Following the recent/continuous denials from Central Government about there never having been targets imposed in Jobcentre Plus offices for Advisers and sanctions, I wish to strongly disagree with the official line.
I have spent over twenty years working in the Civil Service and for the last two years (contracted staff), I was working as an Adviser based in North Shields office. I worked for eighteen months as a New Deal Adviser and for the remaining six months I was (for the vast majority of the time) carrying out interviews for (again mostly) where there was a doubt on a customer’s job seeking records. This is classed as ASE or Actively Seeking Employment and could lead to an initial loss of benefit of two weeks (JSA is paid two weeks in arrears).
What I can confirm is that every Wednesday morning, the office would not open until 10am as we would have an open office meeting and during this various topics were covered: changes to policy/procedures etc, and also raised was the District League Table.
This was a table that listed all of the offices in the District (Wallsend/Blyth/Whitley Bay/North Shields amongst others) and has usually headed up by S Smith the most senior manager in the office.
We were originally informed that we had to reach a target of 1 sanction a week and once it was realised that this could be reached by lunchtime on the Monday, this was increased to four a week.
This was submitted sanctions – not those sanctions that actually took effect after a decision maker had made their judgement. So the stupidity was that you could suspend a customers benefit at your desk (with them in front of you), submit the paperwork to the Decision Maker, who could then either decide to implement the sanction to decide that there was no case to answer.
The end result was that Advisers were suspending benefit on the flimsiest of reasons – simply to hit targets. Never mind the fact that this annoyed the customer – thus raising the risk level to staff and security staff and also wasting the advisers time, the decision makers time, the customers time.
So to summarise – whichever MP is stating that targets were never implemented, is either:
A) Lying – to keep on message and protect their career.
B) Has been misled by those who are there to support him/her – to protect their careers they say whatever the MP wants to hear.
Mr P Black