LAST week, we heard a complaint from a 19-year-old girl (Stacy) from Ashton, who had gone to Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre to accompany her friend (Rebecca) to an interview. Although her friend suffers from epilepsy and severe depression, she was told she would not be allowed to attend the interview to support her friend also aged 19.
We understand that the Jobcentre told Stacy that it was impossible for her to attend the interview because it would breach 'confidentiality'. Consequently, Stacy had to wait outside the building for just under an hour, while her friend was interviewed.
We often hear complaints from people at Ashton Jobcentre that they have been refused permission by Jobcentre staff to accompany a friend to an interview. This frequently occurs even when the DWP client is suffering, like Rebecca, from health/mental health issues. Yet, guidance to staff working for the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), make it clear that:
'Claimants accessing DWP benefits and services can have someone to accompany them to act on their behalf.' And, 'Claimants can have a variety of people accompany them such as Representatives, Appointees, Corporate acting bodies or Personal acting bodies.'
As this sort of thing is happening on a regular basis at Ashton Jobcentre, the issue needs to be raised with the DWP and the local MP, Angela Rayner.