Advisor's blog shows why government is to blame for poor jobcentres

Wed, 22/10/2014 - 14:47 -- nick

Unemployed people may not enjoy reading this, but frontline staff at jobcentres are not to blame for its poor record.

A new blog by a jobcentre insider shows how low morale has sunk among its staff - and why the government is really to blame for causing such misery to those signing on.

The anonymous writer has been working for the service for six years, and says he is 'disillusioned' with the way it has changed under the coalition.

While his original reasons for joining up were more to do with the pension and perks, he believes the help he could provide at the beginning was truly useful in getting people into work.

He also believes the sanctions regime was fairer, with those accused of missing an appointment likely to receive a one-day suspension rather than the weeks or months without money that offence would get now.

One of the most important changes, and one we have written about before, is that jobcentres used to provide training more freely, but the supply has been cut along with the budget and the idea of 'support' is less evident.

Along with this, specialist help for disabled people, lone parents and others is being sacrificed in favour of the pretence that any advisor can do this work.

But the main thrust explains why the advisors you face are so often angry and difficult to work with.

Many joined a jobcentre service that was committed to helping people find employment, but the terrible reforms introduced by the Tory/Lib Dem alliance and carried out by management have made the work unbearable.

The 1% pay rise for workers each year may not be as serious for them as it is for unemployed people given their bigger incomes, but it still means they are getting poorer as inflation eats away their earnings.

Government and management harassment of union reps means concerted organised action on pay is unlikely.

Frontline advisors are forced to sanction and harass their clients rather than spend time truly supporting them, knowing that if they fall short of targets they will get sacked, another thing that was harder to do before the coalition ruined the country.

They can get fired too for having more than 28 days off sick, a huge rolling-back of employment rights that fits into the government's general desire to push the country back to a 'serf and master' state of mind.

There are accusations of racism around a service that sees a disproportionate number of ethnic minority staff awarded the lowest performance grade, and don't forget this impacts on the bonuses which 97% of DWP staff receive.

All of these problems stem from government mismanagement and shows how little the coalition respects unemployed people, resulting in staff resigning "themselves to performing a lacklustre role" according to the insider.

A management style which encourages staff to come in to work in fancy dress and play party games shows how out of touch many are with the concerns of staff who are feeling poorer and more under pressure than ever, and will feel like a slap in the face to those they sanction while they play.

Unemployed claimants are forced into a relationship with jobcentre staff, and need them to do their jobs properly rather than in the 'lacklustre' or angry way many have found.

Government interference has made this impossible.