Posts Tagged ‘Samaritans Mike Sivier’

Sings of the True Nature of the DWP: Samaritans Cards at the Job Centre

November 21, 2013

I was in the Job Centre myself a few weeks ago. Looking along the desk of one of the interview staff, I noticed that right in front of the tray for his documents and papers was a stack of cards for the Samaritans. This is a mute, but shocking sign of the real nature of the DWP under Cameron and Clegg. Mike, The Void, and many, many other left-wing blogs and sites have already described how the staff in some Job Centres are being trained to deal with suicidal claimants. These are the poor and desperate, whose claims have been disallowed and sanctioned. I don’t know if the Job Centre in Bristol offers similar training to its staff. The stack of cards on this clerks desk nevertheless bore witness that this staff member, at least, knew there was a problem and was prepared for that eventuality, if just in this small, trivial way.

Now I am certainly not blaming that particular clerk for the despair the system inflicts. As far as I could see, he was courteous and doing his best to be genuinely helpful. The system, however, does not seem to reward kindness and courtesy. Under Blair there were already secret directives in some Job Centres stipulating that a certain number of claimants should be sanctioned. The Void has reported that under Cameron, some offices have been running competitions to see who can deprive the most unemployed and disabled of their benefits. In one office an Easter Egg was the prize. In this environment, it is the callous and abusive, who will find work in the DWP, and advance up the corporate ladder.

That stack of cards, and the training of benefits staff to deal with threats and attempts of suicide just scream how bad the benefits’ system now is. They indirectly confirm the reports of the unemployed and particularly the disabled, who have killed themselves following their benefits being stopped. IDS has refused to give the exact figures, but obviously if staff are being given such training, and have cards for the Samaritans ready and waiting on their desks, then it follows that suicide is a real, persistent danger throughout the nation’s Job Centres. And if this is the case, then it is revolting and grossly, wilfully incompetent for the DWP not to acknowledge the scale of the problem by releasing the true figures.

But that would be to admit that the DWP’s policies are fundamentally wrong, and need changing. Ian Duncan Smith and Cameron are basing their entire government on the giant Neo-Liberal lie, and so cannot do that.

Despite their claims to be helping people, clearly the system is not doing so. Instead, it is killing them.

This should be a national scandal. It should be on the front pages of every newspaper, along with the stories of Osborne smugly pronouncing his catastrophic economic programme to be a success. It should be debated in the press and on TV and Radio. It is a savage indictment of the sheer callous indifference, and cruel desire to persecute the poor and disabled, underpinning IDS’, McVey’s and the entire coalition’s welfare policy. Instead, it appears that the press is doing its best to stifle all this. Despite their smiling faces and their bland assurances, they aren’t listening, and don’t want anyone else to hear either.

IDS and McVey clearly don’t want to see the problem, don’t want to be held responsible for the problem, and so they pass this on to their staff on the office floor. And rather than give people a living income based on a realistic assessment of the realities of unemployment, they’re reduced to emergency counselling and handing out cards. And it’s not enough.