introduced in January 2008, only 3 out of 28 Tribunal appeals against income support decisions had resulted in the Department's decision being "overturned". Link to this answer below:

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyQuestions/2013/Deputy%20Southern%20to%20SS%20Second%20determinations%20over%20decisions%20on%20Income%20support.pdf


The last of those successful Tribunal appeals revealed in the Le Gresley answer was in 2009. Therefore we know that no appellant was successful in getting an income support decision overturned at a Tribunal in either 2010, 2011 or 2012. The 4 successful appeals now revealed by my FOI request must presumably have happened in the latter part of 2013 after Le Gresley filed his answer in the House. It is presumed that Le Gresley's answer does not include the results of appeals heard by the Social Security Medical Appeal Tribunal, whereas my FOI request does reveal this.

Therefore combining the Le Gresley answer with the response to my recent FOI request, it is possible to state how many Tribunal appeals in respect of income support decisions only resulted in the Department's original decision being overturned ("reversed") in favour of the appellant for each calendar year since income support was introduced, as follows:

Income Support appeals (excluding Social Security medical appeals)-

2008: 1 decision overturned (out of 2 hearings);
2009: 2 decisions overturned (out of 6 hearings);
2010: 0 decisions overturned (out of 6 hearings);
2011: 0 decisions overturned (out of 3 hearings);
2012: 0 decisions overturned (out of 10 hearings);
2013: 4 decisions reversed (out of 6 hearings - not including 8 additional decisions of the Social Security Medical Appeal Tribunal);
2014: 0 decisions reversed (out of 6 hearings - not including 2 additional decisions of the Social Security Medical Appeal Tribunal);
2015 (up to 23rd July): 0 decisions reversed (out of 1 hearing decided, with 5 other appeals either awaiting a judgment or adjourned).

These statistics ignore 4 appeal judgments during 2013 and 2014 which resulted in the Department's decision being "varied", either in favour of the appellant (3) or against the appellant (1). Since the FOI response was received, I have learned of another Tribunal appeal in respect of an income support decision being decided in the Department's favour, so that is 0 reversals out of 2 hearings for 2015 so far, with a further 4 hearings either adjourned or still awaiting a judgment. If this was a proper functioning democracy, our States Members might be asking some serious questions about the types of people who are currently being appointed to the various Tribunals and how representative they are of the community as a whole, as well as looking at the standard of "impartial" advice being offered to benefit claimants by the Citizens Advice Bureau, which is run by a former Social Security Department senior officer who worked in that Department for 11 years, 10 months before leaving to take up the post of Chief Executive of the CAB.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on August 27, 2015, 09:53:48 PM
1) The States has finally published on its website the FOI response showing the results of Tribunal appeal hearings (2013-2015) against Social Security Department decisions (see my previous post directly above dated 12th August 2015). The main page link is here:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1596


Link to the PDF document containing the full Tribunal statistics:

http://www.gov.je/Freedom%20of%20Information%20library/ID%20FOI%20attachment%20to%20request%20relating%20to%20SSD%20LH250815.pdf


2) After searching the States FOI Disclosure Log page constantly for many months, I've also just managed to find a link to my controversial request about the Social Security Department intentionally misleading jobseekers into disclosing their 'sensitive personal data' (reported on this thread on 24th April 2014). Whether deliberate or not, the response was eventually published on the Disclosure Log page with the misleading date of 24th March 2014 - 3 days before I actually made the request - whereas the normal practice is to publish it with the date when the response was issued (in this case, 24th April 2014). I therefore can't be sure exactly when they published it, but I reckon it was not for several months at least. Something tells me they really aren't keen for jobseekers to come across this information because it contradicts what their Mentors/Advisers are telling them behind closed doors at Eagle House and what the wording of their Jobseeker's Agreement implies. Link here:

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

 
I have two more FOI requests awaiting responses and I'm in the process of drafting a third, so plenty to look forward to...
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on September 02, 2015, 05:33:20 AM
As from today, the Freedom of Information Law now covers the 12 parishes  ;D - a significant milestone for the island that the Establishment media has mostly chosen to ignore.

However, here are some startling statistics about St. Clement's income from speeding fines that I managed to uncover without having to go to the lengths of making a FOI Law request:

In the year ending 30th April 2009, the parish of St. Clement collected just £1,005 in speeding fines.

It then began providing additional training to its honorary police officers with the intention of specifically targetting more speeding motorists. As a result, by the year ending 30th April 2010, income from fines had tripled to £3,255, a fact not overlooked by Constable Len Norman in his report to parishioners that year.

Then in November 2010, the parish persuaded the TTS Minister to use his ministerial powers to reclassify about 20 roads in St. Clement (including the Inner Road and the Coast Road) as 30 mph speed zones, whereas previously they had been 40 mph zones. The cash quickly began rolling in for the parish, followed within 3 months of the law change by a fatal accident on the new 30 mph Coast Road, which unfortunately only encouraged St. Clement's hobby bobbies to target motorists even more vociferously than they were already doing.

By the year ending 30 April 2013, St. Clement's income from speeding fines had risen to £26,458.  :o

After an awful lot of fiddling about with my calculator, I reckon that this represents a rise of about 2,533% in income from speeding fines in just 4 years - quite astonishing!

And is there any proof that all these roads in St. Clement have become safer since the speed limit was reduced to 30 mph in 2010? Well if such evidence exists then I guess someone will have to make an FOI request for it because I can't find any!
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on September 03, 2015, 01:19:09 AM
Jersey is just catching up to UK methods of making money by criminalising honest citizens.
Speed traps have never been about making roads safer. They are all about making money.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Little Bob on September 03, 2015, 04:41:09 PM
I have to disagree with you there Fritz.

Speed traps are not about making money. How could they be? If people didn’t break the law, then no money would be collected! If citizens were honest, then they wouldn’t speed and wouldn’t get caught and wouldn’t pay the fine. Its not “criminalising honest citizens” its “punishing dishonest citizens”

We complain that the police (or Honoraries!) don’t do their job of catching criminals, and yet when it comes to road traffic offences, people complain that they are ACTUALLY doing their job.

Well over a decade ago, the States bought an expensive Laztec speed camera, Quite accurate, it takes a photo and records the number plate.  They placed it in the underpass, a well known, well signposted 30 mph zone. They set it to capture anyone doing over 55mph. That’s more than ten miles per hour over the island wide speed limit, (plus 10% variance) not even the actual speed limit of the road.
They ran it for two evenings, only an hour each evening and got over 120 people breaking the law each time, doing more than 50 in a 30 zone. (Criminalising honest citizens if you prefer).
What happened? A deputy complained in the states that pensioners who had never done anything wrong in their life were being treated like criminals because they had received a letter in the post pointing out that they were speeding more than 60% over the posted limit. The ensuing debate decided that the expensive speed camera generated too much paperwork to chase people who break the law, so its been mothballed. Only to come out occasionally to record speeds , but not to fulfil its function to actually record number plates and fine the car owners.

Simply put, if a driver cannot follow the stated road signs, then they are driving dangerously, no matter what anyone’s personal opinion of what the road sign should say.
If the St. Clement honorary police officers are able to record a rise of 2,533% in the number of people CAUGHT breaking the law, then this can only be a good thing. The police are actually doing what they are supposed to be doing.

Honest citizens do not break the law, and honest citizens don’t speed, only criminals break the law.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on September 03, 2015, 05:41:19 PM
Speed traps are not about making money. How could they be? If people didn’t break the law, then no money would be collected! If citizens were honest, then they wouldn’t speed and wouldn’t get caught and wouldn’t pay the fine.

It's simply not fair to imply that anyone who breaks the speed limit is not "honest". I know a couple who are very honest and run a popular small business. They had lived in one of the northern parishes for decades and never received any sort of speeding fine. Then two or three years ago, they moved to St. Clement. Within a couple of months, the husband had been nicked by hobby bobbies on St. Clement's Coast Road for driving at 34 mph in a 30 mph zone. They told me how much he was fined. I can't remember the exact amount but I remember gasping when they told me, particularly considering that this road was always a 40 mph zone for as long as anyone can remember until Len Norman decided he needed to find new ways of balancing the parish books.

Your implication is that the law is always fair and right and the people who are caught breaking it aren't. You ignore the evidence that parishes are deliberately setting artificially low speed limits to try to catch drivers out. An example in St. Helier would be the ridiculous 15 mph zone on Vallee des Vaux, a road almost as wide as Victoria Avenue in places, which includes Waitrose supermarket. Only when you get near the very top of the valley is it advisable to slow down for the geese. The lower part is suitable for driving at 25-30 mph but if you get caught driving at that speed by hobby bobbies, you're a criminal!

There is also deliberate trickery in the setting of speed limits to try to catch drivers out. For example, in St. Clement, there is a lane which runs around the back of Samares Manor called Rue de la Blinerie. If you enter La Blinerie from the Inner Road side adjacent to Rue de Samares, it is a 30 mph limit. However, less than half way along its length, the lane reaches a left turn and a downward hill. At the bottom of the hill is a turning to the right called Rue du Coin, or you can continue straight on as far as the Jersey Recreation Grounds and Plat Douet Road. I only found out recently that once Rue du Coin is passed and you continue straight onwards, the official speed limit inexplicably halves to just 15 mph. I would love to know how often the hobbies catch drivers just after they've come down that hill. I wonder which landowners allow them to hide in their drives waiting to pounce. Knowing the area, I don't think they could police that lane without the assistance of some private landowners, which then makes me wonder what might be in it for those landowners, ahem!   

Returning to the inclusion of the parishes in the FOI Law - the Constables persuaded Gorst to include a clause in the FOI Regulations which could well result in many requests to parishes being refused on the grounds of cost. Whereas the States can refuse a request if the estimated cost exceeds £500, the parishes can refuse a request if the estimated cost exceeds £200 - less than half the States maximum.  Extract from P.155/2014, passed on a standing vote in the House on 25th November 2014:

Quote
Cost limit for Parishes

The Parishes indicated that when they become a scheduled public authority, the cost limit will be adjusted to take into consideration their resource limitations. A number of Parishes employ only one Parish secretary on a part-time basis, which would make a cost limit of £500 for each FOI request overly burdensome. Much of the information handled by the Parishes is already in the public domain, as their business is debated in public forum at Parish assemblies, so it is not anticipated that voluminous requests will be made. The cost limit has been reduced for Parishes to £200, calculated at a rate of £40 per hour which equates to 5 hours.

So they have resource limitations, but as I have pointed out, this doesn't prevent the geographically smallest parish (St. Clement) from finding the necessary resources to trap multiple hundreds of motorists per year driving just above 30 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The advice is therefore to be particularly careful to keep FOI requests to the parish as brief as possible.

http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/09/02/1494081/


Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Little Bob on September 04, 2015, 01:30:34 AM
Quote
Within a couple of months, the husband had been nicked by hobby bobbies on St. Clement's Coast Road for driving at 34 mph in a 30 mph zone.

Are you sure it was only 34? Something so low is frequently dismissed due to variances in speedometers, or would just have a caution at the Parish Hall Enquiries. At something less than five mph  over the limit, it would fall into the usual “not in the public interest to to prosecute”
There must be more to that story if a fine was imposed.
Nevertheless, Your friends husband DID break the law, driving in excess of the LIMIT, which might have been a maximum of 100 pounds fine, but for such a small amount, I would question the truth of the story, the details just dont add up.

Besides, I never implied that the law is always fair and right, but when in control of a massive killing machine, one has the responsibility to pay attention to its controls.
If you don’t know what speed your doing, you are not driving safely.
If you’re not aware of the speed limits on the road, you’re not paying attention to the road, and you are not driving safely.

No matter when the speed limit was changed, (providing its signposted) there really is no excuse for breaking it, only evidence of bad driving.

Personal opinions of "artificially low speed limits" are just that, personal opinions, but the fact is that the speed limit is just that, a limit, and anyone not paying attention to the speed is someone who shouldn’t be driving.
You may feel that the 15 mph zone on Vallee des Vaux is ridiculous, and should be a 30 mph, but if you or anyone decides to ignore the stated limit, then you're a criminal. That is how speed limits work, we don’t decide what they should be on a personal basis, they are decided (like them or not) and people are required to comply with them. If you don’t like it, campaign to have it changed.

There is no trickery in changing speed limits on a road (unless it is not signposted!) it happens often, especially on our island roads. Drivers are expected to be able to pay attention to sign posts and obey them. Drivers that don’t are breaking the law.

The lesson to learn, is that if you don’t drive safely and refuse to drive within the law, you should expect to be caught and fined. Complaining because the police catch people BREAKING the law is rather bizarre.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on September 04, 2015, 03:34:45 AM
Take it your a ,"Hobby-bobby", little Bob?
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Little Bob on September 04, 2015, 03:51:40 AM
Nope, Fritz, I just don't like claims that do not bare any relationship with reality. If people didn't break the law by speeding, no money would be "raised" by catching the people who break the law. As such, claiming that speed traps/checks/cameras are a method to make money is false.

The Parish of St. Clement's are simply getting money from foolish people who should know otherwise (they did take a test, ya know). When people stop breaking the law, the hobby bobbies will soon get bored and do something else.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on September 04, 2015, 04:00:33 AM
Sorry little Bob, speeding and most parking fines are just two ways to rip money off motorists.

I am in the older club and regularly drive at forty miles an hour in the summer months through the underpass. Have you noticed some half wit has put a 30 mile an hour speed limit there.

Of course it would never do to take money of unsuspecting tourists who assume it is a dual carriage way. However in the winter it is a different story when speed traps appear.

Many of the green lanes are perfectly safe to drive through at 30mph when one can see way ahead into the distance. But some tw*t decides we are to thick to use common sense so imposes a 15mph.

If you drive at this speed you stand a good chance of being overtaken by a bicycle breaking the law. Bloody criminals.

The speed limits in many parts of Jersey are meant to confuse the honest motorist and take money off them, which they do aggressively.

In a democratic civalised society if the law gets broken by a hell of a lot of people it's is called a bad law and is usually scrapped ( many speeding cameras have been removed in areas of the UK ) after it was found they were of no benefit except to the treasury, which was never supposed to be the purpose.

BB
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Chevalier Blanc on September 04, 2015, 03:48:03 PM
Sorry to tell you but it has always been 30MPH from the Grand Hotel right through to La Rue des Pres trading estate. The police did used to check for speeding in the underpass but there is years since they have done that.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on September 17, 2015, 04:26:49 PM
NO DUE PROCESS OR RIGHT OF APPEAL FOR BENEFIT CLAIMANTS LABELLED AS 'POTENTIALLY VIOLENT PERSONS' BY SOCIAL SECURITY'S SECRETIVE ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR GROUP

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 17th September 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1620


Link to separate Acceptable Customer Behaviour Guidance document (PDF):

http://www.gov.je/Freedom%20of%20Information%20library/ID%20FOI%20acceptable%20behaviour%20guidance.pdf


Date of Request:
14 August 2015

Date of Response:
11 September 2015

The States of Jersey has published a response (click on the first link above) to my request asking for more information on the shadowy activities and powers of the Acceptable Behaviour Group, which consists of 10 senior Social Security Department officers and a representative from Careers Jersey. The ABG has given itself very wide ranging powers to act against any benefit claimant who causes a member of staff the slightest bit of annoyance, whether inside the Department or somewhere else in non-working hours, based only on "a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989 to ensure the Health and Safety of their workers" (see question B of the response). However, despite this, it is known that incidents have been reported by staff which don't involve any actual threat made to either Social Security Department employees or other claimants visiting the Department.

Page 8 of the Acceptable Customer Behaviour Guidance document (link above) lists the type of behaviour that is defined as 'unacceptable'. It is a very broad interpretation that, without being subject to any independent or parliamentary oversight, is clearly open to abuse by staff looking to take revenge on claimants who cause them the slightest bit of aggravation.  All they have to do is say that the behaviour made them "feel anxious, threatened, frightened or physically at risk" to get action taken against the claimant, which may include a letter being sent by the Department to the claimant (question D of the response reveals that 30 such letters were sent to "customers" during 2014).

The ABG takes arbitrary decisions to classify claimants as 'Potentially Violent Persons' (PVP) based only on the account of incidents reported by members of staff - the claimant who is arbitrarily labelled as a PVP is not contacted before the decision and therefore gets no right to a fair and impartial hearing, or any hearing at all for that matter. It is has even been known for claimants to first learn that an apparent 'incident' involving them has been reported by a Department officer only when police officers turn up at their home to inform them about it. Question E of the response reveals that as at 17th August 2015, 48 persons were marked on the Social Security computer system as 'PVP'.

In question F of my request, I asked the following:

Confirmation that before any such decision is taken to classify an individual as a ‘Potentially Violent Person’, the accused individual is always afforded a right to a fair hearing in accordance with the international principles of natural justice and further confirmation that after any such decision has been taken, the affected individual is then informed that they have a right to appeal that decision and how that appeal can be made and to whom;

This is part of the alarming response I received:
Quote

As stated above, the primary purpose of the Acceptable Behaviour Policy and Procedure is to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers and the PVP marker is a management tool to help the Social Security department fulfil its statutory requirements.

Therefore, no appeal provisions are required.

Predictably, the FOI response declines to tell us how much the actions of the ABG is costing the taxpayer each year. It also refuses to name the officers who are members of the group. Obviously I wasn't seriously expecting actual names to be disclosed, but I see no reason why the relevant job titles of ABG members cannot be revealed.

In any case, I can reveal that in October 2014, David Rose, who joined the Social Security Department in 1986 after a military career, was known to be the Chairman of the Acceptable Behaviour Group and he was also known to be Head of Fit for Work in January 2014. His stated Department contact details are as follows:

Direct dial: +44 (0)1534 447400

Direct fax: +44 (0) 1534 447449

email: d.rose@gov.je


What goes around eventually comes around, eh Dave?  ;)
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on September 18, 2015, 07:22:14 PM
Bailiwick Express have today reported the response to my FOI request about 'unacceptable behaviour'... but with a very obvious pro-government slant that we've come to expect from them:

Quote
Social Security staff have been stalked, threatened and been sent abusive letters by angry benefit claimants over the last two years.

http://www.bailiwickexpress.com/jsy/news/stalking-threats-and-throwing-stuff-about-all-part-working-social-security/?t=i


As I made clear in my previous post above, these reports are just based on the accounts of the staff - not the people actually accused of committing 'unacceptable behaviour', who have no right of reply and are regarded as automatically guilty.

There has also been no attempt to analyse whether a strong causal link exists between the 55% rise in the number of reported incidents between 2013 and 2014 (from 27 to 42) and the various different measures introduced around the same time to make claiming income support a far more difficult, arduous and unpleasant experience. For example, the introduction of the Le Gresley-Pinel sanctions regime with effect from October 2013, which saw 107 household claims arbitrarily closed without due process after the issue of a Breach 3 notice up to the end of 2014. The rise could also be down to the deliberate policy of understaffing the main income support desk at La Motte Street, forcing claimants to initially justify to a member of staff why they wish to queue up to speak to an income support adviser (with other claimants able to easily listen in to the details of the conversation nearby). Typically, claimants are turned away from the Income Support section from mid to late afternoon onwards and told to return another day if the existing queue is already too big. The entire process is designed to test the patience of an angel and you can often sense the underlying atmosphere of anger, despair and even boredom among claimants typically waiting 30 to 60 minutes to reach the front of the queue. Sometimes when they finally get to speak to an adviser, they are then redirected to join another queue to speak to a Work Zone adviser.  >:(

There is a clear trend developing between the timing of the Le Gresley-Pinel policy changes over the last two years and the rise in the number of reported incidents. For each of the four years between 2010 and 2013, the number of reported incidents fluctuated between 20 and 27. Then in 2014 it rose to 42 and there have already been 26 incidents reported in 2015 to date with a further 3 months of the year still remaining. I don't think this is a coincidence. I would expect the number of incidents to continue rising even further after the latest Pinel benefit cuts are fully implemented.

Perhaps it is also worth pointing out the recent lazy standard of journalism at Bailiwick Express to put their scaremongering headline into better context. Only two days ago, they were so desperate for news that they published an article about a member of their own staff having his sandwich snatched by a seagull during his lunch hour:
Quote
"All of a sudden, out of nowhere, like a missile hurtling towards me, my sandwich which I had been craving all day got snatched from my paws.

"I’m from South Africa so I'm used to street crime, but this is a whole new level."

http://www.bailiwickexpress.com/jsy/news/seagull-sandwich-smash-and-grab/


Well in that case at least he has the choice of returning to South Africa (thereby freeing up a job for a local) and he'll only have to worry about violent, armed human robbers trying to steal off him in future, instead of our seagulls. I know which ones I'd rather have to deal with!
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on September 23, 2015, 04:48:27 PM
Something they're desperate to keep secret? Social Security find ANOTHER excuse not to reveal the Breach 3's effects on the benefits of children and rent-paying tenants

Link to this disclosure as published on the States of Jersey website (added by me on 13th October 2015):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1643


Date of Request: 31 August 2015

Date of Response: 22 September 2015

For the second time in six months, I have submitted a FOI request for information about which specific components of income support have been withheld from households as a result of a Breach 3 notice being issued to a jobseeker in the household ... and for the second time in six months the States have found a reason not to supply this information to me. I think it is clearer than ever that they regard this information as highly politically sensitive because the excuse they have used this time is hardly credible.

To recap, on 24th March 2015, I posted on this thread the details of my original request, which had asked for details of all components of income support that had been stopped following the issue of a Breach 3 notice. You can read my comments here:

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3935.msg59860#msg59860


That initial request was refused because the States had calculated the potential cost of providing it by merging it with 4 earlier requests I had made within the previous 60 working days which had also requested other details about the Breach 3 - very clever. So this time I waited for more than 60 working days, during which time I made no other requests that could in any way be classed as similar, and then submitted a second request. On this occasion I narrowed my request to just the two components of income support that I was most interested in - the Housing Special Component (i.e. the benefit paid to tenants in respect of their rent that was formerly known as the Private Sector Rent Rebate Scheme and the Public Sector Rent Abatement Scheme before the introduction of income support in January 2008) and the Child Rate Basic Component

I asked a series of different questions, including confirmation of the overall total amount of these two components that have been disallowed from households following the issue of a Breach 3 since October 2013, the number of different households where these two components have been disallowed, the number of individual children affected by the disallowance of the Child Rate Basic Component and the amounts of these two components that have been disallowed from each individual household (e.g. I know that in one case, the Department has disallowed more than £7,000 of housing special component from just one household occupying a one bedroom rented flat in the private sector as a result of a jobseeker in that household missing a scheduled interview at Eagle House without good cause - no, I am absolutely not making this up, it's 100% true).

Now here is the main part of the response of the States to my FOI request:

Quote
The information needed to answer question (1) (a), (b), (c), (d) and (2) (a), (b), (c) is held in separate database tables within the Social Security database that holds information relating to Income Support claims. To relate specific component payment details to specific household claim details would require specialist 3rd Party support, the cost of which would be in excess of the £500.

Regulation 2 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Costs) (Jersey) Regulations 2014 allows an authority to refuse a request for information where the estimated cost of dealing with the request would exceed the specified amount of the cost limit of £500. This is the estimated cost of one person spending 12.5 working hours in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information. Your request, therefore, will not be processed further.

So it's the 'seperate database tables' excuse this time. This means that if the States has particularly embarrassing information it doesn't want to give us, it can store that information in a form which is quite labour-intensive to retrieve and thereby make it easier to exempt itself from the requirement to provide the information under Regulation 2(1) if a Freedom of Information request is ever made.

Finally, it is worth remembering that I would not have needed to make these two FOI requests but for the unforgivable negligence of States Members in failing to demand this same information from the Social Security Minister in the form of written questions in the House. In a couple of weeks time it will be the 2nd anniversary of the introduction of the Breach 3 and in all that time, not one of them has bothered to table a single question about the types and amounts of different income support components that have been disallowed as a result of Breach 3 notices. It is a shameful disgrace for which all of Jersey's elected representatives must equally share responsibility.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on October 11, 2015, 07:30:13 PM
Am I the only one who feels the presence of former St Clement Deputy Gerard 'Roads' Baudains in some recent Freedom of Information requests...

24 Sep 2015 - Details of sewer and drainage systems on Pontorson Lane (a road in St Clement near to Gerard's home that he might very well use to travel between the coast road and the inner road):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1644

22 Sep 2015 - Information on roads and resurfacing:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1639

17 Sep 2015 - Speed limits for local roads:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1634

16 Sep 2015 - Road tax, maintenance and users:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1631

25 Aug 2015 - Cost of the Mont Mado resurfacing project (which is a road, by the way):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1598

19 Aug 2015 - Speeding offences and fines from August 2014 to August 2015 (speeding whilst driving on roads, that is):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1580

17 Aug 2015 - Development of the St Peter's valley roadside path:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1575

10 Aug 2015 - Actual and anticipated costs of parish schemes (road schemes, that is):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1560

05 Aug 2015 - Number of times motorists stopped by police in 2014 (while driving on roads, of course):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1549

27 July 2015 - Road widening and improvements to pavement at Rue de Haut, St Lawrence:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1534

02 July 2015 - Cost to resurface Mont Millais (which is a road, by the way):

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1477

These are just the requests going back to the beginning of July - nothing earlier. Although his main obsession in the States was obviously anything to do with roads or motorists' rights, he also asked questions on other subjects so it is possible that he is responsible for dozens more requests than just the ones above. It's great that he appears to have found himself a hobby to keep him really busy while he waits for the Spring 2018 elections but perhaps he ought to ask himself whether his preference for asking questions about roads rather than the serious problems that affect people (like the erosion of income support, housing and employment rights) might have had something to do with him being voted out of office twice in the past decade.
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Little Bob on October 12, 2015, 06:49:56 AM
16 Sep 2015 - Road tax, maintenance and users:
http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1631

Thanks Jerry, Its worrying that a former deputy asks about "road tax" as it was abolished years ago, let alone that a former State Member had no idea how taxes are collected and spent. His obsession is a little creepy.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on October 18, 2015, 06:05:08 PM
Only 10 months after the FOI Law came into effect, fears that Jersey's Council of Ministers are planning to under fund it appear to be justified:

Quote
Jersey introduced a Freedom of Information law in January 2015 but the department only has funding until the end of 2016 to manage appeals.

Ms Martin said she applied to the government for growth funding so she could continue the regulation after 2016 but this was rejected.

"If we don't get funding after next year there is a real threat to the service," she said.

"We have been told to manage but if you come and look at the size of our organisation there is no room left to cut.

"It isn't a good situation when our ability to do our job is linked to whether we are going to be paid a salary next week."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-34530840


The above report mentions the publication of an annual report. I can't see any such annual report on either the FOI pages on gov.je or the States Assembly website. How ironic, considering the subject matter - Freedom of Information!  ::)

However, whilst searching for that annual report I discovered FOI statistics for the period ending 30th September 2015. It states that 531 FOI requests were received up to the end of September.

There is a discrepancy of 10 requests with the section headed 'Our responses to your requests', which shows the outcome of 541 FOI requests. You can view the table here:

http://www.gov.je/Government/FreedomOfInformation/Pages/FOIStatistics.aspx#anchor-4


Interesting that only 14 of these 541 requests were refused on the basis that the 'cost of response would exceed limit' but my FOI request of 12th March, which was refused on the 'aggregation of related requests' clause in the Regulations must presumably be one of them. I have already referred to that request but you can read my post of 24th March for further details here:

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3935.msg59860#msg59860


I decided to delve a bit deeper into the legislation to discover under which article of the Law the 'aggregation of related requests' is sourced from. On first reading, it appears that it stems from article 16(3) of the Law, which states:

(16)

(3)  Regulations may provide that, in such circumstances as the Regulations prescribe, if two or more requests for information are made to a scheduled public authority –

(a)     by one person; or

(b)     by different persons who appear to the scheduled public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,

the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them.


http://www.jerseylaw.je/Law/display.aspx?url=lawsinforce%2fconsolidated%2f16%2f16.330_FreedomofInformationLaw2011_RevisedEdition_1January2015.htm#ID504


So it appears that the legal justification for refusing my 12th March request was because it was "in pursuance of a campaign", or at least it would have been if two or more people had submitted my various requests concerning the Breach 3. Strictly speaking, it only says that different persons can act in pursuance of a campaign - one person merely has to submit "two or more requests for information" to be potentially caught by article 16(3).

The FOI statistics don't reveal how many of those 14 requests in total were refused on the basis of  'aggregation of related requests' /  'in pursuance of a campaign' / one person submitting two or more requests. Could mine possibly be the only one? :-\ Is article 16(3) a convenient way of refusing requests that could be politically embarrassing or where a political activist submitting multiple requests is starting to annoy the authorities just a bit too much?

Has the FOI office similarly refused any requests by the person or persons (who may or may not be Gerard Baudains) responsible for submitting a lot of requests about roads? Surely the subject of roads could just as easily be classed as being 'in pursuance of a campaign' if submitted by different people ... and the number of requests about roads far exceeds the number of requests I have made about the Breach 3. Perhaps requests about roads aren't that politically embarrassing though...
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on October 18, 2015, 09:42:22 PM
I think we all new it would be a load of tripe when it was first introduced.Its not freedom of information at all,it should be called 'freedom of only information we want you to have'.
What if more than one person asked the same question,will it be considered a 'campaign' and not answered.?
It is also full of spin.There was one question there I was looking at relating to the Channel islands lottery prizes which they refused to answer but went on to say what a worth while cause it was etc,etc.They should be just answering with facts not their own personal opinion.Just more spin.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: man in the street on October 19, 2015, 01:19:46 AM
The jersey way freedom of information  ;)
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on June 26, 2016, 10:55:16 PM
Parish FOI declines to reveal full details of St Helier's annual electoral registration process citing 'excessive cost'

Link to this disclosure (in PDF format) as published on the Parish.gov.je website:

http://www.parish.gov.je/Documents/POSH%20electoral%20register%20administration.pdf

Date of Request: 01 June 2016

Date of Response: 24 June 2016

I submitted this FOI request to the Parish FOI Unit (separate from the States of Jersey FOI Unit) following comments I made about the current electoral registration process a month ago on another PJ thread - link below (see "2) The current electoral registration process is a totally confusing and byzantine one that must surely be wasting vast amounts of money and staff time on administration, stationery and postage. Why?"):

http://planetjersey.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=3822.msg60904#msg60904

In its response to me (see the first link above), the Parish FOI Unit has only partly disclosed the information I wanted, making it impossible for anyone to conclude whether or not the costs and practices involved in the current electoral registration process are fully justified and whether or not the Law needs to be further amended.

Here is the information that has been disclosed to me in respect of last year's electoral registration process in the Parish of St Helier:

(i) The Parish of St Helier sent out a total of 19,187 electoral statements before 1st June 2015 in pursuance of article 7(2) of the Public Elections (Jersey) Law 2002.

(ii) The total estimated cost to the Parish in postage and stationery for sending out these statements in 2015 was £10,992.

(iii) After the return of these statements and following the deadline of 1st July 2015, the Parish did not send out any notices at all in pursuance of article 8(4) of the Law (i.e. to inform a person whose name appears on the existing Electoral Register that he/she had not, for a period of 3 consecutive years, been included in and signed a statement under Article 7(3) of the Law and that their name shall be removed from the Register unless they deliver within 28 days of service of the notice confirmation that they are still entitled to have their name on the Register).

However, the disclosed cost of £10,992 does not include the staff administration costs of sending out these 19,187 statements, nor of processing them once they were returned. I would presume that the contents of every single statement returned to the Town Hall would have to be, as a minimum, checked and compared with the existing information for each dwelling already declared on the electoral register. If the information on the returned statement differed to the existing information on the electoral register, amendments would presumably have to be made to the register and possibly further notices sent out (e.g. a notice under article 8(1) of the Law informing a person of a decision not to add their name to the Register, or to remove their name from the Register). This administrative process in a parish the size of St Helier must be costly and time-consuming and therefore, in my opinion, should only be undertaken if it is absolutely essential.

Furthermore, the excessive cost exemption has been cited to prevent disclosure of the total number of electoral statements returned by parishioners. This implies that St Helier does not routinely maintain an annual record of how many statements are returned and how many aren't. I find that quite remarkable.

The excessive cost exemption has also been cited to prevent disclosure of how many of these returned statements merely contained the same information as was already stated on the existing Register and how many individual amendments (e.g. addition of new names, deletion of existing names, changes of address etc.) were made to the Register as a result of information declared on the returned statements. This is crucial information because I suspect that thousands of these returned statements contain the exact same information as already declared on the existing Register and that consequently, there is no obvious need for them to be completed and returned - an apparent waste of administration resources which is not being addressed by the Constables.

If the Law required a fresh Register to be prepared each year (as was the case prior to the 2002 Law coming into force) then it would be essential for every person resident in a unit of dwelling accommodation to sign and return a statement  each year in order to continue to be entitled to vote. However, although the current Law states that it is the "duty" of each person ordinarily resident in a unit of a dwelling accommodation to which a statement is sent to check, sign and return that statement to the Parish by 1st July, it goes on to state that "No civil or criminal liability attaches to a failure to discharge a duty under this Article."

As the 2002 Law no longer appears to state a defined period of time beyond which the life of an Electoral Register ceases to continue and as as article 8(4) allows the Parish to remove from the Register any person who has not been included in and signed a statement for a period of 3 consecutive years, it appears that there is no practical need for many people who receive these statements to sign and return them every single year unless their circumstances have changed. Moreover, the Law also allows the Parish to remove the name of a person from the Register if it is satisfied that the person is deceased or no longer resident in the electoral district. These days, particularly following the introduction of the States Big Brother Register of Names and Addresses, each Parish is more than capable of identifying persons who have died or changed address without requiring every resident to return a fresh statement annually. After all, each parish has its own Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths so it knows exactly who has died in their parish as soon as the Registrar does.

Therefore why do the parishes spend so much money each year trying to persuade everyone to sign and return a fresh electoral statement when many of them - possibly the majority - do not actually need to take any action at all and cannot be legally compelled to do so? :-\

The Parish FOI Disclosure Log is separate from the States of Jersey Disclosure Log and can be viewed here:

http://www.parish.gov.je/Pages/FOI-(Freedom-of-Information).aspx
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on June 28, 2016, 12:53:22 AM

Good post Jerry, It was my understanding that the St Helier Parish hall deemed itself as a lighthouse of efficiency.

Obviously not, if they have to struggle to answer reasonable non complicated questions.
bb
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on August 26, 2016, 09:40:58 AM
States of Jersey are allowing Andium to charge £248* p/wk rent for 1-bed flats and £288.17* p/wk for 2-bed flats

* The rental figures were provided in per annum format and have therefore been divided by me into 52 to calculate the estimated weekly rents payable. It is not clear whether these figures include service charges or not

Link to this response as published on the gov.je website:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=2285

Date of Request: 01 August 2016

Date of Response: 23 August 2016

My request was prompted by anecdotal evidence that since the States removed the cap on the level of income support housing component for rents charged by the five social housing providers in April 2014, rents for some of these more upmarket social housing properties have been allowed to increase well beyond the average 100% market rent benchmark levels. As most of the demand for social housing is for either 1-bedroom or 2-bedroom flats, I restricted my FOI request to information about rents for these two types of properties only.

My concerns were only heightened further on 17th August when ITV News Channel TV reported that "Andium Homes say they want all their tenants to be paying 90% of market rental value in the future." Exactly how far in the future was not clarified. Chief Executive Officer, Ian Gallichan, appeared to dismiss concerns purely on the basis that income support claimants wouldn't see any rise in their rents. However, some social housing tenants are not eligible for income support because their household income or savings exceeds the prescribed levels. Typically, this could include pensioner households, particularly if one of them is paid an occupational pension (e.g. a retired States employee in receipt of a PECRS pension). It is worrying that Mr. Gallichan had nothing at all to say about such tenants who are not on income support when he was interviewed. It was stated that currently only one in four residents pays rent at the 90% of market value level. The link to the ITV report is here:

http://www.itv.com/news/channel/2016-08-17/andium-plans-for-rent-increase-will-be-covered-by-income-support/

At the moment, social housing tenants who have not changed tenancy since the law was changed in April 2014 are protected from the increase to 90% of market value rents, although their rents are nevertheless still being increased by 0.75% above inflation every year. The ITV News report is not clear if this existing situation (protection for tenants who have not moved since the law was changed) will end and when it might end. Even as it stands, the fear of having to pay a much higher rent for a very similar type of social housing property must presumably be acting as a strong disincentive for social housing tenants to move into different social housing accommodation unless they really have no choice or they can afford to pay a higher rent. What happens if an adult child moves out of a household, causing the tenant to be classed as under occupying the accommodation and consequently being expected to downsize - does the tenant then have to start paying the 90% rent in the new, smaller property? What about if someone in the household dies, causing the surviving resident to be classed as under occupying? Is there any clear guarantee that the bereaved survivor won't be charged the higher 90% rent after they move to a smaller property?

The implication is that in future, the only people who are likely to be able to afford to pay the very highest social housing rents will either be existing income support claimants, or those who are not on income support but can still afford to pay this level of rent regardless, typically dual income households where both spouses have good jobs in the finance sector or the States. The problem is that these rents are now higher than rents for many similar properties available in the private sector. Social housing is supposed to be for the benefit of those who can't afford to pay the market rents on offer in the private sector, whether or not they are entitled to benefits.

One of my concerns is how these high rents could distort supply and demand for both social housing and private rental swellings. Last year, Mike Dun discovered and highlighted the fact that one of Andium's vacant social rented flats in the Le Marais high rise was being openly advertised by a local estate agent, with Andium's consent. I have to presume that Andium just couldn't find any suitable tenants from the Housing Gateway list, yet that list is anything but short and there are hundreds more who would like to get on that list but are having their applications rejected for not fully meeting all the required criteria. I expect that this will not be an isolated case and we will see Andium advertising more of their properties on the open market in future. Is this apparent occasional shortage of suitable new Andium tenants on the (very long) Housing Gateway list being exacerbated in any way by these new 90% rents? Demand for social housing clearly exceeds supply and with net migration last year running at more than 4 times the level on which the States based its future housing supply targets, things are only likely to get worse in the medium term. If Andium can't find enough social housing tenants to fill all the plush new properties it is building and renovating then surely it is failing to do what the States created it to do?

The current rates for the housing component of income support came into effect in April 2014 and were based on a survey of about 10% of Housing Department stock that was completed about 2.5 years ago, just before the States created Andium and gifted this company its entire social housing stock for just £1 (Andium's net assets at the end of last year, after deducting about £80 million in short and long term borrowings, were a mind-boggling £723 million). That survey in 2014 found that the average 100% market rent for 1-bedroom flats was £190.84 per week, with the average 100% market rent for 2-bedroom flats being £247.89 per week. You can view the results of that survey here, given as an answer to a question from a States Member on 21st January 2014:

http://www.statesassembly.gov.je/AssemblyQuestions/2014/Deputy%20Vallois%20to%20Housing%20re%20survey%20of%20housing%20stock.pdf

The States did not increase the income support housing component in 2015 but have agreed to raise it with effect from 1st October 2016. The new rates from that date will increase the maximum level of the housing component for private rental tenants to £194.46 p/wk (1-bedroom flat) and £248.99 p/wk (2-bedroom flat). The level of subsidy for private sector tenants is set at 95% of the market value (it was originally intended to be 100% but the States reneged on that promise in order to save a bit of cash). Therefore, according to my calculations, the new average 100% market rent for a 1-bedroom flat must be approximately £204.70 per week (previously £190.84) and approximately £262.10 per week for a 2-bedroom flat (previously £247.89).

Yet this FOI disclosure shows that Andium's current highest rent for a 1-bedroom flat is still £43.78 p/wk above the latest average 100% market rent and £26.07 p/wk above that level in respect of its highest rent for a 2-bedroom flat, if my calculations are accurate. If Andium has to increasingly turn to high earners in the private sector (not on the Housing Gateway list) in order to fill its most expensive accommodation in the future and taking into consideration that it is already allowing about 15 of its tenants a year to purchase the properties they live in at discounted prices, will we see more people who can well afford to rent in the private sector becoming (or trying to become) Andium tenants through open market advertising of Andium vacant housing units in order to eventually be able to buy their home off Andium and get "on the property ladder"?   

So let me get this right: Andium's current upgrading of its existing housing stock and development of new stock is being financed by the taxpayer in respect of income support claimants and also directly by its other tenants, not forgetting all those multi-million pound States loans. Yet every year, about 15 of these properties (Andium intends to increase this figure in the future) are lost forever to social housing and end up being sold on the open market. This results in increased demand for rented social housing which then leads Andium to increase its rents even higher in order to finance the construction of more rented social housing to replace the perfectly good units of rented social housing that it willingly sold at discount rates to some of its own tenants! It appears to be partly a concealed subsidy from the taxpayer to a small number of tenants whose financial circumstances enable them to get commercial loans to purchase the social housing accommodation they are living in.

This policy is just self-defeating lunacy and will never fully solve the shortage of affordable rental accommodation.  >:( 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Fritz on August 27, 2016, 01:15:00 AM
This is what happens when you turn the States Housing Department into a pseudo private company. They,ve got to show a profit rather than provide a public service. Loads of ,"Expert,(?)", management teams have to be employed on high salaries and bonus schemes,(Never actually production based. Usually just guaranteed).
Andium is just another quango with a tax-payer funded trough to stick their snouts in.
They all sit round a table and agree that all their bonuses are approved. (You approve mine, and I,ll approve yours).
The honest Jersey tax-payer is being taken for a ride by this crowd of shysters.
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on August 27, 2016, 02:57:29 AM
The woman running for senator,Mary Okeefe Burger works for a company called Something like HV Andium.Trying to lure wealthy people to buy Jersey property.Is this anything to do with Andium Homes.Seems like a strange coincidence of name ? Are they linked?
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on November 27, 2016, 10:32:30 PM
Since I published a link to the FOI Disclosure Log on the Parishes website on this thread on 26th June, they've altered the URL so that my link now breaks. Well, let's try again with the new link and hope it does not get altered once more...

http://www.parish.gov.je/Pages/FOI.aspx#request

It is useful to have this link handy because the responses made by the Parishes (34 so far) are not published on the main States of Jersey FOI page. One of the latest published responses in October reveals that the Parish of St Helier had spent a whopping £145,051 up to that point in time challenging the Infrastructure Department's decision to end the Bellozanne waste covenant in the Royal Court, with at least an additional £50,000 expected to be spent on the forthcoming appeal against the Court's decision. That response can be viewed here:

http://www.parish.gov.je/Documents/POSH%20costs%20re%20Bellozanne%20waste%20covenant.pdf

The Court judgment itself can be viewed here:

https://www.jerseylaw.je/judgments/unreported/Pages/[2016]JRC153.aspx
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on December 01, 2016, 06:59:04 AM
Someone has used FOI to request "the number of permanent, temporary or contractual States of Jersey employees who are not resident in the island but who travel to Jersey regularly (at least monthly) to fulfil their roles."

What interests me about the response, or should I say non-response (see link below) is the great effort the States of Jersey has gone to in order to find reasons not to answer this request:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=2479

The giveaway sign is the reference in the very first sentence to the information not being held in a "central database". Ring any bells? If you scroll up this page to my post of 23rd September 2015, you'll recall that they used a very similar excuse ("The information ... is held in separate database tables within the Social Security database...") to prevent me finding out potentially highly politically sensitive information relating to the withholding of housing subsidy and childrens' benefits as a result of the issue of Breach 3 jobseeker sanctions. In my case, they used the £500 costs exemption to prevent me from getting the information, knowing that, like most people, I could not justify paying them more than £500 just to get the information I wanted.

However, in this new request about non-resident public sector employees, they have used article 29 as their chosen exemption, which in my experience is very rarely used. Why? It's just speculation on my part, but maybe this request was made by a journalist on behalf of a local media or press organisation which could, if it was that keen, afford to pay the States £500+ to provide the information. That might explain why the States FOI Unit has shied away in this case from using the costs exemption in case it backfired and they ended up having to provide the information nonetheless.

One would presume that any public sector employees who are commuting here to work must be in positions near the top end of the pay scale, otherwise it wouldn't be worth it. Moreover, on the face of it, if they are not resident here then they may not be liable to pay local income tax on their local earnings. ;) Is this the real reason why the States doesn't want to risk letting this information get into the public domain? With all the other revelations this year about extravagant expenses on flights by top civil servants and Ozouf, maybe they have decided this latest request could be the straw that breaks the camel's back - and they're just not going to risk the potential political consequences...

By the way, my previous post on this thread 3 days ago pulled in about 90 page views but - typically - not a single reply was posted, as the site continues to suffer from this sudden, deadly contagious outbreak of mutism amongst its members. How high will the death toll amongst PJ members go before we discover an antidote? Things are looking up though, as I notice that someone apart from myself has just made a comment about something on another page. OMG. Exciting times at last for the ailing Planet Jersey! If a third person decides to exercise their right to freedom of expression then I fear the whole site could crash!
 
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: boatyboy on December 01, 2016, 04:42:46 PM

Obviously Jerseys administration has a lot to hide and in these days, even a home computer is able to hold serious amounts of data wso this is just a just a brush off. These are exactly the questions that hold Government to account and the questions the council of ministers should be keen to have answered in order for the public to have confidence in Jerseys' leadership.

What leadership is the general consensus ?

bb
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on March 13, 2017, 08:33:22 AM

Here's another published FOI response (link below) which has nothing at all to do with me but I thought I'd just point it out because it concerns the installation of those glaring new street lights, which I briefly mentioned off-topic last year:

http://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=1231

Since I mentioned this last year, I have had the damn things installed right outside my own residence. I have to admit that my greatest fear - that they would vastly increase the amount of light pollution entering my property after dark - doesn't seem to have materialised. This seems to be because the design of the new lamps concentrates most of the light directly downwards and much less light, if any, escapes sideways or upwards, as happened with the old design. Consequently, I found that my residence was actually darker at night than before, even though the street lamp is located directly bordering the property, just a few metres away.

There might possibly be advantages to this from a light pollution/astronomy perspective, presuming that these lamps can actually be proven to achieve that. Nevertheless I am still concerned about possible side effects that may only become known over a longer period of time. For example, could this type of lighting have any detrimental effect on wildlife/birdlife that happens to be present in hedgerows located directly beneath the intense beam, just bordering the public pavement? Has any research been conducted about the possible effects on wildlife? Whilst it may be darker if you are located a small distance away from the beam, it must surely be brighter if you happen to be positioned directly beneath it.

Could these more intense street lamps possibly inhibit birds and other wildlife from breeding or disrupt their behaviour patterns in some other ways? I have no proof to call on and maybe they have no detrimental effect at all but I think it's worth asking the question nonetheless...

Two years on from my original comments above and it seems that those damn LED street lights are now infesting communities all over the world, from the USA, through Europe and even in China. This BBC News Magazine article (link below) just published today highlights two residents in Washington D.C. who both claim that their sleep is being disturbed by the intense and intrusive glare from the new street lights. Recalling my concerns in 2015 about the possible effects on wildlife, I found the last sentence in the quote below from the article particularly telling:

Quote
They point to a recent report by the American Medical Association (AMA), which warns that the blue light emitted by first generation high-intensity LEDs, used in many cities around the world including New York, can adversely affect circadian sleep rhythms, leading to reduced duration and quality of sleep, "impaired daytime functioning" and obesity.
The AMA report calls on cities to use the lowest-intensity LEDs possible and shade them better to reduce glare, which it warns can also harm wildlife.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38526254
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: Jerry Gosselin on April 05, 2017, 09:54:14 PM
Only 11% of 630 applicants accepted into Band 5 of the Affordable Housing Gateway are living in social housing accommodation

Link to this disclosure as published on the gov.je website:

https://www.gov.je/Government/Pages/StatesReports.aspx?ReportID=2765


Date of Request:
16 March 2017

Date of Response:
04 April 2017

I made this request to the FoI Unit after reading Andium Homes Strategic Business Plan 2016-2020, released last August (link below to PDF document). On page 13 of this document ("Objective 4 - Promoting affordable home ownership"), Andium stated as follows (extract):

Quote
Increasing the supply of affordable homes for purchase is a key objective in the Housing Strategy recently published by the Housing Minister. Andium Homes is in a unique place to support and deliver upon that objective. Indeed, we already have in place an affordable purchase scheme which helps new home owners onto the first rung on the property ladder. Andium Homes has, as part of its business plan, sold fifteen properties per year. In total to date, this has allowed over 150 buyers qualifying through the Affordable Housing Gateway to become homeowners by deferring up to 25% of the initial purchase price. Our new target is to provide over 300 homes during the period of this plan, as set out below.

https://www.andiumhomes.je/publications/Documents/Andium%20Homes%20Strategic%20Business%20Plan%202016%20-%202020.pdf


Andium went on to declare that from 2017 onwards it intends to increase the number of sales of existing properties from 15 to 25 per year. Of even more concern is its plan to sell 116 other properties in 2019 alone from "new sites and intensification". That means it intends to sell a total of 141 properties in 2019 compared to just 28 properties in 2017.

That is obviously a very significant increase in just 2 years which led me to question whether Andium could possibly find enough of its own social housing tenants capable of buying all these properties and if it couldn't, would it try to persuade the Housing Minister to loosen the current Affordable Housing Gateway criteria so that the likes of dual income high earning couples (AKA "Dinkies") currently renting in the private sector could become Andium tenants and then apply to purchase the Andium homes they were living in?

On page 12 of the report, listed under Objective 3, this statement by Andium seemed to confirm my fears:
Quote

Encourage the Strategic Housing Unit to review the criteria for inclusion onto the Affordable Housing Gateway. This, with a view to opening up the list to others not currently eligible, including all lifelong renters on low incomes, particularly those without children and key workers.

I therefore submitted my request in order to discover, not only whether the number of applications being accepted into Band 5 of the Gateway list is significantly increasing (because Andium wants it to increase and is actively encouraging potential buyers to register), but also whether Andium's lobbying has so far brought about the relaxation in the Gateway criteria that it is seeking.

Sure enough, the FoI response shows a significant 54% increase (from 212 to 326) in the number of new applications accepted into Band 5 of the Gateway list between 2014 and 2016.

However, the response also states in part (3) as follows:
Quote

There have not been any changes to the eligibility criteria required for acceptance into Band 5 since the Gateway was established in September 2013. Applicants are accepted into Band 5 and whether they are eligible to benefit from an affordable home purchase scheme will depend on the criteria that is put in place by the affordable housing provider at the time of the scheme. The Minister for Housing is not currently considering making any changes.

My analysis of this response is that currently Andium must be able to satisfy demand from amongst its own social housing tenants for those intended 25 sales of existing properties per year and this is why no changes to the eligibility criteria have yet been approved by the Minister. However, it will obviously be a different story in 2019 when it intends to be selling 5 times as many properties, the majority of them new builds. The bulk of that number will definitely be targetted at non-social housing tenants and if the current criteria prevents Andium from reaching its sales target then mark my words - the tail will wag the dog and the Minister will loosen the eligibility criteria to allow the likes of high earning people without children and essential employees to buy Andium's new homes.

The more intriguing question is whether a loosening of the current eligibility criteria would also allow these same types of people (those without children and essential employees) to actually jump the long queue over those in far greater need and become Andium tenants with a view to then becoming home owners on estates such as Grasett Park and Bashfords, where tenants who rent and can't afford to buy are gradually being removed and replaced by tenants who can afford to buy. My concern is that as time goes on, the number of existing Andium tenants capable of buying their own homes will gradually fail to satisfy Andium's target of 25 sales of existing properties per year. This is surely logical because the number of Andium tenants who are in a position to buy their own from Andium is finite and clearly limited. Unless Andium can replace them with similar new tenants who would also be in a position to purchase then demand for those 25 existing properties per year will gradually tail off.

I think it is very important to note that essential employees don't just include the likes of doctors and nurses. Our government also allows the finance industry to import high earning employees (e.g. accountants and lawyers, etc.) from around the world under the guise of 'essential employees' and the new Housing and Control of Work legislation already allows these high earning immigrants to rent properties in the private sector that were previously restricted to A-H (i.e. local) residents under the previous Housing Law. This is already adding to the current excessive demand problem for affordable private sector rental accommodation as some local private landlords are now preferring essential employees over local residents (I have provable examples of this).

Could we also see these imported bankers, lawyers and accountants being permitted to become social housing tenants within the next two years purely in order that Andium can achieve the aims set out in its Strategic Business Plan? Even if this is not the case, I think they will still be allowed to be included in a relaxed Band 5 whilst continuing to live in private rented accommodation (some of which might be paid for by their employer) in order that they can then qualify to buy when the huge number of Andium new builds suddenly comes onto the market in 2019.  :o
Title: Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
Post by: shortport on April 06, 2017, 02:40:21 AM
Recently finished work on a house for a client who doesn't live in Jersey.Three bedroom luxury,blah,blah,blah.
I reckoned they could get £3000 -£4000 per month rent for it.
They were over the moon to hear they could get £8000 per month renting it to some bank for their employees.
Us locals don't stand a chance.