Job Centre Travel Discount Card...

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vosokec

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I have been claiming Universal Credit since mid January due to losing my job last year in the pandemic. Last month I contacted my U/C advisor to arrange for me to be given a JCP travel discount card as I am entitled to one after three months of claiming, according to what I have read online. I was told that my local Job Centre was going to be opened up again yesterday and that I would have an appointment there where I could do the paperwork for this card, and please bring two photos. My appointment went into the system as a telephone appointment, but she said that this was because the system would not allow her to book anything other than telephone appointments at the time of booking the appointment.

I went to my local Jobcentre as scheduled. Security met me at the door and directed me around a one way system. An administrator took my name and my reason for attending, she was surprised to see me as I was not expected. She looked me up on the system and then told me that I was down for a telephone appointment only, but saw on the system that I have requested a JCP travel discount card, so she called my U/C advisor to find out what was going on. Then she told me that my U/C advisor would explain to me the situation at the time of my telephone appointment, and so I waited for the scheduled time.

She explained that she was still working from home due to social distancing regulations dictating the numbers of people allowed in the office and I would have to wait until my next appointment in mid May to arrange the paperwork for this card. I tried to explain that I was not happy with missing my entitlement until then, but apparently she said the line was bad and she could not understand what I was saying - probably because I was forced to wear a mask in the Jobcentre whilst making the call. I tried again to explain, but it was no good, I was told 'It's a bad connection'.

I tried to explain to the administrator that I was not happy about not getting the railcard I was entitled to, already it has been several weeks past when I should have been entitled to get it, and haven't been able to do so because the entire Jobcentre team have been working from home due to the pandemic. 'All the paperwork is locked away in the safe', she said, 'your U/C advisor will sort it out for you at your next appointment.' I asked is there any way that I can fill the paperwork out now. 'Do you need a ticket to go to a job interview?' she asked. I told her no, that the JCP Travel Discount Card is not purely for travelling for work, everything I have read online says that it is a general travel discount for people who have been unemployed for longer than three months, and can be used for reduced price travel for any purpose if I met the conditions for issue of the railcard' 'No, it's only for work related travel' she said. I'm pretty sure she is wrong on this, but was fed up of being given the run around with the appointment, so I thanked her for her time and left...

Is this correct? Where is this stated in the terms? My local TOC have this to say about the card:https://www.scotrail.co.uk/about-scotrail/news/fast-track-work-scotrail-alliance... "Cardholders are entitled to a 50% discount on selected rail tickets." Travel to interview is an additional allowance separate to the JCP travel discount and I would be claiming this benefit also if I were invited to interviews...

In any case, I am not happy with having to wait weeks even longer and losing out on my entitlement - I get that it will be issued for three months when I finally receive the card, but I can't avail myself of the fare discount until then... How to proceed?

Sorry for length, but I didn't want to leave anything out that would help other people understand my situation...
 
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RHolmes

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Job centre railcards are unusual in that they are issued on a case by case basis, even if you meet all of the conditions, you’re not guaranteed to receive one unless your advisor believes it’s a worthwhile benefit to the holder.

The idea of the railcard is for holders to use it with the intention of travelling to/from job interviews, although as you say this can also be used anytime and for leisure purposes. However, if your advisor deems it unnecessary they won’t issue you with one as it can only be used once in a lifetime, cannot be replaced and is valid for three months only.

Best advice is to speak to your advisor about your personal circumstances.
 

hkstudent

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The discount card is really aimed at having discounted travel for job interviews and the commuting of the first three months.
The caseworker will only grant you a card if you have solid demand for discounted job-related travel.
 

Gathursty

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The idea of the railcard is for holders to use it with the intention of travelling to/from job interviews, although as you say this can also be used anytime and for leisure purposes. However, if your advisor deems it unnecessary they won’t issue you with one as it can only be used once in a lifetime, cannot be replaced and is valid for three months only.

Some people aren't lucky in the job market and may be unemployed more than once in their life. Is once in a lifetime actually written down in the T&Cs?
 

The DJ

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JCP's seem to be instructed from on high to issue as few of these as possible. In some cases a claimant who is entitled to one but does not get one has to make a formal complaint to eventually get one. IMHO too much power is given to your Jobcentre advisor in the sense that if he/she has taken an illogical dislike to you and/or is very strict about evidence of job searching then you would find it very difficult.
 

Aictos

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Every Job Centre is different, some advisors are keen to help you while others are unhelpful and see you as a burden.

The one you saw sadly belongs to the latter.

The railcard although is meant for work related activities has nothing to say you can't use it for a leisure trip here or there.
 

Tallguy

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The DWP picks up the cost of the discounted rail fares I believe. I think the T&C’s state the card may only be used for travel to job interviews, not non-interview activities. And yes some advisors are far better than others.
 

Darandio

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Lots and lots of entitlement mentioned there, you aren't entitled to any discounted railcard from them.

As others have said it's on a case by case basis and many factors are used to decide this. How good the rail provision is in your area is one factor, how you intend to use it is another. Shouting entitlement to your advisor isn't likely to help them decide in your favour.

These railcards were originally conceived to help the user find work with things like travelling to interviews or when finding a job to help towards initial travel costs such as a season ticket for up to three months. Although there aren't really any restrictions on leisure trips, anyone making it clear that they expect to use it to travel around the country at their leisure with DWP picking up half of the bill isn't likely to get the decision in their favour.
 
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matt_world2004

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The documents for the jobcentre travel discount card are available on the internet (Foi request) and I have had a quick browse of the information given to the jobcentre and no where does it mention

1.) They are only to be used for work related travel
2.) They can only be issued once a lifetime
3.) That the jobcentre picks up the cost of any travel associated with it.

The jobcentre may be rationed on how many they can issue

So I don't know where most of the ideas are coming from in this thread.

The jobcentre may pick up some costs for work related travel for those not issued a card however.
 

RHolmes

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Some people aren't lucky in the job market and may be unemployed more than once in their life. Is once in a lifetime actually written down in the T&Cs?

Yes it can only be issued once and isn’t re-issuable.

Even if you’re still unemployed and actively seeking work and travelling on public transport, or even if you lose it, you can not have it again.

Edit: It can be re-issued if lost but only for the previous validity and expiration date.

The documents for the jobcentre travel discount card are available on the internet (Foi request) and I have had a quick browse of the information given to the jobcentre and no where does it mention

1.) They are only to be used for work related travel
2.) They can only be issued once a lifetime
3.) That the jobcentre picks up the cost of any travel associated with it.

The jobcentre may be rationed on how many they can issue

So I don't know where most of the ideas are coming from in this thread.

The jobcentre may pick up some costs for work related travel for those not issued a card however.

It can be used for leisure (despite what other posters have said), but it will not be issued for leisure purposes as it’s intention is for people to travel to/from Job interviews and/or work (if the candidate is successful within those three months).

It states in the documentation that it will only be issued once and once only. (It is in a lifetime)

I don’t believe the job centre picks up the cost but it will be part-subsidised by the Government
 
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matt_world2004

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Yes it can only be issued once and isn’t re-issuable.

Even if you’re still unemployed and actively seeking work and travelling on public transport, or even if you lose it, you can not have it ever again.
This is incorrect. In the released as part of the foi request there is a process for dealing with lost travel discount cards and issuing a new one .

"If your Jobcentre Plus Discount Card is lost or damaged, it is essential you reapply for a replacement. You will then need to reapply for the discount."

Also from the GwR website https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/ti...ickets/railcards/jobcentre-plus-discount-card

A card being issued with the primary purpose of helping a person seeking employment is not the same as a ban on using the card for leisure purposes.

I imagine that the fact they can only be issued between three-nine months of being unemployed .means in practice one will only be issued during the claimant period but that doesn't nessescary prevent someone being issued one after being unemployed for nine months getting a job,losing it and getting issued another one after being unemployed for nine months
 
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peters

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These railcards were originally conceived to help the user find work with things like travelling to interviews or when finding a job to help towards initial travel costs such as a season ticket for up to three months.

These are really a replacement for the New Deal railcards which were available when Labour was in government which you had automatic entitlement to if you were put on to the New Deal scheme, which was after a certain number of months unemployment (depending on your age) or if an advisor decided you would benefit from going on to the scheme. Going on to the scheme resulted in doing an employment course which meant in many cases claimants were travelling to a training centre, one way or another.

A card being issued with the primary purpose of helping a person seeking employment is not the same as a ban on using the card for leisure purposes.

Indeed. It would also be impossible to prove that you've been invited to an interview in some cases as they can be arranged over the phone which then means your only proof is your phone's call record showing the number of the employer.

I imagine that the fact they can only be issued between three-nine months of being unemployed .means in practice one will only be issued during the claimant period but that doesn't nessescary prevent someone being issued one after being unemployed for nine months getting a job,losing it and getting issued another one after being unemployed for nine months

New Style Jobseekers Allowance can only be claimed for up to 26 weeks at a time and once you've been on it for 26 weeks you can't claim again in the same 'benefit year' that you made the original application or within 13 weeks of a previous claim ending.
 

RHolmes

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This is incorrect. In the released as part of the foi request there is a process for dealing with lost travel discount cards and issuing a new one

Apologies yes, I’ve mis-read the Avanti T&C’s page. If it is lost it can be replaced for the time period of the lost card.
 

vosokec

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If it is correct that it is only to be issued for the purposes of getting interviews/going to work, then I wonder what is the purpose of the additional ScotRail Jobseeker offer of two free anytime return tickets per month to go to interviews, and a monthly season ticket to commute to a job if successful in addition to the railcard? I would have thought that the purpose of it was to offer people on low fixed incomes discounted travel, not just for seeking work, but also to go about their daily lives.

I have read that the scheme is different in Scotland, but have not been able to discern what, if any, those differences are. From a local MSP's blog https://ronniecowan.com/2018/03/28/travel-discount-card-for-jobseekers/

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card eligibility: To be eligible for the discount card, one of the following criteria must be satisfied:
i. Claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit AND are aged 18-24 and have been unemployed for 13-39 weeks
ii. Claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit AND are 25 or over and have been unemployed for 13-52 weeks
iii. Claiming Incapacity Benefit, Employment & Support Allowance or Income Support AND are actively engaged with an advisor in returning to employment
 

peters

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Apologies yes, I’ve mis-read the Avanti T&C’s page. If it is lost it can be replaced for the time period of the lost card.

That page says you can't renew it, which isn't the same as one per lifetime and I wouldn't even interpret that as once per benefit claim. However, I would interpret that as you don't automatically have the right to a new one if the one you have expires and your circumstances are still exactly the same as when you were issued with the card.

 

WesternLancer

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Notwithstanding the other good info detailed above, if you feel the Job Centre are not giving you clear info on this / not explaining why they are not helping you obtain something to which you are entitled I would be asking my MP to ask them to explain clearly what their reasoning is, so that you have a clear statement from them of their position. If there is a policy, for example (I'm not saying there is), to 'ration' the issue of them fro some reason then that is probably a matter of wider public interest.
 

LowLevel

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The card has always been unrestricted in it's use for the holder but it's issue like other schemes is at the discretion of a Jobcentre Plus advisor of at least a certain grade.

Phoning up and saying "I want one" is no guarantee of getting one. You don't see many of them around at all.

They have a selection of schemes they can choose to use or not as they see fit.
 

WesternLancer

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Again, there is no entitlement to it. It's purely at the discretion of the advisor.
Sorry, yes, I should have been clearer. The advisor should then state clearly, ideally in writing, the reason(s) why they are using their discretion not to grant the applicants request. Whereas the OP seems to have been getting the run around being told staff were working from home etc and then being told it's only for job related stuff etc etc. If you are not being given something to which you think you may be entitled you should get a clear written reason why not IMHO. Basic principle of public service service delivery in my view.

Even if that reply says "we are not giving you one and we don't have to say why" (which they may be fully entitled to do) - only with such information can taxpayers funds and public policy be open to reasonable scrutiny.

As otherwise Ministers and govt spokespersons can just go on TV and claim they 'provide a generous support to help job seekers find work and travel on trains to seek work' and there is no evidence to show they are only telling part of the story. AKA - 'spinning'
 

matt_world2004

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There must be a written policy in the jobcentre on how they allocate the passes to avoid accusations of discrimination
 

Deafdoggie

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The discount card is really aimed at having discounted travel for job interviews and the commuting of the first three months.
The caseworker will only grant you a card if you have solid demand for discounted job-related travel.

The DWP picks up the cost of the discounted rail fares I believe. I think the T&C’s state the card may only be used for travel to job interviews, not non-interview activities. And yes some advisors are far better than others.
The period the card is issued for can vary, there is no fixed period, but generally a minimum of six months. You can have more than one in a lifetime (I was in seasonal employment for the summer every year and had one in the winter every year, after three months, they used to date it through till the summer job start date) It usually depends how useful they feel it will be. If you're miles from a station, for example, you're unlikely to get one. They will reimburse the cost of travel to and from interviews weather you have a railcard or not, so it's not simply for job hunting and interviews, but you must be actively looking for work at all times anyway. That said, it's a perk not a right. However, they are trying to promote awareness of it, without encouraging people to be unemployed for more than three months!
 

peters

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However, they are trying to promote awareness of it, without encouraging people to be unemployed for more than three months!

I think the majority would be better off with a salary opposed to benefits and 50% discount on rail journeys. At worst someone might delay the start of a new job by a few days in order to get one.

They will reimburse the cost of travel to and from interviews weather you have a railcard or not

There used to be a clause that interview help was if a job was based outside your local area and only if the employer was willing to confirm to the Job Centre that you've been offered an interview and then confirm that you attended the interview, it might have changed now.

While it might not help the original poster on a related point I noticed on Northern's website it says

There’s plenty to be positive about. As the economy starts to re-build, organisations are kick-starting their recruitment plans. Northern’s Job Seeker Scheme is also on hand to help with free tickets to job interviews and generous discounts to ease you into a return to work.

but then it only talks about the 50% discount for holders of the Job Centre railcard underneath!
 

Argyle 1980

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Given that Universal Credit is a 100% digital and online benefit, wouldn't it be far simpler, and secure for that matter to make the JCP travel card digital too? Can't imagine it would be overly difficult for the DWP to issue say an acces code to download the card onto the railcard app for instance or attached in some way to a claimants journal?
 

island

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That would last only until the first story in the Daily Fail about how Clint from Hull was denied his entitlement to cheap rail fares because he doesn’t have an expensive smartphone and now he’s going to be stuck on the dole for another 6 months/years/decades (delete as appropriate) because he can’t afford to get the train to Beverly for his interview.
 

peters

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That would last only until the first story in the Daily Fail about how Clint from Hull was denied his entitlement to cheap rail fares because he doesn’t have an expensive smartphone and now he’s going to be stuck on the dole for another 6 months/years/decades (delete as appropriate) because he can’t afford to get the train to Beverly for his interview.

As mentioned already in the thread there is provision for a job centre to pay for travel to an interview even if a railcard is not issued. I also don't see any reason why you couldn't have both digital and paper versions of a railcard with digital being the preferred option and paper available for those who can't use digital.
 
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