Category Archives: unemployment

More than 1,300 DWP staff to lose jobs: will the service to claimants get EVEN WORSE?

Employment in the UK is a “remarkable success” says Raab – as his government makes 1,300 DWP jobs redundant in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

Yes, some of the most hated civil servants in the UK are likely to lose their jobs in a back-office shake-up of the Department for Work and Pensions.

Offices are being closed across the country, meaning 12,000 DWP employees will be moved to different sites. A further 1,300 people will not be moved as there are no suitable sites near them; they will lose their jobs.

But these jobs are said to be going from offices in areas of high economic deprivation, making a mockery of the Tory government’s “levelling-up” agenda.

The PCS union said the offices closing with no alternative site being offered to staff are in: Aberdeen, Barrow in Furness, Bishop Auckland, Blackburn, Bury St Edmunds, Chippenham, Exeter, Gravesend, Kirkcaldy, Milton Keynes, Peterborough, Southampton, and Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent.

Labour’s shadow secretary for work and pensions, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “In closing DWP offices and cutting jobs in areas including Stoke, Burnley, Bishop Auckland, Doncaster, Southampton and Kirkcaldy, Therese Coffey has exposed the Tories’ rhetoric on levelling up to be utterly hollow.

“Ministers are today cutting quality public sector jobs from communities who need them in the middle of a devastating cost of living crisis.”

The decision seems to be motivated by a calculation that the DWP has more real estate than it needs – so this is about selling off land for money, Weren’t we all led to believe the government is making cash hand-over-fist due to increased fuel (and other) prices?

In all, 13 processing sites are set to close by June 2023, but more job losses are feared over the closure and relocation of 29 other sites.

Announcing the closures on March 17, Work and Pensions minister David Rutley said no “front-of-house Jobcentre Plus” services would be affected because “the services we are talking about are primarily telephony and digital”.

Reading between the lines, this suggests that it will take even longer than the hours it already does to contact the DWP about a claim by phone or online,

And the PCS union’s Mark Serwotka seems to be implying that this is the payoff for DWP staff who were taken on to handle the extra work caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns.

With the government winding down its Covid restrictions – despite a new surge in infections, hospitalisations and deaths – these “work units” (as the Tories describe people like you and me and especially benefit claimants) are now surplus to requirements.

“The government was quick to clap civil servants at the start of the pandemic – they’re even quicker to scrap them now they’ve declared the pandemic over.

“Our members have worked tirelessly behind the scenes, keeping the country running, paying out benefits to almost two-and-a-half million families, helping them to put food on their table and keep a roof over their head.

“But now, as food and fuel prices rise faster than ever, they’re being abandoned by the government and left to fend for themselves.”

I fear this is the truth of the Tory DWP slim-down: former employees transformed into claimants in the most deprived areas, at the worst possible time, receiving an inferior service from the organisation they used to represent,

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Raab refuses to accept the facts of unemployment

Tories aren’t working: Labour’s poster referred to the parties the Conservatives under Boris Johnson held while the rest of us were in lockdown but may be equally applied to their failure to address – or even acknowledge – increased unemployment.

Boris Johnson has been misleading us about employment figures.

The facts came out when Labour’s Stephen Timms revealed during (Deputy) Prime Minister’s Questions that Sir David Norgrove of the UK Statistics Authority wrote to Johnson, three weeks ago, saying the prime minister is wrong to say employment is up.

But Dominic Raab wasn’t paying any attention. He contradicted Timms’s claim and ran out the hoary old line about unemployment being higher after Labour governments leave office than when they start.

Pathetic – and misleading. We need a correction of the record.

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Embattled Tories kick down hard – they want to make benefit claimants suffer

Sanction centre: the Tories are giving unemployed Universal Credit claimants just four months to get a job in the sector they want before demanding that they take what they’re offered or face sanctions. But who will profit? The jobseeker – or the employer?

This Writer has never understood why working-class people vote for the Conservatives when the Tories always attack them.

This is especially true when the Tories are themselves under attack, so it should be no surprise to anybody that they are victimising benefit claimants again.

This time it is unemployed people on Universal Credit who are taking the brunt of the pain:

Unemployed workers will be forced to take up a job in any sector or face swift financial sanctions under a crackdown designed to fill hundreds of thousands of vacancies.

Claimants will be given just four weeks – down from three months – to find a job within their preferred sector. After that point, if they fail to make “reasonable efforts” to secure a job or turn down any offer, they will have part of their universal credit payment withdrawn.

The move, which is part of an initiative to get 500,000 people into work by June and fill 1.2m job vacancies nationally, comes as Boris Johnson seeks to reassert control over the political agenda amid the “partygate” crisis.

See? It’s a distraction tactic.

The important question is: how much do these jobs pay?

Unemployed people aren’t likely to care if they take a job in their preferred sector; the priority for anybody at times of hardship is to get one that pays the bills.

And this is the problem.

The Conservatives have spent nearly 12 years, since they slithered back into office in 2010, pushing wages down – so the average is now thousands of pounds less than it used to be (in real terms).

And people are struggling.

Do these 1.2 million new jobs pay a living wage?

Or will anybody taking them still be claiming Universal Credit, simply to survive?

That’s a government subsidy for employers, of course – not a benefit for the employee.

It’s not acceptable and, as the government, the Tories should be ensuring that it doesn’t happen.

But they won’t, because they haven’t bothered at any other time since May 2010.

The remarkable thing is that, knowing the Tories are victimising the electorate, voters still send them back to Parliament. In the name of all that’s sane, why?

Do middle-class voters really think that these punitive moves against vulnerable people are saving the rest of us from supporting scroungers, benefit cheats, and people who are just too lazy to work?

Do working-class voters – the ones this police attacks – really think a Tory government provides an opportunity for them to become billionaires, by hard work and struggle? Has it not occurred to them that they work much harder than those people and still get nowhere because the system is stacked against them?

People need to think about what Tory policies actually do – and ignore the propaganda. Then they need to vote accordingly.

Source: Universal credit claimants face tough sanctions in UK job crackdown | Benefits | The Guardian

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New DWP sanction system could have TOUGHER punishments for claimants

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

This is extreme, even for the Department for Work and Pensions.

It seems there are moves to toughen up the sanction system for people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers’ Allowance, even though sanctions were only introduced a few days ago.

The DWP has a new watchdog organisation, the Social Security Advisory Committee (what happened to the Bonfire of All The Quangos?) that reckons the system isn’t harsh enough.

Apparently it is possible for people to claim both Universal Credit and JSA or ESA – but if they are sanctioned, it can only be applied to UC.

This means that such claimants would be in a better position financially than people on only one of the benefits; if the sanctioned amount was more than the value of the UC element of benefit payments to a particular claimant (it could be zero), then the total sanction could be as low as zero.

The SSAC wants the penalties to apply to both benefits that are being claimed.

Considering the arbitrary nature of the sanction system, This Writer considers the current situation to be a valuable protection for claimants. We have all heard horror stories about people who were sanctioned and subsequently died because the DWP got its decision wrong.

It seems the problem lies in the fact that sanctions are decided on the advice of a DWP work coach – a single civil servant – whose attitude to the job may vary between very extreme positions, depending on who it is.

Work coaches are supposed to help claimants write a “claimant commitment” that sets out their obligations as claimants of the state payments.

The commitment should be accessible, clear, tailored to the claimant’s needs and the state of the local labour market, and agreed by both the claimant and the DWP, and claimants should be properly informed.

In fact, research has shown that some work coaches aren’t using their discretion fairly or reasonably and opt for generic, rather than tailored, actions. Some work coaches were found to be copying and pasting actions from a shared document which had become standard in their local Job Centre.

There were examples of lone parents not being informed of their right to reduced work searches, and re-assessment interviews lasting just 10 minutes.

If brutal sanctions are applied to people on two benefits, on the say-so of the people responsible for such abuses of the rules, then hideous injustices may result.

Suggested examples include sanctions being applied to elderly disabled claimants now looking for work in their 60s and suffering poor health. How would they survive if their work coach turns out to be a “power maniac who enjoys putting the disadvantaged down”?

Ministers have not (yet) approved any suggested changes but we all know the DWP’s reputation for bloodthirstiness. How long will it be before this new opportunity to cause misery is seized?

Read more here: Exclusive: Benefits watchdog wants tougher punishment for jobless and disabled claimants after DWP bungles new sanctions system | Westminster Confidential

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Benefit sanctions: if you’re on new-style JSA or ESA, brace yourself!

Sanction centre: people on New Style ESA and JSA are about to be hit by the most arbitrary and unreasonable process ever foisted on large numbers of the public by a cruel government – the DWP’s sanctions regime.

The Department for Work and Pensions has decided that people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance, and Jobseekers Allowance, have life too easy.

So the DWP has introduced sanctions for those benefits. They came into effect on November 3 – did anybody notice?

The DWP says the rule change means that New Style JSA and ESA claimants who do not meet the responsibilities agreed in their Claimant Commitment, without having a good reason, will lose some or all of their payment.

But those with experience of how sanctions work in other benefits will know that claimants are likely to face unreasonable demands from the DWP that will be followed by a loss of benefits.

Sometimes they may be informed that their benefits are being sanctioned for transgressions that they have not committed or for failing to attend interviews to which they were not invited.

They may also be sanctioned for failing to attend interviews, even if they have provided good reasons. Being admitted to hospital – and therefore unable to communicate with the DWP – is never accepted as a good reason.

Of course, the DWP has not mentioned this. Its statement said: “As is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period.”

This is particularly amusing – in a bitter way: “Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”

Experience suggests that sanctions are less likely to be applied as a last resort than as a first response – especially if you are claiming ESA.

Of course it is entirely possible that the DWP will actually police its new system fairly…

But This Writer will believe it when I see it. I may have a long time to wait.

Source: DWP sanction rules will now apply to New Style ESA and Jobseekers Allowance claimants – Daily Record

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Is the DWP pushing benefit claimants into Workfare again?

It seems Therese Coffey is sending benefit claimants back into an old scam.

The Work Trials scheme doesn’t appear to be an exact return to the Mandatory Work Activity scam, but may be Workfare by another name in practice.

Unemployed people claiming state benefits are put into unpaid work with companies for up to 30 days, with the possibility that it could lead to a paid job at the end of that time.

But will it?

The DWP says it checks to ensure that employers are offering genuinely worthy opportunities that could lead to employment.

But are they? Or are they only saying that, in order to get their hands on people who will do the work of fully-paid staff for nothing – and then throw them away after a month?

The people doing the work would receive only around a quarter of what they would get on the government’s so-called living wage – a minimum amount that is actually much less than what people need to survive without claiming any benefits at all.

Stewart McDonald, the SNP’s Glasgow South MP, said the scheme ran against what he had been told by the government:

“I have previously been told by Government ministers that unpaid work trials are exploitative and against the law and I see clearly that this is absolutely not the case when the Government’s own departments are helping create such unpaid work trials.

“Jobseekers and those on benefits participate in these programmes out of good faith, sometimes for up to 30 days at a time, and it is not right should they receive no wage and no guarantee of a job at the end of it.”

This Writer agrees. I have spent years campaigning against Workfare.

But the proof of what this policy does will be in the number of people who succeed in getting a long-term job with it.

Do any readers have experience of it, and has it done you any long-term good?

Source: DWP accused of ‘exploiting’ benefits claimants with unpaid work trials – Daily Record

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What will you say when they ask what you did in the class war?


I seem to have hit a nerve when I said the Tories are waging a class war on anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

In fact, two Vox Political articles touched on this class war – the first implied it, the second made it explicit.

Today I opened Twitter to discover those words all over the place:

I’m not claiming credit for calling a thing by its name – this is “multiple discovery”, “simultaneous invention”, “synchronicity” or, if you like, an expression of the “zeitgeist”. More and more people are simply coming to realise, understand and accept that it is the policy of the UK’s Conservative government to push them down unfairly.

That is what the decision – and it was a decision, deliberately made – to punish ‘A’ level pupils who weren’t from private schools was all about. Yes, Gavin Williamson and the other Tories are saying it was down to a mechanical system, an algorithm – but that algorithm was written by a human being who intended it to give an advantage to the children of very rich people.

In this way, the Tory class war has stolen your children’s futures and given them to the undeserving rich.

It’s what the decision  – and it was a decision, deliberately made – not to fight Covid-19 in any meaningful way was all about. Tens of thousands of people in care homes have died – your relatives, maybe – because Matt Hancock and the other Tories said people with Covid-19 who lived in those homes should be sent back to them – never mind the fact that they did not have isolation facilities and the virus would run through those places like wildfire and be transferred to others by part-time staff who worked in different homes run by the same – private – firm.

The Tories – and their private business collaborators – failed to source personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and the facilities to carry out tests. The lockdown they imposed was half-hearted and failed to stop the progress of the disease. Now that they have lifted it, albeit with a few measures still in place, more people are contracting the virus again. So they have stopped reporting the daily number of infections.

And the Tories have rewarded their private business collaborators for their failures with hugely expensive contracts to continue failing us – all at the public expense. Serco’s test and trace contract has been renewed, even though we know it won’t stop any second wave (really just a resurgence of the first wave that was suppressed but never went away).

You won’t get justice against the Tories by the normal means available to civil society because the Tories have either corrupted them already or are in the process of doing so. Boris Johnson illegally terminated Parliament’s last session in the autumn of 2019 and what was the result? He called a general election, lied to us until he was purple in the face and was rewarded with an 80-seat Parliamentary majority.

Now he is using that power to ensure that the courts will not be able to stop any more of his corruption by planning a curb on judicial review of government activity. He is imposing a dictatorship – just as he told you he would, if you could have been bothered to read page 48 of his election manifesto.

The police won’t help. Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and the others are all above the law – no matter what they do. Try reporting a cabinet minister for a crime and see how far you get. They’ll tell you they’re treating it seriously, bounce the accusation around a few different departments and then say there’s no evidence. I’ve been there.

Hundreds of thousands of people have died already because it is Tory policy to kill claimants of sickness or disability claimants, who they consider to be “useless eaters”. That’s why the newspapers have been full of reports showing people with long-term illnesses and disabilities starving to death.

They wanted your homes so they imposed the Bedroom Tax and took them away from you.

The list goes on and on.

And still, too many people think they are the best choice to run the UK – even though the economy is in its deepest recession ever, and Brexit means it may never recover. You will suffer – they won’t. They have been stockpiling your cash and will simply use it to sit out any unpleasantness in the future.

But I feel sure a tipping-point will come – a flashpoint. I wonder how much we will all have to lose before that happens. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty much everything.

By then, many people may think there is nothing they can do. I am reminded yet again of Martin Niemoller’s poem about how the Nazis came for different groups who received no help from anybody else until, by the time they come for the author, there was nobody even left for him to ask.

But I am reminded of another group who were put in a similar position. When I visited Bosnia in the 1990s, I was told how – when the tanks from other countries moved in – the people, who were weaponless, left their homes and went up into the hills. They came back at night, when they took weapons – and lives – from the soldiers who had taken everything from them. And slowly, they took back their land from their oppressors.

I can see that happening here in the future.

I would rather it didn’t.

But it will, if people of good conscience don’t wake up, get up and put up a fight.

Keir Starmer won’t do it. He agrees with the Tories. That’s why he’s busy turning the Labour Party into Tory Lite Mk II (New Labour was Mk I) and accusing anybody who disagrees with him of anti-Semitism.

If you don’t want this to fall into violence, then you need to think what else you can do.

The ‘A’ level fiasco creates opportunities. Already some further education institutions have said they will take students who were downgraded, on the basis of their predicted results. Some haven’t. Clearly we should take note of the side that each University, each college, takes. Those who do the right thing should be rewarded in whatever ways we can. Those who do not should be shunned – meaning not only that we should not even try to send our children there, but that we should reject their graduates when they seek employment with our businesses. We know they won’t be any damn good anyway.

And employers who turn down applicants on the basis of the Tory algorithm’s discredited results should also be named, so we can stop buying their products.

That’s the best – non-violent – response I can conceive on the spur of the moment, and these things need to start happening now.

We’d better get to it, if we don’t want to roll over and die. And yes, that means you.

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Now the Covid crisis is being used to lever working disabled people out of their jobs

It seems people with disabilities have no safety net when threatened with losing their job because of measures they’re told to take, just to protect themselves from Covid-19.

Was there an underlying prejudice against people with disabilities all along, or did the Tories put it on the national agenda?

Until 2010, This Writer thought the UK was moving in the right direction, discarding discrimination against ethnic minorities and people with physical impediments.

But racism and disablism have skyrocketed since the Tories came back into office and I don’t know whether they have instigated it or merely allowed bigots across the UK to express what they felt all along.

Covid-19 seems to have brought this ugliness into its own.

The latest outrage is the revelation that a quarter of working people with disabilities are likely to lose their job – because of safety measures they have been told to take, to avoid infection.

This rises to 37 per cent of those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life.

And half of those shielding because of extreme vulnerability to the coronavirus risk redundancy.

It seems employers see people with disabilities as an easy cut to make – especially in an atmosphere where unfair dismissals are more likely to go unremarked.

And people with disabilities going onto benefits face an uphill struggle getting benefits – even if they’re not claiming sickness/disability benefits.

The five-week wait for Universal Credit is bad enough for able-bodied people, remember.

The Tory government isn’t particularly bothered. Anyone can seek an employment tribunal against unfair dismissal.

But how long is that going to take? And what will they do in the meantime?

Source: Parents, carers and disabled people in UK ‘twice as likely to lose job’ | World news | The Guardian

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Skyrocketing number of people seeking temp work is due to Tory failures on Covid-19

The UK is in a Depression-era unemployment crisis, with thousands of people chasing even temporary job vacancies – because Boris Johnson and his band of Tory buffoons botched their response to Covid-19.

Johnson wanted to keep the UK open for business so he limited his lockdown and flat-out refused to quarantine the country, making the UK a magnet for the virus and causing nearly 70,000 unnecessary deaths.

As a result, the UK’s economy has taken a hammering – and will continue to do so, because he has failed to eradicate the disease.

He still thinks his mate Cummings’s dimwitted “herd immunity” idea is a good one, despite all the evidence that it is homicidal stupidity.

Meanwhile, other nations that took the wiser path are open for business again and steaming ahead. Look at New Zealand.

Johnson will try to blame anybody but himself.

But we must all be aware of the facts.

Note, though, that he is still far more popular than Keir Starmer, who forced the Labour Party into subservience to all the idiocy that Johnson announced, as if it was an intelligent plan.

This is what happens when you allow selfish neoliberal nitwits to become your political leaders: they send you into a swamp and then tell you what a great job they’re doing while the alligators rip you to pieces.

Source: Covid-19 job losses sees record numbers in UK seeking temporary work | Business | The Guardian

Coronavirus: ‘Deluge’ of benefit claimants are about to learn what it’s like to deal with the DWP

This is going to be ugly.

According to The Independent, the Department for Work and Pensions is bracing itself for a ‘deluge’ of benefit claims as businesses lay off workers in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

Yes – people are losing their jobs, it seems, despite assurances from the government that it will pay up to 80 per cent of employees’ wages.

It seems senior DWP officials have been told they will be sent to cover “frontline roles” to shore up services and deal with people who have lost their jobs.

So it seems to me that people who might have been told to think benefit claimants were “spongers” and “scroungers” are about to find out how it feels to be treated as that kind of person, when they’re not.

Mrs Mike reckons the DWP might tone down its treatment of benefit claimants, in the light of the current crisis.

But I don’t think that’s possible.

You see, if anybody claiming as a result of coronavirus gets preferential treatment, then that will constitute discrimination against everybody who has claimed in normal times.

It also seems that most of the new claimants are going to be steered onto Universal Credit, which means the five-week wait for the first payment, the loan if they run out of money, the grinding poverty as they spend months being forced to pay it back.

So we live in interesting times.

Either the DWP goes easy – and faces loss after loss at tribunal over discrimination… or it carries on as normal – and Mr and Mrs General Public find out what’s really been going on in our Job Centres for the last 10 years.

Or have I missed something?

Source: DWP officials sent to ‘front line’ as government prepares for flood in benefit claims – Welfare Weekly

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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