Internal memos reveal fresh attacks on benefit claimants and job centre workers

The government is changing the rules to make it harder for disabled people to appeal when it takes away their benefits.

And they are clamping down on job centre staff who try to help claimants, in an effort to break an “appeals culture”, according to internal memos seen by Socialist Worker.

People claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can be stripped of it if they are deemed “fit for work” in controversial tests run by companies such as Atos Healthcare, known as Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

WCAs have come in for massive criticism from doctors as well as disability campaigners, and almost 40 percent of people who appeal against a WCA decision are successful.

The high appeal rate has been a huge embarrassment for the government—as it exposes how arbitrary and unfair their assessments are.

But instead of changing the system the government is making it harder to appeal against it.

From now on people who wish to appeal must do so by a tribunal instead of through the job centre. Job centre staff have been strictly instructed not to download and print the forms for claimants, but tell them to find the forms themselves from the tribunal service.

This is a process that many claimants will find difficult, particularly if they lack internet access and printing facilities or suffer from mental health problems or learning difficulties.

Before they can even lodge a tribunal appeal, claimants have to ask the government to reconsider. There is no time limit for this process, and during this time claimants will not be allowed to claim ESA (disability benefit).

They can claim other benefits, such as jobseekers’ allowance (unemployment benefit), though this may later be counted against them when they argue that they need ESA.

Once they move to tribunal appeal they can claim ESA again—but job centre staff have been told not to make them aware of this right unless they explicitly ask. And WCA decisions are to be sent directly to job centre advisors in the hope that this “contributes to a reduction in appeals” too.

One job centre worker told Socialist Worker, “The government sees job centre staff as part of the problem for helping claimants stand up for their rights, and they are trying to curtail that.”

Instead of moving the goalposts they should scrap the unfair WCA system altogether.

By Dave Sewell  in ‘Socialist Worker 29th October 2013:

14 thoughts on “Internal memos reveal fresh attacks on benefit claimants and job centre workers

  1. Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Apparently Job Centre staff – these are the people who spend their entire working lives bullying benefit claimants in a bid to make them go away and never come back – are seen as a liability by government ministers because they might help claimants who have been refused benefits like ESA to appeal against the decision!
    It might seem unbelievable but the facts behind this juicy revelation are well-established.
    So, Job Centre staff, the question is simple: Where’s your self-respect? Are you really willing to behave like animals towards your fellow citizens – people you might have known since school or before, for the sake of a bunch of oblivious toffs who think you’re scum?

    • What is the alternative, though, if you are unlucky enough to be a Jobcentre employee? Quit your job and experience the process from the other side? It must be heart breaking to be dealing with the inane rules day-in day-out and hear complaints that are entirely justified but you cannot do anything to resolve them. You cannot heal the disabled claimant and you cannot find a job for the healthy one when there are no jobs to be had. The orders are coming from above so I am not sure we should be blaming individuals. It’s like having a go at call centre workers who cannot give you a better deal on your broadband or energy – they have no say and have families to feed, too.

  2. The ‘working classes’ have lost their effective representation, their self respect and dignity – the ploy of divide and conquer is working. The exploitation of the poor for the benefit of the rich has become commonplace. I am looking forward to the revolution – what goes around comes around and I can’t wait for the greedy privileged scum to get their comeuppance!

  3. Job centre staff should strike about unfair working conditions as no one can to tell you to lie to people about their rights. This is immoral and probably illegal to boot if ALL the job centre staff walked out about this then the government has to listen or face anarchy on the streets. Personally I BELIVE this is ultimately what this government wants!

    • They will walk out and you will need to sort something out and won’t be able to. Or be sent to a Jobcentre 50 miles away to sign on. Strikes and revolutions only make life harder for normal citizens – we are the ones suffering all kinds of losses and living in fear. There will always be strikebreakers as well so 100% participation will not happen either.

  4. Maude the Fraud did a talk to the rabid frothing right wing Centre of Policy Studies ? or similar think tank …the jist of it was that literally everything was to be outsourced / privatised by 2020 …they didn’t care if tax payers money permanently went out of the country ( this is what makes me laugh about Tory faux patriotism / jingoism / xenophobia ) ……………these clerks could quite easily be TUPED initially to Steria off shore outsourcing …it’s an ideological wet dream to them ……also Letwin said he wanted non stop fear and discipline for the public sector which they’d be very hostile and vindictive towards

    Shades of the 90’s …you had Concentration Camp management …i.e. as long as someone else is in trouble and it’s not me , it’s all right …even that bastion of socialism the CBI said it was inefficent …….well yes …because the chickens come home to roost ……’ll also have Animal House management …clones and corruption

    Basically there will be a culture of fear …everyone frightened of their own shadow …….but you’ll get mediocre but very ambitious managers looking to show how mean and lean they are …looking for work in these spiv outfits .

    Everything seems to be based on bullying …..the management seems to be too autocratic , by diktat and too top down …people ask if the PCS can strike over sanctions …the response is that it would be deemed to be political ….might have to box a bit cleverer there to get round this…/

    How Cameron and Clegg are outsourcing British jobs to India, Poland and Morocco

  5. Pingback: Internal memos reveal fresh attacks on benefit claimants and job centre workers | Benefit tales « this 'n that

  6. Pingback: This benefits bully harasses the powerless but runs away from criticism | Vox Political

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