Monday, 4 April 2011

Vulnerable Jobseekers Targeted for Benefit Sanctions by Jobcentre Plus!

A whistleblower working for Jobcentre Plus, has told the Guardian newspaper that vulnerable claimants looking for work are being targeted for benefit sanctions by jobcentre staff in order to meet government welfare targets.

Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), show that the number of people being losing their benefits has risen rapidly since the beginning of of 2010 to 75,000 in October. The figures also show that the number of claimants with registered disabilities who have lost their benefits during the same period, has more than doubled to almost 20,000.

The whistleblower('K'),told the Guardian that staff working at his jobcentre, were told to target three people a week for sanctioning where benefits can be suspended for up six months. He told the newspaper:

"Suddenly you`re not helping somebody into sustainable employment, which is what you`re employed to do...You`re looking for ways to trick your customers into not looking for work. You come up with many ways. I've seen dyslexic customers given written jobsearches, and when they don`t produce them - what a surprise - they`re sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people`s money..."

He told the newspaper that young claimants are a major target for sanctioning because 'they haven`t been there long enough'. So are the uneducated and people of low educational attainment who are seen as 'easy to exploit' by Jobcentre Plus staff. People who are reluctant to diversify are also seen as an easy target. An electrician or a plumber may not want to work in a call centre he said, and they will be told to apply for these types of jobs. When they don`t their benefit is stopped for six months. He added:

"We were told suddenly that (finding someone to sanction) once a week wasn't good enough, we were far behind other offices, and we went to a meeting where they compared us with other offices, and said we now have to do three a week to catch up. Most staff go into work and they`re thinking about it from moment one - who am I going to stop this week?"

The DWP denied that they were targeting vulnerable jobseekers saying this was ridiculous.But The Guardian has seen email evidence of the referral targets of one office and the issues of targets has been raised by DWP employees on online forums.

The Citizens Advice Bureau have reported a significant rise in the number of claimants who have had their benefits cuts. In South Tyneside where there is 13% unemployment, caseworker, Andy Robertson, has a huge pile of paperwork for appeals which has more than doubled in the last year. He told the newspaper: "Clients seem to be getting sanctioned for next to nothing".


Anonymous said...

They are doing this in the South too - do join a union at the reduced rate if you are put on a compulsory 'work placement/training scheme' - around £12 a year for Unite. We were used for 13 weeks as cheap labour during the Strike at NewsQuest Media -

Anonymous said...

Carol Dean (Manager of Kettering JCP) Is doing the same thing to claimants at her office.