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Jobcentre targets DO exist!

(24 Posts)
Dawndonna Fri 22-Mar-13 11:35:42

Caught out again

edam Fri 22-Mar-13 21:25:50

Explosive stuff. Shows ministers have been telling big fat whoppers to parliament and the public. There used to be this principle that ministers didn't tell direct lies to parliament... they might present facts and figures in the best way to support their argument, but they didn't tell downright untruths. Yet clearly ministers' repeated claims that 'there are no targets' and that people are only left destitute if they are lying is simply untrue. It's ministers who are liars, not the unemployed.

'The government has launched an inquiry after it was forced to admit that jobcentres have been setting targets and league tables to sanction benefit claimants despite assurances to parliament this week that no such targets were being set.

A leaked email shows staff being warned by managers that they will be disciplined unless they increase the number of claimants referred to a tougher benefit regime.

Ruth King, a jobcentre adviser manager, discloses in the email that she has received "the stricter benefit regime" figures for her area, adding: "As you can see Walthamstow are 95th in the league table out of only 109" – the number of jobcentres in London and the home counties.

... Ruth King's email also confirms: 'King had until 15 February to show an improvement, adding that if she does not do so she will be subject to a performance improvement plan, the first stage of disciplinary action.

She says if she is threatened with disciplinary action to improve performance, she will have to threaten her own staff in the same way. She writes: "Obviously if I am on a PIP [performance improvement plan] to improve my team's Stricter Benefit Regime referral rate I will not have a choice but to consider implementing PIPs for those individuals who are clearly not delivering SBR within the team."

She also discloses that the jobcentre customers manager is looking for about 25 referrals a week. "We made six last week and so far this week have made four. There is a shortfall here."'

ttosca Mon 25-Mar-13 13:46:38

The Tory view of the state: those who need it don't deserve it

This is a rehearsal for the future of the welfare state. The Conservatives' narrative is that poverty is sinful and it must be punished

The news leaked last week – if jobcentre workers do not sanction jobseekers, and get them on to fewer benefits, or none at all, they will be disciplined. To encourage them to do so, there are targets and league tables.

This repulsive policy was swiftly denounced by the employment minister, Mark Hoban, who denied that any such thing exists. But here it is, from an adviser manager in a job centre: "As you can see, Walthamstow are 95th in the league table out of only 109 [jobcentres in London and the home counties] …Our district manager is not pleased … because senior managers are under pressure to improve our office output and move up the league he has to apply some pressure downwards."

Faced with the evidence in pixels, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was a mistake, and an isolated case, and it was investigating both the mistake and the isolated case – except that by Friday more jobcentre workers had contacted the Guardian to say that targets and league tables, and incentives, are indeed in place. In one jobcentre, it was alleged, the reward for sanctioning a jobseeker is a horribly uncharitable Easter egg. An Easter egg? So Iain Duncan Smith issued a re-denial, and insisted that any jobcentre worker using targets or league tables would be, er, disciplined, although he preferred to use the charmingly punitive phrase, with its weird echoes of Norman Tebbit, "dealt with". And there the circle of madness closed.

Though it sounds like a dream from The Thick of It, it isn't fiction. How many benefits have been unfairly removed or reduced? But there is meaning behind this farce; it was no mistake. This is a rehearsal for the future of the welfare state, as seen through Tory spectacles – they are resentful at paying for anything. Need is now irrelevant.

The PR for the project, enthusiastically pursued by the Tory press, is ongoing, if unsophisticated. Its purpose is to incite so much contempt for benefit claimants in the wider population, and so much denial about who, and who is not, a benefit claimant, that we will dumbly watch children live in revolting conditions without complaint. Any kind of state intervention is now a blissful boon deserving of a kiss on the ministerial boot. Last week Alan Milburn, the government's luckless adviser on social mobility, said it was "vanishingly unlikely" that the government will meet its child poverty targets. No it won't; of course it won't. Far better to change the way child poverty is measured or, in common speak, stop counting the bodies.

"Benefit queen" stories are dripped on the media, courtesy of DWP moles, as if they were representative; and Ukip, that wonky opportunist, jumps on the bandwagon, seeking to make benefit claimants pay for necessities by electronic card, so they cannot squander their bags of taxpayer gold on Sky TV, cider, ciggies, condoms and, presumably, membership of the Communist party of Great Britain. The project chugs on, fuelled by distortion and lies, denouncing the weak, praising the strong – the changes to childcare funding announced last week will largely benefit the wealthy. Who is surprised?

This is the tedious narrative. Poverty is sinful, and it must be punished; wealth, meanwhile, can be irritating, but it is essentially benevolent – to the victor, everything. Of editorials denouncing the £17.5m in shares paid last week to the chief executive of Barclays investment banking, the ludicrously named Rich Ricci, owner of the ludicrously named racehorse Fatcatinthehat, there were few. (Rich Ricci is not to be confused with Richie Rich, the comic character played by Macaulay Culkin in the live action film of 1994. His wealth did not succour him particularly, and he owned no horses.)

And so the state must shrink to a nub, because the humans who need it don't deserve it. Not that the government will say this publicly yet; it is still better, at this stage, to lie to parliament, to the media, to us all.

Darkesteyes Mon 25-Mar-13 23:17:55

ttosca Mon 25-Mar-13 23:21:59


I know someone who worked for the DWP and she also told me that they were constantly under pressure to reduce payments.

Mumcentreplus Mon 25-Mar-13 23:26:13

This is not a lie...

BOEUF Mon 25-Mar-13 23:29:46

This would be so much funnier if it wasn't so close to the truth... grin

dotnet Tue 26-Mar-13 15:00:56

Being a civil servant at the sharp end IS shitty - you're just a cog and not accorded any respect for care/conscientious work. The target culture is unhealthy and surely counter-productive. Well done, JobCentre Adviser/Manager Ruth King for speaking out about the way things REALLY are - and good luck to her.

On another (but linked) topic, I suspect the bedroom tax, which may also be administered by civil servants, is going to lead to an increase in crime and antisocial behaviour. People with no money, being treated as if their spare bedroom somehow makes them plutocrats, may well lash out in frustration when the financial thumbscrews are applied (or end up in expensive NHS care with breakdowns, depression &c). The words 'shooting' and 'foot' come to mind.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 26-Mar-13 15:42:09

It's the bedroom tax and council tax credit combined which will really put the screws on people.

What's completely idiotic is that the cost of collecting those small sums from individuals is disproportionate to the value - and council tax is the only debt that can land you in prison, put that with universal credit and you have a perfect storm IMO.

Good times for the loan sharks

ParsingFancy Tue 26-Mar-13 16:01:31

Yep, big congrats to the person who leaked this. But that wasn't Ruth King - she was the manager who threatened to put her staff on disciplinary procedures if they didn't sanction more people:
"Obviously if I am on a PIP [performance improvement plan] to improve my team's Stricter Benefit Regime referral rate I will not have a choice but to consider implementing PIPs for those individuals who are clearly not delivering SBR within the team."

NicknameTaken Tue 26-Mar-13 16:03:19

I wonder if we're getting close to the Thatcher poll tax moment, when people rebel against paying. But where money is taken directly from benefits (or where benefits are stopped), it's so hard for people to actually do anything about it.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 26-Mar-13 16:47:36

If people don't pay it Local government will be caught short, not central, so it will differ between councils how they respond.

Much harder to get a national cohesive movement when Cornwall are doing one thing and Birmingham another regarding amount of council tax credit and the lengths to which they'll collect what's owed.

NicknameTaken Tue 26-Mar-13 16:57:00

Good point - a deliberate strategy? Divide and rule? A lot of that going on at the moment, I think.

pointythings Tue 26-Mar-13 21:54:31

And now we're getting this as well - it's really happening, not just fat cats in thinktanks talking about it.

And there is no opposition party saying they are willing to reverse the nightmare.

Darkesteyes Tue 26-Mar-13 22:47:32

pointythings sad angry

Darkesteyes Tue 26-Mar-13 22:49:03

does anyone else think that the amount of people trying sex work is going to skyrocket.
Especially when its either that or seeing your children starve.

Viviennemary Tue 26-Mar-13 22:58:03

I think it's a very considered strategy to move housing benefit to councils. So they can be blamed for cuts and have to deal with complaints and also make decisions as to who must pay what.

edam Tue 26-Mar-13 23:07:19

Quite, vivienne. That's why the govt. has squeezed council budgets so hard - so local authorities can take the blame, not IDS.

HillBilly76 Tue 26-Mar-13 23:43:29

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Darkesteyes Wed 27-Mar-13 01:06:10

Darkesteyes Wed 27-Mar-13 01:19:50

Heres a council who is not passing on the cost of the bedroom tax.
"its not a bedroom tax says IDS. "well its not a bedroom then" says Nottingham council.

pointythings Wed 27-Mar-13 21:25:56

Good for Nottingham, darkesteyes.

edam Wed 27-Mar-13 23:11:56

Am very impressed by Nottingham - what a sensible approach, assessing the demand for housing and the housing stock and working out whether there are enough one bedroom flats and whether the council would be left with stacks of empty two bedders.

MurderOfGoths Fri 29-Mar-13 16:55:18

Well done Nottingham. That's made me smile.

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