Pukka gen required: TA and Jobseekers' Allowance

Discussion in 'Army Reserve' started by Dr_Evil, May 20, 2013.

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  1. There is currently a belief that the shortfall in TA numbers will be made up, and any exodus of employed STABs due to the introduction of mandatory training will be replaced, by the massed ranks of those not in education or employment.

    According to the Department of Education, there were 976,000 of them aged 18 to 24 in 2011, so it's really just a matter of chucking a load of cash at PR people and Capita, and happy days.

    I am, however, wondering whether the starting assumption is realistic. My understanding is that many of these NEETs do not join the Reserves because doing so would cause them to lose their Jobseekers' Allowance of £58.40 per week plus the benefits which are contingent on receipt of JSA, such as housing and council tax benefits.

    JSA is only available to those who work less than 16 hours per week. A TA weekend is (in practice) about 46 hours and weekday training evenings are 2.5 hours. Someone who attends weekday evening training every second week and one TA weekend per month is doing an average of 12.75 hours per week even if their hours worked on Annual Camp are excluded. It would take just part of a day per month in addition to the above for them to go over the threshold.

    So a STAB private attending for two weekday evenings per week, one weekend and an additional half a day that month will be paid £152.39 for that month but would lose at least £253.07 in JSA plus housing benefit of at least a couple of hundred quid for that month, plus council tax benefit.

    Last year, the JSA regulations were changed so that any JSA claim will remain open during the 15 days annual continuous training period and JSA payments will automatically resume when the trg ends. But I do not understand how those in the regional TA doing what I would regard to be the bare minimum are able to claim JSA at all.(*)

    Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


    (*) without lying or omitting to inform the Benefits Agency of their having exceeded the 16-hour limit
     
  2. msr

    msr LE

    IS the mandatory training fo' real shnizzle or still just a rumour?
     
  3. It's my understanding (and I'm no longer in a position to confirm by experience) that the loss of JSA is determined weekly. So, in your example, there'd be one week when there'd be no JSA paid (Army pay being the weekend and a drill night) and another week when the drill night pay would be deducted. The remaining weeks would be unaffected. Other benefits are calculated on the basis of how much you have in the bank provided you don't exceed a set annual income.

    I don't know how it works now, but back in the 70s, Sunday pay wasn't taken into account. This led to a bit of creative accounting for those doing two weekends a month by the Pay Sgt booking you in for four Sundays instead.
     
  4. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    its allways been that way - you work it, you declare it and if it goes over the threshold you get no benefit for that week. if they ran a sunday to saturday week it would be easier and at one point they allowed you 4 days a month before it affected your benefits.

    it might be viable to register as part time and claim working tax credits which often can be higher and allow you to work what you want TA wise. as a kid I used to leave drill nights off the sheet but my psi would put the odd day through for me to make it up.

    the issue has allways been the fact that you don't get your army pay for another month yet you lose benefit immediately so inorder to do TA you need a certain amount of dedication to not spend your pay until the next lot has gone in.

    I had a friend who got an extra 100 quid a week due to some odd equation despite the fact he lived in a council flat and worked full time.
     
  5. msr: Ref mandatory training - wait.

    Puttees: Thanks. JSA is a "gateway" benefit for housing and council tax benefits. If you get JSA then you are automatically entitled to HB and CTB. That's why losing JSA is so significant. It might well be possible for it to flick on and off depending on the number of hours worked in a given week, although I have seen stuff which speaks of the average number of hours per week not being allowed to exceed 16.

    If it's not based on an average, does anyone know if, in reality, JSA + HB + CTB can flick on and off every second week?

    Also, I note that the official DWP pamphlet on JSA is wrong. It says:

    The bit about time spent on duties not counting as paid work applies only to the coastguards, not reservists.
     
  6. Not strictly true. You've got to have less than £16k in the bank to even have a look-in for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Add to which they're provided by local authorities, not the DWP.
     
  7. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    housing benefit and council tax benefit are payable to anyone who asks and is elligable so jsa only makes the claiming easier and once you're on it you are reasonable safe. both are via the local council but will be logged under this new 26k ruling they are putting through.

    your jsa claim should be active unless you go off full time on a course or cadre the issue I found recently when going on and off it for agency work is the bsatards don't pay the first three days of a new or renewed claim.

    they have a policy now of your claim allways goes back to the same advisor so if they agree to fiddle with the dates for you then its a lot easier to average out the training days.
     
  8. I can't see any incentive for anyone on knobsuckers allowance to join the TA. I was so fortunate that with my old unit, I often had the 256 days a year and was able to pay my own rent and council tax. It's a pain to go see your advisor and tell them you have worked a weekend. You get the questions, what is your hourly rate ? they do not understand daily rate and to tell them you did 24 hours for X amount and the following day you did 4 hours and still got x amount fries their walnut brain.

    I have heard of cases where people have declared they worked a weekend, had their claim closed and told to open a new one. Rates of pay are also taken into account, as if you work 16 hours or more, it's classed as full time employment. However if you earn less than knob suckers allowance, you may be entitled to some cash.
     
  9. I was on JSA when I first joined the TA, in theory you should never be financially worse off from being in the TA. Reserve forces personal, as well as a few other profession, are allowed to exceed the 16 hour rule and still claim JSA. At first they will probably tell you that you're talking out your hoop, I had a print out that I found on the DWP website stating TA could work more than 16 hours to take with me when I signed on, I've looked but cant find the link now.

    What happens is you still get JSA but they deduct money by how much your TA wage is per month, in the end my JSA benefit was zero as my TA earnings went above the threshold.
     
  10. the whole 'days' thing will TA pay will fry the DWPs brains - also applying the NMW rules to 'days' pay for ptes means much more than 8 -10 hours / day is less than the NMW.

    given a 'day' is given of 8 hours or more tell the DWP it's 8 hours .... sadly still means a 2.5 'day' weekend means no JSA that week as it's 20 'hours' of work ... and over the 16 hours for that week...
     
  11. Without wishing to upset anyone. I'd suggest that anyone on JOB SEEKERS allowance, should spend their time finding a job rather than playing with the part time soldiers. That isn't a dig at the TA, but it's not a career and isn't a job, it's a part time hobby which may be useful for you and the Armed Forces. If you wish to earn your money from the Armed Forces, then go and join the regulars.

    That said, I suppose if you are in dead end employment, with no prospects the TA may be more appealing, as you may get driving licences and other stuff. Just don't bank on doing it in the short term.
     
  12. Your explanations are all very helpful but are beginning to fry my pea-sized brain.

    From information put by the DWP before Parliament when they brought in the 2012 change which allowed people to attend annual camp without losing their JSA, it seems that regardless of what the DWP guidelines say, the relevant law actually says that reservists may not work in excess of 16 hours per week without losing their JSA.

    www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1656/pdfs/uksiem_20121656_en.pdf

    If they work fewer than 16 hours, they should still report it so that their JSA payment can be reduced to reflect those earnings. Nice.

    So it seems that JSA claimants who are in the reserves should be reporting their working hours and their earnings on a weekly basis to the Benefits Agency. That is not really possible, as TA pay is paid monthly in arrears (sometimes substantially in arrears).

    If JSA is lost for a period due to exceeding the 16 hours limit then that means that a "gateway" to housing benefit and council tax benefit closes. The claimant should report that loss to the local authority and be reassessed for HB and CTB.

    Questions:

    1. Do claimants really update the BA and council on a week-by-week basis, or even month-to-month?

    2. What happens if they do update them in that way? Are benefits "overpaid" then recovered or deducted?

    3. Does HB and CTB really switch on and off on a weekly basis like this?

    4. Would it, could it, possibly make more sense to treat Reservists in the same way as volunteer costguard and fire brigade?
     
  13. Thanks, Sammy M.

    The people who are keen for much of the TA's shortfall in numbers to be made up from the ranks of the unemployed consist of some very senior people in the regular Army.(1) I am certainly not advocating it as a solution of any kind.

    I am trying to find out if that hope is realistic because I don't think it is. Those on the dole tend to shy away from joining the Reserves. I would like to think that it's because they would be hammered financially for doing so rather than because of a lack of moral fibre. But who knows?

    Whether or not it is a good thing to populate the Reserves with people who are in it purely for the money and the qualifications, scooped out of the ranks of the NEETs, is an entirely different question too. Might make the Reserves better. Might make them worse. Who knows?


    (1) The remainder of the gap will, they believe, be closed by recruiting into the Reserves those whom the MOD has just made redundant and by the surge(2) of recruits being generated by Capita and the new RPP recruiting system.

    (2) There is no surge.
     
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  14. Pob02

    Pob02 War Hero Book Reviewer

     
  15. Command_doh

    Command_doh LE Book Reviewer

    I was told specifically (many, many moons ago) that I was not allowed to claim JSA as the T.A. employment of two days per week - even though classed as 'voluntary' - exceeded the maximum permissible hours of employment allowed to still accrue the beer/fags tokens. When I replied 'but I only do it a few times a year, I'm national", they (helpfully) said "well, you can sign on after every time you go then".

    Sounds like more effluent being pumped from the central government slurry pit.