Benny On Benefits

A first-hand look at the benefits system in the UK

Month: July, 2014

JobCentre Insider: ‘Stitching Up Claimants Is All Part Of Job’

Same Difference

Last week Iain Duncan Smith met a whistle-blower who has worked for his Department for Work and Pensions for more than 20 years.

Giving the Secretary of State a dossier of evidence, the former Jobcentre Plus adviser told him of a “brutal and bullying” culture of “setting claimants up to fail”.

“The pressure to sanction customers was constant,” he said. “It led to people being stitched-up on a daily basis.”

The man wishes to be anonymous but gave his details to IDS, DWP minister Esther McVey and Neil Couling, Head of Jobcentre Plus, who also attended the meeting.

“We were constantly told ‘agitate the customer’ and that ‘any engagement with the customer is an opportunity to ­sanction’,” he told them.

Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, the member of the DWP Select Committee who set up the meeting, has renewed her call for an inquiry into inappropriate sanctioning.

“I am deeply concerned…

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Jobcentre Whistleblower confirms that they are out to get us

I’ve not bothered to provide any kind of evidence or citations for my rants on this blog so far, because frankly it’s not that kind of blog, and I’m not a journalist. Polly Toynbee of The Guardian is a journalist however, and a damn good one. She has interviewed a manager of a Jobcentre Plus. It makes for pretty grim reading, but does rather prove my central thesis, that the benefits system is not a friend to the needy, but their enemy (emphasis mine):


 

She told me how the sick are treated and what harsh targets she is under to push them off benefits. A high proportion on employment and support allowance have mental illnesses or learning difficulties. The department denies there are targets, but she showed me a printed sheet of what are called “spinning plates”, red for missed, green for hit. They just missed their 50.5% target for “off flows”, getting people off ESA. They have been told to “disrupt and upset” them – in other words, bullying. That’s officially described, in Orwellian fashion, as “offering further support”. As all ESA claimants approach the target deadline of 65 weeks on benefits – advisers are told to report them all to the fraud department for maximum pressure. In this manager’s area 16% are “sanctioned” or cut off benefits.

Of course it’s not written down anywhere, but it’s in the development plans of individual advisers or “work coaches”. Managers repeatedly question them on why more people haven’t been sanctioned. Letters are sent to the vulnerable who don’t legally have to come in, but in such ambiguous wording that they look like an order to attend. Tricks are played: those ending their contributory entitlement to a year on ESA need to fill in a form for income-based ESA. But jobcentres are forbidden to stock those forms. These ill people’s benefits are suddenly stopped without explanation: if they call, they’re told to collect a form from the jobcentre, which doesn’t stock them either. If someone calls to query an appointment they are told they will be sanctioned if they don’t turn up, whatever. She said: “The DWP’s hope is they won’t pursue the claim.


 

Full article is here.