Posts Tagged ‘JobCentre’

Guy Debord’s Cat: Edwina Curry Claims to be Another Poor Pensioner

May 2, 2017

Another Tory, who lies about food banks also surfaced two months. Edwina Curry responded to comment by Buddy Hell of Guy Debord’s Cat on Twitter with the statement that she was a 70 year old pensioner, who occasionally works for the BBC and is on low pay and benefits.

The Cat had remarked that it was all right for her to sneer, as she didn’t have to rely on benefits to top up poor wages from work. And that was her response.

The Cat comments further on her reply that

She’s on low pay and she receives benefits? I doubt that. As the poster below remarks, she receives a generous final salary pension to which all former MPs are entitled. Although she may not be, in her words “filthy rich”, she has the kind of income that many pensioners can only dream of. Her appearance on I’m A Celebrity netted her a cool £100,000. As for her appearances on the BBC, let’s put it this way: she won’t be earning peanuts. Currie and her second husband also own two (possibly more) properties.

He also speculates that perhaps she thought he’d forgotten her comments about salmonella in eggs and her four year affair with John Major.

he concludes

If Currie thinks her pension isn’t enough for her to live on, maybe she could get a job at her local supermarket? Just a thought.

See https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/edwina-currie-just-another-poor-pensioner/

No, Edwina Currie is very definitely not a poor pensioner. In fact, from what I’ve seen of her performances on television, she has absolute contempt for them, just like she and her party has for anyone else who’s poor. About a decade ago she turned up on the Clive Anderson show. Anderson asked her about the furore she caused when she was in Major’s government. The government had decided to cut pensioners’ winter fuel allowance. This understandably upset very many people. Curry’s response was to tell them to ‘wrap up warmly’. She repeated her comments, and added a snide remark about how it would ‘teach them’.

This offhand sneer at poor senior citizens went down as well as you would expect: the audience started booing.

This provoked an amazed response from Curry – she started peering around with the kind of fixed smile people put on when they know something’s not quite right, but don’t understand what. She really, really couldn’t understand how anyone could find her comment offensive.

She’s another one who’d fail the Turing test. In fact, there are probably ZX81s still out there, with 1 byte of memory, that stand a better chance of passing for human.

She also comes across as incredibly thick. She’s an Oxford graduate, and presumably had a very expensive education, but you do wonder how she got in. Way back in the 1990s, when Have I Got News For You was still more than halfway funny, she tried locking horns with Ian Hislop. Answering a question about some legal tussle she’d been involved in, she looked across to the editor of Private Eye and remarked ‘Aren’t you glad I didn’t sue you?’

To which Hislop frostily replied ‘Aren’t you glad, my dear!’

I think she’s now an MP for Derby. She turned up a few years ago on a documentary about starvation in Britain and the rising use of food banks. She was interviewed to give the Tory line. So standing in the middle of a bank’s stores, she repeated the lie that people weren’t using them because they were starving, but because it was cheap food.

Wrong. You can only use a food bank if you’ve got a chit referring you from the Jobcentre.

This was pointed out to her by the presenter. But, like a good little follower of Goebbels on the art of political lying, she repeated the lie.

She also made another appearance on a chat show a few years ago, in which she made much of her Liverpool roots. She put up on the accent, and tried to pass herself off as a real ‘Dicky Sam’.

Liverpool’s a great city. It has given the world the Beatles, Hornby Railways and Meccano. It has a brilliant museum and art gallery, and was one of the first museums in Britain to open a display on its role in the slave trade. In the 19th century, it’s literary and philosophical society was a major centre of scientific research in England. It has also produced the great writer and playwright, Alan Bleasdale. Unfortunately, Edwina Curry has also appeared to lower the tone.

She’s another Tory liar with a contempt for the poor, who tries to hide it behind further lies.

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DPAC Demonstration Outside Bromley Jobcentre Yesterday

September 24, 2016

I found this short video on YouTube of the demonstration held by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) outside Bromley Jobcentre yester, the 23rd September 2016. The speakers talked about the rise in the numbers of homeless in London – about 200 children – due to the government’s welfare reforms and closure of crisis centres. They denounced the sanctions system as against human rights, and pointed out that people with disabilities and learning difficulties were being denied benefits and the means to live due to these. They also pointed out that able-bodied people in employment, but on low wages, would also be subject to the sanctions system when they are placed on Universal Credit. They will then be required to raise their income through finding another job or getting more hours. If they can’t, they’ll lose their benefits. There is also a man talking about the deaths resulting from the Canadian government’s cuts to its social assistance programmes and aid for the homeless. This has led to people dying of cold in the streets because of the extreme arctic climate, or else have been crammed, shorn of their dignity, in warming centres. The man states that he has joined the campaign, as OPAC has strong links with DPAC, and this needs to be a movement of working class people across borders.

As well as the people speaking, other demonstrators are seen holding up a long banner displaying the number of people – 7,524 or thereabouts – who have been sanctioned by the Jobcentre.

DPAC have been protesting up and down the country against the cuts, and they are very clear, including in this video, about the suffering and deaths from despair and starvation the benefit cuts have caused. Their demos have also regularly received the support they deserve from local trade unions. This demonstration is no exception. One of the speakers is a young woman from the local trades council.

The campaign against austerity is indeed truly international. I’ve blogged here about how anarchists have launched opposition strategies against the cuts to get badly needed help to the poor and homeless, based on similar campaigns in Canada. In Germany too there have also been campaigns against similar sanctions systems imposed in some German laender. The movement against austerity is international, and its growing.

Insults against Public and Lack of Training of DWP Staff

May 25, 2016

Mike yesterday carried the disgusting story of an elderly lady, who was insulted by a member of the DWP when she rang up to make an inquiry. The lady was Janine Clarke, a former NHS worker, who suffers from a form of dementia, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. She rang the DWP to alert them to her condition, and inquire about pension credits. However, she had a probably answering one of the security questions. She was asked the date of her wedding. When she repeatedly failed to remember it, the DWP minion on the phone called her a ‘f*** pig’ and hang up.

It’s a disgraceful story, and the DWP has rightly apologised for the behaviour of the civil servant, who gave his name as ‘Chris’.

See Mike’s article at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/05/24/dwps-shame-how-many-more-vulnerable-people-have-been-abused-on-the-phone/

Mike in his comment wondered how many others have been similarly insulted, but have not made a complaint, and so their abuse goes unrecorded. He also believes that such abuse is encouraged, in order to make sure that they do not call again.

This wouldn’t be the first time by a long chalk that a member of the public has been insulted by an employee of the DWP. I’ve had experience of their domineering and frankly degrading attitude towards claimants at one of the Jobcentres in Bristol, though I have to say that I was not insulted or abused like this poor lady was. I have, however, heard stories about how the ‘job coaches’, who are supposedly there to motivate the long term unemployed into finding work, operate by phoning them up to humiliate them. And by all accounts, the DWP itself is a hell of job insecurity and backbiting, with the employees fearing that they will be next in line to be laid off, and the higher ranks doing their best to humiliate their inferiors. So it’s nowhere near surprising that a DWP employee should treat a member of the public in such a grossly disrespectful manner.

It also seems to confirm what I’ve heard from various people about a severe lack of training in the Civil Service. I’ve heard rumours that it’s been cut down from nearly a year to 13 weeks. This has, of course, been carried out by Ian Duncan Smith, the sneering egotistical failure, who himself runs away and hides from the public at every opportunity.

It’s also in line with Tory attitudes to training. Ha-Joon Chang in his book, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, criticises the attitude amongst many firms that training employees is essentially a wasteful activity. They dislike it, because such skilled employees can be poached from them by other companies, who need not invest in training them. They also dislike it, because of a deliberately policy in keeping employees as unskilled as possible, so that they can be sacked or replaced more easily. My guess is that this government sees training workers in exactly the same terms, quite apart from wishing to encourage the nastiest, most contemptible attitudes towards the public in their staff.

And so incidents like this are allowed to happen.

It’s disgraceful, as are the people who run this increasingly demoralised, shambolic mess: Ian Duncan Smith, now departed, and his successor, Stephen Crabb. Both should be called before parliament to explain their gross mismanagement of the DWP and their deliberate encouragement and promotion, through cuts and management reforms, of a culture of incompetence and casual insensitivity and gross contempt.

Kropotkin on How Employment Contracts Are Not the Product of Free Consent

April 26, 2016

In my last post, I quote the great Russian Anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, on how capitalism will deliberately limit production and throw people out of work in order to keep profits high. In his essay ‘Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles’, Kropotkin also made this scathing criticism of the idea that employment contracts between employer and worker were made from free choice, when the reality was that the only choice was starvation for the worker. He wrote

First of all, there are two kinds of agreements: there is the free one which is entered upon by free consent, as a free choice between different courses equally open to each of the agreeing parties; and there is the enforced agreement, imposed by one party upon the other, and accepted by the latter from sheer necessity; in fact, it is no agreement at all; it is a mere submission to necessity. Unhappily, the great bulk of what are now described as agreements belong to the latter category. When a workman sells his labour to an employer, and knows perfectly well that some part of the value of his produce will be unjustly taken by the employer; when he sells it without even the slightest guarantee of being employed so much six consecutive months- and he is compelled to do so because he and his family would otherwise starve next week – it is a sad mockery to call that a free contract. Modern economists may call it free, but the father of political economy – Adam Smith – was never guilty of such a misrepresentation. (Peter Kropotkin, ed. Nicolas Walter, Anarchism and Anarchist Communism: Its Basis and Principles (London: Freedom Press 1987) 52).

This has been the basis of Tory unemployment policy ever since Maggie took power in 1979. It was why the Tories introduced delays into benefit payments for workers, who voluntarily made themselves unemployed. And the same reasoning is behind the sanctions systems, and the idiotic contract you are supposed to sign indicating that you are actively looking for work when you sign on at the Jobcentre.

Arizona Senator Demands Sterilisation and Total Control of Welfare Claimants

February 26, 2015

This is another clip on the disgusting attitude towards the poor by the Republicans in America. In it’s of John Iadarola of The Young Turks criticising the proposals made by Howard Pearce, a republican senator in Arizona, for cutting the welfare budget. Pearce said that he would cut the benefits bill by forcing women on welfare to be sterilised or have a coil fitted. Food stamps would only be available for certain foods, so that they poor couldn’t buy steaks or sweets. And their houses would be subject to rigorous inspection similar to military barracks housing on army bases. Here’s the clip:

Now it’s tempting just to shrug this off as the ranting of the American. A lot of Americans would also consider comments like this to be something of a joke as well, just illustrating how nutty and malign some of the Repugs are in the south west. That would be a mistake. He’s only saying what large numbers of Conservatives actually think, both in American and Britain. As I’ve already said, the Conservatives over here have taken much of their ideology from the Repugs. The whole Thatcherite economic project was taken from von Hayek and Milton Friedman of the Chicago school. And they share the same attitudes towards controlling the lives of the poor absolutely. Remember the Lib Dem peer, who wanted welfare claimants’ personal expenses open for public inspection? Or the way the Jobcentre and their ‘work coaches’ increasingly demand details of your job searches, in order to make sure you are actually looking for a job? And the latest attack on personal freedom by Cameron – welfare claimants should be refused benefits if they’re too fat. They’re based on the same totalitarian, domineering attitude by the extremely rich, who seem to believe that if somehow someone is on benefits, that means that they should be public property and humiliated as much as possible, so that they get a job.

As for sterilising people on welfare, that’s actually the return of a very old idea that was held over here. Lord Beveridge, the Liberal peer, who published the report preparing for the establishment of the NHS, also believed in it. He considered that men admitted to the workhouse or supported by the parish dole system should only do so on the recognition that they were biologically unfit, and agreed to be sterilised because of their inability to support themselves or there children.

We’re back to those 19th century attitudes at the beginning of the 21st.

Get the Tories and their counterparts across the world out of power. Now.

Dirty Tricks Used by Jobcentres to Get People Sanctioned: New Appointments Made at Last Minute

December 16, 2014

Groovmistress posted this comment on Tom Pride’s piece about the Jobcentre sanctioning a young woman simply because she was pregnant.

The whole set-up in the Jobcentres is geared to putting the “client” in their place, making them feel inferior and, in my experience, the “officers” take pleasure in acting the role of strict headteacher (“stand there”, “don’t cross the line”, “don’t answer back” etc) doling out punishment at any opportunity. Many of these “officers” are not highly trained professionals (I have known a few personally) and quite obviously relish their power. They are not there to help us, their mission seems to be to do whatever they can to sanction, disallow a claim or just make our lives very difficult.

I was once sanctioned and money stopped, because I “missed an appointment”. I had an appointment at the jobcentre for 1pm on a Monday. On the Saturday before I received a letter confirming the appointment. However, as I was about to leave home I noticed that the time given in the letter was 11am. Obviously I assumed an error had been made somewhere so telephoned to explain but was told that the 11am appointment was an extra one they had made at short notice. When I pointed out that this was confusing the chap replied that it was a deliberate ploy to “catch people out” and something they did regularly!

Needless to say, I was too late for the first appointment. This resulted in loss of 2 weeks benefit, no discussion and when I, naturally, became upset and protested, I was forcibly removed by security guards.
I am a 60 year old woman by the way.

Groovmistress is certainly not alone in her experience of being ordered about and humiliated by the little Hitlers at the Jobcentre. This is part and parcel of the DWP’s strategy of ‘less eligibility’ and making the actual process of signing on so unpleasant and humiliating that people refuse to do so.

What is particularly remarkable and disgusting is the way the Jobcentre changed the time of her appointment, after an agreement had been made, as they themselves had the gall to confess, with the deliberate intention of catching people and getting them sanctioned.

It just confirms what very many other people have remarked on, that the Jobcentre appears determined to use any means, no matter how low, to throw those who need it off benefits.

As for her forcible removal by security guards, it is also disgusting that physical force should be used on a sixty year old woman. Alas, I am not surprised, however. I can remember one whistleblower from the Jobcentre/ DWP stating that they would bully and sanction the timid, weak and unprotesting because they could get away with it. Those likely to cause much more of a stir and be a threat to their physical safety, such as, and this is the example they used, ‘a six-foot brickie’, would not have their benefit stopped.

As for the staff at Jobcentres not, in general, being highly trained professionals, I’ve also heard about that from former civil servants, who had the job of training them. I understood that it used to take about a year to properly train staff in former benefits agency, and even then they were not fully trained. Now the time spent in training them is 13 weeks. This explains how they are both callous and incompetent.

From 2012: Investigation into Fraud and Poor Performance at A4E

April 9, 2014

This comes from Private Eye for the 23rd March – 5th April 2012.

Welfare To Work

Targets Practice

Dismal results from Welfare-to-work firm A4e have not stopped it earning hundreds of millions from the taxpayer. But now an investigation into fraud at the company may achieve what mere incompetence could not.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched an immediate audit and says it will terminate its commercial relationship with the firm if it finds “evidence of systemic fraud in DWP’s contracts with A4e”.

There is no shortage of material. The DWP investigation itself was prompted by an allegation of attempted fraud in an A4e contract to deliver “Mandatory Work Activity” – compulsory work placements arranged by A4e. Meanswhile, a member of staff running a government scheme in Hull was found guilty of fraud last year, and four former members of staff in its Slough office are currently being investigated for fraud on “benefit-busting” contracts. The DWP’s internal auditors have already investigate the firm four times, though without finding wrongdoing that amounted to fraud.

A common theme is that A4e staff are alleged to have made false claims about finding jobs or work placements for the unemployed. A4e blamed its staff, claiming that it too was a victim of the frauds or alleged frauds. But in 2010, when MPs on the work and pensions select committee investigated fraud and misbehaviour by A4e and other contractors, the firm admitted that its bonus system was at fault. Staff were paid to meet targets on getting people into work, a system that A4e said in its submission to MPs “may have been a driver for individual malpractice”. In short, A4e admits that its own bonus system encouraged some staff to fiddle the figures.

A4e executive Bob Murdoch told MPs the problem was solved by moving to group bonuses “as a safeguard against individuals making fraudulent job outcome claims”. No such luck: some of the false claims appear to have involved groups of A4e staff.

* Despite its travails, a4e always comes out fighting – even when that means taking credit for work it didn’t do.

When MPs on the public accounts committee criticised its performance of Pathways to Work, a jobs scheme for disabled people, the firm put a statement on its website deriding the “completely false premise” of the MPs’ attacks. it even quoted a DWP report that “indicates a return to the Treasury – and therefore the taxpayer – of over £3 for every £1 invested in the Pathways to Work programme referred to by the PAC”.

Alas, the report was not describing A4e’s own work, but that done by JobCentre staff who used to run the scheme in 2003-4 before being replaced by A4e and other contractors. In fact, a 2010 National Audit Office report into Pathways to Work as run by A4e and others found the scheme had delivered “poor value for money”. Still worse, JobCentres had “performed better”!

* Ever ready with an aggressive defence, nor does A4e like it when benefit-claiming clients try to stick up for themselves.

In Scotland, A4e refused to see a claimant, “Peter”, who wanted to attend meetings with a volunteer from ECAP, the Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty. Since “Peter’s” benefit had been stopped several times, with police being called to throw him out of A4e’s offices on one occasion, a judge at the Social Security Tribunal Hearing ruled in his favour saying he had “good cause” to be accompanied.

Another claimant, “Ram”, was refused entry when he tried to attend an A4e Work Programme appointment with an ECAP member. A4e started a “sanction” that stopped his benefits, but Ram appealed and won. The DWP reinstated his benefits, apologised and gave him a £50 “payment for gross inconvenience resulting from persistent error”.

And this is the firm entrusted by taxpayers with £400m in contracts…

* Why the Skills Funding Agency saw fit to award A4e contracts to provide prison education in London and the South East, as confirmed last week, is a mystery given its pisspoor record at Darmoor prison.

The latest Ofsted report, released last month after an inspection in December, scored overall education and training, provided jointly by A4e and Strode College, as inadequate with inadequate capacity to improve. Leadership was also rated inadequate, and under the heading “strengths”, there were, er, “no key strengths identified”.

The next most recent Ofsted report into prison education run by A4e, covering a 2011 visit to Suffolk’s Blundeston prison, also found inadequate provision and criticised both the lack of organisation and lack of staff trained ot help those with specific learning difficulties or needs. The supposedly business-friendly firm also had “too few links with local employers”.

As Eye 1212 said when A4e quite providing prison education in Kent in 2008, because it wasn’t making money on the deal, and was immediately hired to run a New Deal for Disabled People scheme in Glasgow: “Nothing succeeds like failure, eh?”

In short, A4e are either institutionally corrupt, or are massively incompetent with a bonus system that encourages fraud and corruption. They are inefficient compared to the public sector workers in the Civil Service, who the government wishes to phase out of the system leaving it entirely in the hands of the private contractors. They steal the credit for other people’s good work, bully claimants and provide a lamentably poor service for educating crims in prison.

And even if they weren’t any of that, they would still deserve contempt and disapproval simply for administering the government’s workfare schemes, which are a highly exploitative form of unfree labour. And the Void has pointed out with regard to these schemes, they don’t work either. You’re far better off trying to find a job on your own.

So of course, with this magnificent record of compassion and quality of service, the government has to continue giving them contracts.

A4e is proof that IDS’ benefit reforms are purely ideological, and not supported by performance or results. Both A4e and their ultimate boss, IDS himself, should go.