Tag Archives: Job Centre

Hypocrisy over language used to describe DWP oppression of benefit claimants

Offensive: Did the same people who branded graffiti outside a job centre as offensive criticise Iain Duncan Smith for using the same words – in translation – in a speech after visiting the concentration camp where they stand over the gate?

This is genuinely offensive – and no, I don’t mean it is offensive that somebody sprayed “arbeit macht frei” and “DWP Nazis” on walls outside a job centre in Norwish.

It is offensive that people are saying it is inappropriate.

Have they forgotten that, when he was Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith visited Auschwitz and, on his return, actually said “Work sets you free” (the literal translation of “arbeit macht frei”) in a speech?

Don’t tell me that was an accident!

And consider the language used by Conservatives, over many years:

So the Tories have used Nazi language to characterise benefit claimants – particularly the sick and disabled. And This Site is full of articles showing how they have persecuted the same people – just as the Nazis did.

So I say: yes, it is criminal damage and that is a crime.

But it is also unacceptable for anybody – particularly Tories – to deplore the language used without considering its context. It is a supportable criticism of Conservative government policies.

Source: Nazi slogans appear on buildings in Norwich | Crime | Eastern Daily Press

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Liverpool Job Centre staff boycotted BBC Universal Credit doco as they didn’t want to be connected with propaganda

The second part of a BBC documentary series on Universal Credit has been aired – notably without contributions from people at one Job Centre.

People working at Toxteth Job Centre, in Liverpool, refused to take part – according to the Liverpool Echo.

The reason was that they did not want to be publicly associated with a documentary that puts forward the Tory government’s propaganda:

It was reported last year that there were problems in the filming of the Liverpool episode of the documentary because staff at the Job Centre didn’t want to be involved.

As The Guardian first reporteda memo from the Public and Commercial Services Union– that represents Job Centre staff – said: “It is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming.”

The internal note explained that staff were unhappy about being identified on screen.

With the volume of hardship and problems associated with Universal Credit in the city of Liverpool – it is thought staff didn’t want to be publicly associated with a documentary that the government is pushing forward.

The Tory government, and the Department for Work and Pensions, have been trying to make Universal Credit look better with propaganda campaigns.

A series of advertorials in newspapers last year fell foul of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

It ruled the campaign in the Metro “exaggerated and misleading” and stated that there was “simply no evidence to back the Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP’s) claims about people being better off on Universal Credit”.

Source: Why Liverpool Job Centre staff refused to take part in BBC Universal Credit documentary – Liverpool Echo

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‘I’m starving’ says man in protest against the benefit system on Job Centre roof

Sometimes people have to stand on rooftops to make a point, it seems.

This Writer can’t approve of the damage to property implied by this particular gentleman’s behaviour, of course.

But I certainly sympathise with the motivation behind it.

He is reported to have said, “I’m starving” at one point.

Standing on the roof and shouting about it suggests this was the only way he expected to get his point across.

I wonder if he had already tried talking to the staff inside Upton Job Centre Plus before he resorted to standing on top of it and shouting.

It’s hard to get through when nobody wants to listen.

And now that they can pin criminal damage on this man, I wonder whether anybody will bother listening to him again.

Perhaps that’s how the Tories get away with victimising these people. What do you think?

Source: Man on roof for hours in job centre standoff with police – Liverpool Echo

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Loach heads campaigners calling for benefit assessment ban after job centre death

Pointing the finger: Ken Loach joined the call to end unfair benefit assessment interviews after the death of a man in Llanelli.

A campaign to ban benefit assessment interviews has been launched after a 65-year-old man with diabetes collapsed and died after being found ‘fit for work’.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has called on the DWP to halt assessments for Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance after the man died while waiting for an interview to discuss his future benefit options.

Discussing the death, This Site stated: “He would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.”

I wrote: “Yes, he was obviously ill. But that doesn’t mean a thing to a Tory government… They call it a ‘positive benefit outcome’.”

Others compared the tragedy to a similar scene in left-wing film-maker Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake.

Now Mr Loach himself has spoken in favour of DPAC’s campaign.

Unconsciously paraphrasing my words, he said (according to the Morning Star): “What has happened really was disgraceful. The man was only 65 — he only had a few more months to go and he would have been retired anyway.

“Such is the brutality of it, but it’s clear that the Tories have no intention of changing their harsh system.”

And he said: “We have to vote them out — we may as well start with Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of this misery, who is as callous as he is sanctimonious.”

That is already well in hand – as you can read here.

Demanding an end to PIP and ESA assessments, DPAC activist Jennifer Jones raised the relevant point – that a man has died in a manner that could have been prevented.

It happened because a benefit assessor “lied about his fitness levels and abilities and he wasn’t given the support that his individual needs deserved”.

She’s right – and it makes a nonsense of repeated attempts by the DWP to claim that it does provide support tailored to the needs of each benefit claimant.

So far – in this case – the DWP’s only comment has been a message of sympathy to the deceased man’s family and friends.

DPAC – and Mr Loach – have demanded an end to benefit assessment interviews, for the obvious reason that they have now been proven to do more harm than good.

But there is no way the DWP – run as it is by a Conservative government – will take such action willingly.

Labour has promised to overhaul the benefit system completely, though.

The only way to be sure this does not happen in the future is to elect a Labour government.

Source: Campaigners call for benefit assessment ban after man dies in jobcentre | Morning Star

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Elderly man – with long-term illness – dies at Job Centre after being found ‘fit for work’

Protest: This is the most appropriate image I have for the story below. It shows a protest by an artist known as VoidOne. More information is available here.

If this does say everything about why we need a change of government, I don’t know what does.

A man collapsed and died while he was waiting for an appointment to claim unemployment benefit at a Job Centre in Llanelli.

We are told he was diabetic, and must have been receiving some form of sickness or disability benefit until recently because his appointment was a consequence of being found “fit for work” after an assessment interview.

We are also told he was 65 years old, which means that he would have been old enough to retire if the Conservatives had not decided to raise the retirement age for both men and women in an attempt to save a few pennies.

Metro quotes a witness who said: “The man next to me told me that the poor guy had diabetes and had been declared fit for work by the job centre earlier in the year but he was obviously ill.”

Yes, he was obviously ill.

But that didn’t mean a thing to a Tory government that would rather see you dead if you can’t be made to work for a pittance to increase the profits of the super-rich.

That’s why so many people are refused sickness and disability benefits, even though they clearly qualify; without the money they need to support them, either their condition will kill them, or stress, or they may take their own life in despair.

It’s all the same to the Tories; they call it a “positive benefit outcome”.

There is only one way to end this barbarity – and that is to vote a Labour government back into office.

Source: Man dies at Llanelli Job Centre while claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance | Metro News

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Psychiatrists try to defend failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ Universal Credit project

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has tried to explain its reasons for failing to object to a pilot project in Cornwall in which Job Centre advisors – with no training – decide whether claimants need mental health care.

This Site reported on the project in August:

The department… is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The Tory government’s press release stated: “The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

I responded:

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The press release said: “The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.”

I responded:

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

Disability News Service is now reporting that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to this insult against its practitioners – after being nudged to do so by no fewer than five disability groups.

RCP states, according to the article, that:

RCP’s social inclusion lead has “continued to raise concerns and provide expert advice about the impact of welfare reform on people with mental illness and those with learning disabilities”.

[It says] it is “clear that anyone undertaking a mental health assessment needs to be sufficiently qualified to do so and, as part of the assessment, should engage with clinicians involved in providing care to the person concerned”.

[It also says] RCP believes that a jobcentre would not be “a suitable therapeutic environment to assess and discuss an individual’s mental health”.

[It adds:] “Having to do so would likely increase the stress and pressure on people with a mental illness when seeking support, and the possibility of them seeing the receipt of benefits as being conditional on them agreeing to mental health treatment.

“In addition, there is a risk that being referred to the wrong type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of seeking help in the future, make their illness worse and increase the likelihood of experiencing a future crisis.”

The disability groups are not happy with this response – and rightly so.

Why the delay in responding? Were these psychiatrists hoping the issue would go away?

Is the RCP going to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about its concerns? Or were its comments just a sop to the disabled people’s representatives?

And what about the people of Cornwall?

What have they experienced while the RCP stood by in silence?

Source: Dismay over psychiatrists’ failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ universal credit project – Disability News Service

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Website whitewash of Cornwall Job Centres is a bad joke for anyone using them

The facts: This graffiti was not painted outside a Cornwall Job Centre but it does accurately describe the way Universal Credit sufferers feel about it.

Vulnerable people in Cornwall were likely to be left reeling in disbelief at the glowing terms in which a web news service has described their local Job Centre.

Is this an outlier of the campaign that saw the free Metro newspaper run a huge – and hugely expensive to the taxpayer – propaganda campaign on Universal Credit over the summer?

The plan – before it was outed by This Site, among many others – was to present the propaganda as a series of news stories, with nothing to indicate that the Department for Work and Pensions was responsible.

It didn’t work.

And the backlash led to revelations that the DWP had been filling local news outlets with similar disinformation, intended to brainwash people into thinking that the overwhelming disaster we call Universal Credit is somehow a good thing.

Judge for yourself whether the article in Cornwall Live is news or propaganda. It states:

“The Jobcentre is the only government department you can come in off the street without an appointment.”

Really? This Writer cannot recall the last time I attended a Job Centre without an appointment – or accompanied anybody else who didn’t have one.

“Services users – known these days as customers rather than benefit seekers – have a set appointment to suit their needs and are met with smiling greeting staff. Waiting times are no more than a few minutes.”

Because “smiling” staff have an opportunity to cancel anybody’s claim if they are late by even a moment?

“Anyone coming through the doors will be met by staff on the ground floor who will help people sign up for Universal Credit or help them find employment but upstairs is another floor with capacity to increase the number of work coaches if required or host job fairs, events and seminars and courses.”

Are people claiming sickness or disability benefit required to attend appointments upstairs? And is there a lift?

“[Jamie Dean, Jobcentre customer service manager for Devon and Cornwall District, said:] ‘Universal Credit is so much better than the previous claim systems. It’s the Facebook of the benefits world. It moves it to the 21st century.'”

Does this mean it stops people seeing the information they want, while trying to take money off them at every opportunity?

“Mr Dean believes the fit-to-work agenda is one that has attracted the wrong kind of headlines when people who claimed to be invalidated off work were seen kite surfing in the Caribbean.”

This reinforces the false claim that people claiming sickness and disability benefits are “shirkers” who have nothing wrong with them.

“But not all disabilities are physical. Mental health, depression, stress can all affect a person’s ability to work.”

And mental illnesses are not taken into account when judging a person’s eligibility for sickness and/or disability benefits. There is no place for them on the computerised, tick-box, point-based system that has been used by the DWP – in the face of the evidence that it is wrong – for many years.

This nonsense goes on and on. Click on the link and scroll down, and you’ll see that it is full of disinformation about the Tory government’s broken-down system.

I have a doubt about this feature. I doubt that staff members at Cornwall Live had anything to do with it beyond putting it on a page.

It looks like an advertorial for the DWP in Cornwall, put together by the DWP to create a false impression of the work it carries out.

I see no information to show this.

It seems a referral to the Advertising Standards Authority may be in order.

Source: Inside the Cornwall Jobcentre and the impact of Universal Credit – Cornwall Live

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A revolutionary thought: What if the government stood up for working people?

Transformation: What if a new government used job centres to stand up for working people and ensure that they didn’t have to take any job where they weren’t paid a respectable amount for the work they were asked to do? That would certainly be a plus!

How many employers get away with paying substandard wages – putting workers into poverty and making them struggle to pay for the basic requirements of life – because the Department for Work and Pensions forces benefit claimants to take those jobs, even if they are worse-off as a result?

Labour has said it will reform the benefit system. If so, one of the major changes must be to ensure that no claimant is forced to take a job that does not pay the actual living wage (not the fake Tory version – the actual amount calculated as necessary to avoid having to claim benefits). Am I right?

There can be no compulsion for people to refuse such work; everyone must have the right to free choice.

But I wonder how much the situation would change if employers were suddenly faced with the prospect of having nobody to do their drudge work for them on the pitiful rates they offer.

I reckon these fat cats – who plead poverty when asked for wage rises because they know there’s no way anybody can compel them to pay more – might suddenly find the cash.

Don’t you?

I know what you’re probably thinking: it will never happen.

But isn’t that because you have been conditioned to believe that, after nine long years of Tory coercion into whatever the latest fly-by-night spiv or dilettante fancies will make them a fast buck?

Labour is offering a better way. It hasn’t offered the possibility I’m raising here, but it should. So why not get in touch with Margaret Greenwood and direct her to consider it?

You have nothing to lose.

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This Job Centre graffiti shows how much we loathe the Tories’ flagship ‘benefit’

While we should not condone vandalism, I would suggest that the perpetrators of the graffiti outside Bootle Job Centre should be congratulated.

They have reminded us, amidst the fuss over lying Boris Johnson and his attempts to bypass democracy in the name of a “no deal” Brexit that won’t help anyone, that the Tories are also responsible for creating serious social problems – and that they have not gone away.

And their message of defiance is a vital reminder that, no matter how much they try to subdue us, oppressors like Mr Johnson will never beat down the British spirit – our thirst for justice and “fair play”.

Boris Johnson doesn’t play fair.

And it seems his new Work and Pensions Secretary has similar values.

But if they think they can browbeat the rest of us with Universal Credit’s financial blackmail, this example suggests they should think again.

‘We will not submit’.

‘Scrap UC.’

These words have been emblazoned in graffiti across a Merseyside job centre in what is a powerful message to the new Secretary of State for Work and pensions.

Tory MP Therese Coffey was installed as the new cabinet member for the DWP this week after the dramatic resignation of Amber Rudd.

But as this desperate message sprayed over Bootle Job Centre shows, people in her native region won’t care about her footballing allegiances, but will want to know what she intends to do about the government’s controversial Universal Credit benefit system that has already spread so much misery around Merseyside.

Since the roll out of the new benefit system began – which aims to combine six existing payments into one – it has been riddled with problems of delays and computer system errors – and has frequently been accused of pushing already struggling people further into poverty.

Source: ‘We will not submit’ – Merseyside’s powerful message to new DWP boss over Universal Credit – Liverpool Echo

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‘We don’t care that you’re disabled and distressed – don’t miss your DWP courses’ | The Poor Side of Life

Arbet macht frei: There was a big fuss over an image like this recently, so I’ll tell you what: I’ll stop using it when Job Centres stop persecuting the benefit claimants they process.

Parliament may be all about Brexit and an early election right now but out in the country the business of the Conservative government is the business of depriving ordinary people of their cash and their dignity.

This Site has been following the stories of genuine people at Ashton under Lyne Job Centre, as posted by Charlotte Hughes in her Poor Side of Life blog for years.

This week she brings us the following cautionary tale.

Bear it in mind when Boris Johnson is whining on the telly about how he’s the one having a hard time.

Jill is disabled but the DWP are treating her terribly. I’ve noticed her having to attend appointments at the Jobcentre every week. If that alone isn’t stressful enough she been forced to attend a DWP course elsewhere.

Jilll is really struggling with this. She feels that she’s being targeted both by the DWP and the course providers and she can’t cope.

Visibly distressed she told her adviser that she couldn’t cope with the demands made to her both both on the course and the DWP, she asked if she could stop attending the course.

Her advisor then told her that she would have to attend the course regardless and she started to cry. Her tears were ignored by the DWP but not by us.

I get both angry and upset when I see the DWP treat vulnerable people like this. It shouldn’t be happening but it is and to thousands of people every day up and down the country. Luckily I and my comrades were there to support and advise her.

Can you imagine how hard it is to cope with the constant stress and discrimination relentlessly metered onto you from the DWP? It makes people I’ll, many take their own life because they can’t cope.

In an ideal world this wouldn’t happen. We would all be treated with respect and dignity. I know that this is a dream and it most likely never happen but it doesn’t do any harm to want to achieve this.

Source: We don’t care that you’re disabled and distressed you still have to attend DWP courses. More tales from Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre. – The poor side of life

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Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
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