Tagged: harass

Tax credit debt collection is a double-edged attack on the poor

Mike Sivier's blog


There’s more than a little of the piscine about the fact that our Conservative-led has set debt collection agencies onto poor families who have been overpaid tax credit due to errors made by HM Revenue and Customs.

Firstly, the move undermines the principle behind the tax credit system – that it is there to ensure that poorly-paid families may still enjoy a reasonable living standard. Tax credits are paid on an estimate of a person’s – or family’s – income over a tax year and the last Labour government, knowing that small variances could cause problems for Britain’s poorest, set a wide buffer of £25,000 before households had to pay anything back.

By cutting this buffer back to £5,000, the Conservatives have turned this safety net into a trap. Suddenly the tiniest overpayment can push households into a debt spiral, because their low incomes mean it is impossible to pay…

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Private company given contract to harass the long-term sick

Mike Sivier's blog

The Department for Work and Pensions is setting up a new “service” offering “advice” to people who are off work with an illness for more than four weeks.

No reference is made to improving people’s health.

It should also be noted that sickness absence in the UK is among the lowest in Europe, and has halved over the past decade.

The announcement was made on the BBC News website shortly after midnight. Nothing has appeared on the Government’s own website so it seems the Corporation has gone back to being Westminster’s poodle again – breaking news for the government in order to give spin doctors time to assess the reaction and then write a press release that is more acceptable to the public.

The Health and Work Service will be a privately-run operation covering England, Wales and Scotland, offering “non-compulsory” medical assessments and “treatment plans”. This is reminiscent of the…

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Ex-Jobcentre Worker Spills The Beans…

> Another whistleblower spills the beans – as usual, nothing that those of us at the sharp end haven’t had experience of, but nice to see it confirmed from the other side of the desk.

An ex-Jobcentre worker has admitted that advisers are being pushed into deterring people from claiming any form of benefit, in order to “protect the public purse” and trick them into making mistakes so that their benefits can be removed.

Commenting on an article in the Guardian newspaper, the  ex-Jobcentre worker, whose identity we have protected, said:

“As a Jobcentre worker who took early retirement last year to get away from the pressures and stress, I can confirm what many contributors are saying.

“Since the change of government in 2010 there was a total shift in emphasis in what we are there for. It is now to “police” the benefit system, ‘protect the public purse’ and deter people from claiming anything. We are NOT there to help or advise people any more.

“We had a mystery shopper process where we would be rung up and visited several times a year and mystery shoppers would ask questions about claiming, ask for leaflets etc. This was fed back to offices & used to improve the service. The new government scrapped it.

“Staff now know that they can say any old rubbish to customers, forget to mention things that can be claimed for and no one is going to challenge them. We were even told by management that “x” was available but that we were not to tell claimants and only discuss if asked by them.

> I’ve certainly been finding this whilst slugging it out over a revised Jobseeker’s Agreement.

“The job is now to discourage as many people as possible and harass them into signing off, not try to get them a job or what they are entitled to.

> And always  remember – it is what you’re entitled to by law.

“Claimants are referred to pointless courses in the hope that they won’t go….so then we can stop their money. It does not matter if anything we do is of use to claimants. If staff don’t do this they are threatened with disciplinary action and possible dismissal.

“Staff are left with a ‘them or us’ attitude. Many of my ex colleagues have mortgages and kids and are trapped. As jobcentre workers, they know how hard it is to get a job and no one wants ex Jobcentre staff!”

> Right, and no-one on the dole  has a mortgage and kids  or feels trapped by circumstances (without the option of early retirement) ?

If Jobcentre workers feel stressed and pressurised, it’s largely of their own making.

If they don’t like they way things are going, why don’t they make a stand against it ?  They have a trade union, they could refuse to sanction anyone, they could tell people what they should be telling them anyway.

Work with people, not against them.

They could make a stand. The majority, though,  choose to keep on making life  just a bit harder for those they’re supposed to be helping.

Source – Welfare News Service, 26 Jan 2014