Tag Archives: PCS

Let’s ALL show our support for this whistleblower dismissed by DWP

Whistleblower: Enrico La Rocca deserved protection as a whistleblower but the DWP ignored that in order to sack him.

The PCS union has asked for members to send messages of support to a whistleblower after the Department for Work and Pensions broke rules by dismissing him.

Perhaps we should all do the same?

Would that send an appropriate message?

Here’s the story:

The DWP dismissed Enrico La Rocca, an employee for more than 27 years, then working in Preston Carers’ Allowance unit, in May.

Mr La Rocca had highlighted serious concerns about the department’s handling of CA overpayments over a number of years.

His concerns were taken up by the National Audit Office (NAO), whose investigation resulted in a report revealing that the DWP’s own 2019 internal audit had found two-thirds of earnings-related CA overpayments over £2,500 could have been stopped earlier, if DWP officers had looked at all the data-matching alerts produced by its systems.

A subsequent Work and Pensions Select Committee report into these concerns said the DWP was “culpable” for the Carers Allowance overpayments due to “administrative failure”

The committee’s chair referred to “shocking ineptitude” in the handling of the overpayments.

The committee recommended that the department should write off the overpayments, rather than continue to prosecute claimants.

The DWP took little action to address these concerns, so Mr La Rocca sought to have them taken up as a whistleblowing complaint by the Civil Service Commission.

This was refused, due to a lack of a proper internal investigation by the DWP; the commission refused to consider the whistleblowing complaint until the department responded to the concerns internally.

Meanwhile, concerned by media reports of claimants having cases referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) despite the DWP’s failures to address these serious issues, Mr La Rocca contacted the Crown Prosecution Service to ask for disclosure of the NAO report to the court – in order to ensure a just decision could be made.

It was this – the effort to contact the CPS and request that the NAO report, already in the public domain, was shared with the court – that was used by DWP as justification for his dismissal.

As far as the PCS union is concerned, Mr La Rocca’s decision to contact the CPS was part of ongoing whistleblowing, addressing a clear and legitimate concern.

Therefore he should have been provided with whistleblower protection and not dismissed, according to the union.

PCS is supporting Mr La Rocca in challenging his dismissal, taking legal advice on his behalf to seek his reinstatement via an Employment Tribunal.

In its story, PCS has requested that any branches wishing to pass on messages of support to Mr La Rocca and his branch in opposing what the union’s members believe is an unfair and unwarranted dismissal can email either [email protected] or [email protected]

As a former Carers’ Allowance recipient who has just been contacted – nine months after I closed my claim – by the DWP, seeking details of my earnings during the period of my claim, I’m quite keen to send my own support to this man – who was obviously doing valuable work.

How about you?

Source: Whistleblower dismissed by DWP | Public and Commercial Services Union

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Universal Credit staff to strike this week – but not over the state of the so-called ‘benefit’

If you think Department for Work and Pensions staff in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Stockport are striking over the appalling state of the so-called ‘benefit’ they are employed to enforce… think again.

They’re striking to get an improvement in their own working conditions.

Apparently people being forced to suffer because of the conditions forced on them will just have to fend for themselves. Charming!

According to Welfare Weekly, “Universal Credit staff working at two centres in Walsall and Wolverhampton will take two further days of strike action this week, after losing patience with the government in their campaign for more staff and better working conditions.

“The walk-out will take place between Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) refused to meet the demands of workers.

“Staff walked out in March 2019, accusing the DWP of treating them with “utter contempt”.”

So they should understand how UC claimants feel, then.

The Mirror has said the strike will be joined by workers at a call centre in Stockport.

Organiser the PCS union has said the action has been motivated by cuts, workload increases and the victimisation of union representatives.

It says this is making it impossible for its members to properly support UC claimants.

The DWP, on the other hand, has said staffing levels are sufficient but it will monitor the situation and hold regular meetings with the union, in order to resolve the issues.

Meanwhile, UC claimants will undoubtedly continue to suffer with benefit claims rejected on false pretences. Will the DWP try to use employees’ claims of overwork as an excuse?

Source: Universal Credit staff poised for further walk-outs

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Home Office tried to gag borders survey – PCS Union

[Image: ITV News.]

[Image: ITV News.]

A joint survey we conducted with ITV News has revealed deep concerns over staff shortages at our borders, according to the PCS Union.

The Home Office had tried to prevent our members’ responses being made public by seeking a high court injunction, citing national security.

But in a special investigation aired on ITV News this evening the true picture of the “shambolic” Border Force, where morale is at rock bottom, was made clear.

In the survey 98% of respondents said there were not enough staff to check goods vehicles and freight for illegal substances and stowaways.

Almost two thirds said they had been removed from customs checks to work on passport controls, leaving a shortage of staff on customs. Of these, 80% said this happened daily or weekly.

Read the full story, with comments from members, on the PCS website.

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Tax avoidance – the latest from Twitter

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This infographic appeared on Twitter yesterday. At a time when it has been revealed that the richest people in the UK doubled their income between 2009 and 2014, proving that the Coalition government lied about sharing the burden equally, it seems appropriate to share it.

Supporting information on the £120 billion figure can be found here and here.

The HMRC figure is harder to pin down but a claim that it amounted to £32 billion can be found here.

The claim that £16 billion in benefits goes unclaimed every year seems to date from 2010 and may be lower than the actual amount.

Benefit fraud and error is enumerated in this DWP report which shows that the infographic is mistaken about overpayments due to error – these stand at £2.4 billion, not £1.4 billion.

Information showing that the 1,000 richest people in the UK doubled their incomes between 2009 and 2014 can be found here.

David Cameron has vowed (yet again) to crack down on tax avoidance. A report is here

But you can safely leave any words he has to say on the subject here:

dustbin

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Atos workers vote for industrial action

131018atosstrike

You know things have come to a pretty pass when the government’s own hit squad plans to strike against low pay.

It seems Atos workers who are members of the PCS union have voted for industrial action after they rejected below-inflation and conditional pay offers from their employer.

This is the company that is under contract to receive £1.6 billion from the UK government, to carry out the hated Work Capability Assessments for the Department for Work and Pensions, mark you.

According to PCS, members working for Atos IT Services and in Atos Healthcare voted to support strike action by a proportion of more than 80 per cent. More than 90 per cent supported action short of a strike.

A union spokesperson said: “As we demonstrated in 2012, members have shown they are prepared to support their elected representatives and defend their interests. Atos should be under no illusions that we are prepared to take action.”

If you’re like me, you don’t know they demonstrated anything at all in 2012 – but I have unearthed a previous press release from PCS that mysteriously doesn’t seem to have made it into the news.

It states that PCS members working for Atos were going to take action over pay on August 13 this year but suspended the action at the 11th hour when Atos made an improved offer.

This involved the immediate payment of the Living Wage (Labour must have been happy at that) to all PCS members with more than three months’ service; a two per cent pay uplift for members who already received more than the Living Wage in April this year; a £320 “non-consolidated payment” to all Atos IT Services staff and a £3100 “non-consolidated payment” to Atos Healthcare staff; a new pay process (for PCS members only – presumably other Atos staff could go whistle) in Healthcare and IT Services; a PCS and Atos working party to develop a more transparent appraisal system; and development of a joint PCS and Atos plan to promote “respect, dignity and fair treatment for all workers”.

This indicates that Atos workers receive a very low wage for what they do. You may find this surprising, considering the size of the contracts awarded by the Coalition government; in 2011-12 Atos received £112.4 million to carry out 738,000 assessments. That comes out at £152.30 per hour-long assessment.

If this money is not going to the so-called ‘medical professionals’ who carry out the assessments or their support staff, it could go a long way towards explaining how Atos boss Thierry Breton managed to bump up his pay package by £280,000 to £2,329,250 this year.

It also shows that the ministers at the DWP (after this blog was upbraided for insulting gutter vermin with a previous comparison, let’s call them pond scum this time around) and their allies at Atos, including Mr Breton, seem to have no problem with treating their own staff almost as badly as they treat claimants of sickness and disability benefits.

The DWP, in partnership with Atos: Making Work Pay Less.