Jobcentre meltdown and bans. What a mess.

It’s hardly surprising to hear that the tension is bad at jobcentres. Lengthy and ridiculous benefit sanctions, pointless courses and workfare placements that go nowhere – it’s no wonder that people are getting really, really angry.

Birmingham Against Cuts had a story recently about a man who smashed windows at the Sparkhill jobcentre after being sanctioned.

The Manchester Evening News has a story today about a man who set fire to phones in a jobcentre in the hope that he’d be arrested and given something to eat when in police custody.

And last week, I visited a few people in Bracknell who told me they and people they knew had been banned from their jobcentre for complaining about the centre and their workfare provider.

The jobcentre ban notices (which are not signed by a named officer) said they were banned for verbal and written abuse and behaviour “which was totally unacceptable” (no further details on that appear in the correspondence). The people in question denied the charges in the letters. More to the point – and this is the key point, whether we’re talking Bracknell, or wherever – they felt that they had little recourse. They said that they had nowhere to go to appeal those bans. They’d been issued with ban notices by London lawyers (I have copies of these) and then the jobcentre (I have those as well) and told to appear at another job centre for their fortnightly JSA interviews. That was the end of that.

Except that it’s not. Iain Duncan Smith has clearly decided to leave claimants and jobcentre staff to their hell together, to fight it out themselves. This can surely only get worse. As Birmingham Against The Cuts observes, people are dealing with increasingly lengthy sanctions and ridiculous reasons for them – absurd sanctions handed out by stressed staff who are under pressure to meet cruel targets. No wonder things kick off. What do people expect?

As for bans – heavy. And one-sided. I’ve got papers here which threaten Asbos and injunctions and costs if bans are broken. Wonder what happens if you disagree. Which you might. Of course jobcentre workers shouldn’t be abused – but there are always two sides to a story. These are tense times, as I’ve said. Isn’t it possible for frustration, anger and persistence to be interpreted as abuse? Can’t perspectives on a heated incident differ? Couldn’t jobcentres ban people who simply persist with a complaint and refuse to give up the fight for their money? Couldn’t bans be used to shut people up? (The DWP said, simply, that it banned people “who posed a threat” and that “we do not issue bans lightly.” I’d be interested to know if people think that’s the case. Certainly, the various people I’ve spoken to about this have issues with it).

And if someone disagrees with a ban, shouldn’t they at least be able to appeal that decision? Because if they can’t, or don’t know that they can, then the equation is not equal. So I asked the DWP about this as well. I tried to ask Bracknell jobcentre first, but kept getting bounced back to the DWP. Their advice seemed to be that anyone who disagreed with a ban would need to fork out for a lawyer – “they can seek legal advice – and additionally they could follow our complaints process if they disagree with the methods we adopt – but as a legal request the ban would stand, unless contested legally.” So – you’re sanctioned, you’re banned and you must find money for a lawyer. You’re hardly in a position to do that.

What a bloody mess. I can only imagine that IDS enjoys it – this power to throw people into a tinderbox and chuck in a match. Only a truly evil prick would foster that.

16 thoughts on “Jobcentre meltdown and bans. What a mess.

  1. Spot on Kate I know myself in 2010 no money for my prescription so went to job centre went through the bollox to obtain work just at the point of signing on dotted line I produced medical paperwork to which a manager was called guy interviewing me cried I stated if I could not get steroids the hospital said if I just stopped I would be rushed to hospital blue lights blazing she said you support group you can’t work I then said ok where is the support person there isn’t one I have to work to buy drugs the manageress said ok Brigitte we understand no you not fit for work but I understand you have made your point corrupt whole lot of it fact the longer all goes on tells me yet again today I discover a supposed local councillor not even his right name supposed to be pillar of community did some checking out on past life and no he not what he profess to be high time we rid of the glory hunters and what is being done for sure wish I had my health need showing up I only know truth honesty but boy takes the biscuit feel sorry for those who do lose it but can understand why and like the whole system as I have learnt comes the label because at the end of the day this goverment spout of about cuts trouble is they target wrong people why because they haven’t lived a life and if I had 1 wish ids here see me and see what lives next door makes my blood boil lot of it and now I’m winning I won’t shut up looking forward to getting my life back and when it’s over make sure it goes into public domain on the dirty dealings going on in the authority which is making bognorregis blood boil

  2. Great article. it seems clear that the DWP is entirely out of control. What chance do good people – and there are (I hope) some good apples in the rotten barrel – stand against this regime?
    IDS is out of control. He is the epitome of the entitlement he complains about: a dismal career failure married into extreme privilege living on his wife’s familial land with a massive land subsidy he doesn’t need. A failed leader and, worst of all, an ideologue with no clue as to how to implement his master schemes, all of which have failed. The Work Programme, MWA, and now Universal Credit seems heading for disaster – not forgetting of course the hated Bedroom Tax. It’s always someone else’s fault with him and his behaviour is that of a petulant spoilt child. He is incompetent, bullying, angry and hugely out of touch. Untroubled by evidence he decides policy based on what he thinks is right no matter the cost, because someone else will pick up the tab. This man has to go.

  3. CHELMSFORD JCP in ESSEX has sanctioned and banned so many claimants that the office is always nearly empty. They have also removed customer telephones and jobpoints. Bully boy guards are provided by G4S to intimidate customers. And customers who complain get banned and or sanctioned.

    • I’ve just finished the work program (total waste of time)
      During my time they tried to sanction me twice and they overturned on Mandatory reconsiderations
      On my first signing at my local Jobcentre in Hemsworth West Yorkshire
      i was met by a real harridan who demanded that i give her my phone number and email address
      i asked her why she wanted it and she said that it was part of the regulations i told her that it not the case
      and that under the terms of the Data Protection act she couldn’t have them, at this point she became very aggressive
      and said “we have them anyway”
      at this point she stopped the interview and told me that i would not allowed to sign on
      i demanded to see the manager but strangely the manager was in a meeting, i refused to move and the manager remained in the meeting for the next 6 hours during the time i was threatened with the Police (which didn’t turn up) but they gave the go ahead to the G4S Gorillas to attack me and throw me out

      i made very strong complaints to the Jobcentre by phone and had my claim transfered to another Jobcentre where i signed, completed my end of work program on and got my money, i was put on daily signing and sent on a 2 week course
      after the first day of the course i turned up to do my daily signing and my way was barred by at least 6 G4S Gorillas
      it seems that i am banned from all Jobcentre plus offices nationwide for 6 months October 30th 2014 to April 30th 2014

      and i have also been sanctioned twice ( 29 October to 25 November and 29 October 2014 to 27th January 2015
      i record all my meetings with DWP staff who seem to be strangers to the truth

      it seems that they don’t like people who stand up for themselves but i have been collecting evidence and will be taking legal action

      • Found out today that two letters I posted last week
        (my Hardship application and my postal signing voucher) have gone missing in the postal (read the DWP postal centre) system so I have been signed off and have to reapply and then re send my Hardship application
        How convenient for Jobcentre plus staff who sanctioned me and as yet no Mandatory reconsideration forms (6 weeks and counting)

        • latest news
          the Sanction for “not attending” on the 28th October last year was initially reduced form one month to one day, maybe in a bid to put me off appealing and now it has been dropped completely ?

          the letter said

          “I have looked at all of the evidence and decided to change the decision as you have shown good reason for not attending your appointment ”

          very odd

  4. My son has a 12 month ban from jcp, he was accused of assaulting security staff and damaging a door. All untrue, we are pressing charges against 5 security officers and the police have cctv footage which shows the 5 security officers working for G4S assaulting my son. It does not show my son do anything other than shout a few choice words in response to another trumped up sanction.

    • By all means give us a shout if you want to talk more about that Dawn. Finding a few people getting very lengthy bans like that.

    • H Dawn
      i had the same problem, at JCP Low Hall Hemsworth
      they tried to stop me signing and then from complaining to the manager and then 5 security officers working for G4S assaulted me and got me

      i then moved my claim to another Jobcentre signed on and got my money

      but because i had outwitted them i got a 6 month ban 4 sanctions and now my postal signing and Hardship letters have gone missing

      make that all the mail that you send to JCP is sent recored or

      posted in the letterbox on the Jobcentre building

      • i made a reclaim by phone on the 18/12/20014 completed it even though the idiot tried to tell that i couldn’t claim if i didn’t give them my phone, the manager was called and we got it sorted so promised that Job Centre Plus Pontefract would be contacted in the about the interview

        guess what happens next

        i called Job Centre Plus Pontefract in the morning 19/12/20014 ……. Nothing
        called the JSA claim line and according to them i never made a claim on the 18/12/20014 even though i had recored the whole conversation

        they are very determined

        i am in the process of publishing all the phone calls and all letters on here and other sites so people can see what they have been getting up to

        The evidence is mounting

  5. I’ve been banned from attending job centres on my local area and also the work programmes namely people plus I have evidence that they discriminate and do not co operate with the everyday job seeker

  6. I had a meltdown at hastings jobcentre. I am sixty and female I said that the 50 plus group was silly and a waste of time. She gave me a sanction . Therefore meaning I am without money. I walked all the way there and back which in total takes 4 hours. I have palpitations before seeing her it is in the basement, ents of the building and incredibly hot. I get very anxious and agitated she likes making me waited. I am afraid that I called her a robotic civil servant and a little bit cheaper. The very old g4s blike was standing right behind me. You are not supposed to speak up for yourself at all and I am afraid that it is my nature .

    • The whole thing is a sick joke as they know full well most people are more likely
      to win on the lottery than secure even a job interview at the grand old age of 60. (Sad but true). The only people who need to be introduced to the “World of Work”
      are parliamentarians judging by the rows of empty seats I see every day on BBC
      Parliament channel

  7. As you say its hardly surpring that there is tension frustration and anger at jobcentres.

    They treat people really badly and then act all surprised when it spills over. They know what they are doing and its all so twisted that they act all innocent when people react to the harrassment and abuse.

    People dont go in for the fun of it and I had one nasty piece of work loudly and vindictively proclaim that I was in for sanction after sanction and I would be sent on (useless) schemes one after another to effectively please him. This after daily signing which was tense nightmare and being cross examined on every application form. He went hot and cold then when something else fell through because it was a falsely set up mess he threatened to sanction me because I didnt answer my phone when he had no need to phone me as he had no useful news. He then phoned my phone and started ranting about sanctions that my answer machine wasnt on. He was even gloating and squaring up to me when I said Ive had enough of this. At one point I had to mention a cease and desist letter so you can see how he was ramping it up. He kept changing the rules of my job search like there was much to apply for anyway

    What does he think might happen when I am threatened with the loss of my food and utilities money? Does he think Im going to shake his hand and put him on my christmas card list?

    As the whistleblowers say I was set up to fail and I know that.

  8. I was supporting my daughter in sorting out her claim at Sudbury job centre . The job coach speaks to you as if she is paying all the money herself . And doesn’t help in finding you work just saying do this or that if you don’t your money will be stopped . The power of this goes to there heads . So after about an hour of listening to all this rubbish .i mention we have all contributed to the welfare state . And if people entering from different counties claiming our benifit and not really needed it .she calls overs to guys who tell me to leave and after a few words I leave only to find I been banned from Sudbury job centre for 12 months and also then received a letter from the police saying they want to speak to you a joke . In this country you can’t speak from mind no more

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