Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘jobcentres

One in Ten Job Centres to Close as “Claimants go Digital”

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Image result for job centre closed

1 in 10 to Close…

Following our warning that the Glasgow Jobcentre closures looked like the start of a wider programme, this flickered on the telly this morning…

Jobcentres close as claimants go online

One in ten centres in England, Wales and Scotland will shut, union officials have said; the Department for Work and Pensions claimed the number of redundancies would be small

Jobcentres are due to close under reforms to deal with “under-used” buildings, putting thousands of staff jobs at risk as benefit claimants move online.

One in ten centres in England, Wales and Scotland will shut, union officials have said, in a move that Labour called “reckless at best and perverse at worst”.

The Department for Work and Pensions said that four out of five claims for jobseeker’s allowance and 99 per cent of applicants for universal credit now submitted claims online. The number of redundancies would be small, it added.

Since this is the Times I recommend instead reading instead the Mirror report (a paper that stands up for us lot)

“Reckless” plans to slash millions from the welfare department’s bill by shutting Jobcentres across the country have been revealed.

The Department for Work and Pensions today announced it wants to merge staff and facilities from 78 smaller Jobcentre Plus offices into larger ones.

It wants to move another 50 into council or other similar offices to create “one-stop shops”, and shut 27 back offices.

The DWP insisted the move – carried out to slash its bills by £180m a year – would employ “under-used” buildings more efficiently.

But the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents DWP staff, warned jobless people will have to travel further to sign on – and claimed tho

The PCS union warned more than one in ten Jobcentres in England, Wales and Scotland was set to close.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Jobcentres provide a lifeline for unemployed people, and forcing them to travel further is not only unfair, it undermines support to get them back to work.

“We are opposed to these closures and will vigorously fight any attempt to force DWP workers out of their jobs.”

Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams branded the closures “reckless at best and perverse at worst”.

She added: “Only this government’s distorted austerity agenda could lead to such contradictory policies. Either the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing, or they are both acting together to make working people’s lives harder.

“This Tory Government’s decision to close Jobcentres across the country shows they are not serious about helping people to find decent, secure and well-paid work.”

It comes after previous plans to shut half the Jobcentre sites in Glasgow prompted fury from the PCS and SNP MPs.

The spur for the closures is that, ” because a 20-year contract for most of the DWP’s 900 sites with property firm Telereal Trillium expires in March 2018.

The Macedonian News Factory has already issued its alternative facts: 

A DWP source claimed a figure of thousands of job losses was “completely wrong” but estimated around 750 jobs were at risk.

A DWP source said help was available for vulnerable or disabled people who face travelling further for face-to-face appointments.

Mr Hinds added: “Where we are proposing closing a site we will take all possible precautions to minimise disruption for claimants, and vulnerable people will receive home visits and postal claims.”

In a statement issued by the DWP press team he said: “We will always make sure that people have the support they need to get into and progress within work, that’s why we are recruiting 2,500 more work coaches to help those who need it most.

“The way the world works has changed rapidly in the last 20 years and the welfare state needs to keep pace. As more people access their benefits through the internet, many of our buildings are under-used. We are concentrating our resources on what we know best helps people into work.

“The changes we’ve announced today will help ensure that the way we deliver our services reflect the reality of today’s welfare system.”

The Mirror publishes;

….a full list of Jobcentres earmarked to be “divested” – it’s thought in most cases this will mean moving its services into another Jobcentre nearby. Others not on this list are earmarked for ‘co-location’ in council or other offices. This list also does not include previously-announced closures or back office sites that are set to shut. For the full list please click the link above to the government’s website.

It’s already happening not just in Glasgow but elsewhere in Scotland,

More Scottish Jobcentre closures announced by UK Government (STV)

The cuts come in addition to the 13 Jobcentres closures, eight of them in Glasgow alone, announced last month by the DWP.

Two other Jobcentres, Lanark and Wick, will move into existing Jobcentres under the plans.

 The UK Government say the closures across the UK will save taxpayers £180m each year over the next decade.

Planned closures

  • Inverness – DWP assessment centre
  • Aberdeen, Greyfriars House – DWP administration centre
  • Alexandria – Jobcentre
  • Broxburn – Jobcentre
  • Coatbridge – DWP administration centre
  • Edinburgh, St Andrew Street – Jobcentre
  • Glasgow Portcullis House – DWP administration centre
  • Inverness, Church Street – Jobcentre and DWP administration centre
  • Larkhall – Jobcentre
  • Paisley, Lonend – DWP administration centre.
  • Port Glasgow – Jobcentre
  • Benbecula, Jobcentre
  • Cumnock – DWP administration centre
  • Glasgow, Corunna House – DWP administration centre
  • Wick, Girnigoe – Jobcentre to move to Caithness House.
  • Lanark – Jobcentre to move to South Lanarkshire Council office, South Vennel

It is said that ” four out of five claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance and 99% of applicants for Universal Credit submit claims online.”

Written by Andrew Coates

January 27, 2017 at 10:55 am

Job Centre Closures.

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Image result for job centre

Job Centre closures in Scotland were announced a few months ago.

 

Today (Welfare Weekly):

The Scottish National Party has condemned Scottish Secretary David Mundell for ‘failing to lift a finger’ to prevent the UK Government from shutting half of the job centres in Glasgow, as the campaign against closures gathers pace.

A consultation on closing 8 of the city’s 16 job centres – first revealed last month – comes to a close at the end of January. The SNP’s MPs, MSPs and councillors in Glasgow are encouraging the public to sign a petition against the plans.

A cross-party letter to David Mundell asking the Scottish Secretary to back the campaign – whose signatories include all of Glasgow’s MPs and MSPs except the two Conservative MSPs – has gone unanswered.

Repeatedly pressed on the issue in the House of Commons this week, Mr Mundell failed to give any commitment to lobby the DWP to halt the closures, and could only say that he hoped that they would not impact on service users.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson called David Mundell’s failure to speak out against the closures a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” – and questioned what the purpose of the Scottish Secretary was if not to speak up for Scotland at the Cabinet table.

Commenting Angus Robertson MP said: “Tory plans to close half of Glasgow’s jobcentres are wrong-headed and completely counterproductive – and their flawed consultation process only adds insult to injury.

“The SNP has been actively opposing this issue – and just this week we led debates in both the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament – but our attempts to get the Scottish Secretary to join us in calling on the DWP to halt these plans have fallen on deaf ears.

“In fact, there is no evidence that David Mundell has so much as lifted a finger to prevent these closures – or even soften the blow.

“Given the potentially devastating effect that these closures will have on some very vulnerable people in Glasgow, his failure to speak out is frankly a disgraceful dereliction of duty.

“It is completely unacceptable that Glasgow, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, is set to be the first part of the UK to have job centre closures imposed on it – and at a disproportionately high level.

“We will not accept being dragged back to the bad old days of Tory governments – with no mandate north of the border – treating Scotland as a guinea pig for their unpopular policies and doing anything they want.

“But there is also a wider issue here. If Mr Mundell has – as is evident – done so little to fight Scotland’s corner on the issue of job centre closures, then what hope do we have that he has done anything behind the scenes to keep Scotland in the single market as part of the Brexit negotiations?

“The Scottish Secretary should be fighting for Scotland’s interests in Cabinet – not the other way around – and if Mr Mundell is unwilling to do that, then you have to wonder what the point is in there being a Scottish Secretary.”

This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP). Opinions are those of the author only.

PCS:

DWP/MB/064/16 gave details of DWP’s announcement on 7 December of its proposals to close 50% of the job centres in Glasgow, as part of DWP’s People and Location Programme. Since then the GEC has been working closely with the local branches in Glasgow to build the campaign against these closures.

Some of the campaigning activities that the GEC and local reps have been involved in include:

  • Members meetings at each site on the day of the announcement with a GEC member or Full time officer present on every site threatened with closure
  • Briefing local press and radio that delivered same day coverage of the announcement in the Daily Record and other media outlets in Scotland
  • Sustained press interest in this story ensuring there is ongoing press coverage on the proposed closures.
  • Meeting and briefing local Glasgow MPs, resulting in a question being put at Prime minister’s questions on the day of the closure announcement. Also briefing the shadow Labour minister on the closures.
  • Public meetings being held in locations close to the threatened job centres
  • Organising a city wide public meeting on the closures
  • A full debate on the closures in the House of Commons, called by the chair of the PCS Parliamentary Group, SNP MP Chris Stephens and a meeting between the government minister and the Glasgow MPs.
  • Hold further meetings with members on the sites threatened with closure to get their feedback and to discuss the next steps.

PCS has pressed hard for a meeting with DWP management where we will continue to fight to protect members’ jobs and conditions and to make the case for expanding local job centre provision not closing it. DWP have agreed to further discussions with us on 10th January. No further announcements of the future of DWP offices will be made in the meantime.

The GEC is also working with the Glasgow branches on preparing a detailed response to the consultation on the proposed closures.

Further announcements of closures in other parts of the country are still expected. The GEC will work closely with branches and regions in protecting our members and defending services to the public, both on announcements that have already been made and on ones still to come.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 22, 2017 at 11:54 am

Jobcentres Prescribe Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.

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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.

All Jobcentres to be Shut?

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Iain Duncan Smith Urged By Senior Tories To Shut All Jobcentres

No this is not a story from the Daily Mash (‘COFFEE’ served in Scottish cafes is actually high strength lager),

This dream solution for all the problems about Jobpoints comes from the Huffington Post.

It was just signaled on Facebook.

Iain Duncan Smith is reportedly being urged by senior Tories to shut down all Jobcentres and let private companies and charities to step in to help Britain’s unemployed back to work.

The proposal, backed by allies of chancellor George Osborne, is being considered for potential inclusion in the party’s election manifesto for 2015, in what would be a radical step for Britain’s system to help people into work.

One senior Tory told The Sun: “Introducing competition into the job search market is a natural Conservative thing to do. Tailoring help from experts for what people really need will work far better than the clumsy one-size-fits-all state solution.”

However, Duncan Smith is believed to be sceptical about the idea, with a source describing the proposal as “expensive and complicated”.

Comment, yes but if making a pretty penny out of the unemployment is the objective, then there’s plenty from the Welfare-to-Work-Business who’d be interested.

The article continues,

This comes as a report by David Cameron’s favourite think-tank Policy Exchange called for Jobcentres to be split up and forced to compete with charities and the private sector to help people into work.

Just over a third (36%) of Jobcentre users find sustained work because deep-rooted problems fail to be addressed, the report said, adding that they could be replaced with “Citizen Support” centres to better help jobseekers.

“The way public services are currently structured means that often a jobseeker ends up being passed from pillar to post,” said Guy Miscampbell, an economics and social policy research fellow at Policy Exchange.

“This is confusing for the individual, creates barriers to help them into work and is expensive.

“Services have improved enormously, but there is still a lot more to do. What is needed is a radical overhaul of the system which puts the needs of the jobseeker first.”

In response the Policy Exchange report, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Every day up and down the country our Jobcentre advisers are working closely with local authorities and other organisations to help people off benefits and into work. We now have an employment rate which has never been higher and record numbers of people in work.

“The Work Programme – which is run by private providers who are paid by results – is helping more people than any previous employment programme and has already helped 300,000 into lasting work, and through Universal Credit we are redefining the contract between benefit claimants and the welfare state and helping to make work pay.”

The miserable failure of the Work Programme is an indication of what Privately run and ‘charitable’ Jobcentres would be like.

(Thanks to all who’ve flagged this one up)

Job Centres: Let’s Try a Test Case on Scum Sanctions.

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This article has not ceased creating waves.
 
Jobcentre staff have contacted the Guardian to say it is widespread practice for managers to set targets for removing benefits. PLabour responded to fresh evidence suggesting jobcentres around the country are being given targets to find reasons to take away jobseeker’s allowance from claimants by demanding that the government speed up and widen the remit of an independent review into the regime of benefit sanctions.

Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, said his party would table amendments in the Lords on Monday to widen the terms of the proposed inquiry if ministers did not give an undertaking “to get to the bottom of every sanction issued by a jobcentre where targets were in operation”.

This bit stuck in me mind,

It was also reported that staff in a jobcentre in the West Midlands were this week told that the team who submitted the most Stricter Benefit Regime “Refusal of Employment” referrals would be rewarded with Easter eggs. The staff were told there was drive on this particular type of sanction.

 

To call the people doing this ‘bleedin’ filth’ is to be rude about filth.

We should be thinking about some serious legal – and why not more? – action.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 25, 2013 at 11:13 am

Universal Jobmatch Mandatory (but not ‘Blanket’) from 4th March.

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The PCS trade union has announced,

“The Secretary of State for DWP will make an announcement on 1st March 2013 that, with effect from 4th March 2013, FLAs can mandate claimants to register for UJ. This will be done via a Jobseeker Direction. Importantly, however, management have acknowledged that mandatory sign up to UJ will not be a blanket approach; instead, FLAs should encourage claimants to use UJ. Mandatory sign up will be on an individual basis, if the FLA feels that UJ would be beneficial to the claimant, and they have ‘unreasonably refused’. Management will be issuing guidance around this shortly.

Cookies Legislation

Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ. This is because the choice to accept cookies on your computer has to be made ‘freely’, under the EU legislation. This means that if an FLA seeks to mandate a claimant to register on UJ, they will need to look at alternative methods of doing so – Internet Access Device (IAD) within a jobcentre, use of computer in local library, etc. Management refer to this as their ‘tactical solution’. PCS have raised doubts that there are sufficient resources within Jobcentres to enable this to be a realistic workaround.

However, the UJ project has indicated that they are seeking to make changes to the UJ site which will provide an option to remove the cookies from home computers. When these changes are made, FLAs will be able to mandate customers to sign up from home. This is what management are calling the ‘strategic’ solution, but they are unable to say when this ‘fix’ will be implemented.

Access to UJ Account

If, and when, a claimant signs up to UJ, they will be encouraged to give DWP access to their account. However, it is absolutely clear from a legal perspective that the claimant does not have to tick the box to give DWP access to their account, and can provide alternative proof of UJ sign up and use, e.g. screenprints

FLAs setting up UJ Accounts

It has been brought to the attention of PCS that some District Managers are encouraging FLAs to set up their own UJ account and then take claimants for a ‘walkthrough’ of the system. PCS has challenged the security aspect of this process and, as a result, management centrally, have issued clear instructions that this practice must stop. PCS has received assurances centrally that any advisor, following what they believed to be a ‘reasonable management request’, will face no disciplinary action as a result of their actions.

Robustness of UJ Site

PCS has raised serious concerns around the robustness of the UJ site. The UJ site has already attracted widespread media attention due to a number of rogue job adverts that have appeared and security concerns. Management have stated that they have increased the number of checks on the site to prevent ‘bogus’ adverts appearing, but are unable to offer any cast-iron guarantees that vacancies of this type will not appear in the future. PCS has also challenged management around employers offering jobs with salaries/wages below the national minimum wage level. Again, management state that they are constantly monitoring any misuse of the system. Although they admit that there a number of fixes to the site still to be made, for example around the geographical searches, management insist that the site popular and well used.

Summary

The view of PCS is that Universal Jobmatch is nothing more than a crude tool being used by DWP management to help deliver this government’s ‘scorched earth’ approach to the welfare reform agenda. Disgracefully, it is PCS members who are at the forefront of criticism from claimants and welfare groups alike when failings of the system are highlighted across the national media. FLAs should follow the guidance and use their own discretion when mandating claimants to sign up to UJ, and resist any local targets or blanket approaches at a local level.

The working processes outlined within this circular are absolute and not subject to any “interpretation” by district managers. Any attempt to amend these processes under the banner of ‘Freedoms and Flexibilities’ should be escalated to the Group Office as a matter of urgency.”

Comments.

  • In Suffolk the public Library Computer system will not support Universal Jobmatch (just one of the problems this ‘privatised charity’ is causing). How can you get access to it if you do not have a home link to the Net? Johnny Void says that ”  Jobcentres will be providing Internet Access Devices for those unable or unwilling to use a home PC.”. We are sceptical, very sceptical , that local Jobcentres will be able to cope with the demand. Ipswich Silent Street DWP and JC are straining to park their growing number of clients as it is.
  • “Currently, EU cookie legislation prevents mandatory sign up requiring customers to use their home computers to register for, or use UJ.” So even if you have a link to the Net they can’t make you sign up through your home broadband etc.
  • If you feel you would like to use Universal Jobmatch (and we would hardly recommend ignoring any way of getting proper work) you do not need to  give your ‘adviser’ access to your account. If you dislike Nosey-Parkers, do not mark the box which allows this.

On the Web we learn that security problems, the risk of identity theft, and bogus job announcements, continue.

This is no surprise: the system is created by some American company whose interests are far from public service.

It is likely that more difficulties will come to light in the coming weeks.