Solace User Involvement Group – Thursday 29th March 2018

Our bi-weekly user involvement group saw the attendance of two disability employment advisors (DEA’s):

Maggie Carey – maggie.carey@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Paru Thakker – paru.thakker@dwp.gsi.gov.uk

Benefits/ Universal Credit:

  • Both DEA’s are contactable regarding employment support and information on universal credit, they are based within Ealing Job Centre.
  • Universal Credit is all benefits rolled into one lump sum payment, this includes: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-Based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit.
  • Universal Credit will be paid directly to your bank account
  • Differing to Housing Benefit, Universal Credit will not be paid directly to your landlord, this is something you will have to set up yourself. However depending upon circumstance i.e. living in supported housing, a payment may be set up by universal credit to pay your landlord directly
  • When changing over to Universal Credit you will have to wait 5 weeks for the first payment to reach your bank account, you are able to ask for an advance however this money will then be taken out of your payment the following month
  • Advances will not be paid if you have savings or money in your bank account, this will be determined on an individual basis e.g. some people may be paying more for housing so an advance may be suitable even though they have money saved
  • For anyone who needs extra support managing money you can be referred to budgeting and debt management services, this will be determined through your work coach at the job centre
  • Applications can no longer be completed over the phone, everything has to be filled out digitally on a computer. If this is an area you need support with you are able to meet your work coach at the job centre for support with completing applications
  • Ealing Council are offering basic I.T courses for understanding and managing universal credit
  • Letters that are received and not understood can be brought into the job centre to be discussed in person or over the phone
  • Ealing Centre for Independent Living (ECIL) have a representative at the job centre who can offer further information about benefits
  • Alternatively Mind Ealing and Hounslow also have a pathways service where you can receive help filling out benefit and housing applications. This service is run by Ade Ojelade – ojelade@mind-eh.org.uk
  • There are two types of ESA benefit: Work related activity group (Taking steps towards employment) and Support Group (Supported by benefits). At the moment the work related activity group can be called to be assessed.
  • This assessment would be completed by a healthcare professional, such as your GP, CPN or Community Nurse. This assessment is also known as a “Work Capability Assessment.” If you fail this assessment your benefits will be changed over to Universal Credit, If this assessment is passed your benefits will remain the same.

 

Employment:

  • Work coaches at the job centre will provide in work support. For example, if you are not feeling well due to your mental health they can call your workplace on your behalf and explain the situation
  • There is training available for employers to allow for flexibility within the workplace, this would be discussed within your contract meeting. This training can help to improve employers understanding of different conditions. E.g. medication may make an individual drowsy in the mornings, so the employer would only offer afternoon/ evening shifts
  • There is a lot more mental health training happening within Ealing job centre to raise staff awareness
  • A number of big companies are confident signed to abide by rules to support disabled service users within the workplace, however this is not often translated to the smaller branches.
  • Once you have received a job offer your work coach will speak to the organisation regarding any extra provisions you may need to support you within the workplace
  • For Non-English speakers there are translators within the job centre
  • It is the role of DEA’s to build relationships with local organisations

 

If you would like more information you can contact Maggie Carey or Paru Thakker. Alternatively you can send a message to Headsupealing@mind-eh.org.uk.