160329jobcentretoiletinfographic
There are no public toilets in Job Centres.

Nor is there a private area for benefit claimants who have to inject medication.

A response to a Freedom of Information request, dated March 2 last year, states that “Public toilet facilities are not provided in Jobcentres. However, where there is a medical need, our Jobcentre managers have discretion to make judgments on allowing claimants to use toilet facilities in our Jobcentres. These decisions are subject to constraints in certain locations caused by the layout of the building and keeping people safe. If toilet facilities are not in the public area, use of them is only provided if they can be effectively managed with suitable control measures – for example, controlling access by escorting claimants to and from those areas.”

That was all very well, before the Conservative Government introduced its 28 per cent cut in Employment and Support Allowance for people in the Work-Related Activity Group.

But let’s remember the reasons stated for introducing the cut – that it only affected people who were “able to work”, and that the reduction, coupled with specialised employment coaching, would help them get a job.

(The part about those affected being “able to work” is a lie, by the way.)

What do you think is going to happen when people with toilet issues have to “spend a penny” (as it were) in the middle of an interview, there are no facilities available, and Job Centre staff refuse to help?

Here’s what:

A disabled woman with a weak bladder was left ‘totally humiliated’ when she wet herself in the middle of a JobCentre reception because staff refused to let her use the toilet.

As Vox Political‘s long-term friend Samuel Miller pointed out on Twitter: “A discretionary toilet policy at Job Centres doesn’t pass the human rights test.”

So already the DWP is in breach of the Human Rights Act and its prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

The casual way in which this has been ignored indicates the priorities of the Department under Iain Duncan Smith and now Stephen Crabb – as highlighted by this comment, again from Mr Miller: “I’m certain that several accessible washrooms could be installed or retrofitted in Jobcentres with the £100,000 the DWP has wasted on appealing those bedroom tax cases to the Supreme Court.”

He also came up with a possible reason for the lack of facilities in Job Centres: “The DWP are trying to prevent drug use in toilets and claimants with urinary issues are caught in the middle.”

Oh, really?

It occurs to This Writer that, if the Conservative Government wants to prevent drug use in toilets, then it should start a little closer to home.

The toilets at the House of Commons, for example, have betrayed evidence of widespread cocaine use – leading the Daily Mail to brand the interior of the Palace of Westminster as “corridors of powder“.

*Embarrassing for the Conservative Government, that is.

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