• Here is a letter template put together by a small group of concerned citizens, written to highlight the mandatory, sanctioned based, indefinite nature of the Work Programme for ESA WRAG Group members, the letter speaks for its self feel free to copy it add you personal details and thoughts and post to your MP, Work programme providers and any one else you can think of…

    Dear

    I would like to request that you enquire on my behalf as to whether the rules for mandatory and sanction based Work Programme, Work Experience for ESA (Employment Support Allowance)  WRAG (Work Related Activity Group) claimants are going to remain in place or whether, the mandatory nature and sanction-based coercion and punishment of claimants will be removed.

    The categories of which are as follows…

    ‘Mandatory ESA participants…

    WP ESA (IR) WRAG 3/6 Mth Mandatory – Required entry from the point at which the outcome of the claimant’s Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is known…

    WP ESA (IR) WRAG 3/6 Mth Mandatory ExIB – Required entry from the point at which the outcome of the claimant’s WCA is known…

    WP ESA (IR) WRAG 12Mth Mandatory…

    WP ESA (c) WRAG Mandatory’…

    http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-pg-chapter-2.pdf

    ‘If one of these participants fails to undertake WRA without good cause, a sanction will apply. The Work Related Activity Component (WRAC) will be reduced whilst the ESA participant is sanctioned.’

    http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wp-pg-chapter-6.pdf

    It would seem that after the removal of the mandatory aspect of JSA and the relaxing of sanctions except for the most extreme of circumstances, for young people, I can only assume the same will be true for the ESA WRAG group claimants, as any failure to do so would bring in to question the discriminatory nature of Work Experience for the sick, disabled and dying.

    I would also like to express my disgust that Work Experience for ESA, WRAG group, along side Workfare for JSA, are nothing but an attempt to undermine the National Minimum wage regulations, allowing the claimants to be paid no more than the benefit already awarded. My disapproval especially applies to these schemes for the ESA WRAG because the people in question will have already been found unfit for work at that time. I am also concerned for the claimants that may have been wrongly assessed by the controversial Work Capability Assessment and for whom finding paid work is already extremely difficult. With out giving the notion to employers that these people will work for less than the minimum wage.

    The creation of a workforce of below minimum wage sick, disabled and dying people who because of the nature of their health problems, will struggle to comply with the sanction based nature of this scheme seems to me beyond cruel as well as unnecessarily inhumane. To apply regulations that allows the removal of benefit for any claimant who leaves work experience after the qualifying period. Potentially leavening them with not only no means of financial support but most likely unable to attend heath professionals appointments or access medical care, is beyond cruel. Punishing the sick, disabled, and dying with loss of income because their heath has deteriorated, or they feel they can’t cope, most likely because of the forced attendance on an employment scheme. The stress and worry caused by this will be devastating to many, at a time when the suicide rate of the sick, disabled and dying on benefits are increasing.

    ‘A sanction is when your employment and support allowance (ESA) is reduced’…

    http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/employment-and-support-allowance/esa-glossary/1482-employment-and-support-allowance-esa-sanctions

    ‘There were 11,790 conditionality sanctions applied to ESA claimants in the WRAG between 1st December 2009 and 30th November 2010.

    There were 10,130 conditionality sanctions applied to ESA claimants in the WRAG between 1st December 2010 and 30th November 2011.’

    http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/esa_sanc/esa_sanc_feb12.pdf

    Also I strongly oppose the indefinite nature of mandatory sanction based employment schemes intended for ESA WRAG, which could see the sick, disabled and the dying being forced to work for as long as the DWP and placement providers require them to, without hope of reprieve, which is by its very definition servitude… ‘Servitude, a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life’. …;

    ‘In the case of those who receive ESA there is no limit to the length of time they may be made to work without pay.’

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2012/feb/17/disabled-unpaid-work-benefit-cuts-documents

    Although the government assures us that it is unlikely claimants will be put in very long term placements, the sense that this could very well mean working some people literally to death leaves me with a chill, and is not something I am willing to support.

    I implore you to ask the Prime Minister, and any other relevant ministers to make the necessary changes to the Work Programme Work Experience, for the ESA WRAG group in order that it would make it a supportive rather than punitive scheme. Removing the mandatory and sanction based nature of the schemes, making work experience an evidenced based learning experience, financially attractive, by having placement providers top up the claimant benefit to a living wage and limiting the time a placement can last unless the claimant opts for a further period of employment and incorporating a get out clause for those whose health is deteriorating, thus bringing it into line with recent changes to Workfare for the 16-24 year olds.

    Finally, I would like to add that if it has been difficult to stem the tide of anger over mandatory Workfare for JSA applicant’s age group 16-24, the level of disapproval for mandatory, sanctioned Work Experience for ESA WRAG for the sick and disabled is likely to be much more so.

    Yours sincerely

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