Jimmy Stirling’s DWP diary: Another week and another letter – will I be sanctioned?


Following a family break , 61-year-old Jimmy Stirling returns home to find a dreaded DWP brown envelope

I AM Jimmy Stirling, a 61-year-old unemployed graphic designer, photographer and musician, single grandfather and social housing tenant living in Glasgow.

I receive Jobseeker’s Allowance of PS50 per week and have a very small pension payment of just under PS25 per week. I do voluntary work for my neighbouring community and look after one of my granddaughters for two days per week.

I was recently conscripted to take part in the UK Government’s Community Work Programme, where I would be forced to work for my Jobseeker’s Allowance, which I see as slave labour.

This not volunteering, this is not being paid a wage, this is conscription.

I am against this terrible programme and this is my experience in trying to avoid a six-month, 30-hours-per-week sentence just to juggle the government’s statistics to make them look good.

Below is my latest diary update. You can read the others here.


10 October 2015

On the day of my departure, I got a dreaded brown envelope through my door from the DWP.

I opened it with great trepidation, but it wasn’t a sanction letter. This time, the Jobcentre wanted to talk to me about any changes which could affect my benefits.

“So we can make sure you are getting everything that you should,” they say. They also want to make sure that all the information they have about me is correct.

I have to bring with me my most recent bank statements, most recent statement from my pension provider, my most recent wage slip – that one is not possible, statements from ISAs or PEPs – which I don’t have, savings account statement, details of investments such as National Savings Certificates, Premium Bonds, Income Bonds or Capital Bonds – I don’t have any of these, details of property or land I own – which I don’t possess.

Apparently, the DWP can check with the following bodies:

– Banks

– Building societies

– Credit providers

– Credit card companies

– Money transmission companies

– Insurance companies

– Credit reference agencies

– Education providers

– Gas and electricity providers

– Telecoms companies including mobile phone companies

– The Student Loans Company

– Government agencies including HMRC

– Overseas authorities

The last time I got a letter like this I was interviewed and had my small pension deducted from my Jobseeker’s Allowance, although I’m still expected to comply fully with things like the Community Work Programme despite only receiving partial benefits.

If I don’t go to this meeting on Thursday, 22 October 2015, my payments will stop!

This is just another element to add to my stress and anxiety. This interview doesn’t appear to be ‘under caution’. Well, it is not stated on the letter at least.

19 October 2015

Having been on a short family holiday, I have to sign on today.

Again, I will now have to wait to see if a payment is made into my account towards the end of the week. It seems there is a fresh threat of a possible sanction every time. This social security feels anything but secure.

Picture courtesy of Andrew_Writer