Blitz on benefits

Reporter: Robbie Gill
Date published: 10 December 2013

OLDHAM and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams has attacked Iain Duncan-Smith over claims Jobcentre Plus staff are being pressurised to stop the benefits of claimants.

A anonymous former Jobcentre Plus employee told Mrs Abrahams staff have quotas to “sanction” benefit claimants and are actively encouraged to do so.

Mrs Abrahams raised the issue to the Work and Pensions Secretary at a select committee meeting last night.

The employee - who has over 18 years’ experience in Manchester jobcentres - said: “I tried to raise this but my concerns were ignored. Claimants are being set up to fail to meet benefits criteria — without regard for justice or welfare.

“Staff are asked to behave in a manner that is against the department’s values of integrity and honesty.

“An environment is being created where the safety of staff is at risk. There’s a culture of no accountability which is encouraged by senior managers if targets are hit.

“Managers are applying performance management rules to force staff into achieving monthly quotas in stopping benefits.”

The former employee said the process was widespread: “Staff are challenged to identify the customer as a barrier to performance and the emphasis is on stopping benefits. This leads to a drop in professionalism and values. After over 18 years I was not viewed as someone with experience but as an irritant.”

Mr Duncan Smith told the Select Commiittee he was unaware of the claims: I would like to see the evidence for it,” he said. “He’s making allegations about people who work very hard.”

“I’d be prepared to meet him to discuss it but there is someone in charge of this they should meet first. If he’s got an issue to raise, I would want to know.”

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