Shocking DWP whistleblower letter shows targets for sanctions in action

22nd March, 2013 11:36 am

This morning the Guardian ran a piece on a DWP whistleblower which revealed that a Job Centre in Walthamstow was set targets for imposing sanctions on jobseekers. Liam Byrne has since suggested that this is why Labour acted as it did on Tuesday. We’ve now got a copy of the letter referred to in the Guardian – and it makes depressing reading.

Meanwhile in the Commons, Iain Duncan Smith is still claiming that targets don’t exist. This letter proves he’s wrong.

You can read it below – and if you have evidence of this happening in other jobcentres, please let us know.

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  • Truly disgraceful – but the managerialist language of targets and league tables and TLAs that sound innocuous but are actually about taking away even the most pathetic pittance from the very poor just reek of New Labour.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Surely everybody knew that Iain Duncan Smith et al are pathological liars?

    It’s the Labour Party’s complicity with these liars that should concern us.

    And here… well… I’m confused.

    Is Byrne now claiming that Labour abstained from voting against a coalition bill designed to rewrite the law retrospectively in order to strip citizens of rights, given to them by a judge, to challenge and recoup monies robbed from them by the DWP, in order to get an independent review into the sanctions regime to show it is unlawful?


    I’m still scratching my head.

    Is Byrne claiming ex post facto that in order to secure an independent review of the DWP’s obviously brutal and corrupt sanctions regime (and show it is unlawful) the Labour Party had no choice but to stand by and do nothing while the Coalition rewrote history, changing the law retrospectively, specifically to prevent wronged claimants from reclaiming monies stripped from them by DWP sanctions ruled unlawful by a Judge?

    One more go.

    Is Byrne claiming that the Labour Party abstained from voting against a bill designed to strip legal rights and protections from citizens, whom the DWP had sanctioned unlawfully, in order to prevent abused citizens from being able to mount cases and reclaim monies stripped from them by the DWP to secure an independent review into the sanctions regime and show that the DWP has been unlawfully sanctioning British citizens in their thousands?

    And I was thinking it was all about not paying out £130 million to the people wronged and swindled by the State and to maintain the DWP’s right to sanction benefit claimants in the future!

    Incidentally the amendments that Byrne seems so proud of, i.e., for a commission to produce an independent report, brought before Parliament within 12 months, in respect to the DWP’s sanctions regime, are somewhat laughable. Once the report has been written Iain Duncan Smith will be granted an unspecified amount of time to peruse and consider its findings before sharing them. Forever if he chooses. Besides the fabled inquiry and report is less about correcting or preventing future injustice than closing any loopholes that might give sanction victims redress in the courts if truth be told.

    (My bet would be that the report will be made and never heard of again.)

    This time-travelling, retrospective, rewriting of history is darned difficult to keep up with.

    I wonder what Liam Byrne will come up with next?

    Imaginative little twerp isn’t he?


    • Alexwilliamz

      Indeed. surely the whistleblowing would justify even more reason to oppose a bill designed to prop up what is clearly not just an unfair act but also one that props up a corrupt system defended by liars. I’d suggest that a better strategy would be to oppose big, bring in the whistleblower to stir up an even bigger storm of opposition and kill the damn thing off for good, irrespective of whether or not it slipped through the commons. Instead we are fighting for some ‘independent review’ of questionable conclusion, or whether it leads to any conclusion. Absolute failure of political judgement as well as principles, sometimes compromises are needed for the public good or to get something both parties can get something from, this is low expectation politics of the worst kind. If I ever get held hostage please ensure Byrne is kept well away form any negotiating team.

  • aracataca

    What an astonishingly spiteful letter.

  • Richard

    A league table to strip money from the poorest. This is sick, really sick.

  • Of course there are targets. Back in the 80s (remember those tory governments?) I was an unemployment benefit adjudication officer, which meant I made decisions on UB claims, including imposing sanctions. We were meant to have “unfettered” discretion so what happened? They imposed the targets on the benefit staff who naturally pestered us to impose sanctions (yes, it was called SBR or “stricter benefit regime” even back then). We were also expected to visit the benefit offices regularly so they could pester us even more… I left the job shortly after the introduction of the new regime.

    • Simon Smith

      A friend of mine was put on one of ‘Thatchers’ Training schemes for unemployed.
      They used to go round old people’s homes and take some out in an old battered ambulance.
      Sounds great doesn’t it?
      Everyone on this ‘Training Scheme’ – was an unemployable alcoholic except my friend who was tee total!
      And driving old people around!!!

  • Think of the stressed out advisers having to implement these ridiculous targeted sanctions (under threat of disciplinary) and also the poor people suffering them. Outrageous.

  • JoeDM

    The letter was from a local manager. There is no evidence here of central directed targets. Scraping the bottom of the barrel again.

    But from the taxpayer point of view it is encouraging to see that the Civil Service is concerned that benefit claims are being scrutinised.

    • Dave Postles

      Obviously not a member of Taxpayers against Poverty:

      When did you have the empathy bypass?

    • Monkey_Bach

      To quote from the Guardian:

      “Ruth King, a jobcentre adviser manager, discloses in the email that she has received ‘the stricter benefit regime’ figures for her area, adding: ‘As you can see Walthamstow are 95th in the league table out of only 109′ – the number of jobcentres in London and the home counties.

      Such an extensive “league table” cannot possibly have been compiled locally.

      Where other than the DWP could such a regional “league table” have originated?

      It is really difficult to imagine that regional DWP management hasn’t been involved in this matter although it is entirely possible that ultra-stupid Iain Duncan Smith had no idea that such things were going on under his nose on a daily basis. The black-hearted buffoon seems hard pressed to know what day of the week it is at present.


    • Dave Postles
    • Simon Smith

      Sorry you’re wrong!
      It’s called a paper trail!
      And it’s more than enough to hang them with!

  • Northern_Ant

    She doesn’t even know who she works for: Department OF Work and Pensions?

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  • disqus_kBM73DukD9

    First part of the letter is clearly from a DWP manager but it may not have been her who leaked it to the Guardian. I do hope it doesn’t get her sacked as a result.

  • Baldie Needs a Trip to Basra

    I once had a JSD to apply for 3 jobs from the board…they all required a CRB check that you had to pay for yourself…at £25 each….I was receiving <£75 a week…..f. these people!

    • Simon Smith

      You need to check to see if these were one of the jobs that were ‘false’. You will have a legal case to sue the Job Centre. Scimp the money together and take a claim to the small claims court! If it has happened to your friends and colleagues, then you can make joint claims and share the cost. You also need to add on costs, damages etc etc etc !

      Also. take it to the press/media!

  • weareallhavingalaugh

    A disgusting letter. And how have the DWP replied?

    With more mistruths.

  • Martin Haswell

    I have mountain of things like this on my blog. I am under 5 departments four my health and have important tests in next few days but I know how the corruption now still works and they have stopped my incapacity benefit and by rent to stop me getting to the hospital?!

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  • david miller

    ive just been sanctioned by my local keighley jobcentre in yorkshire . what happened i read the story in the mirror on tuesday about the job centre wisstle blower and that exactley what happed to me .. it been tree weeks now since i have had any money .. ive got no gas or electric .. i poped into the salvation army on tuesday in keighley .. i was in there ten minites and 6 peaple from the job centre under sanction poped in needing food parcels . the salvation army woman looked so stressed .and i could see she was bearly copeing .. is david camron so desperate to get unemployment down . he get job centre staff to break the law .. conservatives useing hillsbrough tactics to fiddle the books shame on you david

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