Are Jobcentres 'tricking' people out of benefits to cut costs?

Whistleblower says that Jobcentres are 'tricking' people out of benefits to cut costs.

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

imagesA soaring number of sanctions against unemployed are occurring amid claims that Department of Work and Pensions (DPW) staff are being told to trip people up with paperwork.

Rising numbers of vulnerable jobseekers are, apparently, being tricked into losing benefits amid growing pressure to meet welfare targets, according to a media leak by a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

The whistleblower has said that staff at his Jobcentre have been given targets of three people a week to be referred 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.

The change appears to be that suddenly staff are no longer there to help somebody into sustainable employment, which is what they were employed do but are sent looking for ways to trick your customers into 'not looking for work'.

Staff are told to come up with many ways and this could turn into giving dyslexic customers written job searches, and when they don't produce them – what a surprise – they are sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people's money.

'Saving the public purse' seems to be the catchphrase that is now used in the Jobcenter offices and it is drummed home all the time.

I don't think that the ordinary punter has ever really believed that Jobcenter staff were there to help him or her back into work. If the staff at the centers believe that then, I am afraid, they have been living in cloud cuckoo land for how ever many years they have been believing that.

Jobcenters were once known as Employment Exchanges and even that they no longer do very well at all.

Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show the total number of cases where people have lost their benefits has soared since the beginning of 2010 to 75,000 in October, the latest month available. The figures also reveal the number of claimants with registered disabilities being cut off has more than doubled to almost 20,000 over the same period.

This follows a change in the rules in April last year where sanctions were extended to claimants who were late for Jobcentre interviews and other less serious offences.

When a claimant is sanctioned their jobseeker's allowance is stopped. They then have to apply for hardship payments, which are usually about half the allowance, or just over £30 a week. Many people who are sanctioned end up having to rely on food parcels and must sleep on friend's floors and sofas.

I don't know whether we can blame the current government per se for this or whether a lot of it is, in fact, something that has come about still as a result of the last Labor administration.

The truth and fact is that anyone thinking that the Jobcenters and their staff are there to help them find work better start thinking again. They are there, put there by government, to control if and how and how much unemployment benefit – now called jobseekers allowance – a claimant is going to get and how often they can withdraw any such payments for a while for this or that reason.

It is time that people woke up to rea and to the fact that we do not live in an entitlement welfare state.

© 2011