Universal Credit staff told to interrogate benefit claimants while they are in hospital

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Universal Credit staff are being ordered to visit benefit claimants whilst they are in hospital to help determine their eligibility for state support, it has been reported.

Campaigners say seriously ill people are being interogated by DWP officials whilst they are laying in hospital beds in order to ensure they are receiving the right level of financial support.

photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc

The cruel practice of unexplained visits has been described as “grotesque”, with some of those affected receiving visits whilst awaiting operations or other emergency medical treatment.

The shocking practice was exposed by Islington’s Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee, who say the “callous” approach must be stopped with immediate effect.

Councillor Troy Gallagher said: “When people are in hospital they are not there to be chased and it’s not for the DWP to guess or validate if they are well or unwell.”

“I think it’s callous”, he said.

“It’s an issue they need to amend quickly because it’s highly stressful and deeply upsetting.”

Jobcentre Plus sign.

He added: “If someone says they’re unwell, whatever the reason is, you should always accept that.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Jobcentre staff occasionally conduct hospital visits to confirm people’s bank account or rent details.

“This ensures we can pay their full benefits on time.”

But campaigners say the practice must be stopped immediately, because of the potential harm to a person’s health and well-being.

Gail Ward, from the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, said: It’s disgusting and immoral.

“When you are very ill in hospital the last thing anyone wants is to be harassed by the DWP.”

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