DWP: Are you poor and over 60? Get to work or drop dead. We’re here to help etc

Stockport has a second jobcentre now, so that’s where I’m taking you today.

We’ve been hearing about this second jobcentre for a while.

We’ve also been hearing that this second jobcentre is the one through which older universal credit claimants are now funnelled. I have wondered for a while what this second DWP location offers older benefit claimants that the first one doesn’t: probably a one-way door, a Dignitas popup and maybe a line of large freezers out the back. Sounds a bit bleak when you first think about it, but as the morning goes on and if you’re over 50 yourself, you kind of find you start to warm to it. Talk to a few oldies who must sign on and follow the DWP’s ridiculous fit-for-work and jobsearch rules, and you do begin to wonder if the fast track to an eternity in cold store is actually the better option.

For example: I’m speaking this morning with Norm, who tells me he is less than a year away from pension age.

Norm has problems with function and numbness in his arms and hands after years of technical work, and an accident which hurt his spine when he was young. He’s trying to get an appointment with one of the neurology departments round here, which is in itself proving a bigger challenge than Norm was looking for. He says that to start with, he has to get an appointment. If he does get an appointment, he has to wait at least a year for it. Lastly, he has to not croak before his appointment and/or pension age finally roll around – always an added pressure when your twilight years coincide with a Conservative government. I’m beginning to feel a bit of that pressure myself.

On the jobcentre and signing on for universal credit front – a little while back, Norm had a work capability assessment. This resulted in a report that turned out to be more a one-liner than a finding: Norm was told that he was fit to work as something, but nobody had any idea what.

“They’re saying that I’m fit enough to do some kind of work, but they don’t know what it is,” he says, rolling his eyes. We both know that nobody knows what it is, because it doesn’t exist. Norm knows and I know and everyone knows that nobody’s going to hire a man with health and mobility problems who is less than a year from retirement age. We can only imagine what kind of employment Liz Truss et al have in mind with rules that propose there’s work for older people who can’t move much: probably live organ donor, or a part-time gig to 3D print your own hearse. I’ll let you know, because I’m heading towards the time when I find out.

Until death or retirement then, Norm must regularly attend the job centre to talk about the “help” the jobcentre can give him to find work. I don’t believe that he should even have to do that, because he has a note from his doctor signing him off from work and, presumably, jobsearch. This means that Norm finds himself in a situation where he must attend the jobcentre to talk about the help the jobcentre can give him to find work that he won’t get, because a) he can’t do it and b) he’s already signed off sick from it. I’m sure this makes sense to someone.

Needless to say, the older people we speak with today have been told they’ll be sanctioned if they don’t attend jobcentre meetings to explore the above-described sort of opportunity.

We chat for a long time with a woman who is 60 and who lost her job during the pandemic. She’s signed off sick as well, but, under threat of sanctions, has been told that she must attend the jobcentre for help to find employment that will pay her beans until she reaches retirement age – a target that I’m not 100% confident she’ll hit, because she’s already struggling with a racing heart and panic attacks (neither of which she had before she started claiming universal credit). I have begun to think that DWP regimes for older people might be our shite version of end-of-life assisted death. If you’re poor and struggling down life’s home strait, the DWP can help you over the line.

70 thoughts on “DWP: Are you poor and over 60? Get to work or drop dead. We’re here to help etc

  1. Hello Kate,

    Thanks for the article about Norm, My situation is a mirror of Norm. Five years ago I got the miracle cure from the DWP and sent on my way to find a job. Now I got 14 months to retirement. I have just finished a 15 month of waste your time with indegus course. Now they just put me on another 12 month waste your time with indegus course. Remember the monster ” Dennis Nilsen ” was a work coach.

    One million poor people got the miracle cure from the DWP over the last ten years and these walking wounded have become invisible. The DWP tells your doctor not to give you a sick note again for what they have cure you for. No health care for the poor.

    Regards: peter

    • Work is the cure for all ills, all you have to do is find someone who is willing to employ people in their 60s, or work that is suitable, i.e. not “fast paced” agency work, not 12 hour shifts rotating days and nights, not 20 miles away from home, not involving any heavy lifting, but over 30 hours per week. There is none. Just supermarkets offering 9 hour contracts, or cleaning jobs 5 to 10 hours per week (must have previous cleaning experience), etc.

  2. I had a work capability assessment back in 2007 and it went to a tribunal and the tribunal, IMHO, was fixed to find me fit for work but when I asked them what work I was fit for they couldn’t give an answer.
    Moving forward three years and I had another assessment that found me unfit for work after a routine hospital appointment, supposed to last 5 days, meant I spent six weeks in hospital and I haven’t had another assessment since.

  3. The Government including the DWP are seriously breaching International law, in which they had signed, ratified and are state party.

    They are:

    “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    Article 9
    The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.

    Article 11
    1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.”

    https://www.ohchr.org/en/instruments-mechanisms/instruments/international-covenant-economic-social-and-cultural-rights

    “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

    Article 28 – Adequate standard of living and social protection

    1. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

    2. States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures:

    a) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs;

    b) To ensure access by persons with disabilities, in particular women and girls with disabilities and older persons with disabilities, to social protection programmes and poverty reduction programmes;

    c) To ensure access by persons with disabilities and their families living in situations of poverty to assistance from the State with disability-related expenses, including adequate training, counselling, financial assistance and respite care;

    d) To ensure access by persons with disabilities to public housing programmes;

    e) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to retirement benefits and programmes.”

    https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-28-adequate-standard-of-living-and-social-protection.html

    Please spread awareness of these International laws, we must use it against the Government.

    Take note of this law firm, they help people win benefit cases in court.
    https://www.fightback4justice.co.uk

  4. Thanks for posts, all.

    @Peter thanks for sharing your story. I didn’t realise Nilsen was ex-DWP. If he was still around, he’d probably be Truss’ first pick.

  5. The whole thing is fucking ridiculous, and so damaging to peoples’ lives, to their mental health and general well-being. And it’s so unnecessary. I am over 60, claiming ‘legacy’ JSA and at the moment on the Work and Health Programme aka “Better Working Futures” provided by Reed in Partnership (Ltd). And what a load of utter bollocks it is. They are not medically trained but have a psychologist who runs “wellness” workshops in relaxation techniques etc. Another woman runs classes and the door was partially open and I overheard her brow-beating the class about the need to continue working until you drop, saying that the State Pension age had to be raised because there isn’t enough money in the pot to allow us to Retire earlier. What a load of shit! I didn’t hear her mention that the UK is one of the richest countries in the world and the problem is that the wealth is not distributed equitably, that the top one percent have 80% of the wealth but instead of reinvesting in infrastructure they hoard it in offshore Tax avoidance schemes. And I definitely didn’t hear her say anything about the myth of the ‘Trickle-down economy’ or the way in which advancements in technology have been used to maximise profits instead of the increased leisure time we were told. How the fuck such State sponsored propaganda is supposed to improve peoples’ health is a mystery to me, I’m likely to have a Sean Connery whilst arguing with the cunts.

    • Typically meaningless employment-related soundbites adorn the walls of the place; “It changed my life” said Jeff, “I feel like I’m in control of my life” said Alice, “They gave me the help I needed” said Paul, etc. One day it might say, “I visualized every jobcentre in the land reduced to rubble” said Trevor…

      • Thank you Kate for your work looking into this institutional bullying of older claimants, which is getting too little attention. And thank you Trev for posting these replies. I would like to hear more about this ‘Better Working Futures’ racket, maybe with a view to publicly asking Reed what the hell they are thinking of by running it in the first place. Do you mind if I screenshot or quote some of your reply in a tweet?

        • Sorry about delay in posting this comment. Some comments go into spam for some reason and I only just remembered to check

        • Sure, screenshot to your heart’s content. I suppose I could have refused to sign the paper work to begin with but I didn’t know what I was signing really, who does? No one reads reams if smallprint, and in any case I didn’t want to jeopardise my Benefits. It’s all just a game you have to go along with. Ive been to The Community Programme run by Interserve but didn’t even get through the induction, then got sent on something called “Skills Conditionality” for 2 months run by a company called Pinnacle People. After that did computer training at Learn direct, then Work Experience at the Oxfam depot, followed by a 12 month course run by Standguide called “Right Steps To Work”. After that did a 6 weeks Employability Skills course run by Interserve. Then came Covid, a blessed reliefbto the unemployed as the Jobcentre was shut for 2 years. And now am attending this ‘Work and Health Programme’ at Reed. All of this came about through the neoliberal policy of commodifying unemployment as a means of transferring public money into the Private sector, to all the Provider companies riding the lucrative Welfare-to-Work gravy train, began under New Labour via A4e, a Private company given government contracts whilst Blunkett was a paid Director. The founder of A4e, Emma Harris, became a multi-millionaire and bought a Stately Home and a brewery. The rest is history.

  6. I am currently on the Restart programme, and though the person I see Is a decent man, I find myself having the same conversation with him about searching for work, and refering me to the Job Broker to help me find work.

    I then explain the circumstances for my unemployment and the reasons, extremely long time without paid employment, absolutely zero references, the social security system Iitslef, and I sign the paperwork which I read and agree,and a month later I do the same again, with a wellbeing phone call In the Intervening two weeks.

    • I didn’t know Restart still existed. I remember them doing something like that back in the 90s before Blair’s ‘New Deal’ and Sanctions were introduced. Restart interviews were a sort of individual review/bollocking/kick-up-the-arse that took place at the Jobcentre every 6 months

      • I seem to remember that Restart was the Big Idea of of Summer 1988 by the then Department of Employment – that was before even JSA, and we claimed good old Unemployment Benefit which had virtually no conditionality attached to it beyond signing to say that you had done no work since the last time you signed and that you were thus entitled to the money you were about to receive, sent to you in a Giro that you then cashed in the local post office. We signed on at the dole office, and not the Jobcentre as the roles of each had yet to be merged, though it was at about this time that things started to change, with the lino and drab surroundings in dole offices being torn out and carpet and swish counters being installed in place, and even job boards appearing.

        I’m not sure how effective the original Restart scheme was, as there was a pretty well organised campaign against it and it was pretty easy to deal with as the Tories at that time, though as nasty as ever, were still somewhat inexperienced at oppressing the poor. Certainly the requirements of Restart were milder than than the conditionality imposed by JSA, itself extraordinarily mild when compared to the conditionaliity of UC.

        • Cheers for that Trev. I feel that there may be enough Conservative backbenchers who haven’t been consulted on the mini-budget who have had enough of being taken the piss out of to vote the policy down, but we will see. The worst option will be In line with earnings, but as so many Conservative MP’s don’t like Dizzy Lizzy, and Kami Kwase, the chances of another U-turn are promising.

          • Lizzy – out!
            Lizzy – out!
            Lizzy, Lizzy, Lizzy – OUT, OUT, OUT!

            ?

            They have kept Benefits behind inflation for years ever since Cameron and Osborne gained the opportunity to kick the poor. It’s 8 years ago since the Council of Europe said UK Benefits were grossly inadequate, and they’ve been cut since then. Single persons’ JSA (what I get) now £154 per fortnight needs to be around £150 per week.

          • Yes they should I know.. I just wanted to make people aware there wasn’t a plan for no uprating next year.

        • For how long for Trev, for how long? Starmer and his crew worry me, especially as Labour is now apparently attractive enough that some Tory MPs are allegedly considering defecting to Labour.

          I’d prefer to have Labour in government over the Tories any day, but I won’t be lending my vote to a Tory lite party, which is what Labour has now become. I was more than happy to lend my vote to Labour in 2017 and 2019, and might have been persuaded to hold nose and vote for a Starmer led party had they not ditched Corbyn’s (well John McDonnell’s actually) policies, but if they are still there in any form they will have been severely watered down.

          I think Starmer’s refusal to back striking workers speaks volumes about who and what he is.

  7. Ah, she doth spake…

    “Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves also criticised the lack of commitment to the move, saying: “The idea that the government can afford to give tax cuts to the wealthiest, but not uprate benefits in line with inflation, I think is grotesque.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-63125506

    This is the woman who said if you’re living on Benefits Labour is not the party for you.

      • Just cynical electioneering, None of them have any real principles, and though I detest Truss at least she makes no secret of her opportunism and doesn’t pretend it’s anything else.

        Just wait until Starmer and Co are in government and then you’ll see how they’ll try to out Tory the Tories on benefits and public services, including the welfare state, or what’s left of it.

        Maybe though I’m being just a tad cynical?

        Sadly it’s people like Corbyn and before him Benn and Foot and people like Bevan who founded the welfare state we used to have who were and are principled politicians

          • I wish I wasn’t so cynical! Sorry for the belated response to this, I’m afraid I’m not reading your blog as frequently as I perhaps should these days.

            I’m pretty good in myself thanks, but as for being good… Well, I have my moments 🙂 But for the most part, now counting down to when I can claim my state pension… in just over seven months from now.

            I hope you’re doing well too

  8. It just goes to show how thick these fuckers are, how disconnected can you be (?). This woman was a Tory who started a foodbank but only just realised that Tory policies create poverty, she never made that connection before WTF!?
    And as for being so shocked and moved by meeting a man with just 29p in his bank account, I’ve got news for her, that’s normal. There are many times when I have less than zero in my bank account and only one penny in my pocket. Thank fuck the penny has dropped.

    “Yorkshire Food bank founder resigns from Tory party after meeting man with 29p in Bank”

    “Nic Stansby said meetings with struggling people forced her to walk away from the Tory party”

    https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/cost-of-living/yorkshire-food-bank-founder-resigns-25174158

  9. “Getting Britain Moving”, like some Political All-Bran. Where do they get these meaningless slogans from? Liz Truss is the turd in the bowl that refuses to flush. “The Conservative Party; Flushing Britain’s Bog”, etc. and related Political shite.

  10. Pingback: DWP: Are you poor and over 60? Get to work or drop dead. We’re here to help etc - The Meteor

  11. I have been banned from every Job Centre, every DWP Department. They don’t want to see me, talk to me, contact me. Why? Because they have kicked me off the system. Back payments that they are scared of paying. I am currently WORKING on being put back on the system even if Caxton House likes it or not. This will be the first Disability Hate Crime that the police have charged someone with.

    The new DWP rules being passed are that the DWP have the power of arrest, gain entry & search of DWP customers flats for evidence. Which makes the police can’t get involved because the DWP are a political matter null & void. The police can now get involved charging the DWP with a Disability Hate Crime if the DWP use their powers of arrest.

    Now Caxton House is in the system like me.

    • Since the DWP have said I am not disabled & have magically become able, that means I have never been disabled but have got DWP disabled money off the DWP for 30 years amounting to £800,000 then that must be considered fraud. So DWP I have defrauded £800,000 over 30 years, so ACT & bring your DWP powers of arrest.

      Who is setting up who !!!

      • Since it is a DWP political matter DWP you can’t invole the police. Suicide if your only way out DWP & you already have sent round the police for my suicide which did not work. Try that again DWP & the police will be charging the DWP for a Disability Hate Crime & wasting police time.

        DWP, I am the Human Right Lawyer.

        • There’s no point in committing suicide, if you stick around long enough you die eventually anyway, of boredom if nothing else.

  12. i’m 64 soon and wondered did anyone struggle to get UC because they didn’t have photo ID. I neede 3 forms of ID,2 from list A and 1 from list B. i produced the 2 from list A which was utility bills ets bur the ID from list B had to be passport or photo driving licence which i didn’t have. They made things very difficult for me and wouldn’t give me a straight answer when i asked them in my universal credit account what else i could show.

  13. @phil. I recently had an interview with my job centre adviser and I asked about needing a passport to apply for universal credit (UC). She said I would not need one as they would use my digital footprint to identify me when applying for UC.

    • Digital footprint? I don’t know if they will be able to identify me in that way, I don’t use Internet Banking, I have no social media accounts, apart from ebay, Amazon, PayPal perhaps? I wasn’t sufficiently identifiable to enable me to open a Government Gateway account very recently when I was trying to check my NI contributions and Pension forecast.

    • I started a claim in July last year and I don’t have photo ID. I had to go to a special prove your ID interview in a jobcentre where I produced birth certificate, old payslip and old P60, bank statement and proof of new address which I did by the bank details. This was all accepted and my claim was processed. Though I get maybe not everyone can provide all this

  14. Pingback: Why you can’t rely on getting a sympathetic DWP work coach | Kate Belgrave

  15. Carrot and stick ,jumping through hoops ,I am 62 and actually want a job, have told them my knees are bad have OA knees from years of being in the building trade so my job coach says how about this window cleaning roll ,I just looked at him and said I hope your joking because otherwise I will be reporting this to your supervisor, now they’ve sent me to Reed who ain’t much brighter ,these people don’t take any notice of your disabilities or health ,they have a 1 track mind ,Reed only receive a payment if they find you work and you stay in it for 6 months,so why bother asking you to apply for manual jobs that 40 year old would struggle with .,some of those job centre advisors a psychopaths and have no empathy with anyone,

    • I quite agree. I’m over 60, I want to Retire but not yet old enough for State Pension. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, a hiatus hernia, an inguinal hernia, and have just recovered from stomach ulcers and anaemia. I’ve done plenty of Labouring in the building trade. I just finished the Work & Health Programme at Reed in November2023 after 15 months. Now I’ve been referred to the Restart scheme run by Maximus for 13 months. So far I’ve had one meeting with my Restart employment adviser, a young woman aged about 20, who has advised me to ask my Hospital Consultant about Medical Retirement. My next appointment with consultant should be sometime in late February. I have full blood tests tomorrow at hospital and a phone appointment with Rheumatology nurse on 6th Feb. In meantime, my employment adviser told me to apply for 5 jobs per week.

  16. So what gets me about all this, is whatever is introduced to try to keep people in work, people with musco skeletal conditions ARENT going to miraculously recover! I have arthritis sciatica degenerative disc disease in my neck and now hip pain. I was told 4 years ago I should stop cleaning. I’ve now increased my hours so hopefully I’ll drop soon, then I can be harassed as a sick person

    • I’m with you on the Arthritis, bloody painful, but spare a thought also for those poor sods suffering from mental illnesses who are now being targeted by the government and are going to lose their Benefits and told to find work . It’s bloody outrageous and the thing is Starmer has also announced the same thing, he’s pledged to reform mental health and Labour’s Liz Kendall gave a speech about forcing young mentally ill people off of Benefits and into work, exactly what Mel Stride has just announced that the Tories are doing! We’re sleepwalking into a neoliberal Fascist nightmare.

  17. One wonders where all these jobs for them to do even ARE? And I doubt employers would be queuing up to employ people who can’t even leave their houses through agarophobia, say, even in jobs such as my janitorial one! Yes it’s truly chilling when they said they can’t afford the sick benefits bills, so they’ll do what? Euthanise?

    • They’re peddling the myth that it’s not about saving money, it’s about helping people and the best thing for them is work, as work cures all ills. Yeah right, where have we heard that before – “Work Makes You Free”. For a start off people suffering from Stress related Depression, Anxiety, panic attacks, etc. may well be on medication that you can’t drive or operate machinery on, so that cuts out a lot of jobs to begin with, and if you’ve got Social Anxiety you won’t want a job that involves dealing with the public such as Retail or Hospitality jobs. The whole thing is ridiculous. How can people concentrate on job seeking or working if they’re struggling with low confidence /self esteem or battling against suicidal thoughts? Or even keep themselves clean and presentable if Depressed and struggling with motivation? It’s unworkable.

  18. You can not claim on line for PIP anymore

    “”””We are not taking online claims for people in your postcode area

    You can still claim by phone or with a paper form. The sooner you do this, the earlier you will set the date of claim and the earlier your payments could begin if you’re awarded PIP.””””

    I tried many post codes – same message.

  19. I been involved in domestic violence
    I had to go to the job centre.
    First off all, I been given diagnosis off pstd trauma.
    I had to gwt a letter form domestic violence agency wh were helping me wirh this.
    Then have an assessment by the job centre menntal heath team.
    Then me trying to get my live back on track
    Attend job centre look for work.
    The toil on a person is so bad.

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