From Kate Belgrave’s b;og:
…………………………..The fact is an employment minister’s claims that most benefit applicants happily apply and manage benefits online masks a monumental problem of exclusion. I meet people who have abandoned hope of applying for or keeping benefits, even though they very clearly need to. Complex application forms, intrusive and judgmental staff and constant rejection (particularly for housing help) are all reasons for this. Problems with reading, writing, using computers and just understanding and meeting the DWP’s convoluted requirements are often also high on the list.
And sure – the service people get at jobcentres these days is often terrible, but that’s because staff and the service have been run into the ground.
I really have lost count of the number of times when jobcentre advisers have told me that nobody has time to help people in need with job application forms, or calls to employers, or even to sort general problems out (the most recent was just a couple of weeks ago).
There’s certainly nobody around to help applicants get through the DWP’s own dire benefit application processes – to fill out the DWP’s own online benefit forms, or to sort out the endless problems people have when they’re desperately trying to make a Universal Credit claim. People who want to make an Employment and Support Allowance claim are simply given a number to call. Nobody at the jobcentre will do that for them, or help them fill in an ESA application form.
People need more face-to-face help, not less. Less is what they get, though, and I find it VERY hard to believe that’s going to change, no matter how government finesses closure news with tales of new work coaches and support, and god knows what else. The people I work with are not considered good job prospects. They won’t get much input from Damian’s supposed incoming army of work coaches, mark my words. They have been abandoned, very likely forever. Like I say, I keep meeting people who have given up applying for benefits at all.
When the likes of Damian Hinds blather on about people making and managing benefit claims online, they permanently exclude a whole group of people who can’t and don’t do that. Suppose that’s the whole point……………………………