This has been a week in which allegations made by news organisations have been proved accurate in spite of claims that they weren’t – but this time it isn’t Vox Political being vindicated but Sky News.
This Site followed up a report by the Murdoch organisation in October, in which former Grimsby DWP call centre manager Bayard Tarplay claimed employees had been told to use a “deflection script” to shift benefit claimants from the phone to an online service, whether they were capable of using the computer-based system or not.
Leann Bailey: Dad took his own life on the day of a UC appt because of pressure & distress he was put under by DWP. pic.twitter.com/RY5X0E4BoP
— I was a JSA claimant (@imajsaclaimant) October 25, 2018
At the time, the Department for Work and Pensions has said claims of a “deflection script” were “completely false” but added that when handling a query, call agents may use “aides” to help effectively process cases, including directing claimants online in relation to their claim.
It seems clear that this was a lie, with Sky‘s claim that it has now obtained a copy of the “deflection script” from Labour MP Danielle Rowley.
According to the new report, “Five call centres took place in a two-week pilot last year – including in Blackpool, Canterbury, Middlesbrough, Belfast and Bristol. A call centre hub in Grimsby, where Mr Tarpley worked as a case manager, used the deflection scripts for a longer period of time.
“Managers listened in on calls between handlers and claimants to see if the scripts were effective in ‘encouraging claimants to use their online account’.
“The document adds: ‘Encourage staff to ask what the claimant is calling for at the beginning of the call rather than moving straight to security questions this may open up the opportunity to deflect the caller online.'”
Amazingly, the DWP is sticking to its li(n)e that the “deflection script” does not exist – despite the fact that it has now been produced: “There has never been a policy to hurry callers off the phone and accusations that this is the case are completely false. Call handlers are encouraged to spend as much time as necessary on the phone and remind claimants that they are able to complete certain activities online where appropriate.”
Perhaps it’s time someone challenged Amber Rudd over this. You never know – she might resign again.