How the RAF FF can help: Job Seekers Allowance

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As well as offering advice, ensuring clients are talking to the right people and asking the right questions, all the evidence gathered (stored on an encrypted database) is used to highlight potential ‘themes’ of emerging issues in the Armed Forces. The Families Federation use that anonymised evidence to lobby government for policy changes – all aimed at making life better for you. Here Ken Wood focuses on a case study around Job Seekers Allowance.

The issue

A partner of a serving member of the RAF (Niki*) had recently returned to the UK from an overseas posting. She was having trouble claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and contacted us. Niki had a pre-arranged appointment with her local Jobcentre but prior to this received a telephone call informing her that she wasn’t eligible for JSA, as she hadn’t worked for the last four years and paid tax. She explained she was a military spouse returning from an overseas posting, and had full Class 1 National Insurance (NI) contributions during the period abroad as she had claimed her NI contributions for the period whilst living abroad. Unfortunately this was to no avail.

Ken Wood stood outside of RAF Wittering's Officers Mess

How we helped

Families Federation Evidence Assistant, Ken Wood (pictured) made contact with Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on Niki’s behalf in an attempt to resolve the issue. Following this, she visited the Jobcentre and completed all the relevant paperwork to start the claim. Unfortunately she was again informed by DWP that she was not entitled to JSA, and to submit a case for mandatory reconsideration if she wished to appeal. Niki was made aware that her NI contributions were Class 3 and not Class 1 that she needed for JSA. This was because the MOD CA1 form she completed at the end of June whilst overseas (a form that needs to be completed and sent to HMRC to gain NI credits) had not been processed as there was a backlog. She was given an urgent referral from HMRC and they updated the records within 48 hrs, informing her it was all now updated. Niki was surprised it had taken six months for HMRC to update her records, and it had taken her a lot of effort to get to the bottom of this problem.

On contacting DWP again due to having heard nothing from her mandatory reconsideration, Niki was told she was not entitled to JSA and had never been entitled as she had not worked and paid tax for the last two years – finding herself going back to the start again! She once again explained the government guidelines and reasons as to why she was entitled, but to no avail again.

Ken became involved again and contacted the Armed Forces Champion for DWP in Niki’s geographical area and requested a full breakdown of the decision to enable him to understand the reasoning behind the decision. The Armed Forces Champion escalated it to a Partner Support Manager who advised submission of mandatory reconsideration again; advising what to outline in the appeal, which was very helpful. This information
was passed to Niki who completed her appeal again.

Armed with the evidence of this particular issue, the Director of the RAF Families Federation (Maria Lyle) subsequently met with Will Quince MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for DWP.

The outcome

After raising the issue at ministerial level the case was reviewed again at DWP and Niki was given £960.00 in arrears which was fantastic news. We now have a validated process laid down for the future, collaborating with the Army Families Federation who have also encountered similar issues – a great example of the Families Federations pulling together for the Armed Forces community.

In this case it took over four months to reach a successful conclusion, including intervention at ministerial level. Niki never gave up and carried on regardless of the numerous hurdles she had to go through, but eventually it was worth it. In addition we gained a valuable insight into this area for future cases.

Not every case ends up with success, but we are always able to explain the reason a decision has not been made in favour of the serviceman or woman, and their family members – and if an emerging theme of disadvantage can be seen we are in a position to do the lobbying.

Further information

There are many other ways in which the Families Federation can help you read our other case studies online.

You can contact the RAF Families Federation by logging an issue online or telephoning the team on 01780 781650. You can browse the online finance pages.

This news story is included in the Summer edition of Envoy magazine (pg 30) – the free magazine for RAF personnel and your families too. You can sign up online to have your own copy sent to your home (quarterly).

*Niki gave us consent to use her name in this article.

Story image by Dan Dimmock on Unsplash

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