Sanctions and Tory Britain today – A mum speaks out

From a social media page of an anti-bedroom tax group I know.  Not edited, not needed, please read

My son was very recently sanctioned.

He lives with me, and I am unable to work, therefore I also claim benefits, which put the pressure on me, as clearly i am forced to keep him. My son is severely Dyslexic.

The Job Centre know this. My son complied with his JSA agreement, yet they insisted repeatedly he wasn’t doing enough to look for work. He did MORE than enough… he started with the minimum requirement, then he did more and more, every time they tried to fault him. Understand that for him, it takes him twice as long as the average person to do this.

All his efforts were recorded on the Universal Job Match site, all his notes were pinned – he visited the site most days, and only left it when the page was down or wouldn’t load, or if he had no access to internet.

He actively searched newspapers, walked miles, handed out CVs, asked at businesses and shops for work – yet all of this was just his word against theirs. Then came his referral to A4E, which faulted by not sending out his appointments, or sending him text messages late – yet my son got round this by being one step ahead and personally visiting A4E every other day to check on any ‘unknown’ appointments – and there were!

They had him do a full time course in Health and Safety for 6 weeks (unpaid), yet he still managed to continue his extensive work searches. He had no time for friends, and little time for family – he was completely focused and committed in trying to find work. It started to get him down, and make him very depressed.

Then A4E sent him for a work trial (unpaid) in a call centre, despite him telling them his learning disability would make this hard for him… after just one day, he came home traumatised, as he could not read the scripts he was given, his Dyslexia making the words move and swirl on the page – he was allowed no help, and this made him feel retarded as the person in charge of him told him he needed to do better.

Understand, I witnessed my sons personality change, he wasn’t himself, and his frustration grew as he started to vent his anger out on those around him, and also in the home… after telling A4E he couldn’t do the work trial, they insisted he do his work searches under their supervision, as they believed he wasn’t doing enough, yet all the evidence was there that he was on the Universal Job Match site… he would get random calls to attend A4E, and no excuse was allowed for him not to.

After being told there were no logged appointments for him when to re-attend, he would come home to find a letter saying otherwise.

One day, he was told at 9am that he had to until 11am to apply for 6 jobs or he would be sanctioned – this proved difficult, as he had already exhausted ALL jobs available, so he applied for anything, even though there was no chance he would ever hear a reply back for lack of qualifications – stupid!

The harassment from A4E was so bad, that he forgot to sign on, an easy slip for anyone under those circumstances, but this would have happened anyway with my sons learning disability – on the day, I was also unwell, so I forgot to remind him… and for this he got sanctioned for a month!

I have been to see Joe Benton’s staff, and we have lodged a letter to the DWP as we think their decision (under the circumstances) is too harsh, and we do not believe they have took my sons learning disability into consideration. I also have an appointment with Welfare Rights to appeal this, and I have my GL24 form ready.

Yesterday I went with my son to the Doctor, who agreed he is severely traumatised, stressed and depressed as a result of DWP and A4E bullying – he has now been signed off as unfit for work, been supplied with anti depressants, and an immediate referral for counselling. Thanx to the DWP, they have reduced my healthy son to a sick person – I know this is happening everywhere, it’s not right.

Today, I am trying to get my sons claim on to ESA, but I am expecting they will not make this process easy either. Just thought I would share, hope everyone finds solutions to their problems too – at least I have done my best here to sort this… but making my son ill like he is not something I can put right over night – I am appalled!!

33 thoughts on “Sanctions and Tory Britain today – A mum speaks out

  1. I’m dyslexic and I’ve worked in call centres, one company we’re patient and understanding but I got a job post ressesion fabric cutting, there I told them I was dyslexic but there was “no time” to help me. I think workplaces have become mean and competitive places along with goverment policies. Somebody with problems can be replaced with someone without them, same goes for single mums, older workers, something needs to change fast.

  2. I am so sorry for your son and yourself mate i truly am. but it is one of a thousand examples of our welfare system,s unfairness. you can no longer be un-healthy in todays society. you just have to doff your cap and hope they see fit to drop what is rightfully yours, into it. I hope things improve for you, but dont hold your breath!!!

  3. Dyslexia is recognised as a disability. If your son had been in a wheelchair yet asked to climb stairs to get to work (even unpaid) you would be able to bring a discrimination claim against DWP, your son’s case is no exception. He was unfairly treated and suffered discrimination. I have no idea if the DWP, as employers, have received recognition as “positive about disability” but if they have, they could certainly be stripped of that accolade. Someone has made a request to find out, here>

    As the mother of a dyspraxic son of 21, and knowing how difficult these scenarios are for dyslexic, dyspraxic adults etc. I wish you and your son all the very best. Don’t let the bastards grind you down 🙂

      1. British Dyslexia Assn
        Equality Act 2010, Disability Discrimination Act 1995
        1. Dyslexia is covered under the law.
        A disabled person is defined as having “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” Substantial is defined as ‘more than trivial’.
        “In some cases, people have coping or avoidance strategies which cease to work in certain circumstances (for example, where someone who has dyslexia is placed under stress). If it is possible that a person’s ability to manage the effects of an impairment will break down so that effects will sometimes still occur, this possibility must be taken into account when assessing the effects of the impairment.” [Paragraph B10, Guidance to the Definitions of Disability, Equality Act).

        3. Making reasonable adjustments in the workplace.
        Adjustments for dyslexic people can be simple and inexpensive. They may also be a benefit to other employees. A willingness to be flexible is the most important thing. For adjustments to be made, the employee needs to disclose details of their difficulties. If you think you may be dyslexic but have had no formal assessment see Dyslexia Support in the Workplace.
        Failure to implement reasonable adjustments is a breach of the Equality Act.
        4. Enforcement of the Act.
        If a person with a disability feels they have been discriminated against they may want to take their case to an Employment Tribunal. If they win the case, they may be able to claim for financial loss and damages for injuries to feelings. The Tribunal may instruct the employer to make a reasonable adjustment to enable the dyslexic person to work.
        Form I.T1 is available from Employment Service offices (Benefit Offices and Job Centres) and the Citizens Advice Bureau. The form includes space to describe the complaint. The form must be sent to the appropriate Tribunal office. They will register the case and send a copy of the form to the employer and ACAS. The employer should reply within 21 days. Then the Tribunal office will arrange a hearing.

      2. Whilst dyslexia (or indeed nearly every other disability) is not specifically mentioned in the Equalities Act 2010, dyslexic people are covered by the act as long as their dyslexia “has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” Since dyslexia is always long-term (it’s a life-long condition), a person might then only be asked to demonstrate that its effect is ‘more than trivial’. In practice, this is not usually difficult and especially if a person is ‘severely’ dyslexic. This is because the Equalities Act includes “the ability to learn, remember and comprehend” as one of the key areas that’s important. Both the DWP and A4E (and any other organisation they happen to use for work placements) have a legal duty to comply with the Equalities Act by not discriminating against any person whose disability comes under the act. In this case, they appear to have discriminated by failing to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for this woman’s son. Since he was not an employee of either the DWP or A4E, any legal action would not be dealt with by an employment tribunal but by a different court. Before taking legal action in cases like this, it’s usually best to make a formal complaint with each organisation. However, any court application would usually need to be lodged within 3 months of the alleged act(s) of discrimination.

        I have quite of lot of written information that expands on my above summary and am more than happy to pass it on to anyone whose interested.

      3. Also, just to add that it’s really important to try and gather evidence in order to prove your case. Sometimes, the threat of legal action is all it takes to get these organisations to stop treating individuals in such despicable ways.

      4. I love your mask where did you get it, as I want to walk into A4e with one when I get a job and tell them I no longer need their waste of a space of help. They have done nothing to m but make me feel an unfit mother, depressed and useless even though I have done 2 courses one which they told me to, but did not arrange for me, the other which I did from choice – and now have an extra certificate for work skills, which is nothing to do with them. I have spent most of yesterday and part this a.m crying as they wanted me apply a job miles away – 2 buses which would take at least an hour to get to. I have NO help looking after my son, 12 and I am 54. If they had made me go to that job I would go on my local radio. Also I was crying to the job centre yesterday, she didnt know who I am, but I could tell she was not happy as a4e are getting paid a lot for all this. The more that tell the Job Centre these things the better, it all goes back.

  4. My daughter is coming to the end of a four week sanction, she has a heart transplant and takes immunosuppressants. She was sanctioned because she couldn’t manage working in a charity shop, amongst the dust, stood on her feet for seven hours a day. They have made her ill, her health is deteriorating and she lost her home because she wasn’t getting housing benefit. The benefits advisors are well aware that my daughter’s life is at risk, they simply do not care

  5. we need these sick fuckers kick,t into toutch, jail, or better still hang the twats for murder , or conspirasy to commit murder, they are just as bad as the luftwaffa,., , hang em high says i ,..,

  6. Have you tried the Dyslexia Association for help/advice? I know they used to have access to help to make life easier (for instance speaking computers). They might also be able to offer other support in making the case and supporting your son in getting well again.

  7. it is time atos and a4e were kicked into touch with I DS behind them the torys and atos a4e dont give you a hells chance your are only a number to them i am disabled myself and i was asked to attend job centre plus/jokeshop/ i attended and the guy said to me your not disabled my mum nearly had a fit i showed him all my letters from hospital oh i see he said and then took them away to copy them i said ti him is that good enough for you he said see you in two years its a bloody joke i have had 9 BRAIN OPS ,/ FOR HYDROPHALUS / FLUID ON THE BRAIN


  9. I so feel for both of you….my son isn’t Dyslexic and has no learning disabilities or illnesses….but I have seen him curled up in a corner sobbing his heart out because he was sanctioned even though he had done EVERYTHING he was asked to do by the job centre and more….but it wasn’t enough for them….he is lucky…he signed on with an agency and they finally managed to find him work….but I will never forget the utter despair he felt at that stage in his life….I truly hope things improve for you and your son.

  10. Right speaking as a Dyslexic myself, get him to a local learning centre I don’t mean Job centre I mean those things that run adult courses! Get him assessed for dyslexia then get him onto a course geared towards helping you to read, Wright, spell, help with ways to remember things and get glasses with a colour that help keep words still! there is NO cure for dyslexia BUT it can be over come!

    1. Sorry but it’s the DWP and the likes of A4E that need to make urgent changes, not the people being bullied by them. The situation is bad enough for those on JSA who don’t have dyslexia so trying to become ‘less dyslexic’ is hardly the solution here.

  11. This is really not on.I recognise my son and me in your description.I fill in forms, support, represent, assist, and do all I can for my son who did not ask to have illness or disability, and is desperate for a sympathetic employer or any job he can cope with. He is longing for finacial independence..He is 35.. Our young person becomes sick, can cope even less after being harrassed, and of what benefit is that? We end up angry, and trying to pick up the pieces too,This pattern is being repeated and repeated from household to household. I am finding it so depressing myself that I fear the knock on effect….This is absolutely appalling behaviour by our government…scapegoating, diminishing, and hounding those who teeter on the brink of survival on a good day, and all too easily go under. I also am appalled….I have totally lost my naivety.I dont trust any of them any more

  12. “One day, he was told at 9am that he had to until 11am to apply for 6 jobs or he would be sanctioned ”

    Jesus Christ this sounds like something out of a Stalin run police state. Apply for six jobs or face the consequences! The DWP are putting guns to people’s heads!

  13. I just want to say that I feel incredibly sorry for what DWP and A4e are putting yourself and your son though. Although I don’t suffer with dyslexia myself, I can only imagine what it must be like to search for work with an illness such as this. Even I find looking for work for countless hours a day, as a healthy person, a struggle.

    I’ve been looking for work for just over 2 years since I became unemployed at the beginning of 2012. I was referred to the Work Programme in September 2012 and recently experienced bullying from them.

    I am currently looking for work, at college to better myself (hopefully get myself into a good career, something that I want to do in the future) and also taking driving lessons. The reason for my driving lessons is due to the fact that I have had to turn down two “dream” jobs because I don’t hold a full drivers license.

    I recently attended an appointment at A4e, under a new adviser (not sure what happened to the last one) who asked me when I would be available for an appointment the following week to look for work (structured job search, I believe they call it). I told the advisor that I am attending college, driving lessons and the job centre to sign-on, told them the days, times etc, and was completely belittled when the advisor replied; “Well, you’ve just stated about 20 hours [a week] that you’re unavailable to look for work”. I replied with just “okay”. I was even further insulted when the advisor told me that I should consider giving up either college or driving lessons to make more time to attend an appointment at A4e.

    I genuinely couldn’t believe what I had just heard. I explained to the advisor in a slightly raised voice the reasons for why I am attending college and driving lessons, to which the advisor didn’t really seem interested whatsoever. Needless to say, I refused, and was told that I would be evaluated over the coming weeks to see how much job search I am conducting each week and whether or not A4e would inform the job centre regarding this.

    In the end, I was given an appointment for the following week which made me think, well, what was the point of all that. I wasn’t “advised” about anything in the 45 minutes that I was in the building and if anything, left feeling somewhat irate by what had just happened.

    Later on, at around 4:50pm (coinscidently, 10 minutes before the office was due to close) I recieve a call from A4e, I sat at my computer desk, at the time, looking at jobs through Universal Jobmatch and looked at the phone ringing, wondering whether to answer or not. I answered, it was my advisor, the same person that I had spoken to earlier at their offices. I was told that I had been put in for a “interview preperation session” on Friday [two days later]. I said that i would attend, but didn’t.

    Further to this, I didn’t attend my sign-on appointment at the job centre the following Monday. This is not the first incident that I have experienced at the job centre and A4e that has made me feel belittled and useless to some extent. Over the past two years I have attended a customer service training course which was for six weeks at the local college. The only thing that was beneficial to me during the two weeks was the two workplace qualifications that I recieved, although, over time I doubt that even these have helped me get back into work as I can never seem to get any further than submitting an application form.

    I’ve also had numerous spats with the job centre over universal job match. After its introduction, I was told that my job seekers agreement said that I had to sign up to universal job match by law because I was claiming job seekers allowance. This was something that a few emails to local MPs quickly sorted out, however, our Tory government quickly changed this and made it law so job seekers allowance claimants were forced to sign up to universal job match. This is something that I did, however, the job centre then told me that I legally had to give them rights to view my job match accounts (there is a check box in settings when logged in that allows or disallows job centre to view a claimants account). I refused to do this as I had read on the DWP website that says that claimants do not have to give the job centre rights to view a claimants job match account as this doesn’t comply with the law. It’s true that advisors have always tried to give job seekers the “benefits” to allowing DWP access to a claimants account but I have always seen this system as flawed. This is because I don’t conduct all of my job serarch through job match and I am always quite afraid that I would be penalised because my job match account doesn’t show job search activity through my account.

    Anyway, I think I’ve typed for long enough. I wish you and your son the best of luck. Remember, you’re not alone.

  14. the dwp has told my partner to prove she has dyslexia and even her adviser told her it is her own fault she should have learnt at school that made her useless
    she told them how can she prove it when it cost’s alot of money to get an assesment when i am on jobseekers they said it’s not there problem

    does anyone know where she can get a free assesment so she can prove it to them

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