About Help Me Investigate

Help Me Investigate Welfare is a website to help those who want to investigate questions relating to the welfare system.

The site is based on Help Me Investigate.com, a site which was launched in July 2009 with funding from Channel 4’s 4iP fund and Screen West Midlands.

Investigations undertaken by users of Help Me Investigate include the uncovering of a £2.2 million overspend on Birmingham City Council’s websitefalse claims by publishers of a free newspaper; the worst places for parking fines; the real average cost of weddingslegal issues surrounding recording council meetingspolice claims of sabotage against Climate Camp protestershow much higher education costs the taxpayerwho is responsible for an advertising screendoes scrapping speed cameras save money? Varying availability of hormonal contraceptive on the NHS, and the allocation of Olympic torchbearer places.

Stories and information uncovered by the site have been used by news organisations including The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail, Stoke Sentinel, Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Bournemouth Echo, Caledonian Mercury, Der Tagesspiegel, the Health Service Journal, BBC Radio WM and BBC Radio 4.

The site was conceived by Paul Bradshaw, a visiting professor in online journalism at City University London and course leader of the MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University.

In 2010 Help Me Investigate was shortlisted and highly commended for Multimedia Publisher of the Year in the NUJ’s Regional Media Awards, and won ‘Best Investigation’ in the Talk About Local/Guardian Local awards.

In February 2011 the code for the original site was released under an open source licence.

There is also a site blog, which provides regular tips and updates.

If you want to get involved in any of the Help Me Investigate sites, please leave a comment or contact us privately on paul@helpmeinvestigate.com

4 thoughts on “About Help Me Investigate”

  1. The reason for the confusion over mandatory /voluntary

    Analysis based on http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-08-11.pdf

    6 From 5.4.11 JSA may not be payable or it may be payable at a reduced rate to claimants who are entitled to JSA1 and have
    1. lost a place on a Work Experience through misconduct (see DMG 34734 -34735)2 or
    2. subject to the good cause provisions detailed in paragraph 8 of this guidance given up or failed to attend a place on a Work Experience without good cause (see DMG 34736 -34747)3 or
    3. after being notified by an Emp O of a place on a Work Experience, without good cause (see DMG 34751 – 34752)
    3.1 refused or failed to apply for it or
    3.2 refused to accept it when offered4 or
    4. neglected to avail themselves of a reasonable opportunity of a place on a Work Experience (see DMG 34757 -34758)5.

    Note: See DMG 34394 for the definition of an Emp O.
    1 JS Act 95, s 19(1) and 20A(1); 2 s 19(5)(c) and 20A(2)(c); 3 s 19(5)(b)(iii), 19(5)(b)(iv), 20A(2)(b)(iii) & 20A(2)(iv); 4 s 19(5)(b)(ii) and 20A(2)(b)(ii); 5 s 19(5)(b)(i) and 20A(2)(b)(i)
    7 For general guidance on the length of a sanction, and when it should begin, see DMG 34013 et seq.

    Good Cause
    8 A claimant is regarded as having good cause for failing to attend or giving up Work Experience providing they
    1. attend the first day of Work Experience and
    2. give up not later than one week after the date on which they begin Work Experience and
    3. do not lose the Work Experience place due to misconduct1.

    1 Misconduct at any time = sanction

    2 Failure to attend the first day or leaving after a week = sanction

    OR [this is the cause of the problem basically this negates the voluntary option]

    3.1 refuse to apply

    3.2 refuse to accept

    4 neglect to avail themselves of a reasonable opportunity

  2. Why is there a link to a Payday Loans website at the top left of each page on this site? (if it’s not showing up for you, try disabling page style in Views or looking at the page source). Really inappropriate for a site that purports to be helping people on benefits to have a link to one of those sharks.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out to me – it certainly wasn’t intentional and may have been inserted by the maker of the theme (who kept it invisible so no one saw it – the intention wasn’t to ‘advertise’ but to boost their Google ranking). I’ve now changed it to the default WordPress theme.

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Helping connect those investigating the welfare system