Newly released emails show pressure on JCP staff to sanction ever more claimants

There has been a long-running argument about whether the management of Jobcentre Plus (JCP) set targets for benefit sanctions. Ministers are adamant there are no targets for sanctioning people off benefits, while nearly everyone else laughs incredulously and say there quite obviously are. The Work and Pensions Select Committee are currently conducting an enquiry into the issue of sanctions, and recently spoke to the PCS union which represents thousands of JCP staff. Late last week, the select committee published some supplementary evidence supplied by the PCS union, that provides email evidence to show the pressure Jobcentre staff are being put under to increase the number of claimants they are referring for sanctions.

If you read the document linked to above, you’ll be left in little doubt that targets for sanctions exist, and that the management ethos has little to do with getting people into work, and everything to do with chucking as many people off benefits as possible. Rank and file staff are facing disciplinaries for failing to meet targets. This is not based on whether the actual decisions advisors make are the correct ones, but simply how many claimants they refer for sanctions. They are being told that if jobseekers are meeting their Jobseeker’s agreements consistently, they should be made tougher, to increase the chance they will do something wrong so they can be sanctioned.

Here are a couple of quotes from the emails documented by the PCS:

On toughening up jobseeker’s agreements if they are being met by claimants:

“If all your customers are meeting their commitment easily, then challenge them further to undertake more jobsearch activity.”

The targets seem to be for off-flows, rather than off-flows into work (get people off benefits at all cost). JCP workers are singled out for praise if they sanction an unusually high number of claimants:

“The team has achieved 39 off-flows for May 2014 cohort with [name redacted] having a whopping 11. Well done.”

The PCS evidence also reveals unacceptable pressure being placed on claimants of ESA (those judged too sick to work). They note misleading and potentially intimidating letters being sent to people in the support group (who have no prospect of being able to work in the near future), asking them to attend meetings they are under no obligation to go too.

There are also reports of targets to get sick people to undertake work experience, and that businesses are reluctant to take people on these placements, so Jobcentres are resorting to make the claimants do work experience in the Job Centre!

I’d urge you to read the whole document. It’s quite a damning indictment on the management culture within Jobcentre Plus (no doubt in the face of ministerial pressure), the stress that places on frontline staff, and in turn leading to the shameful treatment of the claimants themselves, all so some faceless management bods can tick a box somewhere and get a pat on the head from their boss. Shit always rolls down hill as they say.

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4 thoughts on “Newly released emails show pressure on JCP staff to sanction ever more claimants

  1. THE GREENS HAVE LOST THE CHANCE OF A SYRIZA LANDSLIDE VICTORY

    The Greens had a solution to the starvation being caused by the cruelty of the benefits system, that is all but gone.

    Also gone is the state pension from 2016 and The Greens were the only ones offering huge numbers of men and women any state pension in old age for life.

    Why?

    Because The Greens did not have the funding to cost the Citizen Income policy, from a shoestring budget for offices, staffed by volunteers.

    COSTING THE CITIZEN INCOME – CAN YOU HELP?

    It is said the Citizen Income would cost about £280 billion.

    The Tories say welfare bill continues to cost £220 billion a year since 2010, but most of that is admin, because the money going to the starving is reducing by the billions each year.

    So can someone with the knowledge cost replacing ALL WELFARE ADMIN, both state and private, with the Citizen Income please?
    – Including ending the work programmes (workfare) and
    – shutting all 750 Jobcentres (nicknamed now Sanctions Centre after 1 million benefit sancitons a year, and over 913,000 referrals to foodbanks).

    The Tories say they have £30 billion from some interest payment savings (?)

    The National Insurance Fund is in surplus by £30 billion since 2013 (source House of Lords Library).

    COSTING THE FULL CITIZEN STATE PENSION FOR ALL THE SAME

    The Greens did have the policy of a Full Citizen State Pension, without any conditionality of National Insurance record. I assume this also was not costed.

    This would be new claimants from 2016 getting the full £113.10 state pension, irregardless of NI history, just by right of citizenship.

    But also what about the mis-sold opting out from the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (that was called State Second Pension from 2002) please, that began on 6 April 1978?

    Because that would have given about £165 (or whatever the full rate now would be?) per week.

    So a total of £278.10p per week state pension, universal and automatic to all citizens.

    If all pensioners got this exact same amount, the admin would be minimal.

    The admin now by the Department of Work and Pensions will be a great burden, as individuals will get different rates for decades to come, from a complex and complicated set of calculations under the flat rate pension, that is more about people NOT GETTING A STATE PENSION.

    The Tories are toying with the idea of cutting the amount of the state pension, which is already happening for new claimants and current pensioners with all the complex conditionality of the Pension Credit guarantee credit from 2016. (Pension Credit savings is abolished in 2016).

    Current claimants retiring from 6 April 2016 are already getting official forecasts as low as £55 per week with no tops ups of any kind and losing Pension Credit on top of that.

    CONCLUSION
    So if you might care to save a fair few lives from starvation of all ages, kids from the lifelong problems from Rickets to their bones, and all ages threatened by hypothermia in unheated homes, (at least for next winter) you might care to cost:

    – Replacing all welfare admin with Citizen Income

    – Replacing all disability and chronic sick admin with automatic and universal such benefit, all the same amount

    – Replacing flat rate pension and all its conditionality and immense complexity, with all the same state pension for all, without conditionality, in 2015, and paying it to those 60 to 66 in 2015 equally men and women, of the Full Citizen State Pension

    – How much money that would pour into local community businesses?

    – How much money that would pour into stealth taxes, sin taxes, and VAT?

    WHO TO GIVE THE INFORMATION TO?

    Grant the information direct to Ms Caroline Lucas MP, Greens, and the Leader of the Greens Ms Natalie Bennett direct.

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