Nobody believes anybody now, even on DV issues. More stories from the jobcentre.

This one got sorted out in the end – but talk about having to work to get there.

The story below should give you an idea of the way that women who say they are threatened with domestic abuse can be treated. It should also give you an idea of the contempt that some advisers feel – and show – to some benefit claimants:

Not so long ago, I attended a jobcentre with a woman who had missed her JSA signon meeting that week, because she’d been at court to try and organise an order against a threatening ex-partner. She had to report to the jobcentre to explain the missed meeting and to find someone to sign her on.

The adviser we saw really did seem to want to make things as difficult as possible. Her attitude was hard to fathom, even allowing for the fact that there can be considerable dislike and mistrust between some advisers and some claimants. From the start, the jobcentre adviser presented obstacles, not solutions. Her tone was unpleasant. She may have been very stressed (she mentioned that she had to cover the whole floor that day), but still. Things should not operate this way. The tone was personal and dismissive. If someone comes in talking about court orders and injunctions, their benefit signon problems should really be addressed as a matter of priority. The jobcentre can sort out any details and paperwork it needs at a later date. That ought to be the system, no matter who an adviser is dealing with.

The woman I was with needed someone at the jobcentre to sign her on as soon as possible, because if she wasn’t signed on through the computer system and the reason for her absence not recorded, she might not receive her next benefit payment. That payment was due in just a few days.

The adviser did not want to help. She really did seem to be picking excuses for this from a random list in her mind. The adviser began by saying that she couldn’t sign the woman on for her next JSA payment, because as an adviser, she was too busy. In fact – the adviser said that everyone at the jobcentre would be too busy to sign the woman on that afternoon. “There’s no one to be able to fit you in,” the adviser said. “I’ve got all these people to see, to deal with… so I am not doing any signing today.” The adviser said that a signing-on appointment could not be made until mid-way into the following week. It seemed possible that the woman would not receive her next JSA payment because of this. Was the adviser actually saying that the jobcentre would sanction someone who’d missed a signon meeting because that person had been in court to get an order against a threatening ex?

The jobcentre’s story moved around. The line about being too busy to sign the woman on was put to one side for a time. The adviser said that the problem was evidence. The jobcentre would need to see the woman’s court papers before anyone could sign her on. The woman I was with was getting angry and upset by now. She’d only been in court a few days earlier. She wasn’t always staying at her home address. She thought her lawyer had the papers. She had texts from her lawyer which she tried to show the adviser.  The adviser said that she could not accept the texts as evidence – even in the interim, while court papers were sorted out. (I called the number myself when we left, to ask the lawyer if she could send proof papers through). That’s The Procedure, the adviser said as the woman argued the toss about getting a payment the following week and bringing her evidence in later. I couldn’t understand why the adviser wouldn’t show discretion and just sign the woman on. What difference did it make to the jobcentre? I’ve attended meetings where jobcentre advisers have been very flexible on one issue or another. Like a lot of people who attend jobcentre meetings, I suspect that the rules change to suit.

Anyway. It’s the hostility I want to record here: the degrading of a system to a level where every claimant is viewed with suspicion and an adviser can point-score if she feels like it. This situation was sorted out in the end – but yeah. This woman had to work for it. I wonder how often this happens.

8 thoughts on “Nobody believes anybody now, even on DV issues. More stories from the jobcentre.

  1. Pingback: Nobody believes anybody now, even on Domestic Violence issues. More stories from the jobcentre. | Benefit tales

  2. It’s appalling that so many important and potentially life-changing decisions can be made arbitrarily by single individuals. Individuals who, let’s face it probably fit into only two categories; those who naively think they can work the system to help people and those who have chosen the job as a way of sadistically punishing the vulnerable. The system is so wide open to abuse and horrifyingly sanctioned by the political climate that has been so carefully groomed.

    People finding themselves at the bottom of the heap are treated worse than the most heinous criminals, at least they benefit from the presumption of innocence. Desperation, shame and the requirement to beg – that’s what we all deserve now, apparently victims of circumstance no longer exist.

  3. “The jobcentre’s story moved around….

    “Anyway. It’s the hostility I want to record here: the degrading of a system to a level where every claimant is viewed with suspicion and an adviser can point-score if she feels like it….”

    How much worse would it have been had the person accompanied gone unaccompanied? The motto of the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group is, “Never attend anywhere official alone.”

    It does seem to me from decades of personal frustrations with systemic breakdown of one kind or another that things are set up to fail as a matter of policy. Some examples:
    1. At the same time that our national news media was focusing in August/September 1991 on bread queues in Moscow, the Department of Social Security [sic] was in meltdown as people coming off jobcentre-funded training courses were forced to make a fresh claim for Unemployment Benefit, with the forms sent to various ‘thou shalt never see the claimant’ admin offices — eg, offices in Glasgow for LB Camden-based jobcentres; offices in Belfast for LB Brent-based jobcentres. Several forms got lost in the post, and I was kept waiting more than 12 weeks for my new claim money to be processed.

    2. In the ‘naughties, the Employment Service [sic] went over to a largely call-centre based approach, with jobcentre staff wrongly insisting that claimants applying for benefit do so over the phone line at the claimant’s expense. That — along with tens of thousands of job losses within JCP — placed considerable strain on the call centres, resulting in 21 million unanswered calls to Jobcentre Plus (44% of all incoming calls) and resultant hardship.

    3. Since 2010, government has ratcheted up the attendance stress, probably as a prelude to leaving people up real shit creek by way of digital jobcentres, — with e-forms designed by Atos!

    What lies will Conservative & Unionist Party Autumn Conference 2016 trumpet about life on the dole, and what new changes will those lies promote?

  4. I wonder what would have happened if this lady had attended the appointment alone ? Or had learning difficulties or a disability ? It would have probably resulted in a sanction for missing her signing-on, and loss of benefit.
    It’s such a hostile system that has been created, where claimants are peered at through a microscope of suspicion. The better Jobcentre staff are sick to the back teeth of it, and the worse ones are able to indulge their less pleasant attitudes at the claimant’s expense.

  5. While people’s prospects are being slaughtered for an economic smoke screen, what can be done? Benefit sanctions as a means for rewriting economic history at whatever cost

    As an afterthought, Kate, perhaps you could apply for some kind of funding to help train people to accompany vulnerable people as you do so well? In any case, groups like Kwug need more accompaniers and not all of us are fit to do so, and some are more likely to be victimised than others by the DWP.

  6. Pingback: I can’t get benefits because I’m homeless and I haven’t got an address. Wtf is going on here. | Kate Belgrave

  7. This all comes down to one thing and one thing only, how can Government & corporations, legally rig the system to steal tax payers money and funnel it into private wealthy organizations, such as the corrupt ATOL groups and other like agencies/bodies.

    To my understanding and first hand experiences with the DWP, we all pay “National INSURANCE” tax when we work, this then means unemployment benefit is a pre insurance safety net for anybody slipping into hardship, what the DWP has been doing since the CONservatives for the rich came into power is constantly rig the system through legislative changes to benefit private sector groups who make millions if not billions of pounds through government funding contracts, which all comes from TAX paid,

    when you have multi millionaires like David Cameron as prime minister, telling us “Austerity, we are all in it together” while he himself has a personal net wealth of over £200 million and his parents bank in off shore tax havens, how can anybody ever trust conservative sociopaths and career politicians, who like ex chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne is then rewarded with highly paid salarys in private sectors after leaving office for all his work that helped benefit the wealthiest of society when he helped rig the system with his budget decisions, 6 jobs all paying 6 figure salaries, and they try and deny the systems being rigged by wealthy organizations looking after their own interests, and all for the same single purpose, how can we get the population as slave classes while stealing all the wealth from any sector it can be raped from,

    and the largest cash cow is tax payers, but we pay taxes to help make our lives better and thats what government is supposed to do, take the cumulative wealth and solve problems that benefit everyone, whats been happening for decades if not centuries since at least the 90’s onwards is the sociopathic elites have used their wealth to rig political systems to continue benefiting themselves and steal more wealth from any source they can. The Conservative government in modern times is nothing more than a self interest serving group that is ever more ran by career politicians looking to line their own pockets at the expense of the people their lying saying their serving.

    corporatocracy & banking elites and the dynastic families are rigging world affairs not just in Britain but globally to benefit themselves using all kinds of corrupt tactics like lobbying and reworked legislative laws to make illegal activity legal, and this is why so many vulnerable people feel so helpless, but what people need to realize is they are not just targeting the most vulnerable, they are working their way through every aspect of peoples lives, and especially right now their focussed on the working classes, who without there is nothing, no industry no wealth and no labor, yet these same wealthy ignorant yet supposedly educated morons all continue acting sociopathically like the tribes who cut down the last tree before realizing they need to go invade a new land to destroy all its resources too rather than think and fix what they’ve broken,

    too many self interest serving idiots who think its all a game, and just play along get rich do what their paid or bribed to do and get out, as it does not apply to them once their in the club, but fail to see dynastic minded family groups who hoard wealth and rig systems are in a long term end goal agenda, and if you open your eyes, you see their trying to bring back the days where the land barons could do anything they want to anybody they want anytime they want, without repercussions.

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