Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Loan sharks, the DWP and others who prey on vulnerable people.

Job Centre staff are being trained, at a cost of £8+m, to spot people who may be being targeted by loan sharks.

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.


  1. I have a friend who absolutely refuses to sign on, despite the fact she's been out of work for just over a year. She stopped work because of ill health (heart problems) and she applied for ESA, the Job Centre put so much pressure on her that she suffered a lot of stress, making her heart problems worse.

    Her partner works, so she was entitled only to get her NICS paid anyway, and she said it wasn't worth the stress of them calling her in frequently, asking too many questions, being patronising and forcing her to apply for jobs on less than half the salary she'd had previously. She's still trying to get a job, but without having to justify herself to someone sitting behind a counter who sees her as another benefit-scrounging waster, rather than a human being with feelings and a genuine desire to work.

  2. It's obviously an example of deliberately scaring the ignorant and vulnerable, but exactly how did the DWP plan to use lie detectors over the phone?
    Surely that's impossible

  3. Thanks for your comments, Womble and Sean.

    Sean, here's a link to the introduction of lie detectors in state benefit claims, following on from its use in housing benefit claims

    and another link to mark its embarrased demise.

    As anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the fallibility of lie detector tests - which is why they're not used in any court in any country - knows that they'd be useless. It would be interesting to have a better understanding of the processes that lead to this kind of decision being made in the first place. People making these decisions aren't less intelligent than you or I, but there's a process that occurs which somehow allows this kind of choise to be made, from idea to implimentation.