How the DWP actively humiliates sick and disabled benefit claimants. More stories from the jobcentre.

More on the garbage that the DWP and government talk when they say that the aim of ESA cuts and fit-for-work assessments is to encourage sick or disabled people into work:

As readers of this site will know, I regularly attend signon sessions at a north London jobcentre with a guy I call Eddie in these posts. Eddie is 52. He spent most of his working life as a general assistant in kitchens. He was made redundant seven years ago and has been out of work since. He signs on for JSA. Eddie has learning and literacy difficulties (he finds writing especially hard – here’s an example of a Morrison’s job application he filled in by copying notes I made). Eddie is unable to use a computer or email. He can’t open a browser on a laptop, or type in links, or navigate to a wegpage.

But here’s the thing. Eddie’s jobcentre adviser keeps giving him handwritten weblinks and email addresses to take home and use for job applications. His adviser does this at every third or fourth signon meeting. He prints or writes out a link that he knows Eddie can’t use to type into a computer that he knows Eddie doesn’t have. You can see the most recent hard-to-read handwritten instructions and link here:


Eddie was absolutely furious when he was handed that piece of paper. He is furious every time that he is given a link to pursue. “That man knows I haven’t got a computer,” Eddie said angrily. “He’s taking the piss.” I imagine that the jobcentre adviser also knew that Eddie didn’t have a hope of landing one of civil service apprenticeships advertised on the link. Eddie is older, in poor health (he has diabetes and leg pain, which he struggles to manage) and has regular hospital and GP appointments. His literacy levels are not good. He has none of the skills mentioned on the link as far as I can see.

“Taking the piss” doesn’t begin to cover it. I don’t know if the adviser meant to be cruel, but that is neither here nor there. Eddie feels the insult, as well he might. This is a bureaucracy humiliating a person that the job market has discarded. This is a bureaucracy making an older sick and disabled person traipse to the jobcentre every fortnight and go through the motions of jobseeking before being allowed his paltry benefit. Eddie knows and the adviser knows and I know that these signon meetings are the ultimate exercises in uselessness. There’s no point in Eddie being forced to attend the jobcentre at all – except, I suppose, that Iain Duncan Smith gets off on the idea that he can rub a sick and disabled claimant’s nose in that person’s lack of options every fortnight. Other than that, I don’t know why we’re here.

Whatever the case, I doubt very strongly that any of this can be described as support for sick or disabled claimants in jobcentres. The government has cut the number of specialist Disability Employment Advisers – jobcentre advisers with training and time to support sick or disabled benefit claimants – by 60%. The Disability Employment Adviser at Eddie’s jobcentre left last year. Disability Employment Advisers weren’t all great, but I’m thinking that they were better than nothing – nothing being mostly what I find on offer now for people in Eddie’s situation.

The DWP tells me that its “dedicated work coaches” in jobcentres “offer a range of support tailored to individuals’ circumstances, including health conditions and disabilities,” but that is such flop that I can hardly stir myself to upload it. The reality on the ground for people in Eddie’s situation is miles from that statement. Eddie is being left to decay.

At the end of last year, Eddie’s adviser told me that now the Disability Employment Adviser had left, nobody at Eddie’s jobcentre had the time to help with a task as straightforward as filling in job application forms. Most of the signon meetings I attend with people are rushed. They rarely exceed ten minutes. So-called Hard To Place claimants (read “older, unwell and belligerent, because of their poor health and ridiculous, humiliating DWP demands”) might as well not attend at all.

For Eddie, as far as I can tell, “tailored” back-to-work support (apart from the useless handwritten URLs) probably comes down to signing up for another work programme with a private company like Reed, or Seetec. Eddie has been on four work programmes over the years. He has never found a job through a work programme. It might be time that somebody asked why. Could it be that there’s no place for an older, sick and disabled man in a viciously competitive, youth-oriented job market? Could it simply be that Eddie is no longer able to cope? Nobody ever mentions that sort of thing. They just line up to take their cut out of Eddie’s misery. At the end of last year, Reed tried to sign Eddie up for a fifth work programme. I think that is Eddie’s main role in life now, at least as far as the DWP is concerned. He’s fodder for work programme sharks.

Anyway. Remember all of this when the government yaps on about “helping” sick or disabled people into work and cutting Employment and Support Allowance to “encourage” people to find jobs. Some serious transparency is needed when it comes to the so-called back-to-work support that is really on offer. People need to demand that the DWP gives journalists and supporters and MPs and whoever else free access to jobcentres and work programme sessions, so that people can comb through the realities of so-called back-to-work support. I attend jobcentres with people who have health problems and disabilities, and who are getting on in years. They are not treated well by the state, to say the very least. Their anger is palpable. They are stuck, probably forever. They have been discarded. This is what we do now with people whose health and chances are fading. They’re dumped in jobcentres to rot. Pity we don’t do the same with bankers.

More on the shambles that is disability support in jobcentres:

How disabled benefit claimants are set up for sanctions

Sick and disabled and can’t walk upstairs to JSA signon? Too bad. Expect contempt

ANOTHER jobcentre says We Can’t Help or Support Disabled Benefit Claimants

54 and out of work: how the DWP hounds you to amuse itself

We know jobsearch and jobmatch are pointless, but do them anyway

18 thoughts on “How the DWP actively humiliates sick and disabled benefit claimants. More stories from the jobcentre.

  1. ‘There’s no point in Eddie being forced to attend the jobcentre at all – except, I suppose, that Iain Duncan Smith gets off on the idea that he can rub a sick and disabled claimant’s nose in that person’s lack of options every fortnight. Other than that, I don’t know why we’re here.’

    So that Eddie can be sanctionable

  2. Totally true Kate, and you can see the evidence at any Jobcentre signing-on. Just look down the line, and there they are. The sick who can hardly stand, the disabled, the claimants with learning difficulties, the older claimants, veterans of every course available.
    Their CVs packed with details of workfare completed, and meaningless certificates in ‘Customer Care Level 1’ etc.
    All going round and round in the unemployment system, like clothes in a washing-machine.
    In an increasingly competitive job market, many of these people are realistically unemployable.
    But this is the truth that is never admitted. Nor is the fact that many of them have already been privately written-off, except as profitable fodder for the so-called ‘welfare to work’ industry.

    • yep pretty sure these people have been written off. At the point now where the DWP is saying Any Old Shit Will Do For Them.

      The DWP sends lines like “We are committed to supporting everyone who is able to work to do so,” now when you ask. Think that tells you everything you need to know the support on hand for people who are not able to work and/or who the job market doesn’t want. I think people in Wrag will end up with less money and fuck all support at jcps

  3. Its saddens and disappoints me to read this. I can really see no point whatsoever in this sort of behaviour. Yes it is a deliberate attempt to humiliate, but how has it come to this? Any civil servant behaving in such a manner is behaving unprofessionally, but it is certainly at some level convenient as it sends out a clear message to discourage the others.

    I am sure that many people are not aware of this kind of situation and the only hope in change is to get this in to the public eye via as many channels as possible.

  4. “How the DWP actively humiliates sick and disabled benefit claimants.”

    To be fair to the dwp, they don’t limit it just to the sick and disabled. 🙂

  5. Now that IDS – Irritable Dole Syndrome has resigned, I read his & Hameron’s exchanges & saw a clip of Stephen Crabb – our new Head of Department for Wank & Penalties.

    They all gush about how level of employment is “record high”… But where is the fucking evidence?

    How many of these “employments” are actually jobs? Let alone jobs people can live on. I bet Eddie’s 4 rounds of workfare have all been counted as ‘stints of employment’ without Eddie earning a penny. Add to this zero hour shit wage contracts that everyone in the Cabinet mistakenly calls “gainful employment”.

    But hey, as long as career politicians warp reality by pretending work does not warrant wages – who cares? Well, real journalists SHOULD care. Except they don’t. At least not in the mainstream media. Perhaps they’re all just apprentices. 😉

  6. No, seriously. Reading BBC’s articles reminded me why mainstream media makes me retch. Here are 2 examples:

    There are no counter arguments other than from fellow Labour politicians, themselves busy backing back to work(fare) reforms whilst no one’s watching. But where are counter arguments from actual people who lived through these reforms? Where are statements from say, DPAC?

    Why were Tories yet again allowed to spew lies about achieving “record high employment”, helping [the disadvantaged] back to work, & other such drivel without any journalistic attempt to at the very least dig out statistics debunking these fairy tales?

    I mean, can this even be called news? Because it reads like a Conservative party advert.

  7. Jobcentre plus are contemptuous towards people like Eddie. Stress is a real problem for people with learning difficulties many will have come through the work programme and into “support”,the only thing that matters is removal of benefits at this time and they will use the nastiest individual working in the building to achieve this, insulting at times,hostility and aggressive intimidating insulting behavior used expect an above the law attitude. Expect pointless appointments too .The condition ignored.Your not going to get any help from them whatsoever but need to be prepared to challenge.

    The only time I’ve seen someone like this react is the mention of an appeal.

  8. At the rally of yesterday’s ‘Refugees Welcome’ march, I spoke to a march steward in PCS (Public & Commercial Services Union, that represents most DWP workers) branding. I said to her that I had heard Stephen Crabb MP had been appointed as successor to IDS. The PCS person in question seemed to infer that they knew nothing about the matter — maybe they were overly focused on stewarding to the point that they had no mental energy for anything else?

    And I read today on BBC news that IDS says claims his decision to quit as Work & Pensions Secretary are a deliberate attempt to discredit him are designed to discredit him.

    Yet in what he previously did to cut disability benefits, I am still reminded of the ‘Nuhremberg Defence’: I was only following orders.

    And regarding the EU, his ‘family trust’ is a previous beneficiary of EU funding via the Common Agricultural Policy. Guy Standing on IDS’ Personal Welfare Dependency

    So for a ‘key decision maker’ like IDS, it seems that timing of a decision is crucial to what personal profile impact the person can get out of it, and of course the humiliations other than financial that benefit claimants have been put through by IDS and his cronies have largely been ignored by the major broadcasting channels.

  9. Pingback: Closed claims, lost housing benefit: how IDS contempt for sick or disabled claimants played | Kate Belgrave

  10. I have spent time on the work programme, at Standguide, a4e, a4e, a4e, ingeus, , thats 10 years on that work programme system. have i ever got a job from them.. NO. i am 42, osteo arthritis, now severe depression and anxiety.

  11. Pingback: Learning/literacy difficulties and can’t use online Universal Credit? “Find a friend to help,” says DWP. So much for support. This is dire | Kate Belgrave

  12. Pingback: PIP helpline officer: You must speak to me on the phone even though you are deaf | Kate Belgrave

  13. Pingback: Schizophrenia, aged 55, #PIP payments stopped, forced to the foodbank – why are guys like Andrew called society’s leeches but rich Carillion bosses are not? | Kate Belgrave

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