Jobcentre staff have five minutes to process each ‘customer’ and are rarely positively interested in the lives of the people they manage.
“There’s a fat pig of a man works in the Jobcentre, he comes in the pub and he only has to get slightly pissed to start in on his favorite topic, how much he hates people on benefits. ‘I took her money off her,’ he said and the landlady said, ‘What, you took her money off her and her kids just before Christmas?’ ‘Yes,’ he said. You can't say anything to him, he's a shit of a bully and if you need to go to the Jobcentre he'll make your life hell."
“This nasty tiny little woman who’s been working at the Jobcentre for fucking ever. She owns the place. Some woman kicked off because the computers had broken down and she’d been waiting for half an hour and then she walked out. This woman yelled across the office, ‘See when she came in, let’s see if she was late so we can get her.’ Bitch. You don’t want to catch her eye.”
Any intrusion by the DWP into a claimants life is perceived as a threat, because that is almost uniquely what it is. Have you done any work in the last two weeks? Do you have a boyfriend? Where does he live? Does your elderly mother who’s just moved into your already overcrowded home have savings over £2,000? These and other questions are about finding ways to reduce the amount of benefits paid to you not making sure that you’re receiving the correct ones.
Scambusters and Illegal Money Lending (IML) under the aegis of Trading Standards are already doing this important work pretty effectively resulting in loans being wiped out and imprisonment of the worst sharks (that they’ve caught.) The scheme sounds excellent and I hope it works to bring support and liberation to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. But with the culture of contempt and abuse of power within the DWP I fear yet more money will be poured into another benefits project for no return and a quiet phasing out of the scheme, as happened with lie detectors being used when speaking with ‘customers’ on the phone.
Nothing would please me better than to be wrong.
In the meantime, here’s some information about Elizabeth Finn Care a charity that offers money to poor people, no strings attached.