In a report produced last week, the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that staff at Plaistow jobcentre were involved in misusing the flexible support fund in order to inflate the number of claimants they had forced off benefits.
The support fund was used to replace the benefits of claimants who had been falsely signed off jobseeker’s allowance.
Two staff were dismissed after the allegations were made public. The staff argued that they had been put under pressure by their managers to use “aggressive measures” to cut claimant numbers and that using the support fund in this way was widespread. They also claimed that managers pressured them to use other practices such as deliberately booking jobcentre appointments at inconvenient times of day to increase missed appointments and trigger sanctions
The DWP investigated and found six other staff at the jobcentre were also involved in misuse of support funds in this way.
However, the DWP also claimed that it had found no evidence of similar practices at other jobcentres and that “its use of targets for off-flow is appropriate and that they create no significant perverse incentives.”
It is an open consultation, so anyone who wishes can respond.
One concern for may claimants is that once the principle of AA being abolished is established, how long will it be before awards of personal independence payment also end at 65?