The embarrassing reason the DWP won’t get the sick and disabled back to work*

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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16 thoughts on “The embarrassing reason the DWP won’t get the sick and disabled back to work*

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s good to know when you’re in a Job Centre in Bristol (or wherever) being told you can’t leave your interview to answer nature’s call.

      1. joanna

        i’m only saying because job centres are not alone in that! there should be facilities everywhere. I once got caught short at the local housing office, they wouldn’t let me use theirs either!!!

  1. Stephen J Davis

    I don’t suffer from incontinence, indeed I used to be a lorry driver and frequently did 15 hours and 2 hours travel to and from work without spending a penny; now I suffer from advanced Ankylosis Spondylitis and consequently it takes me up to 2 hours to loosen up enough to even be able to use the toilet, or face certain crippling pain which won’t subside with rest or strong pain killers. Public toilets are too difficult to use, disabled toilets on a train for instance, the bloody door opens while your sitting there even though it said it was locked.

    The Maximus assessor said: I could always wear a nappy, presumably it’s alright to shit myself at a workstation; do you want fries with that sir, what smell sir?

    1. Starry4

      How dehumanising. So if all those with the necessary toilet need sat there in shit and piss filled nappies…..”Would the DWP provide air fresheners in all their jobcentre and work experience locations?”

      1. Mike Sivier Post author

        Some of you may be about to ask why I let two of the words in Starry4’s comment go uncensored when I’m usually strongly against profane language on This Blog.
        It’s because the substances signified by those words are exactly what this is all about.

  2. jeffrey davies

    However, where there is a medical need, our Jobcentre managers have discretion to make judgments you got to be joking the answer is NO when rtu ids came into his job he started closing down toilets in the jcp has for Conservative Government wants to prevent drug use in toilets, then it should start a little closer to home ossie for one ops jeff3

  3. Mr David Penson

    This is what happens when you treat people as numbers instead of Human Beings, Nothing this bunch of half wits and Idiots that passes for a Government surprises me any more . David Penson

    1. Phil Lee

      You should not be so generous as to class any member of the government as a half-wit – you couldn’t make a wit with any two of them.

  4. Kevin Hutchinson

    They could provide toilets and have them managed, simple but not as humiliating.

  5. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    Here’s an interesting post from the Disability Sanctuary (August 2013) the DWP said it was because of constraints imposed by the landlord!!!! What the %^$&!

    Crohn’s Woman Refused Use Of Job Centre Toilet

    Jobsworths at a Norwich job centre have been slammed over their ‘cruel and degrading’ treatment of an ill woman who was refused use of the toilet.

    Nicola Martin, 32, who has Crohn’s disease, carries a ‘Can’t Wait’ card because the condition means she might need to “use the toilet facilities urgently”.

    Despite this, staff at the Kiln House Jobcentre in Pottergate told the mother-of-two she could not use their toilet because it was ‘against job centre policy’.

    Mrs Martin’s case has now been taken up by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, who has written a letter of complaint to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, who is responsible for job centres, for an explanation.

    Bosses at the job centre have apologised for their actions.

    Mr Bacon said: “I am appalled by the cruel and degrading treatment my constituent had to endure. Mrs Martin was left feeling humiliated and in pain because job centre staff either wouldn’t or couldn’t understand her needs.

    “I am sure there are many compassionate job centre staff across Britain who do their utmost to help Crohn’s sufferers to preserve their dignity.

    “However, I understand that Mrs Martin’s experience is far from unique and that many Crohn’s sufferers struggle to have their needs taken seriously by their local job centre.

    “I have asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, to look in detail at this matter and issue further guidance to his department as to how it treats Crohn’s sufferers and other people who may need assistance while attending their local job centre.”

    Mrs Martin, from Bayspole Road, Long Stratton, was diagnosed with Crohn’s a year ago and is unable to work because of her condition.

    She attended the job centre on August 6 for an interview with a specialist advisor related to her allowances.

    Two members of staff at the reception told her it was against policy to let customers use the toilets.

    After her appointment, she complained to the floor manager, who told her that, while she had a valid point, she still could not use the toilet.

    She said the incident caused her humiliation and upset, leaving her in considerable pain and in fear of soiling herself in a public place. The stress of the incident also caused her symptoms to flare up after she left, worsening her condition.

    She said: “What I’m most disappointed about is that they knew my medical condition beforehand, because I had included it on the form.

    “Surely, I’m not the only one who has had this problem at the job centre? It’s a government building and there should be toilets that customers can use.”

    She has been given a letter of support from the Crohn’s charity to take with her to the job centre in future.

    The letter says: “I hope you will give serious consideration to raising awareness amongst your staff of this embarrassing and debilitating condition. A little help and understanding on their part could make all the difference.”

    A spokesman for the charity, which provides support to patients with inflammatory bowel disease, the umbrella term for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, said: “This is a problem sadly, encountered by many of our members. People have to live with the problem of an unpredictable and urgent need for access to a toilet.

    “It is understandable that people find it very difficult and embarrassing having to explain to strangers why they need help. The ‘Can’t Wait’ card confirms that the card-carrier is a member of our association and needs urgent assistance and understanding because of a genuine medical condition.”

    A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We apologise to Mrs Martin for not giving her access to the toilets at the job centre.

    “Presently we are unable to allow claimants to use the facilities used by our staff and others occupying the building, because of constraints imposed by the landlord.

    “We are currently discussing this situation with the landlord.”

  6. Terry Davies

    its a ludicrous situation when you cant get to use toilet facilities. even more ludicrous when ‘avoiding drug abuse’ is trotted out as a reason for abuse of human rights.
    significantly if Parliament is a hot bed of drug abuse its beyond hypocritical for job centres to have no public toilets, even moreso for Crabb has been involved in music and there are not many if any who do not experiment at least with drug use.
    wonder if Crabb is still involved and wondering how he will vote on bills proposed to legalise drugs. likewise Osborne reputed to have been involved in his early life as s student.????

  7. Florence

    There is a great deal of lack of understanding about crohns and UC. Indeed with UC the bowel fills with massive abscesses, which is intesely painful, and is often accompanied by running a temperature. During an “attack” the abscesses burst, releasing blood and pus into the bowel, which is impossible to retain. I’m sorry if that is graphic, but when we talk about needing a toilet, it’s nothing like normal adults control. These are the problems we face. Plus many also suffer from joint and mobility problems. Yet sufferers are also made to feel their problems are taboo. The JC+ should not be able to demand someone with these bowel problems attend interviews, let alone when refusing access to WC facilities. Many with these conditions also have RADER keys, so the JC should as an absolute minimum have RADAR toilets. But it certainly is degrading and punishing behaviour at present, and unacceptable, but being brutally honest, it’s not a problem that’s going to unite the masses to rise against the oppressive DWP. Sadly.

  8. Maggie Wallace

    I got so cross about the lack of toilets for claimants that I’ve started a petition on the Parliament Petitions site:

    It went live yesterday, and so far has 265 signatures.

    To be honest I didn’t think it’d even make 100! But I’ll keep plugging away trying to get more signatures when I’m able to. As someone on Twitter commented, this is Dickensian!

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