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As a jobcentre adviser, I got ‘brownie points’ for cruelty

Former jobcentre adviser Angela Neville has written a play to expose the harsh reality of the benefits sanctions regime.

Angela Neville, 48, is describing events she witnessed as a special adviser in a jobcentre that prompted her to write a play about her experiences.

“We were given lists of customers to call immediately and get them on to the Work Programme,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I’m sorry this can’t happen, this man is in hospital.’ I was told [by my boss]: ‘No, you’ve got to phone him and you’ve got to put this to him and he may be sanctioned.’ I said I’m not doing it.”

Neville worked as an adviser in Braintree jobcentre, Essex, for four years and has written a play with two collaborators, her friends Angela Howard and Jackie Howard, both of whom have helped advocate for unemployed people who were threatened with benefit sanctions by jobcentre staff.

The title of the play, Can This be England? is an allusion to the disbelief that she and the others feel at how people on benefits are being treated, she says. And she unashamedly describes the play, in which she also acts, as a “dramatic consciousness-raising exercise”.

Can This be England? deals with the quagmire that awaits people caught in the welfare system. Scenes are set in jobcentres and in characters’ homes addressing some of what Neville calls the “everyday absurdity” of what occurs, such as when people with disabilities and fluctuating health conditions are wrongly declared “fit for work” inflicting additional suffering in the process. It also examines the dilemmas faced by staff in jobcentres, many of whom Neville believes feel stripped of any power to do good and are crumbling under the strain as managers enforce new rules.

Full story in the Guardian

Comments  

#8 carruthers 2015-02-19 15:40
One further point of particular relevance to the sick and disabled:

It is your responsibility to claim your right to vote, though someone else can fill in the form for you - on paper or online. However, it is also illegal NOT to claim that right, unless you have a good reason (e.g. you're in a long stay hospital). Note you must get yourself on the electoral register, but you are not legally compelled to vote.

https://www.gov.uk/electoral-register

But you can vote even if you can't get to the polling station.

You do have to be registered to vote, but after that all you have to do is to tell your local council - or the government via the internet - that you want to vote by post or that you want someone else to vote on your behalf (that's called a proxy vote) at the polling station.

You still have plenty of time to arrange this, but don't leave it until the last minute. I forgot one year and had to get someone scurrying down to the council a few days before the election to get the form there on time.

Getting a postal or proxy vote is simple, free and someone else can fill in the forms (paper or online) for you.

Read about getting a postal vote at:

https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk/postal-voting

Anyone can get a postal vote without giving a reason.

Read about getting a proxy vote at:

https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk/voting-by-proxy

Note that you will have to give a good reason for wanting a proxy vote (like being abroad on election day), but that includes being sick or disabled. You won't need to ask for a proxy vote more than once, if you say you want proxy voting permanently. Details at the website above.

If you want to help get rid of IDS then you must be registered to vote and then you must use that vote. Even the severely disabled can vote from home.
#7 carruthers 2015-02-19 14:55
@Paul Richards (comment#5). You say,
"'Democracy' - my foot. Even youngsters now have to 'register' for their vote (due to recent local government electoral register changes!)"

Yes, youngsters have to register to vote - but so does everyone else. There has been a change recently, but it is not an anti-democratic one and does not change the right to vote.

In order to be able to vote in the UK you have to be on the Electoral Register - that has been the law since 1832 That applies to everyone, of any age. Not on the list of people eligible to vote in that constituency? Then you can't vote in that constituency. Sounds fair enough.

You don't get put on that list automatically - the right to vote has to be claimed. Someone has to put your name on that list - it's free and every council (they're the ones who keep the electoral register) sends out forms etc to persuade you to register.

One thing has changed.

Until last year the council sent out those forms to the "head of the household". One person in any household was responsible for making sure that everyone who was entitled to vote was on the list. It used to mean that the husband / father was responsible for getting the vote for his wife and children, as they become old enough to vote (if they lived in the same house).

Now it is the responsibility of every individual to claim their own right to vote. This means that teenagers can no longer leave that job for their parents to do for them - they have to fill and post their own form or do it online themselves.

When the voting age goes down to 16, this will become even more important as most 16-year-olds live in the parental home and are used to their parents filling in forms for them - or failing to do so!

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/electoral-register/
#6 annken 2015-02-14 13:17
The sad thing is they actually believe their own propaganda frightening. Annken
+3 #5 Paul Richards 2015-02-05 21:25
Hi all,
Yet more 'bullying' from the very top downwards - 'IDS' is the arch-enemy of the vulnerable, the poor, the sick & also the disabled.
If we were anywhere else in Europe - he would probably be brought to book for his unrelenting and cruel attack upon these groups - but, due to the 'right-wing owned' press and the 'quasi-non-bias ed' position of the main TV Channels (e.g. BBC especially and a LITTLE lesser so, Sky), this will, most probably never happen.
It could ONLY now ever happen in our once 'great britain' if everyone voted to kick out the Tories and vote for the party MOST likely to keep the Tories out in their local area - even if it goes totally against the grain of your thinking/upbrin ging - that is now gone - WE must get rid of this Tory Government for good and all.
'Democracy' - my foot. Even youngsters now have to 'register' for their vote (due to recent local government electoral register changes!)
They really do not want 'youngsters' to vote, because if they could, and if they voted, they could make a considerable difference to the outcome of the result in the forthcoming General Election!!
+3 #4 Blackcat 2015-02-05 17:32
I have to offer my apologies to the moderators for making intemperate comments, this I unreservedly do.

As posted previously they tried to sanction me for missing my exit interview on Work Programme because my union rep was ill. I informed JC+ in person and in writing, I agreed with my Work Programme provider about another date agreeable to both parties,they still made me fill in forms for a mandatory review!
+6 #3 tintack 2015-02-05 00:37
Quoting Paul Richards:
it is very interesting note that absolutely none of this information is being shown (as usual) on the mainstream TV Channels. Where on there are the challenges to the Government 'sanctions regime, DWP cowardly bullying and deceit
and that arch enemy of the poor, the sick and disabled - the shameful IDS?


The broadcasters are supposed to be neutral in their reporting of the political agenda. The problem lies in who sets that agenda in the first place - and that is the right wing press, most of which consists of propaganda rags promoting the vested interests and prejudices of their owners and editors (of course unlike broadcasters, papers don't have to be neutral). If the broadcasters don't reflect this agenda and report on other issues instead, they stand accused of anti-Tory bias.

As for IDS, well the man has shown incompetence on an epic scale, but his one success is the scapegoating of claimants, so "getting tough on scroungers" gives him a free pass in the right-wing press, regardless of the human cost.

Quote:
If this was happening in other EU Countries, I am sure that there would be an absolute uproar, not only from their peoples, but also the Governments concerned. Indeed - people would be saying that Naziism was once again rearing it's ugly head. Even the 'Lobbying Act' was seemingly introduced to deliberately introduced to stifle any concerns from the Charities etc.
There have been cuts in some EU countries, though not on the same savage scale as here (with occasional exceptions like Greece, where other factors are at work). But then, in the rest of the EU the political centre of gravity is not skewed anywhere near as far to the right as it is here, and the right doesn't have the dominance of the media that it does here (and to be honest, right wing in EU terms is pretty left wing by UK standards).
+4 #2 Paul Richards 2015-02-04 22:01
Hi all,
Well said Stuart52 and I am sure that all on here will be agreeing to your comments. Also on tintack's, Bills, Patricia's & Drizzle's too.
I am commenting upon the last four sections in the 'News' on here and it is very interesting note that absolutely none of this information is being shown (as usual) on the mainstream TV Channels. Where on there are the challenges to the Government 'sanctions regime, DWP cowardly bullying and deceit
and that arch enemy of the poor, the sick and disabled - the shameful IDS?
What a disgrace that this Tory Coalition is allowed to ride roughshod over all of the poor, the vulnerable, the sick and disabled of Britain and no other 'Authority' in the EU is even remotely prepared to tackle these 'Welfare Reforms'.These go against all decency towards humankind. If this was happening in other EU Countries, I am sure that there would be an absolute uproar, not only from their peoples, but also the Governments concerned. Indeed - people would be saying that Naziism was once again rearing it's ugly head. Even the 'Lobbying Act' was seemingly introduced to deliberately introduced to stifle any concerns from the Charities etc.
The poor man who took his own life over Newham Council's reckless and apparently uncaring behaviour - if only he knew that he could challenge this and probably win, given the right support.
Cameron, IDS, Osborne and almost the whole of this Tory led Coalition should really be able to be brought to book and made to answer for the shameful treatment of certain groups in this Country. Britain fought WW11 to avoid this type of thing happening and lo and behold, it seems to be heading that way again.
At all costs at the G.E,. WE as Bill & Mrs Bill rightly say, have to get rid of them & try to get a Government that has some caring in their hearts - this lot certainly have no care at all, apart for the very rich & rich banker friends, the very wealthy & the tax evasionists.
+8 #1 stuart52 2015-02-04 13:43
well folks doesn't this confirm now what most of us have know for some time, it truly is just a wicked regime run by depraved power crazy morons, as it happens a friend was telling about someone who was also an advisor at JCP who was given the same instructions from his superior, different area of the country but exactly the same instructions as above, he was told he WILL find a job for a very chronically ill man or he would lose his job, the advisor was close to retirement and I believe he took early retirement, I would put good money on the orders coming from the highest level and also the orders are put out nationally, are there no depths to which this government wont go to? horrible wicked people, I have never really been that politically motivated but I hate these Tories for what they have done.

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