DWP forced to pay back jobseeker three years later
THE government has been forced to refund benefits to a man after his jobseeker’s allowance was sanctioned without notification, it was revealed yesterday.
Simon Milne, from Salford, could not appeal the decision because he received a letter about it from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) three years later.
The DWP admitted it did not give him a chance to challenge before stopping his allowance in 2012.
It reads: “A check of our records indicates that we may not have given you formal written notification of this decision.
“A formal letter would also have given you information about the steps you could take to appeal.”
The DWP must pay him back £300, Judge Alty ruled this month at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.
Prior to the ruling, Mr Milne took the letter to the Kester Dean — a volunteer adviser at the Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre.
The DWP said he had to provide job-hunting records since 2012 to get the sanction lifted. Mr Dean said the “impossible” request was a “desperate attempt to try to fend the case off.”
He added: “The sanction was clearly illegal as the law requires claimants to be warned of a possible sanction so they have the chance to present their case.
“Yet Simon apparently hadn’t even been given a written decision, let alone a warning. It is unbelievable.”
Mr Milne claims that his experience had a lasting effect on him.
He said: “The jobcentre makes you feel ground down and low about yourself … I had no money to go to interviews or for food, let alone for clothes to look smart enough to get a job.
“They said they would help with travel but didn’t. It knocks you back so you have to rebuild confidence to move forward.”
A DWP spokesperson claimed that admitting mistakes to Mr Milne, and other jobseekers, was a decision on their part and not a result of the work and pensions select committee making recommendations to the DWP in a bid to improve its communication with claimants.
The spokesperson added: “The vast majority of jobseekers do everything expected of them in return for their benefits.
“We know that our sanctions system is robust, and we regularly review procedures to ensure it is operating as effectively as possible.”