National Audit Office criticises DWP Sanctions

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The National Audit Office has just produced a critical report on Benefit Sanctions. Of course they were only looking at sanctions within the official dialogue of getting people into work – where we all know they score very badly. But sanctions were never really about this. After all, there aren’t enough jobs. What the NAO doesn’t discuss is the unspoken agenda, where sanctions have proved very effective in disciplining people on benefits and in helping to create workers who dare not protest about their pay and conditions for fear of ending up unemployed and potentially destitute. You don’t even need to keep sanctioning people at such a high rate to achieve this – just enough to maintain a fear of being sanctioned.

Nevertheless, the NAO’s criticism provides an important tool with which to attack the credibility of this pernicious system – and DAVID WEBSTER has provided a summary of the KEY POINTS:

*  The report is generally critical. It uses a ‘traffic light’ scoring system. On sanctions, DWP scores:  red 2, red/amber 1, amber 3, amber/green 3, green 0. (Figure 1, p.11, Figure 8 p.21 and Figure 20, p.38)

*  A recurring theme is the lack of evidence to support the sanctions regime, and the DWP’s unwillingness to make use of its own data to evaluate it or to collaborate with outside researchers. The report is particularly critical of the DWP’s reliance on ‘international evidence suggesting that broadly some form of sanction has an effect’. (para.23)  It repeats the call for a wide review of sanctions made repeatedly by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee. (para.24)

*  Using Work Programme data, the NAO did its own analysis of sanctions’ employment effects. This found that JSA sanctions had a large effect in getting claimants off benefit, but they were as likely not to find work as they were to find it. There was no positive effect on earnings for those who found work.

*  The report finds that ESA sanctions actually reduced claimants’ likelihood of working. This bears out the findings of the important report by Catherine Hale, Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group (2014).

* The report finds that the rise and fall in referrals over the period 2010 to 2016 cannot be explained by changes in claimant behaviour. (para.13, p.8) This supports the conclusions of my analysis published at www.cpag.org.uk/david-webster, although in other respects the conclusions are different.

* The report comments that sanctions are not rare. It finds that of all people who claimed JSA at any point between 2010 and 2015, 24% were sanctioned, before challenges. (Figure 5, p.16) The only previous published figure of this type (in FoI response 2014-4972) showed that 22.3% of the 8,232,560 individuals who claimed JSA over the five year period 2009/10 to 2013/14 inclusive, were sanctioned, after challenges. After allowing for the pre-/post- challenge difference, these figures are similar (about 10% of sanctions were overturned over these periods). DWP ministers and officials have deliberately and persistently misled politicians and the public by quoting the monthly sanctions rate of around 5% as if it meant that only 5% of claimants are ever sanctioned.

* The NAO report explains why the DWP hasn’t been publishing statistics on Universal Credit sanctions: it hasn’t been collecting them. Only from Sept 2016 has the DWP been recording whether UC decisions relate to sanctions or to other matters. (Note 4, Figure 2 p.13)

* The NAO report does not give statistics on Universal Credit sanctions, but it does show that the sanction referral rate for UC, at 11.7% of claimants per month, is approaching twice what it is for JSA (6.5%) (Figure 2, p.13) This implies that the UC sanction rate is also likely to be double that for JSA. The report also says that decision making for UC sanctions is understaffed, with 42% of UC sanction decisions in August 2016 taking more than 4 weeks while 90% of sanction referrals for other benefits are decided within 5 working days.

*  In August 2015 the UK Statistics Authority made recommendations to DWP for improvement of its sanctions statistics and removal of misleading aspects including the misrepresentation of the proportion of JSA claimants who are sanctioned. Very little has happened since and the NAO report urges DWP to get on with implementing the UKSA’s 5 recommendations, which are listed in para.3.5.

* The NAO finds that some Work Programme providers make more than twice as many sanction referrals as other providers within the same geographical area, even though claimants are randomly allocated so that the caseload characteristics are identical for each provider. (para.2.12) It finds that where providers referred more people for sanctions, they had a worse employment performance. On average, the best provider in an area achieved 6% more employment outcomes and its participants received 20% fewer sanctions. (Figure 22, p.42)

* A particularly embarrassing finding for DWP is that it applies sanctions to a similar proportion of referrals from every Work Programme provider, whether they have a high or a low referral rate – in other words, while some providers are making an assessment of whether they should make a referral, DWP is not making genuine assessments of whether claimants should be sanctioned. (para.2.12 and Figure 13, p.29) Not surprisingly therefore, the report also finds that 26% of Work Programme sanctions are overturned compared to 11% of those imposed directly by Jobcentres.

* The NAO estimates that the amount of money not paid to claimants as a result of sanctions (sanction value minus hardship payments made) was about £97m in 2015. On the basis of a straightforward pro rata calculation, this supports the estimate of £332m which I previously made for 2013/14. The difference is due to the big fall in sanctions between 2013/14 and 2015.

*  DWP has made no overall assessment of the costs and benefits of the sanctions regime including on other public services and should do so. (para. 3.20)

 

Triage strikes again

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Triage seem to be keeping up their exemplary level of abuse. On Monday we met Steve who couldn’t understand why his ESA had been stopped. He is on the assessment phase: he has submitted his detailed medical form (ESA50) and is still waiting for a Work Capability Assessment. He had already had problems with his form getting lost in the system and miraculously found again, but all had seemed OK and his doctor’s lines were up to date. Only, his money never appeared in his bank account. With no credit in his phone, he went to his mother’s work-place, and after an hour-long phone call with the DWP was again told that they didn’t have his form, and advised to go to the jobcentre. I went with him into the building, and a remarkably helpful, if slightly puzzled, advisor looked up his case and told us that his claim had actually been shut down as the Work Programme Provider, Triage, had reported that he had failed to do something. Steve explained that last time he had been in the jobcentre his advisor had told him that since he was now getting ESA and had a doctor’s line he no longer had to go to Triage, and that she would inform Triage of this fact. So either she never passed on this message, or, as has happened so often in the past, Triage took the message and ignored it. He would now have to appeal against the stopped claim, but the woman who was helping us suggested that it might still be possible to get Triage to rescind their complaint. So off we went down the road to Triage. On reflection, it would have been better for someone else to have gone with Steve. As soon as they saw me they panicked and refused to let us in on the grounds that I was going to occupy the building again. I told them that I would go so they could see Steve without me, but even with me gone, they refused to let him in, and then laughed at his predicament.

We have made contact with Welfare Rights who should be able to get this resolved, and we were able to sort out immediate help in the form of a food parcel and an application for a Scottish Welfare Fund Grant. Although Steve was understandably angry, he was not surprised, as this had not been his first experience of Triage’s interpretation of ‘supporting’ people into work.

At least we didn’t have to listen to Osborne

 

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The best thing about the Autumn Statement was not having to listen to Osborne’s uber-smug tones. The section on welfare was very short, but then there is not much left to cut.

After all the talk about Just About Managing families, there had been some hopes raised that the government might reverse the effective cuts for people moving from Tax Credits onto Universal Credit, but those hopes were soon crushed (cue headlines about ‘no JAM today’). Remember all the excitement about Tax Credit cuts being rejected by the House of Lords? Well, it was only ever a delay, as the move from Tax Credits to Universal Credit is bringing the cuts in by the back door. The one positive change is a very small drop in the taper rate for people earning and on Universal Credit. Instead of losing 65p in benefits for every pound earned, they will lose only 63p – which is still an incredibly high effective tax rate. Even IDS has protested that this change is not enough. For the people who will be losing thousands of pounds through the move from Working Tax Credits to Universal Credit, the change in the taper will restore only a few hundred. Meanwhile, the rise in the minimum wage is actually less than would have been expected if it is to reach £9 by 2020, as Osborne had previously promised.

And though pensioners retain the triple lock for now (i.e. the manifesto promise to increase the state pension annually by 2.5 per cent, or in line with inflation or wage growth – whichever is highest), there were clear indications that this is in the government’s sights for after 2020.

Even within its own terms the government yet again failed to meet its fiscal targets – which it solved by moving the goal posts. This move is fraught with potential danger, as Richard Murphy explains:

‘…we learned fiscal rules can be abandoned with impunity as Osborne’s were rejected without a backward glance. That which replaced it was worse though in many ways. First the books will be balanced, but we don’t know when. So that’s austerity forever. Second, debt as a proportion of GDP will shrink. That’s a licence for privatisation. Third, benefits [i.e. total benefit spending] will be capped. This is a plan for continued shrinking of the state at cost to ordinary people, and the social safety net.’ And Murphy describes the proposed investment in infrastructure as ‘peanuts’.

 

Jobcentre zealots

ecap-protest-intesco-3-marchJust a short posting from last week’s stall as it was mercifully quiet. However we did speak to one woman whose ‘job coach’ seems to have taken on board the DWP mission so thoroughly that she is never off duty. So enthusiastic was she about the benefits of unpaid ‘work experience’ that she stopped the woman when she saw her in the street to try and persuade her to take up a ‘work experience’ opportunity. Even if well-intended, this seems to us far from professional and akin to harassment. The woman has recent experience in retail and was far from enthusiastic about working for nothing in Tesco’s café. We were able to reassure her that ‘work experience’ is not compulsory and that it should be made clear if any activity is mandatory and sanctionable (if in doubt ask). And we agreed that anyone working for Tesco should be paid by Tesco. (The picture is from an Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty protest in 2012.)

We also talked with someone who had had a temporary job at The Range and told us that reading our posts about the extensive use of ‘work experience’ there made her realise why they had had no need to take her on permanently. In fact, she said they were clearly doing their best to get rid of all long-term employees. She described the strange atmosphere on paydays, when some of the staff received their brown envelopes but the people on benefits who had been working alongside them got nothing.

And talking of over-diligent job-coaches – we received this account from a friend in Glasgow:

‘Was threatened with a sanction for being 3 mins late the other week by my new advisor. The next-time I signed on I was asked why I never turned up for my last signing as she had failed to put through my details!! Lucky I had brought the letter threatening my sanction which was proof of my attendance. No apology just more stress.’

SUWN response to the Consultation on Social security In Scotland

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This is our response to the current Scottish Government consultation on the (limited) soon-to-be-devolved welfare powers. This consultation doesn’t include the schemes that are replacing the Work Programme as they are covered by a different minister. We addressed these in our recent letter to Jamie Hepburn. Thank you to everyone who signed our petition, which we have included with the response – and thanks to our activists for promoting it (especially Ronnie, who would win the prize – if there was one).

CONSULTATION ON SOCIAL SECURITY IN SCOTLAND, A RESPONSE BY THE SCOTTISH UNEMPLOYED WORKERS’ NETWORK, OCTOBER 2016

Thank you for setting up this important consultation. We are glad of the opportunity to make known our views, and hope that the Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network can contribute to the on-going discussion on policy development and take part in the planned ‘user panels’.

PIP Assessments

We are very encouraged by the discussion so far on changing the nature of the PIP assessment process away from the current tick-box, try and catch you out and show you are faking, approach back to one based on evidence from a person’s doctor and other social services. We hope assessors will be able to be flexible as to the type of evidence they receive and that weight will also be given to the testimony of the claimant and their family and friends, as not all doctor/patient relationships are equally supportive.

We are sure that you are already well aware of the origins of the current punitive system, but feel it is important that it is not forgotten that the assessments used for both ESA and PIP were developed as a result of a long relationship, dating back to the 1990s, between the UK Government and a health insurance firm notorious for arguing that people’s problems were fake or psychosomatic and for not paying up on claims, and that they were deliberately conceived to remove large numbers of people from claiming the benefits.[1]

Evidence from GPs

We would also urge you to work closely with your colleagues in Health to ensure that claimants do, indeed, get the help they need from their GPs. Like you, we welcome the introduction of welfare rights officers into GP surgeries (so long as this is done with appropriate safeguards on patient privacy), but there are only welfare rights officers in a few places. In others, claimants for both PIP and ESA have to ask their GP directly for a supporting letter, and most GPs are charging for producing this. As benefit claimants don’t generally have the money to pay, they are putting in applications without medical evidence, severely affecting their chances of getting the money they need and deserve. As health is devolved, the Scottish Government have the power to intervene and make sure that people are getting free access to the support they need.

Advice and Advocacy support

While Scotland is much better provided with welfare advice than many places in England, we could benefit from increased investment in advice services, both face to face and over the phone, including more welfare rights officers in doctors’ surgeries and more stalls in public places such as shopping centres.  We would also like to see a positive recognition and encouragement of the role of friends and family and of volunteer citizen advocates and self-help groups  (like ourselves) in accompanying people to appointments, helping them ask the right questions and acting as witnesses to their encounters with an often unsympathetic bureaucracy. This should include prominent and clear recognition of a claimant’s right to be accompanied and for the person with them to be able to ask questions on their behalf if they require it. While such advocacy is already recognised in DWP rules, it is often denied in fact; but there could be a requirement for the rules to be prominently displayed in all Scottish offices, with contact details for an independent ombudsman. It should also mean that Police Scotland would not allow themselves to be used to shut down all questioning of DWP staff, as has frequently been experienced by both claimants and advocates, especially over the right to be accompanied. We have found that both the DWP and their subcontractors are very quick to call the police if anything they say is challenged, and that the police are very reluctant to listen to any other view of events. Better advocacy could also be assisted through the provision of a freely accessible, well publicised, telephone advice service dedicated to providing back up to the non-professional friends, family and volunteers who help claimants; something similar to the CPAG advice line for advisors, but more widely available.

Transfer from DLA to PIP

Of course many people have already lost out due to the UK Government’s insistence on instigating the transfer from DLA to PIP before the benefit was devolved. We would propose that after April no more people are transferred from DLA until the new systems are fully in place. We would also like to see the Scottish Government use its powers to provide additional help to assist those who have lost out through this transfer. We would recommend automatic reinstatement of mobility benefits lost through the cut-off for eligibility being dropped from walking 50m to walking 20m. We would also like to see additional help for people who have lost out on the transfer, perhaps through an enhanced Scottish Welfare Fund on a case by case discretionary basis.

Questioning decisions

A fairer initial assessment system should reduce the number of appeals, but we would ask in addition that the Scottish Government takes out the Mandatory Reconsideration stage, which primarily serves to delay the appeal process and to discourage people from taking their appeal through to conclusion.

A petition on key points

We have drawn up a petition that highlights five key points for the newly devolved welfare services – both those covered by this consultation and those under the auspices of the Minister for Employability and Training. We will send the 551 signatures by post as many are on paper, but the petition is reproduced below:

‘When more welfare powers come to Scotland, please can you make sure that:

  • No-one can get sanctioned for not attending or complying with any devolved ‘employability’ scheme, and this is made clear to everyone affected so that these schemes are effectively voluntary.
  • Scottish health services and other social and community services are kept completely independent of any DWP schemes that pressure people to apply for jobs. (We especially don’t want to see anything like the placing of ‘work coaches’ in GPs’ surgeries recently trialled in Islington).
  • The new Scottish PIP assessment process takes full account of evidence from health and other care professionals, and the GPs etc. have to provide this evidence.
  • Everyone who has lost benefits as a result of the cut-off for Higher Rate Mobility having been dropped from walking 50m to walking 20m can apply to get them reinstated.
  • There is no role for private companies in any devolved service.’

(We are emailing the pdf of the comments made on the online version of the petition along with this response)

Finally, we would like to give some additional responses to specific questions in the consultation that have not already been covered:

  1. Benefits should be provided in cash, but with the option of paying the rent directly to the landlord. There should also be options of using the benefit for reduced cost schemes e.g. for energy or mobility, and continued schemes for free public transport etc.

Digital applications should always be an option not a default expectation, and free phone numbers should be easily available.

Social services should be delivered through the public sector and should never be contracted out to private profit-making companies.

Third sector organisations should be seen as a source of additional help and not part of the public social security service.

  1. There should be some permanent independent body or ombudsman that one can approach with complaints and that could ensure that decision making is clear and transparent.

We would also like to see prompt publication of fully detailed statistics on claims/awards/appeals etc. (statistics not targets)

  1. (Please also see comments above)

Yes, there should be timetables set for assessments and decision making.

Yes, people should be asked to give consent to allow access to personal information including medical records as part of their application process; they should also be able to give consent to access some parts of this and not others.

In looking at the impact of a person’s impairment or disability, an assessment should include the impact on their ability to take part in social activity.

We are supportive of the idea of developing a consistent approach to disability benefits across all ages and ending the current arbitrary transfer from one benefit to another.

All assessments should be carried out by professionals within the public sector (see 3.)

People with long-term conditions should not have to undergo reassessment.

The option of reduced energy tariffs and other dedicated support is welcome.

We would like to see greater investment in public transport to help people more generally.

We support the continuation of some sort of motability scheme but are concerned that the present system may not always provide good value to those who use it.

  1. We are pleased that the Scottish Government is raising the Carer’s Allowance and hope that this is just the first step towards a Carer’s Living Wage. Caring is, after all, deemed to be a full time job.
  2. We are pleased that the extra help proposed for young people who have been unemployed is going to them and not to their employer, as schemes that pay the employer simply mean that younger people are taken on at the expense of those who are older.
  3. We are pleased to see that people in receipt of Universal Credit will be able to get this paid twice monthly rather than monthly, and that they will be able to choose to have the rent element paid directly to their social landlord. This should certainly be extended to private sector landlords. The risk of eviction is worse in the private sector and without those guaranteed payments, many private landlords will refuse to rent to people on Universal Credit at all.

We would like to see individual payments of Universal Credit as the default position. This could be crucial in any household where there is abuse, and also in cases where a partner has difficulties controlling their spending, e.g. through an addiction to shopping or gambling.

With respect to the housing element, one of the worst injustices that should be addressed is the meanness of the allowance given to single people under 35 who are in private rented housing. This is only enough to cover a room in a shared house, which is especially difficult for those who would like to be able to have their children come and stay.

  1. In looking at eligibility for PIP, any new system should be more responsive to long-term Scottish residents who have returned from a prolonged time abroad.
  2. We welcome the commitment not to recover overpayments that are the result of official error
  3. We are glad that you have acknowledged how relatively rare benefit fraud is and ask that all investigation is done so as not to create unwarranted alarm – unlike in the current system of random checks and computer-generated letters.
  4. Benefits should rise at least in line with the greater of the consumer price index or average earnings.[2]

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This is one of the carved stones set into the parliament wall

[1] Foot, Paul (1995) ‘Doctor on Call’, Private Eye, 16 June 1995, reproduced here: https://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/private-eye-from-1995-on-unum-and-peter-lilley-in-the-tory-government; Rutherford, Jonathan (2007) ‘New Labour, the market state, and the end of welfare’ Soundings 36, Lawrence and Wishart; Stewart, Mo (2016) Cash not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state, New Generation Publishing

[2] Unemployment benefits used to be increased in line with earnings or prices, whichever was higher, but since 1980 have been tied to prices, which have risen more slowly. Average consumption and living standards have risen with earnings, but people on benefits have been left far behind.

Mental health issues – in colour and 3D

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The exhibition by ‘artists with lived experience of mental health issues’, showing at Summerhall in Edinburgh, has some important messages for the people running our benefits system, and also our health service. Taking in the art on display, and reading the accompanying descriptions by the artists, one becomes aware of the personal significance of each piece, and the strength that must be needed first to make it and then to show it to the public. But I hope that the other artists will forgive me for just focussing on two artists whose work will resonate with everyone who has been on health related benefits. The first is Lauren Stonebanks, whose collage box included the sad note above, and was given this explanatory label

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Lauren also has another piece in the exhibition, though she is only tangentially responsible for it. This is a bashed in door

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for which she has supplied the following explanation

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The author of the second piece describes themselves only as ‘B’. B has created a comment on the huge number of pills people are prescribed and their debilitating side effects. Each new pill seems to require a further prescription to balance it out. I have often wanted to question the pages long prescriptions accompanying some of the benefit applications I have helped with: I hope some doctors see this work!

 

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The exhibition runs until 30 October.

exhibition website

 

 

‘Work Coach’, aye right

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On the day that ‘I, Daniel Blake’ hit the big screen, the SUWN were ootside Dundee buroo, conducting our regular advice stall, where we distributed flyers for the forthcoming free screening of this powerful indictment of our so-called ‘welfare state’ at Dundee DCA on November 2nd, which raised a fair amount of interest. Whilst recent reports have emphasised how relatively quiet the stalls have been (due to the establishment of a welfare rights team in the buroo), today was different. Four pages of notes were taken from the many people that we spoke to, including Jim, who had recently started signing on, and who was so angry at the shoddy treatment that he had received that he wishes to get involved with the SUWN. He reported that he is being asked to sign on weekly for the first thirteen weeks, and, because he is co-habiting with his partner, that he had been hauled into the buroo three times in the first week of signing on, in order to answer intrusive and, frankly, ridiculous, questions about the nature of his relationship with his partner.

In another notable case, Roddy, a young guy in his twenties, reported that he was also required to sign on weekly, and that he had been enrolled, very much against his wishes, onto a new scheme called ‘Walking the Patch’, which involves him being required to trawl around Dundee city centre so that he can ‘introduce’ himself to prospective employers in the retail trade. He was under the impression that he would be accompanied by a DWP employee whilst ‘walking the patch’. If this is the case, particularly when it is combined with widespread weekly signing on, it may not be too long before Dundee buroo comes to a grinding halt. We have talked to other welfare agencies in Scotland who told us that they had not come across the ‘Walking the Patch’ scheme, and who believe it may be limited to the Dundee area. Yet again, Dundee seems to be getting ‘special treatment’ – whatever have we done to deserve this? We were also informed by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) that weekly signing is not unknown in other places, though quite unusual. In the case of Dundee, however, it is being reported more and more frequently. If you are being asked to sign on weekly, we would like to hear from you.

Another man, Eddie, complained that his ‘work coach’ (sic) had insisted that he had to complete his weekly job searches despite the fact that he was signed off with serious depression – this did not stop his ‘work coach’ (sic) from phoning him up to pressurise him into complying with his ‘claimant commitment’. We have enough experience with such cases to know that such pressure on people who are already struggling can have serious, even deadly, consequences. He seemed better within himself for getting his problems off his chest and we urged him to register a complaint against the totally unnecessary, and counterproductive pressure that was being forced on him by the DWP.

We have not come across many sanctions of late, although we have been kept busy with many other issues, but we came across Ken, a young man in his twenties who informed us that he had just been told that a recommendation for a sanction had just been phoned through to the ‘decision maker’. He had been an hour late signing on, but when he tried to explain that he was late because he had to look after his six month old child until his partner was available to take over caring duties, this was dismissed. We explained the sanction process to him, and urged him to get in contact with welfare rights asap, and provided him with our contact details so that we could monitor the progress of the case.

Finally, we heard a very alarming account from an unemployed man who reported that he had been bumped from ESA, despite suffering from serious depression, and was now required to attend to sign on. On all three occasions he been into the buroo, he had been goaded and insulted by a security guard who is well known to us due to his aggressive and generally unpleasant, attitude. We have discussed this case with other agencies in Dundee, and asked them to keep a ‘watching brief’ on this case, and will report any further progress.

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The scene of the crime

All names used in this report have been changed. Thanks to Chris, Gary and Gordon for helping out at the stall at short notice.

 

Torture by Triage

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Following our post on Tuesday’s occupation of Triage in Dundee, we received a couple of comments from people who refused to believe that there were any grounds for direct action, and that we shouldn’t call out staff for just ‘doing their job’. Find below, an account by Jake from Montrose who details his treatment at the hands of this so-called ’employability firm’. We believe this firm should face an investigation into the countless allegations we have received of poor treatment of the unemployed and disabled, and we sincerely hope that the Scottish government will strip them of their ability to make profit from other people’s misery when their contract comes up for renewal in the spring of next year;

‘I had to use Triage 4 years ago, first couple of times fine, sounded like they knew what they were doing and had “contacts” for getting someone a job; then the pressure started, the stupid looking through Angus business book and sending away 30 CVs. I got back 5 replies, all said not to BOTHER them again, they would not accept spur of the minute CVs. Lo and behold the joker working there handed me the same book and said do another 30!!!!! I refused and it was a battle every time I was there. They would call you through and I used to ask why am I here, they all looked at each other clueless and said do a job search, another battle as I carried out job searches every morning and was not travelling to Arbroath to do the same again. The I became ill and was signed off, they phoned and threatened me even though I was in ESA Support group, but silence once they found out. So glad this took me to the end of my 2 years fucking waste of time with them; they asked on my last day as I signed off “Did I want them to keep in touch! NO was the short sharp answer. Useless bullying corrupt organisation making millions for basic harassment and bullying of people needing help !!!!!!!!!!!!’

And for anyone who still harbours any doubts about this company, here’s the reviews that have been posted on Google – all 5, completely unedited:

GOOGLE REVIEWS FOR TRIAGE DUNDEE

Sarah Murphy
a month ago
This place does not help you get a job they have gave me set appointments and they juat about keep getting me sanctioned there is drug users in the place all the time when triage should know them selves that young ones like me actually want a job but me and the rest of them are to scared to go in incase they have a drug user on there case absolutley disgusting!

Michelle M
2 months ago
Dreadful place rude staff who don’t care about the unemployed the reception staff discuss you when they see you in the streets. Staff make you out to be a liar, they also stand outside smoking talking about clients using language like wasters no hopers etc. They treat you like you are stupid and a kid using idle threats to get your money stopped they tell lies to get a funding grant after people gain employment by saying they got you the job when they didn’t all staff are very unprofessional and discriminate against people with disabilities

Catherine T
2 months ago
Horrendous place. They don’t care at all for the people who are looking for work they don’t help you when you ask for help they expect you to do everything even when you can’t they constantly talk about you rudely to there colleagues in the street especially the young reception staff and they make you out as a lier to get your money stopped when they are the one at fault this company should be shut down

lorraine grace
2 months ago
This joke of a place should be CLOSED down.I have had experience of them in the past myself but this instance is to do with my daughter.got sent to a company for an interview and the company knew nothing about it.Total incompetent staff.

james saunders
7 months ago
I have never felt so belittled and harangued in all my life, since I met these people. In fact I am debating whether to take legal action against this company and those psycho-babble launderers who are wasting valuable tax payers money to run their grotesque little show.

Occupation of Triage, Dundee

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Yesterday SUWN activists carried out a successful occupation of the Triage office in Dundee. This firm lauds itself as committed to helping people into work, but not only do they fail miserably in their ostensible purpose, they also generate an exceptionally high number of sanction referrals. Many people approach us regularly to complain that they have been sanctioned for failure to attend Triage appointments that they were given no notification of. This is unacceptable treatment of the unemployed and disabled. We will not accept it – and neither should you. Our activists did intend to present the manager of the Dundee Triage office with an ‘IDS Award’ for services towards sanctioning, but she appears to be keeping a low profile. After we had been there about three quarters of an hour, the police arrived and we left the building. There were no arrests. The office was closed to ‘clients’ as a result of the occupation, so, at the very least, a number of Dundonians have been spared the experience of being patronised within an inch of their lives or being referred to a sanction for ‘non-compliance’. We hope that when the Scottish Government takes over training schemes in April, not only will they be run completely differently (with attendance voluntary), but that firms such as Triage will be history.

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The occupation was reported in Common Space, the Dundee Courier and the National

A BOOK – by the SUWN

The SUWN is proud to announce the birth of our BOOK

RIGHTING WELFARE WRONGS: Dispatches and Analysis from the Front Line of the Fight Against Austerity

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You can buy a copy from our publishers, Commonprint, HERE for £10

This book has been forged through grassroots activism by and with people at the sharp end of ‘welfare reform’. It illuminates everyday battles to maintain human dignity and even existence in the face of the new punitive welfare state. It is about solidarity and mutual support, but it is also about understanding and taking on the bigger politics behind this brave new world of coercion and control.

It has been written for everyone who wants to comprehend what is happening and what we can do about it – and maybe even have a laugh along the way.

‘I am convinced that the network must have saved many vulnerable people from going over the edge, as has tragically happened in many parts of the country. I am not surprised now that this same group has written this marvellous book.’ – Paul Laverty, Screenwriter for ‘I, Daniel Blake’

Warning – this book will make you angry!