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Jobcentres 'tricking' People Out Of Benefits To Cut Costs, Says Whistleblower

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/01/jobcentres-tricking-people-benefit-sanctions

Rising numbers of vulnerable jobseekers are being tricked into losing benefits amid growing pressure to meet welfare targets, a Jobcentre Plus adviser has told the Guardian.

A whistleblower said staff at his jobcentre were given targets of three people a week to refer for sanctions, where benefits are removed for up to six months. He said it was part of a "culture change" since last summer that had led to competition between advisers, teams and regional offices.

"Suddenly you're not helping somebody into sustainable employment, which is what you're employed to do," he said. "You're looking for ways to trick your customers into 'not looking for work'. You come up with many ways. I've seen dyslexic customers given written job searches, and when they don't produce them – what a surprise – they're sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people's money.

"'Saving the public purse' is the catchphrase that is used in our office … It is drummed home all the time – you're saving the public purse. Feel good about stopping someone's money, you've just saved your own pocket. Its a joke."

The claims came as the big businesses handed contracts to get the long term jobless into work today said the government should privatise jobcentres so that their firms could work with people who have been jobless for less than a year.

It would appear that game will be to reduce the jobless total getting off the books with sanctions. There's unlikely to be jobs for these people to do so what better way to get numbers down than to give people sanction targets to meet.

If you where working there clearly you'd go after the easy ones to trick and mislead.

No conflict of interest at all in all of this. Looks like the dodgy tricks used in other industries to meet targets like swapping energy supplies etc... will soon be making there way to the jobless.

The job centres in the current environment are clearly struggling to get people work so it's time to rewrite the rules.

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Dog eat dog

Profits and Targets over people

Winner takes all

I spoke to a traveller yesterday, he has a bad back from falling out of a tree in the 90s. He had his benefits cut a few months ago - this is happening right now.

Its getting tougher out there.

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So rather than spend time really looking for work people will be forced to concentrate on defending their position in the system- a massive distraction and additional layer of stress.

Surely it's obvious also that creating an increasing number of desperate and destitute people will simply give rise to costs elsewhere as containment becomes an issue.

I can't help feeling some kind of basic Citizens wage is both more humane and in the long run more likely to lead to a more vibrant and productive society- if it freed people up to take on the part time jobs and start the micro ventures that might grow into something.

Instead of which they institute an arms race between Job Centre Staff and Claiments , as each side is driven to refine their techniques to avoid either redundancy or destitution. What a truly fantastic waste of time and effort this represents.

Edited by wonderpup

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This is the ultimate result of current policies.

People will play the game, if someone on the dole is required to do three job related search tasks and those tasks are tightly defined. Then that is what they will do.

The problems with this are the tasks as defined aren't the ones most likely to get you a job and why would the claimant put any effort into anything else when they get no recognition for it. You might say getting a job via other tasks results in them getting a job but in a lot of cases jobs do not provide the income that benefits do.

Targets are a bad idea, each case should be judged on its merits. If an advisor has to sanction 3 people (if he doesn't could end up out of work) but that week he doesn't get anyone who deserves it then it comes down to either sanctioning someone inappropriately or fiddling the figures.

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This is the ultimate result of current policies.

People will play the game, if someone on the dole is required to do three job related search tasks and those tasks are tightly defined. Then that is what they will do.

The problems with this are the tasks as defined aren't the ones most likely to get you a job and why would the claimant put any effort into anything else when they get no recognition for it. You might say getting a job via other tasks results in them getting a job but in a lot of cases jobs do not provide the income that benefits do.

Targets are a bad idea, each case should be judged on its merits. If an advisor has to sanction 3 people (if he doesn't could end up out of work) but that week he doesn't get anyone who deserves it then it comes down to either sanctioning someone inappropriately or fiddling the figures.

When a claimant is asked "did you apply for x, y & z" they should just answer "yes"...the advisor rarely, if ever checks to see if this is the case...or not..

Edited by Dave Beans

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So rather than spend time really looking for work people will be forced to concentrate on defending their position in the system- a massive distraction and additional layer of stress.

Surely it's obvious also that creating an increasing number of desperate and destitute people will simply give rise to costs elsewhere as containment becomes an issue.

I can't help feeling some kind of basic Citizens wage is both more humane and in the long run more likely to lead to a more vibrant and productive society- if it freed people up to take on the part time jobs and start the micro ventures that might grow into something.

Instead of which they institute an arms race between Job Centre Staff and Claiments , as each side is driven to refine their techniques to avoid either redundancy or destitution. What a truly fantastic waste of time and effort this represents.

Amen brother.

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Ah yes indeed but we can't or won't get there from here. First we will have to try Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a step backwards. Look how it will deter people from starting businesses...

'CAB Briefing: Universal Credit: an exploration and key questions' [January 2011]:

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/cab_briefing_on_universal_credit_jan_27th_2011.pdf

Self-employed people starting up in business. The current system takes into account actual earnings. UC will deem people to earn the minimum wage even if they have been unable to take a wage out of the business during the starting up period.

At present someone who starts up as self employed will be entitled to full WTC (as long as the work they are doing is seen to be in expectation of payment i.e. the business has to be reasonably viable)

For example: a lone parent with one child - living in rented accommodation (£75 rent and £15 council tax) - who starts up in business and is unable during the first 6 months to take any earnings out of the business will be entitled to £253/wk from tax credits, HB/CTB and child benefit.

Under UC they will have a personal allowance of £210.

If she is working 40 hours/week she will be deemed to have an income of £237(min wage of £5.93 * 40)

Earnings disregard of £40 = £237- £40 = £197

65% of £197 = £128 to be taken from personal amount of UC

Personal allowance of £210 - £128 = £82

Total income will be £82 + child benefit £20 = £102 out of which she has to pay £75 rent and £15 council tax. Leaving her with £12 /week to pay for all food household expenses etc for her and her child

Under the present system she would have £163/week

This is clearly the difference between being able or not to set up in business.

Many people will come into more than one of the above categories and so the reductions in income will be compounded – this could cause great difficulty for some people.

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" I've seen dyslexic customers given written job searches, and when they don't produce them – what a surprise – they're sanctioned.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/01/jobcentres-tricking-people-benefit-sanctions

Dyslexic people are not analphabets, they can read and write, just a little slower and they make some minor mistakes as they go along. It's a pain in the neck to be afflicted with, but not insurmountable, and lots of dyslexics earn degrees.

So it's quite right to sanction them if they claim that searching for a job is beyond them and refuse to deal with written searches. Besides that, if you're really stuck, the local wino will read the stuff to you if you 'fuel' him enough, if no-one else has the time of day for you...!

So... the quoted statement is rubbish and I guess the rest of the article is nonsense too -- a classic lefty propaganda smear designed to spread smears and rumors.

(besides that, no-one can force you to trick a claimant either, you have to want to do it. And if you refuse and get a ticking off... well, the hidden mp3 player that is recording the conversation is your friend...)

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This is happening, on a thread I am on elsewhere, JC staff have posted about it, they hate it. They will randomly sanction though as they have to. I am ready to defend myself with legal aid, so they do choose those who will believe they did something wrong. This causes another problem, the potential for teaching people to lie, teaching them how to work the system, disrupting the job search for so long you affect their employability, along with the poverty, anxiety and depression. They are not saving money, they are sending claimants through the appeals process.

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...and why would the claimant put any effort into anything else when they get no recognition for it.

Because it might get them a job and a way out of the uncomfortable system they're in...

You might say getting a job via other tasks results in them getting a job but in a lot of cases jobs do not provide the income that benefits do.

...and therein lies the problem. Being on benefits has been too comfortable for too long. It's good that it's going to be made more difficult for people to get their free money. It's good that they're going to hate being on the dole.

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Universal Credit is a step backwards. Look how it will deter people from starting businesses...

'CAB Briefing: Universal Credit: an exploration and key questions' [January 2011]:

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/cab_briefing_on_universal_credit_jan_27th_2011.pdf

Yes, as I said, it maybe a step backwards but this is where we're going.

Do you have info for part-time workers?

Edit, sorry I've just read the CAB briefing. Pretty simple innit!

Edited by council dweller

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Because it might get them a job and a way out of the uncomfortable system they're in...

...and therein lies the problem. Being on benefits has been too comfortable for too long. It's good that it's going to be made more difficult for people to get their free money. It's good that they're going to hate being on the dole.

that's not the problem, the problem is sky high rents and mortgages.

The NMW would be loads to live on if 70% of it didn't go straight to a BTL'er.

you can't fix the problem of high rentier costs by making life harder for non rentiers.

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that's not the problem, the problem is sky high rents and mortgages.

The NMW would be loads to live on if 70% of it didn't go straight to a BTL'er.

you can't fix the problem of high rentier costs by making life harder for non rentiers.

We're in danger of getting close to agreement on this point Injin. Can I assume you're right behind the cut in housing benefit then as that will doubtless force landlords to lower their rents or go without tenents?

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We're in danger of getting close to agreement on this point Injin. Can I assume you're right behind the cut in housing benefit then as that will doubtless force landlords to lower their rents or go without tenents?

Not at all.

Housing benefit is cancelling extortion by the extortionists.

Stopping housing benefit won't reduce rents, it will produce destitute people which is what it is designed to do. If it came with land reform as well then maybe yes.

You are making the mistake of thinking that rents are part of a market system and will respond to supply and demand.

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I spoke to a traveller yesterday, he has a bad back from falling out of a tree in the 90s. He had his benefits cut a few months ago - this is happening right now.

A 'traveller'? You mean a pikey?

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  • 284 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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