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to advise my friend just to leave Universal Credit for her sanity?!

(32 Posts)
Ubertasha2 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:30:34

Hi guys,

Sorry if this is not the most appropriate place to post but:
My lovely friend has claimed UC for a few months (a small amount, just equivalent to JSA weekly payment, NOT housing benefit etc- just to give context, that she's not hugely dependent on this payment etc etc).

She has got fed up of going in WEEKLY (a quote: "I feel humiliated by the whole thing"), her life goals have changed a bit and she's now no longer seeking work but may take out a loan and go travelling instead for various reasons.

She doesn't want to claim any longer- feels the bit of money is NOT worth the hassle/humiliations etc, and wants to 'sign off'. She says that she told her 'work coach' this, and they said no, she can't- that even if she gets work, she must remain in the system for 6 months and MUST GO TO APPOINTMENTS/KEEP IN TOUCH etc etc. Like wtaf? Does she really have to keep going back/stay in touch even if she doesn't get any financial assistance/work advice?? Will she get a fine/sanction if she doesn't go back? How can she go in each week if she's going to be in NZ?

Thanks in advance; I have also researched as much as possible with her, but we can't get a definitive answer so any advice would be gratefully received!

unlimiteddilutingjuice Thu 16-Mar-17 12:34:52

Of course she can stop claiming. No one can force you to claim a benefit!
If the advisor is being weird and obstructive she could always just write to the benefits centre (the address will be on any letters she may have received from them) and tell them she no longer wants to claim.

Tenshidarkangel Thu 16-Mar-17 12:38:43

I learnt that Universal Credit it an utter travesty. I'm being chased for an over payment (They paid me twice, couldn't do anything when I spotted the error) 12 months later. I am trying to pay it back but the debt management team still haven't had my file. 2 months after sending me a letter saying I needed to pay it back.
I have given up the will to live with them.

Anyway, as long as she doesn't owe them anything eg the 6 week loan you can take during the first few weeks then in theory no. I would make sure she informs them of all changes of address ect though just in case.

Sunnysky2016 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:39:32

Of course she can stop! Inform them by letter send recorded delivery and then it's down to them to stop payments.

MoonriseKingdom Thu 16-Mar-17 12:45:51

Has she got the wrong end of the stick. Can't see how they could mandate her to do anything if she is not claiming and owes no money. Sadly I think the ongoing hassle for people who are working but claiming some UC is designed to push people into stopping claiming what they are entitled to.

pinkdelight Thu 16-Mar-17 12:47:34

It seems the UC 'system' is proving highly effective if it's making people who are entitled to it give up claiming and get themselves into debt. Sucks for the people of course, but it's another person off benefits, which is all this gov cares about.

Ubertasha2 Thu 16-Mar-17 12:53:50

Thanks, guys. She doesn't want to claim any more money- she says she gets about £70 a week, which she was obviously grateful for but feels that if she's no longer job-hunting that she shouldn't claim it. She told her work coach who said that:
Even if you stop claiming ANYTHING, you must stay in the system for another 6 months and keep in touch. Why is this happening? I don't get it. She is understandably worried about getting in trouble if she gets an unfair fine/sanction. We can't find anything saying that she WON'T get in trouble- all the sites we've looked at said she COULD get sanctions/fines. That's her worry!

Coralfish Thu 16-Mar-17 13:13:28

When I was on JSA, I had to sign off because I was leaving the country to go home for Christmas.

I understand Universal Credit is different. Do they really do this? Is it because it seems like you haven't been looking for work if you suddenly decide to stop claiming? Surely they are aware that circumstances change.

If she got sanctioned would it just mean that she couldn't claim for x months? Would this be a problem?

Sorry no actual answers for you.

LadyLapsang Thu 16-Mar-17 14:01:08

I would be interested in how a workless person on means tested benefit for a number of months could suddenly find enough money to travel to the other side of the world and with no income and very little assets take out a loan. I would suggest your friend is honest with their adviser about how their circumstances have changed to allow them to do this. I don't know the ins and outs of UC, but I wouldn't be surprised if her circumstances were looked at quite closely.

Ubertasha2 Thu 16-Mar-17 23:11:13

I agree with you, LadyLapsong if truth be told- I guess that's something for her to consider. We advised her to tell them that she's going to care for a relative, even though she genuinely has nothing to hide and has been offered a loan by a family member for other stuff like further study etc.

Thanks for the replies, everyone!

chasegirl Thu 16-Mar-17 23:26:42

She can close her claim if she wants to no one can force benefits onto you. She needs to ring the service centre and they will close it there and then and cancel any further appointments that are booked. End of story. Her work coach is talking twaddle.
It's complicated but someone gets a job that pays more than their uc their uc claim can remain open for 6 months at nil pay this is just in case anything happens to the job -I. E. If hours have to reduce or redundancy. Then uc can restart but there would be no requirement to be in touch with a work coach in that circumstance.

If someone gets a job where the pay doesn't exceed the amount of uc then they would still need to be in contact with a work coach to try and increase earnings.

WildBelle Thu 16-Mar-17 23:35:28

Yes she will have to keep being on the system/dancing to their tune for 6 months, even if she is not receiving payments. Otherwise they will sanction her. Not a problem if she never intends to claim benefits again, but say if in two years she does want to claim, and she has the sanction of for example 3 months 'outstanding' on her file, she would have to wait 3 months before being able to receive any money (but still have to go to the job centre every week).

It's all complete bollocks. Fucking tories, they all need stringing up.

AndKnowItsSeven Thu 16-Mar-17 23:48:48

Your friend is correct. Merely becoming employed or going self-employed does not end a UC claim. It remains 'live' as an underlying claim for 6 months, although it will close after 1 month if you fail as a self-employed claimant to report your earnings to the UC telephone contact centre.

HelenaDove Fri 17-Mar-17 00:29:52

WildBelle this is why i really believe more women will enter the sex industry. They will be left with no choice.

Despite what some of the more privileged MNers said on the escorting thread.

Ubertasha2 Fri 17-Mar-17 00:45:16

Thanks, guys. What a bloody faff the whole thing is, oh well!

economydrivegirl Fri 17-Mar-17 01:46:46

That's horrific shock

How are you supposed to attend appointments when you are supposed to be in work after finally getting a job?! Are you really supposed to risk your job to go along to a nonsense appointment?

WildBelle Fri 17-Mar-17 10:26:56

Economy - it depends how many hours a week your job is, and how much you're earning. Each claimant has their own level of what they 'should' be doing set by their work coach and is completely arbitrary. If the work coach is satisfied that you are earning enough then you wouldn't be expected to go to the job centre for the six months between starting employment and your claim closing, but if they feel that you should be working/earning more then you would still have to attend. I guess this would be scheduled around work hours though.

WildBelle Fri 17-Mar-17 10:28:43

And yes Helena I'm sure they will. And crime will be going up for sure, if people are left without any money for months on end they will find some way of getting it, rather than starving to death.

Devilishpyjamas Fri 17-Mar-17 10:34:40

God this is confusing. So even if you are in work and not claiming you are still able to be sanctioned? Wtf?

My eyebrows haven't left the ceiling after being told my son needs to get a fit note to claim ESA (and my understanding is will have to keep getting them). He's severely learning disabled, non-verbal, requires 24 hour 2:1 care and is never going to work. Most of his money will go straight to SS. I am boggled at how much money it must cost to run the system that takes money from one govt department to give to me to give to another govt department.

Devilishpyjamas Fri 17-Mar-17 10:35:38

(And it goes to me because he doesn't have capacity - so I have to sort the fit note as well).

Roomba Fri 17-Mar-17 10:36:25

Is this a jobcentre work coach or one from a private company who is contracted by the jobcentre? Just wondering as the private ones get paid an amount for their clients still being in work and off benefits after six months (to stop them shoving clients into v temp jobs and claiming the bonus for getting them back into work repeatedly).

It may be that this work coach is thinking of this and has been told they have to track clients for a period after they sign off, even though it's clearly not necessary in this case.

Jeez though, they can't force you to sign on! How are they planning on getting her back from NZ to do this? hmm

WildBelle Fri 17-Mar-17 10:45:05

They are work coaches at the job centre. They are given targets to meet for sanctions so they will find reasons to sanction even if people have done nothing wrong.

The universal credit survival group on Facebook is very interesting if you want to learn more about what people are suffering here. It's horrific.

AndKnowItsSeven Fri 17-Mar-17 10:49:20

No Devil you won't be sanctioned , there will be no conditionality with an open claim if you receive no payments. Having the claim open is beneficial especially if you have more than two dc for example you would still be able to claim for both.

Devilishpyjamas Fri 17-Mar-17 10:52:15

I wasn't talking about me being sanctioned seven (I work, have never claimed). Just commenting on how bizarre the system is - the who rigmarole with my son (who will never work) must cost so much money on pointless bureaucracy

unweavedrainbow Fri 17-Mar-17 10:57:45

@Devilishpyjamas you will only need the fit note for your DS till he is allocated an ESA group. The "normal" route for claiming ESA is that a doctor decides that you shouldn't be/can't work and so signs you off. This then can be used to trigger the forms and assessments for ESA . It usually works quite well but it does show how silly it is for people like your son, having to get random bits of paperwork. You should only have to do it once as the doctor should sign off for 3 months which is usually enough time to process the claim.
Point, is your son in full time education and receiving DLA/PIP? If so he'll be automatically entitled to ESA without having to have any kind of assessment-although it sounds like he won't have any trouble claiming anyway.

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