Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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As Damian Green Idles his Time Away Flawed Thinking Behind Universal Credit IT System Comes Out.

with 98 comments

Image result for universal credit it

A Genius was paid good money to design this picture….

As Damian Green whiles away his time in office, without deigning to tell users of Universal Jobmatch what’s happening with the site, some disturbing facts are coming out about the fundamental flaws in the IT management of Universal Credit.

Since these have already created massive problems for claimants, on top of the cuts and miserly scheme, not to mention a range of crackpot ideas that go with Universal Credit, this is highly significant.

Social Policy carries this story:

John Slater explains the thinking behind the project management of Universal Credit

Paul Spiker.

John Slater has been responsible for a series of Freedom of Information requests about the Universal Credit fiasco.  Yesterday he sent me a copy of the project management plan  introduced by Howard Shiplee, who was responsible for the development of Universal Credit from May 2013 until his departure, following illness, in September 2014.  Shiplee had previously been responsible for building construction for the 2012 Olympic Games.

I was puzzled by the plan, and wrote back to John:

I’m baffled – I can see no relationship between the steps to be taken and the design of a social security system. It looks more like a plan for building a McDonalds outlet, where all the groundwork’s laid and you know exactly what you want to do, so it’s all about delegating tasks. … I think you’re a project manager, John – – can you explain it to me?

I found John’s response so marvellously clear and helpful that I asked him if I could share it on the blog.  Here it is.

“Hi Paul,

You are right my background is programme and project management (my first degree was IT so I understand that aspect as well). You aren’t far off with your McDonalds analogy.

The plan is a classic case of an organisation focusing on the IT side of a major change programme. UC is one of the biggest change programme ever undertaken and nothing I’ve ever seen produced by the DWP reflects this.

The 100 day plan is a classic example of people that have been on a training course (e.g. Prince2 or Management Successful Programmes) but have never done the job for real. If you look down the left hand side of the ‘plan’ you’ll see the following headings:

  1. Key dates & decisions
  2. BT – Business (I suspect BT means business transformation)
  3. BT – Service Design & Build (I suspect BT means business transformation)
  4. BT Interfaces (I suspect BT means business transformation)
  5. Pathfinder Day 2
  6. Programme Approach
  7. HR
  8. Finance
  9. Assurance
  10. Security
  11. Comms (Communications)
  12. Stakeholder
  13. Supplier

With the exception of point 1 these are typically referred to a work streams. The idea is that each of the workstreams goes along their merry way cooperating with each other to deliver the programme. The reality of this approach with any complex programme is that it always goes horribly wrong.

If you look at points 2 to 5 then it is utterly focused on the IT. The plan looks like something to produce a software product of some sort. There is no mention of culture change, process engineering (this should be done before any software is produced) and the biggest issue of all people! This covers the claimants, DWP employees, Council Employees, Welfare Advisors and so on. They are just expected to magically learn and make it work. The trouble is human beings don’t work that way.

Part of the issue is that the DWP employees working on UC at the time hadn’t ever done anything like this before so didn’t have a clue. The put people in roles (e.g. programme manager, programme office manager etc) but they hadn’t done it before and had just been sent on a training course.

I’ve been doing this stuff for 30 years and I would have struggled to get UC up and running (and I’m very good at this aspect of complex programmes). Bringing in someone like Howard Shiplee was always going to fail. I’ve run programmes involving a lot of construction and it’s a different world and a totally different mindset. I suspect if you looked at the approach used for construction during the London Olympic build it wouldn’t look dissimilar to this plan. With construction the focus is generally on design and then build (known as D&B). The key factor is the supply chain and can the main contractor get the materials and people on site on time and in the right order. If you look at the plan again I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see the left hand side of the dark vertical as ‘design’ and the right hand side as ‘build’. This is what Howard Shiplee understood and it was so deeply ingrained I doubt he could have done anything else.

In respect of the pathfinder system released at Wigan it was a cobbled together lobotomised version of the IT that would ultimately be required for the complete UC. At this stage of the programme IDS knew the IT was fundamentally flawed, hence the talk of large sums being written off at the time. He also knew that they had to start over again but couldn’t admit that as it would be politically disastrous. Therefore, they rolled out the lobotomised version that only covered a small subset of people claiming JSA and claimed success. While this version was being rolled out painfully slowly the DWP was working desperately to produce a brain new IT system that ultimately will be the UC IT System.

Personally I think the new IT system will also fail. The methodology (Agile) as it’s been used by the DWP means that too much has been done in isolation. The system is going to be extremely complex and as bugs appear I’m not convinced the DWP will be able to find out the cause and then develop a solution that doesn’t result and another problem.

Kind Regards

John”

Universal credit full service for all types of claimants continues to roll out to plan. It is now being delivered in 50 jobcentres and is the Department’s first fully digital service.

We have been exploring how this technology can, for the first time, offer a simple system of explicit consent (to protect the large amounts of claimant personal information held under universal credit) but which is easy to use and takes advantage of the opportunities a digital service can offer. Such a system can be used by third parties and stakeholders representing claimants’ interests, enhancing the service that they can provide for the most vulnerable.

However, it is clear MPs engaging on their constituents’ behalf need constant access to such a system through which they can help their constituents. Today, I have agreed that the implicit consent approach which operates well for all other DWP benefits can be extended to MPs representing the interests of their constituents who are engaging with or directly claiming universal credit. We can offer this because of our pre-existing relationships between MPs’ offices, district managers and their teams. This is something which cannot pertain for inquiries from other sources.

This means any correspondence—letter, email, or telephone inquiries—from MPs on behalf of a constituent relating to universal credit will be answered directly, without a requirement to seek explicit consent from their constituent. This will ensure consistency and clarity for MP offices, no matter what benefit the inquiry is about.

Extending this support for MPs and their constituents will continue to help enable the successful delivery of this key welfare reform programme.

[HCWS528]

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2017 at 10:57 am

Suffolk Libraries – a Key Resource for the Unemployed – Face Cuts.

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Image result for libraries under threat protests

Libraries are a key resource for the unemployed.

We use them to do our Jobsearch (part of the 35 hours we have to carry out as part of our ‘Jobseekers Agreement’.

We use their Internet services (where they are available) to write CVs, to upload CVs, apply for jobs and look around the web for posts.

We use them for books on how to do this, and for help from staff about the best way to do it.

This resource is under threat.

Libraries lose a quarter of staff as hundreds close. BBC.

Almost 8,000 jobs in UK libraries have disappeared in six years, about a quarter of the overall total, an investigation by the BBC has revealed.

Over the same period, some 15,500 volunteers have been recruited and 343 libraries have closed, leading to fears over the future of the profession.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons said the public library service faced the “greatest crisis in its history”.

The government said it funded the roll-out of wi-fi to help libraries adapt.

The BBC has compiled data from 207 authorities responsible for running libraries through the Freedom of Information Act. Our analysis shows:

  • Some 343 libraries closed. Of those, 132 were mobile services, while 207 were based in buildings (and there were four others, such as home delivery services)
  • The number of closures in England is higher than the government’s official estimate of 110 buildings shut
  • A further 111 closures are planned this year
  • The number of paid staff in libraries fell from 31,977 in 2010 to 24,044 now, a drop of 7,933 (25%) for the 182 library authorities that provided comparable data
  • A further 174 libraries have been transferred to community groups, while 50 have been handed to external organisations to run. In some areas, such as Lincolnshire and Surrey, the move has led to legal challenges and protests from residents.

Now we have this in Suffolk.

Suffolk Libraries face £230,000 budget cut as bosses call for more public support to save all 44 branches

Anybody who uses Ipswich central Library knows the strain they are already under.

To say the least there are ‘problems’ about the Net service.

How people who rely on smaller libraries manage is hard to tell, it must be hard.

Tory-run Suffolk County Council seems determined to make our lives worse:

Suffolk County Council’s Scrutiny Committee will be discussing the council’s budget proposals on 30 November.

These proposals include a further reduction to the Suffolk Libraries budget of £230,000 for 2017-18. This follows a cut of £350,000 for the current year (2016-2017) which Suffolk Libraries accepted with reluctance.

Alison Wheeler, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “We recognise that public-sector funding is decreasing, and in response Suffolk Libraries has since 2011, with stringencies and economies, saved more than 30% of the original library budget without affecting local services.”

“In terms of relative cost – for every £1 spent by the Council, less than 1 penny is spent on the library service. The library service actively contributes to several of the county’s key priorities which include support for vulnerable people, raising educational attainment, supporting small businesses and empowering communities.”

“Suffolk Libraries is now in its fifth year of operation and each year it has lived within its means and saved increasing amounts of council tax. This has only been done with the sustained hard work of library staff, help from community groups, local volunteers and support from library customers.”

“With this extraordinary support, we have together ensured that all Suffolk libraries are still open, local library opening hours have been sustained and the services people enjoy, and which we know make a difference to people’s lives, have continued to flourish.”

Tony Brown, Chair of Suffolk Libraries Board added “Over the past year we have made it clear that it would be impossible to make further cuts without having an effect on services. We pledged to work constructively with the council on the longer-term future of the county’s library service and offered them a plan in June in which we suggested ways we could save money over a longer period, and which would allow us to keep library opening hours intact.”

“Five months later, it’s disappointing to see that the council’s budget proposals do not reflect the alternative plans we presented. The larger sums required will almost certainly mean we can’t carry on providing the library service in the same way.”

“However, we are still in discussion about the final sum. People will be consulted on any changes and we will strive to minimise the impact on customers, and ensure that people will still have access to the same wide range of services and activities in their community.”

“Suffolk Libraries’ Board is committed to keeping libraries open and for local services to flourish. The Suffolk community has shown a huge amount of support for local libraries over the past few years, and this has never been more needed, or valued.”

Want to show your support for your library service? Email us at help@suffolklibraries.co.uk, tweet @suffolklibrary or comment on our Facebook page. You can also contact Suffolk County Council.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

November 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

‘Boot’ – Camps for Young Unemployed.

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‘Work Coach’ for Young People. 

I am beginning to think that some of the contributors to this site are right to make comparisons with the 1930’s forced labour schemes.

Unemployed young people will be sent to work boot camp, says minister

Reports the Guardian today

Matt Hancock says plan for jobseekers between 18 and 21 to be placed on intensive activity programme is not a form of punishment.

“We are penalising nobody because nobody who does the right thing and plays by the rules will lose their benefits,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday. “In fact this is about giving more support to young people.”

The senior Conservative, who heads David Cameron’s earn or learn taskforce, will set out plans for jobseekers aged between 18 and 21 to be placed on an intensive activity programme within the first three weeks of submitting a claim.

The new requirements, outlined on Monday, will be in place by April 2017 as part of a wider policy, first announced by Cameron before the election, that jobless 18- to 21-year-olds would be required to do work experience as well as looking for jobs or face losing their benefits.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s criticised the plans, saying that young people needed to feel supported, not punished.

In a challenge to Labour, Hancock has now written to all four leadership candidates urging them to get behind the government’s plans.

…the leftwing frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has explicitly said he would oppose the government’s move to take housing benefit away from 18- to 21-year-olds, while Andy Burnham has also been critical of the policy.

Responding to the announcement, a spokesman for the Corbyn campaign said: “This is another punitive turn by this Conservative government that is failing young people. They have cut further education places, driven a punitive welfare regime that has failed to reduce youth unemployment, and are raising university fees and taking away grants.

“As it takes away opportunities for young people to earn or learn, this government is blaming young people rather than addressing the real problems. It proposes more free labour from the young with fewer rights, and will be resisted by young people and Labour MPs.”

Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have said welfare cuts need to be approached in a fairer, more Labour way.

Setting out his plans, Hancock suggested some young people were part of a “welfare culture that is embedded in some of Britain’s most vulnerable communities”.

He said: “By working across government to make sure that every young person is in work or training, by opening up three million more apprenticeships, expanding traineeships, and making sure that a life on benefits is simply not an option, we want to end rolling welfare dependency for good, so welfare dependency is no longer passed down the generations.

“We are absolutely committed to ending long-term youth unemployment and building a country for workers, where nobody is defined by birth and everyone can achieve their potential.”

The idea of boot camps for young people without jobs is not a new one. The Conservative party previously suggested it in 2008, when the then shadow welfare spokesman Chris Grayling announced that the party wanted to “abolish benefit payments for any able-bodied person under 21 who is out of work for more than three months”.

The Independent yesterday carried the initial floating of this plan.

Jobless young people will be made to attend “boot camps” in return for benefits as part of a new Conservative drive to bring a “no excuses” culture to youth employment.

Under the plan, anyone under 21 who is out of work and on benefits will have to take part in a three-week intensive course to help them find employment or training.

They will have to sign up to the programme within a month of claiming benefits – or see those benefits stopped.

The course, which ministers are provocatively describing as a “boot camp”, includes practising job applications and interview techniques. It is expected to take 71 hours to complete and benefits will be dependent on attendance.

Comment:

The Americanism (or cultural cringe to the US) ‘boot camp’ apparently means:

 boot camp

noun

NORTH AMERICAN
  1. a military training camp for new recruits, with very harsh discipline.
    • a prison for young offenders, run on military lines.
    • a short, intensive, and rigorous course of training.
      “a gruelling, late-summer boot camp for would-be football players”

But in fact the language the government and its toady Hancock use has a different origin: it  smells of the ‘get yer hair cut’ 1960s.

Or the kind of pervy old men who like ‘punishing’ youngsters.

We can say one thing for sure: the companies who’ll be running these ‘boot camps’ are some of the biggest chancers and failures in the country – as the evidence from successive New Deals, Work Programmes and all the rest indicates.

What will happen after this bogus ‘training’?

Will there be more forced ‘boot camps’?

Will young people be made to do workfare?

As said above, it looks like our contributors are onto something when they suggest that forced labour,  Zwangsarbeit, is not far off. 

You can vote on this via the ITV site: HERE.

Is it fair to send unemployed youngsters to work ‘boot camps’?
Yes – more needs to be done to get them into workNo – it’s a step too far
 Yes 71.32%  

 

No – it’s a step too far 28.68%  

Written by Andrew Coates

August 17, 2015 at 10:52 am

Activists March on Streatham Jobcentre over Forced Therapy.

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Mental Health Resistance Network. 

https://twitter.com/ShellyAsquith/status/614430559385845760%5B/embed%5D

The Void reports on the action,

Around 100 people marched on Streatham Jobcentre today in a fantastic start to the fight against forced psychological treatments for unemployed, sick and disabled claimants.

Protesters gathered in Streatham Memorial Gardens with many carrying banners showing the growing anger at the collaboration of mental health workers and charities with the DWP’s workfare and benefit sanctions regime.  At just after 2pm the protest took to the streets, taking over the busy road before fnally arriving outside the Jobcentre which now also contains much of Lambeth’s mental health services.

The ever present G4S security guards blocked campaigners from entering the Jobcentre, with one member of staff informing the amused crowd that there were no jobs available today.  What bungling Jobcentre workers didn’t realise is that several people were already inside the building where they proceeded to disrupt the opening party of the so-called Living Well Network Hub and hung a banner out of the window to large cheers from the crowd.

The Guardian says,

Mental health workers and their clients marched on a jobcentre in south-west London in protest at a scheme they say frames unemployment as a psychological disorder.

The Department for Work and Pensions announced in March that Streatham’s jobcentre would be the first to have therapists giving mental health support to help unemployed people back into work.

The DWP has now said that announcement was a mistake. But by coincidence, next week Lambeth council will open a £1.9m mental health clinic in the same building.

Mental health workers and service users, furious at what they see as an attempt to embed psychological treatment in a back-to-work agenda, were to go ahead with their demonstration anyway.

They said they regarded Lambeth’s decision to locate the borough’s main community mental health centre in the same building as the jobcentre as being in the spirit of the plan to give psychological treatment to the unemployed.

Anger has been growing since the March budget announced a scheme to bring counsellors into jobcentres to offer “integrated employment and mental health support to claimants with common mental health conditions”.

Under the plan, therapists from the NHS’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme would support jobcentre staff to assess and treat claimants, who may be referred to online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) courses.

According to a recent DWP reply to a Freedom of Information request, the therapists would provide “Nice [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence]-approved and evidence-based psychological therapies to treat people with depression and anxiety disorders”.
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The letter from the DWP went on: “Given that confidential space to deliver therapy is available in Jobcentre Plus premises, IAPT services will be conducting assessments and face-to-face therapy sessions in jobcentres, in the same way that they are provided in other community settings.

“Supported online CBT will be conducted through computers, via instant messaging and video communication tools, and via telephone.”

Advocates point to the correlation between poverty and mental health problems and say helping people back to work could aid their recoveries. Offering therapy to people on benefits could help them deal with the worst psychological effects of joblessness, they say.

More via link (above).

Also: Saturday 27th June, National Day of Action against B&M Bargains – the DWP’s pet exploiter.

Wasting police time – a new role for the Jobcentre ?

with 68 comments

This is ridiculous if it weren’t abhorrent (via Enigma for noticing this on the always recommended Unemployed in Tyne and Wear Blog).

UNEMPLOYED IN TYNE & WEAR

> The following was forwarded by email and is reproduced with permission.

Hi,I  enjoy reading your blog, I felt i had to write to someone to express my astonishment at the actions of Killingworth (North Tyneside)  job centre.

My son has just been sanctioned by them. He asked for a hardship form to get some kind of help.

I know he shouldn’t have done but in filling it in he said he might have to resort to shoplifting to survive !

Very much to my surprise at about 6.30pm tonight was a loud knock on the the door my partner answered to be confronted by 2 policemen.They asked for my son by name, they asked if he had written those things on the from.

He said he had because he was very annoyed with being sanctioned, they asked if he was intending to go shoplifting, he said no, they both…

View original post 196 more words

Written by Andrew Coates

February 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

Jobcentres Prescribe Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

with 16 comments

This is an exceptional post from the The SKWAWKBOX Blog.

We reblog it because it merits the widest possible readership. (Hat-Tip: Tobanem).

After forced-psychometric-test debacle, now Jobcentres prescribe online CBT

It turned out that these tests were so poorly and cynically constructed that they gave the same ‘results’ to those completing them regardless of the answers entered – or even if the test was completed without entering any answers at all. The test had been taken – without permission – from a US psychologist linked to torture techniques such as waterboarding. (The author then objected to the unethical use of the test by the UK government!)

Once exposed, both government departments tried desperately to deny what they were doing, but then contradicted themselves more than once, then inadvertently admitted it again. The government claimed that the tests were a trial in just a few areas that had since been discontinued, but this was then shown not to be the case. Claims that the test had been designed and implemented by ‘experts’ turned out to be false and the ‘training’ given to JCP operatives on how to decide who should complete the test turned out to be ‘an informal chat’.

National newspapers started to take up the story and the British Psychological Society even became involved, investigating the psychologist responsible, at least notionally, for the decision to conduct the enforced-test programme.

You would think the government would have learned its lesson, but no.

An article on the ‘Same Difference’ blog reveals that Jobcentre Plus staff are sending people diagnosed with depression a link to an online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) course, claiming not that it might be helpful but that it will cure their depression. Or, in their words:

Beating the blues is just a click away

Read the rest of this important article here.

Warning to all Jobseekers about Enigma: All the World Can Read Your CVs!

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en_GB

 

 

 

Warning: Watch out For Enigma!

Some people have been instructed by their Advisers to register with the site Enigma.

This site, American based, lets all the world see your Cvs.

If you don’t believe that see here where you can read “administration assistant CVs in Stowmarket” with people’s personal details – their life story –  on them.

Who are Indeed?

As the world’s #1 job site, with over 140 million unique visitors every month from over 50 different countries, Indeed has become the catalyst for putting the world to work. Indeed is intensely passionate about delivering the right fit for every hire. Indeed helps companies of all sizes hire the best talent and offers the best opportunity for job seekers to get hired.

Our Company
Indeed is the #1 job site worldwide, with over 140 million unique visitors per month. Indeed is available in more than 50 countries and 28 languages, covering 94% of global GDP.Since 2004, Indeed has given job seekers free access to millions of jobs from thousands of company websites and job boards. As the leading pay-for-performance recruitment advertising network, Indeed drives millions of targeted applicants to jobs in every field and is the most cost-effective source of candidates for thousands of companies.Founded by Paul Forster and Rony Kahan, Indeed is a subsidiary of Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. Indeed has offices in Austin, Mountain View, New York and Stamford in the US, as well as offices in Dublin and London. For more information about Indeed, see our blog orcontact us.

If you don’t want the entire world looking at your intimate details, watch out!

Some say that making your CV available for all and sundry to peer at in not an obligation when you resister on Indeed.

That is simply by looking at the web site.

If you log-in you can even find people’s addresses and phone numbers.

We would welcome clarification about this.

As it stands this looks like a pretty dodgy practice.

Indeed is owned by Recruit Holdings.

“Recruit Co.,Ltd. (headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President and Representative Director, CEO: Masumi Minegishi; hereinafter “Recruit”) has reached an agreement to acquire 100% ownership of U.S. based Indeed, Inc. (hereinafter “Indeed”) in an all cash transaction (hereinafter “the Acquisition”). Indeed is scheduled to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Recruit in early October.” Here.

We would be also interested in more about this (Wikipedia),

The Recruit scandal (リクルート事件 Rikurūto jiken?) was an insider trading and corruption scandal that forced many prominent Japanese politicians to resign in 1988.

Main article: Recruit (company)

Recruit is a human resources and classifieds company based in Tokyo.[1] Its chairman, Hiromasa Ezoe, offered a number of shares in a Recruit subsidiary, Cosmos, to business leaders and senior politicians shortly before Cosmos went public in 1986. Following the public offering, Cosmos’s share price skyrocketed, and the individuals involved in the scheme saw average profits of ¥66 million each.

Although only seventeen members of the Diet were involved in the insider trading, another thirty were later found to have received special favors from Recruit.

Among the politicians involved in the scandal were Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita, former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Takao Fujinami. In addition to members of the LDP government, leaders of the Komeito[who?], Democratic Party of Japan[who?], and Japan Socialist Party[who?] were also found to be involved. As a result, Takeshita’s cabinet was forced to resign, although some of its members returned to political prominence later (including future prime ministers Kiichi Miyazawa and Keizo Obuchi).

The chairmen of NTT, the Yomiuri Shimbun, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun were also involved in the scandal.

Despite the breadth of the Recruit Scandal across party lines, the LDP was hurt most significantly by the scandal. It is often said to be one of the main causes of Morihiro Hosokawa‘s opposition party victory in 1993, which briefly interrupted the LDP’s otherwise continuous reign over Japan.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

October 5, 2014 at 9:25 am