Author Topic: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses  (Read 18325 times)

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« 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.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2015, 08:15:30 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline boatyboy

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #1 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
 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 07:20:51 AM by boatyboy »

Offline shortport

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2015, 05:02:13 PM »
what is breach 3?

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #3 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...
« Last Edit: February 01, 2015, 06:29:24 AM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline shortport

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #4 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.

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #5 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....
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 07:54:24 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #6 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.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 01:32:44 AM by Fritz »

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #7 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

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #8 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...  :-[
« Last Edit: February 05, 2015, 05:55:08 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline boatyboy

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #9 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.

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #10 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.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2015, 05:26:52 AM by Fritz »

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #11 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/
« Last Edit: March 19, 2015, 08:24:35 PM by Jerry Gosselin »

Offline Fritz

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #12 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.

Online Jerry Gosselin

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2015, 08:02:11 PM »
OMG! The Comptroller and Auditor General should be investigating this.

Offline shortport

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Re: Jersey Freedom of Information Requests and Responses
« Reply #14 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.