Posts Tagged ‘Universal Jobmatch’

Vox Political on the Degrading Lack of Toilet Facilities in Jobcentres

March 29, 2016

Just when you think the Tories and the DWP can’t get any lower in their degrading treatment of the unemployed and disabled, they do. I should no longer be amazed at how mean-spirited, vindictive and spiteful the DWP can be. Their head, the recently departed Ian Duncan Smith, after all went off and tried to see if he could get one of his own constituents deported after she came to him asking for assistance with benefit problems, partly due to the fact that she was foreign-born. The lady in question had always worked, and was certainly not a ‘benefit-scrounger’, skiver, or whatever other insult IDS and his minions like to throw at people on benefits.

In this article, Mike points out that there are no public toilets in Jobcentres. Nor are there separate spaces provided for people, who need to inject medication, like diabetics with insulin. There’s also a problem of not enough space for wheelchairs. Claimants may, at staff discretion, be allowed to use the private toilet facilities in the Jobcentre, depending on the layout of the building, safety, and the willingness of the staff to escort them. When they staff aren’t willing to assist claimants or other members of the public, who need to use the facilities, the result is that those people can be humiliated. This occurred when one disabled lady with a weak bladder ended up wetting herself in public when staff refused to help her.

See Mike’s article at:

Mike points out that discretionary facilities don’t pass the Human Rights test. He also quotes Samuel Miller, a friend of his blog, who also points out that if the Tories were serious about installing toilet facilities, they could have used some of the £100,000 they spent last year vainly trying to challenge appeals.

I’ve discussed before about how Tory policy towards the unemployed and disabled is based on the principle of ‘less eligibility’. This was one of Thatcher’s much lauded ‘Victorian values’. It was the idea that in order to motivate the unemployed into finding work, public relief must be made as hard and as humiliating as possible. It’s one of the reasons the government has inserted the clause stating that you must be actively looking for work, constantly grill you about whether you have been looking for jobs on the farcical ‘Universal Jobmatch’ website, and now have ‘work coaches’, who are there to harangue you into getting a job, as well as seeking to find a variety of excuses, no matter how petty, to have the poor and desperate thrown off benefit. These have included sanctioning people for arriving late, even when they have excellent excuses, such as they have been seriously ill in hospital, or have had to take their children to school. Or even, in one incredible case, where someone was only a few minutes late for the interview. I’m pretty sure that the DWP would deny it, but it seems very clear to me that the refusal to provide public toilet facilities is part of this programme to create a very regimented, authoritarian atmosphere of control over the claimant, right down to the basic bodily functions.

The Coalition’s Fear and the Bureaucratic Burdens of the Poor

March 1, 2014

Looking at the immense bureaucratic burdens the unemployed claiming Jobseeker’s allowance face, I wonder how much of this wasn’t just an attempt to shift the blame for unemployment onto the poor themselves, but also simply to take up their time. Under the terms of Jobseeker’s Allowance, the claimant is expected to spend their time pouring over Universal Jobmatch and applying for at least five jobs per fortnight. The DWP has also announced that this system is to be extended to those on part-time work claiming Housing Benefit. This naturally takes up a lot of time.

The rationale for this, is that nobody should get something for nothing, and that the unemployed should be expected to work for their benefit through searching thoroughly for available jobs, or else be placed on Workfare, the Coalition’s version of the Nazi and Soviet forced labour schemes. It’s a hypocritical attitude coming from a front bench that, aristos to a man, owe their privileged position to inherited wealth. But it also struck me that it was a sign of the Coalition’s fear of what the unemployed and disabled might do, if they didn’t have to spend every waking hour worried about their benefits.

As part of my undergraduate history degree, I studied the French Revolution. A contributing factor to the outbreak of the Revolution and the mass execution of the aristos was a famine. This preceded the Revolution, with the irony that things were actually getting better when the French working and middle classes finally decided they’d had enough and rose up. We told the explanation for this strange fact is that people generally revolt only after the worst of famines have past. When the famine is in full force, people spend nearly all the time trying to keep body and soul together, so that they don’t have the time or the energy to take up arms.

John Aubrey, the 17th century English antiquarian, made a similar observation regarding the different inhabitants of his native Wiltshire’s ‘chalk’ and ‘cheese’ country. It is from this observation of Aubrey’s that the English idiom ‘as similar as chalk and cheese’ is derived. The cheese country was the dairy farming area of the county, a fertile area, whose people were happy, prosperous and went to bed early. As a result, this part of England was politically very stable. The chalk parts of the county had poor, much less fertile soil, and so the dominant form of agriculture here was sheep farming. As shepherds, the farmers there had poorer digestions and went to bed late. Instead of turning in at the reasonable time, they spent their evenings reading the Bible and drawing their own, heretical and seditious conclusions. As a result, they were more likely to join religious sects and take part in anti-government revolts. Aubrey was writing here about two decades after the Civil War, and the religious groups like the Presbyterians, Puritans, and Quakers, who overthrew the monarchy and established the Commonwealth.

It therefore struck me that the immense time and effort the unemployed now have to spend looking for work is partly a way of the Coalition trying to take up their time. If they weren’t forced to spend hours on end on a despairing search for jobs, then the poor and the unemployed might start doing something seditious and dangerous. They might start organising, joining organisations, criticising and demanding an end to Neo-Liberal economics. There might be more of them on marches. The National Union of the Unemployed, set up in the 1930s, might come back with a vengeance. They might start following Marx, Engels and the other socialist, anarchist and radical writers in questioning the whole economic and social structure of society. There might be riots. Even worse, those left-wing MPs in parliament that haven’t accepted the Thatcherite Kool-Aid just might be in position to effect change.

And that really would keep Cameron, IDS and their multinational paymasters awake. Rupert Murdoch definitely would not like that.

And so the unemployed are given endless hoops to jump through, and forced to spend endless hours looking for work that isn’t there, because the ruling classes are afraid that if they ever look up from the treadmill, they’ll be in a mass position to challenge them.

Best to keep them firmly on the treadmill, blaming themselves for not being able to get work, instead of realising the economy’s been wrecked for decades and the jobs simply aren’t there.