Tag Archives: Jobcentres

DWP Hires Miracle Lifestyle Guru Who Claims 95% Success Rate In Curing Mental Health Conditions!

definition-isanityFears that the psychological treatments to be introduced in Jobcentres will amount to little more than unscientific quackery look well founded with the appointment of a so-called stress and anxiety management company to provide service for claimants with a mental health condition.

Earlier in the month ITV reported that a company called Start Smiling Again would soon be working across several Jobcentres in South Wales.  According to Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, this is part of a package of support that shows that supporting people with a mental health condition is a priority for the current Government.

Start Smiling Again are run by David Rahman, who calls himself a Coach & Blueprint Therapist.  It is unclear whether anyone else is currently involved in the company as their website contains no company information, landline phone number or address.  Instead potential customers are invited to call Dave on his mobile.  Classy fuckers.

David Rahman claims to be a bit of a miracle worker.  Not only can he cure stress, depression and anxiety, but even ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia – all previously thought incurable by real doctors.  According to Rahman 95% of his patients have made a full recovery based on his magical techniques.  It’s all in the mind he seems to suggest, and as soon as you find the root cause of your anxiety, depression or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome then your condition will disappear.  He calls this Blueprint Therapy.  He invented it.

Rahman boasts gaining Diplomas in Hynotherapay, Coaching and Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP) along with being a trained practitioner in ‘Time Line Therapy‘ and ‘The Chrysalis Effect’ (don’t ask).  Most of these diplomas were gained at the esteemed NLP training centre Inspire 360 where some courses last as long as a week!

If Rahman has any real qualifications in mental health or psychology he makes no mention of them – his background is as an optometrist. Proper psychologists don’t generally spend their days posting endless self-help messages on social media like the one above claiming that insanity means being unhappy and not being prepared to change the way you think.  He also runs a sideline in writing ebooks such as this one on how to attract women and his misogynist streak shows in his recent facebook posting.

The DWP's new provider of mental health services shares some insightful advice.

And he thinks he’s a lion.

rahman-lion

Rahman should fit right in at the Jobcentre which is riddled with this glassy-eyed nonsense but the appointment of his company is a new low even for the DWP.  Ever since plans were announced to introduce Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT)  into 350 Jobcentres serious concerns have been raised not just about the quality of this coerced ‘support’ for claimants with a mental health condition, but also the ideology that lies behind it.  Iain Duncan Smith seems to think that all someone with a mental illness needs to do to get better is cheer up and start applying for jobs in Tesco. And if that doesn’t sort their life out he’ll stop their benefits to teach them a lesson.  And now he’s got a lifestyle guru to force people to start smiling again.  Or else.

It is genuinely horrifying that unscientific drivel like this is soon to be inflicted on some of the most marginalised people in the UK.  People who have often lived through desperately traumatic events, or have serious and complex mental health conditions and could have their lives demolished by this kind of horseshit.  The DWP is now at risk of actively harming the mental health of all those unlucky enough to be forced to depend on Jobcentres.  It is time for  mental health workers, from psychiatrists to charity workers, to get behind those they support and find ways to bring down and discredit the current DWP regime.  Anything else now is collaboration.

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Sandra Gives The Game Away: Jobcentres Given Sheriff’s Stars For Hitting Benefit Sanction Targets

sanction-sheriffSandra Lambert, manager of 149 Jobcentres and self-styled lifestyle guru, has spent much of the last few days frantically blocking people on twitter who have been taking the piss out of the cringemaking motivational advice she inflicts on the poor bastards who work for her.

She wasn’t fast enough however to hide the tweet in which she awarded a Texas style sherriff’s badge to Jobcentres in the midlands for upholding their DMA decision rate – as spotted by @refuted.  A DMA means a referral to a Jobcentre ‘decision maker’ to process a benefit sanction.  It is the second time this month a DWP manager has been exposed praising their staff for hitting benefit sanction targets – targets that Iain Duncan Smith’s department have repeatedly claimed do not exist.

It is not just that the DWP are lying which is so contempible, all government departments lie after all.  It is the sheer glee that has accompanied this policy of driving people into desperate poverty should they happen to miss a meeting with the Jobcentre or call in sick for workfare.

There is no argument anymore, benefit sanctions kill.  They are the cause of desperate suffering as has now been well documented by organisations which work with claimants such as Citizen’s Advice, MIND, Gingerbread, Oxfam, Homeless Link and countless others.  Whatever your views on the social security system there should be no doubt, benefit sanctions are intended as punishment, and that punishment is severe.

To hear that Jobcentre staff are being given Easter eggs, or gold stars or Texas fucking badges as prizes for inflicting this regime is repugnant.  There is something very wrong at the DWP when the tears and broken lives they cause are met with laughter and merriment and fucking competitions to do it to as many people possible.  Do they get a bonus if they sanction someone who goes on to top themself?  An extra pat on the head if someone is sick and may not last the Winter if they can’t afford to put the heating on?  At the very least you might expect some dignity, sensitivity and awareness of the seriousness of their actions.  But instead it’s just a big fucking joke.  Has a government department ever sunk any lower?

Perhaps this is the reason for the glassy-eyed nonsense that seems to inflict many of the managers at the DWP.  Perhaps it is the only way they can sleep at night. By turning the whole wretched and inhumane system that they oversee into some kind of twisted game where they compete to keep each other’s spirit’s high as their hands become ever more stained with blood.  But that is no excuse.  The consequences of their actions are all too real and no amount of happy clappy slogans will fill a hungry child’s belly or talk a desperate person out of suicide.

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Over 4000 Unpaid Workers Recruited Right Under The So-Called Fighting Union’s Nose

workfare_0It is hard to imagine a more toxic influence on wages and working conditions than an army of un-unionised and unpaid workers forced to be there under threat of benefit sanctions.

Yet whilst the so-called fighting PCS Union has dithered over benefit sanctions and workfare that is exactly what has happened under their very noses at the DWP.

As spotted by @boycottworkfare, Employment Minister Esther McVey recently boasted that 4,300 unpaid workers on the Government’s Work Experience scheme have been press-ganged into working for the DWP over the last three years.  This could represent up to one million hours of forced labour – potentially replacing nearly a two hundred full time jobs over the same period.

Whilst the Work Experience scheme is officially ‘voluntary’ claimants who refuse to work for free at the DWP can face being sent on a mandatory  workfare scheme instead.  George Osborne even recently announced that this was to become the policy for people between 18 and 21 – who will in future be sentenced to up to 780 hours forced work if they turn down an unpaid Work Experience position.

As well as no wage, young people on the Work Experience scheme have no working rights.  If they are sacked for gross misconduct they face benefits being sanctioned.  Gross misconduct under these terms could potentially include refusing to cross a picket line.

Some unions, such as the BFAWU, have recognised the very real dangers to all workers from workfare of any kind.  Sadly the PCS, the union for DWP workers, has remained silent whilst this grotesque exploitation has taken place.  PCS members have already instructed their union to take tougher action on benefit sanctions and yet nothing appears to have happened.  Perhaps it’s time for PCS members who care about their jobs and working conditions to bypass their tame union leadership and take matters into their own hands.

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Shocking 50% Rise In Assaults on DWP Staff In Just One Year

dwp-incidentsThe number of recorded assaults on DWP staff soared by almost 50% between 2011/12 and 2012/13 a Health and Safety review has revealed this week.

672 staff members were physically assaulted in 2012/13 compared to 465 in 2011/12.  The number of recorded instances of verbal abuse or threats rose by over 50% reaching 35161 whilst the number of ‘other’ incidents – which can include damage to property or fights breaking out which do not involve staff – has doubled and now stands at 6399.

The DWP claim changes to the way some incidents are reported has contributed to this huge rise in staff facing assault or abuse, however it is likely that changes to social security are also a major factors.

Jobcentre staff can now stop or sanction benefits seemingly on a whim with unofficial targets set by bosses to end as many claims as possible.  Claimants who face sanctions are placed under unbearable financial pressure.  A recent report from Citizens Advice described horrific tales of dietary needs going unmet, attempted suicides and people forced to beg due to sanctions.  Homelessness charities have reported that sanctions are causing some people to lose their homes.

With claimants under pressure like never before to endlessly look for jobs which aren’t there – or facing sanctions for the most ludicrous reasons – it is unsurprising that tensions are running high in Jobcentres.

Alongside this, Jobcentres are now working with a very different group of claimants to previous years.  Many people stripped of sickness benefits do to being assessed as ‘fit for work’ are now forced to sign on in Jobcentres.  Some of this group will include people who display what social workers call ‘challenging behavior’ whether due to substance misuse or other factors.  Long term unemployed people, who in a very small number of cases may have extensive criminal pasts or a history of anti-social behavior, are now being singled out for special harassment in Jobcentres.  An evaluation of a recent workfare scheme warned that welfare-to-work companies were unable to find unpaid work placements for some people due to a ‘risk to placement providers’.

Jobcentre staff are poorly trained to deal with people who may be chaotic or violent, yet they now have more power over people’s lives than social workers, probation offices and other social care professionals.  These workers, who have comprehensive risk assessment strategies and information sharing procedures, earn considerably more than the salary of an average Jobcentre worker.

With ‘conditionality’ for benefits set to increase even further over the coming years, the risk to DWP staff is only likely to get worse for those on the front line of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.

The report can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/253522/dwp-hsw-annual-report-2012-13.pdf

Sign the petition to abolish all benefit sanctions without exceptions and join the upcoming Week of Action Against Workfare.

Please keep comments on this post sensible.

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Could Civil Penalties Be The New Benefit Sanctions As Jobcentre Staff Hand Out Fines To Cover Their Own Mistakes?

thievesOne of the more insidious aspects of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms has been the huge amount of power which has been handed over to Jobcentre advisors to harass and bully benefit claimants.  The power to sentence people to forced work along with the massive expansion of benefit sanctions has meant that DWP busy-bodies now have the power to plunge claimants into economic despair seemingly on a whim.

Jobcentre workers are now also able to hand out £50 fines when they decide that someone’s negligence has led to a benefit overpayment.  Negligence according to DWP Decision Maker Guidelines means: “acting carelessly, not paying sufficient attention to the task in hand, or disregarding the importance of what is required to be done in relation to a claim or award”.

Already there is anecdotal evidence emerging that these fines, which can be deducted from benefits at source, are being administered in the same haphazard way as benefit sanctions.  The recent report from Citizens Advice outlined how people were being sanctioned through no fault of their own due to over-zealous Jobcentre staff working (and lying) to meet unofficial targets to end as many claims as possible.  It seems that this culture is also emerging in the application of Civil Penalties.

Whilst information gleaned from the internet must be treated with caution, in this thread on the Money Saving Expert forums a claimant describes how a Jobcentre error led to them receiving a Civil Penalty.  The £50 fine in this case was related to an overpayment of just £71 which happened due to the claimant undertaking a few hours paid work for which they were paid £90.  Because of what appears to be a mix up by the Jobcentre – the claimant appealed the fine and claims to have won – this meant that as well as losing £71 in benefits for declaring the work, the claimant also lost £50 due to the Civil Penalty.  This is Iain Duncan Smith’s idea of making work pay.

There are currently no figures available on how many Civil Penalties have been handed out, although the government has said this information will be logged over time.  Whilst anecdotal evidence is far from satisfying, it is currently all that is available concerning how this scheme is working in practice.

And it is hard to see how situations such as those described in the story above can be avoided, as Jobcentre staff have an interest in ensuring it is claimants who take the blame for any mistake leading to an over-payment.  They get bollocked for over-payments as well, and under current conditions are always likely to be believed over claimants.

Whilst Civil Penalties are not as draconian in effect as benefit sanctions, which can now leave people with nothing at all for up to three years, the power for low paid civil servants to hand out fines on the flimsiest of evidence which are not backed up by the Courts seems unprecedented.  Whilst the penalties can be appealed, there is no way for them to be avoided in favour of a trial.  At present on the spot fines can be handed out for a range of offences.  But you are well within your rights to refuse to pay and demand a court hearing if you believe you are not guilty of the offence.

In the case of Civil Penalties there is no such right because there is no suggestion that the people they are imposed on have committed an offence.  People are being fined despite the fact they haven’t broken any law.  It is state theft, from the poorest people in the country and could soon be happening on a huge scale.

Claimants who have been given a Civil Penalty should first be given a chance to offer their side of the story.  The DWP Decision Maker Guidelines explain how decisions to implement the fines should be reached and can be found at:  http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-33-12.pdf

If the penalty is imposed then it can be appealed in the same way as other benefit decisions.  Citizen’s Advice have comprehensive guidance on their website concerning how to challenge a decision made by the DWP.

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