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campaign against welfare cuts and poverty

Discussion in 'UK politics, current affairs and news' started by Blagsta, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. chainsawjob

    chainsawjob Cautiously impulsive

    DWP spends £39m defending decisions to strip benefits from sick and disabled people

    My bold! So not only is this scandalous amount of money being spent, it's not even 'working', it's not achieving the government's objective of removing benefits from people who are entitled to them, and have to fight through an appeal to keep them. The money being spent on reassessments, appeals, and MR's outweighs any saved in removing people's benefits, as far as I can tell.
     
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  2. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    What it does do, is generate more money for the companies doing the testing. Those companies that will have Tory MPs and former MPs on their boards.
     
  3. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    The charming Happy Larry, no doubt entirely accidentally, posted an interesting question in the wrong thread recently:
    Which did get me thinking.

    The fraud/error statistics are from the Government's own figures, but, much as it pains me to say it, Larry has a point - how do we calculate what proportion of benefits are lost to fraud?

    Personally, I am not terribly exercised - if the figure is 0.7% of the total benefits bill, it is almost certainly too small a percentage for even a very proactive effort to reduce it to achieve much, especially when there's all that plump low-hanging tax avoidance/evasion fruit for the plucking, but I'd be curious to know how the 0.7% figure is reached.

    Of course, I don't think Happy Larry is coming to this with clean hands, given his posts on other topics: what sickens me most about the "fraud question" is the way it is so smoothly elided into the notion that all benefits claimants are somehow collectively liable, and that preventing fraud justifies a draconian and intrusive regime under which anyone claiming benefits is at risk of being presumed guilty of fraud, where snooper neighbours acquire a power far beyond reasonability to wreck lives by simply making allegations, and where perfectly honest, legitimate people in need of help would prefer to go hungry than put themselves in thrall to an abusive, manipulative system.
     
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  4. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    This is something the DWP actually do quite well. They have a separate department to the fraud investigation department, I can't remember what it's called. What they do is they pull out a statistically significant sample of claimants and investigate all of them. The fraud figure the DWP gives is based on these investigations and how many claims were found to be fraudulent.
    I've often found people thinking that the DWP fraud figure given is the sum of all the successfully prosecuted fraud cases that year and therefore doesn't count any unfound cases but that's not how it works, it's a statistical sample which is then extrapolated to the whole thing.
     
  5. Libertad

    Libertad Man of Steal

    Well articulated, thank you.
     
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  6. Happy Larry

    Happy Larry Banned Banned

    We cannot.

    But fraud is only part of the problem. The people who are really adding to the suffering of those genuinely in need are those who diminish the welfare budget by claiming benefits quite legally, but who could easily get by without them. If only I had a pound for every time I've heard someone say "I've paid my taxes so why shouldn't I get something back?". Their sense of entitlement knows no bounds.
     
  7. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    No, that's simply not true - that the lot of the majority of benefits claimants is being made worse by those who defraud the system.

    For a start, the level of fraud - whatever you may fondly believe it to be, and be sure that there are plenty of Tory politicians who'd love to share your fond belief - is so small at 0.7% that it could only have the most infinitesimal impact on the rest.

    Secondly, the amount of benefits to which people are entitled, and which goes unclaimed, dwarfs the amount lost to fraud. Yet I don't see you banging the walls about that - isn't that as much of an injustice, that people who are entitled to help under the law of the land are somehow being prevented from receiving it?

    Your assertion about "I've paid my taxes..." arises in all kinds of contexts, not just benefits claimants, and indeed is often used as an argument against them - "I've paid my taxes, so why should I pay for those workshy bastards to sit on their arses" type thing. I've known quite a few people who take a similar approach to sick pay, insurance ("I've paid the premiums, why shouldn't I occasionally make a dubious claim and get something back?"). So to characterise it as something specific to benefits claimants is disingenuous at best. And, anyway, why shouldn't someone who's entitled to benefits take that line?

    I worked for 15 years before I found myself (briefly) in a position to need to make an unemployment benefit claim. During that time, I had many opportunities to engage in tax avoidance (I was self-employed, running a limited company). But I chose not to. I decided to be a "good citizen", and pay a fair whack of taxes, because I believed that was the right thing to do, and I had a (naive, as it turned out) faith in the system to treat me reasonably in return. So, when I found myself making that UB claim, and being treated with contempt and suspicion, expected to go through completely irrelevant box-ticking exercises, and finding myself being quite capriciously messed around on a fairly regular basis, I started questioning the nature of my relationship with the State.

    There was no need for the DSS (as it was then) to behave that way towards me - I had done nothing to warrant it. I can't expect them to know that I was being a "good citizen", but I didn't expect them to operate on the assumption that I wasn't.

    I am sure I was not atypical, and that for many people, their experience of the benefits system jars with the way they expected to find it. They've "paid their taxes", and have found themselves in need of support from the system they had happily been supporting...and what they find is that the system doesn't give a shit about that. The system regards them as an inconvenience, possibly potentially fraudulent, and will treat them that way because - as far as the system is concerned - they deserve no better.

    So, in so far as your (mindreading) complaint about the psychological processes of benefits claimants goes, the system is responsible as much as anyone for creating the mindset you complain about.

    And your whole argument seems to be premised on this notion that fraud levels are much higher than the 0.7% the DWP itself reports. So, rather than just waving your hands around, you tell us what you think that fraud level is. And, of course, you will be prepared to offer some kind of evidence to support your claim, won't you?
     
  8. seventh bullet

    seventh bullet red mullet

    They've had it too good for too long.

    The quality of troll is piss-poor these days.
     
  9. Happy Larry

    Happy Larry Banned Banned

    You don't seem able to get your head around the fact that only uncovered fraud can be quantified. One can only take a complete thumb suck at the amount of fraud that is not detected.

    That's all in your own head. Obviously, there may well be a few bad apples at DWP, but mostly they are dedicated hardworking people, like anyone else, who unfortunately have to deal with both genuine claimants and chancers.
     
  10. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    We can and we do.
    We take a statistically significant sample of claims, all claims not those flagged as possible fraud, weighting that sample to match the overall demographics of the total claimant population, so that we are looking at proportionally the same number of young/old people, men/women etc.
    Then that sample of claims is investigated thoroughly for fraud. Anyone found committed fraud is, of course, prosecuted. The proportion of fraudulent claims in that sample was 0.7% so it is reasonable to say that the proportion of fraudulent claims in the claimant population as a whole will be around 0.7%. I'm not good enough at stats to tell you what the margin of error is for that figure with a 95% confidence interval but it won't be much, a fraction of a % I would think.
     
  11. seventh bullet

    seventh bullet red mullet

    We don't know BigTom, it's as simple as that. But, what we do know is that we're at the tip of a bludging iceberg. And don't forget all those 'entitled' people claiming what they're, erm, entitled to.

    Like I said, trolls are so shit now. And posting on the other thread, too. Provocative. Daring.
     
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  12. Happy Larry

    Happy Larry Banned Banned

    In 2014, according to the OECD :

    "Welfare spending in Britain has increased faster than almost any other country in Europe since 2000, new figures show. The cost of unemployment benefits, housing support and pensions as share of the economy has increased by more than a quarter over the past thirteen years – growing at a faster rate than in most of the developed world. Spending has gone up from 18.6 per cent of GDP to 23.7 per cent of GDP – an increase of 27 per cent, according to figures from the OECD, the club of most developed nations. By contrast, the average increase in welfare spending in the OECD was 16 per cent."

    Do we really have it that bad?
     
  13. seventh bullet

    seventh bullet red mullet

    Welfare. That's a lot under a big umbrella. Want to break it down? Add some context?
     
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  14. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Some context: The main growth areas have been income-related "in work" benefits, and Housing Benefit. It doesn't take a genius, or even a spud like Happy Larry, to work out that the reason for the rise is the payment of wages that people cannot subsist on. So-called "growth" of disability benefits, that papers like the Daily Mail whine about, is a growth in claims, not a growth in the number of people paid those benefits, a number which has broadly remained static for the last 5 years.
     
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  15. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    So what's this figure for fraud you're basing your assumptions on, then?

    ViolentPanda (ETA: and BigTom) have already explained the mechanism by which DWP assess the level of fraud - what are the problems you have with that (perfectly normal) method of surveying the situation?

    I'm not talking about "bad apples". I am talking about the way the system is designed and set up, in a way which, from my own experience, and borne out by any number of statements from claimants and staff, seems designed to put as many obstacles in the way of claims, regardless of their legitimacy.

    I'm beginning to think you're arguing this from some kind of agenda-laden position :hmm:
     
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  16. Happy Larry

    Happy Larry Banned Banned

    It may seem that way to those who feel the system is not doing enough for them.

    In reality, the people who are employed to design and operate the system are of all political persuasions. It is purely your fantasy that the government is instructing DWP employees to make things difficult for claimants.
     
  17. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    I might well equally say that it is purely your fantasy that it is not. So what's the point?
     
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  18. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Personally, I'd rather believe the informed opinions of DWP employees who have posted here and elsewhere, detailing the coercive tactics their bosses use to force sanctions targets on frontline employees, with punitive action for missing targets. Where does the sanction for that coercive behaviour come from, and where do the targets originate? From the ministry, and more specifically, the minister.
     
  19. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    I was curious as to what our interlocutor's fantasy was - he's unusual for a claimant-basher in that, where most accept the DWP treat claimants like shit but attempt to justify it using the fraud "argument", this one seems to want to deny that the DWP has any inherent cunt-like tendencies, and any malfeasance is down to individual bad apples. Likewise, most people grumble about the 0.7% figure but then ramble on about how it's still a lot of money - matey here seems to be suggesting that the figures the DWP (not exactly known for their pure honesty-driven reporting of things) itself publishes are artificially low.

    Weird.
     
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  20. ViolentPanda

    ViolentPanda Hardly getting over it.

    Very.

    I've read too many accounts - on here from people like Fedayn ; on Benefits & Work's forums; on Facebook and on other disability fora - to accept that this is an issue of "bad apples" in the DWP. It has very much being a cunt-led operation, from James Purnell's time as minister, onward. There may not be a written and quantified policy, but there often isn't, just general aims such as "reducing claims", and "making savings". The modalities used to achieve them are passed down on a "nod and a wink" system. I used to see this happen fairly often at the Home Office, when I worked in the Prisons Dept's head office. "Bad apple" is as meaningless and as masking a term with regard to the DWP, as it is to the police service. The only difference is that DWP workers are still resisting these practices becoming institutionalised, whereas the Old Bill long ago sucked down big gulps of Satan's jism, and accepted the institutional practices for which they are so beloved of the populace - the contempt, the violence, the criminality.
     
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  21. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    Yep. I have helped too many people to think it's just a few bad apples. The way JSA sanctions are handled for instance, the letter about the sanction says that all your benefits may be stopped. So your HB gets stopped but nobody tells you that you can file a non-income claim and keep your HB and the info from JCP implies that you are losing all your benefits, so people end up on the street because they didn't know they could keep their HB.
    That's not a bad apple, that's a centrally decided wording deliberately made vague to threaten people and try to fuck them over.

    We could also talk about the way ESA/PIP questions are worded and how if you have a variable condition and are honest you won't get benefits - you already know this of course but for the benefit of matey here, lets look at one of the questions:

    "can you walk 50m unaided?" (Can't remember if the distance varies but the phrasing of the question is the same). Well if I've got a variable condition, some days I can, some days I can't. Anserwing that question honestly, you would say yes, you can walk 50m unaided, even though there are times you can't. You won't get the benefit you need as a result. The question is clearly deliberately worded to get honest people to score zero points for that question. They could have said "are there times you cannot walk 50m unaided" and "how often is this" (in some form) but of course not, because that would give some nuance that would not allow them to reject as many people as they do.

    Anyone with experience helping people in the benefits system, or navigating it themselves, knows how this is setup. There are still some good apples in the DWP/JCP and hope you get one of those, because if you get the ordinary/jobsworth rule follower you'll have problems, and if you get a bad apple you will be fucked (my local JCP, one advisor was responsible for over 50% of the JSA sanctions at that centre in 2014, we even got our local MP involved because of how over the top that particular advisor was. The most frustrating thing was she was a PCS member, and the PCS rep was SWP but still (reluctantly) supported her (as a union rep, not in terms of her actions, he didn't like it either) through this because of union membership, she never came out on the strikes obviously, and she wasn't removed from her job but she did get a little less trigger happy after our actions)
     
  22. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    There will, of course, be bad apples, and they probably are more prevalent within DWP than overall.

    Because, if you're working for an outfit like that, you are likely to have, at some point, to make a choice between staying in your job and doing things you might feel ethically uncomfortable with, or go somewhere else where your conscience isn't being continually pricked. It doesn't take a genius to realise that this will create a tendency for the kind of people who have ethics and consciences to find work other than within DWP. That's not to say there won't be decent people working there, but the environment certainly mitigates to some extent against them.
     
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  23. Happy Larry

    Happy Larry Banned Banned

    Then let's see some opinions of DWP employees about working for the DWP (815 reviews). These views are, without doubt, a lot more relevant and informed than some of the posters on here :

    As to be expected, there are some disgruntled employees, as there always are, but the DWP comes out smelling like roses as an employer, with 4 stars out of 5.

    Working at Department for Work and Pensions (DWP): 815 Reviews | Indeed.com
     
  24. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    And it doesn't occur to you that a self-selecting sample of employees of an organisation with an established reputation for oppressiveness might not be an entirely reliable survey?

    Then again, I'm talking to someone who thinks that the DWP's own fraud figures are too low, so I've answered my own question :rolleyes:
     
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  25. BigTom

    BigTom Well-Known Member

    totally irrelevant. I bet the NAZIs were good employers but that doesn't mean the SS Waffen were nice towards the camp inmates does it.
    /godwins
    ;)
     
  26. Fedayn

    Fedayn Well-Known Member

    Could you explain this "The people who are really adding to the suffering of those genuinely in need"? What are you saying/claiming? That people who are entitled, legally speaking, to a benefit somehow, merely by their claiming a benefit they are legally entitled to, is at the detriment of someone, genuinely in need? How is that exactly? Where is your evidence? You are aware are you not, that there has never ever been one recorded case that someone incorrectly, either fraudulently or through misinformation, claiming a benefit has resulted in someone else not getting a benefit they are legally entitled to or as you say 'genuinely in need of'. So what are you trying to claim here?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
  27. Fedayn

    Fedayn Well-Known Member

    Well here's the opinion of a DWP employee and PCS rep, for the past 15 years, whether in the Pensions Service working on Minimum Income Guarantee or Pension Credit or in Income Support Changes or Income Support new claims and now in Universal Credit....
    We are currently going through the annual staff survey, the annual staff 'engagement' which we read and ignore in minutes then come up with solutions to staff reoplies that have little if anything to do with the staff concerns. The survey this year is accompanied with a 'presentation' telling staff who they should complewte the survey, telling staff how they shouldn't put 'neither/not sure' as a reply to any questions even though it is an explicit choice (even though departmental guidance is explicit that this is not something staff should be asked/told), who are telling staff that they don't really work for the DWP but their wee/big office, and that any negativity is unfairly singling out their coplleagues in their office on higher grades. Negativity is not good for your office, negativity really reflects on you not senior DWP managers in London/Leeds/Sheffield etc. That we should remember the recent burger barbecue and cake sale as opposed to the increased stressers after being put on the phione for hours, staff roats being fucked up, after Xmas leave (for the last 4 years) being a fucking disaster year on year, coinciding, unsurprisingly, with the introduction of Universal Credit by the way. The same Universal credit that is day and daily being exposed as a disaster for claimants and staff alike. A benefit that is plunging already poor claimants into rent arrears on a scale never seen for those on benefits because of the actual benefit rules as opposed to mistakes or accidental/work delays.
    As for a self selecting surevey the DWP has a wonderful habit of lies damn lies etc.... As a union rep I got to meet former DWP permanent secretary Leigh lewis... After a staff survery the DWP headlined on our intranet (DWP internal internet) that staff confidence in senior leadership, ie cabinet level tops of the civil service, had increased by 25%. Now this was absolutely accurate, yes that year staffs confidence in the leadership of senior leadership had indeed jumped by 25%.... But the headline 'masked' the reality, it had gone from 12% confidence to 15%.... Indeed a rise of 25% on the previous year.... but the missing headline was that 85% of staff did not have confidence in senior leadership.... The DWP is good at those stats....
    Now I have no doubt that this years 'push poll' sorry, staff survey, will have an increae in positive replies but it masks the reality, staff being told that if they answer a questuion asking if they are proud to work for DWP they are in fact criticising themselves and their colleagues. That if they answer no to would you recommend a friend to work here they are criticising themselves and being negative about their colleagues. So the new survey will undoubtedly see changes, but behind the headlines the real story is never too far away....
    Incidentally the results of the staff survey will be finished and published before the xmas leave rotas are agreed and ratified, I remarked, in a meeting with a Grade 7 manager, hopw coincidental, a reply from another manager ws it was absolutely no coincidence.... Colour me surprised.... not
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  28. Fedayn

    Fedayn Well-Known Member

    There are good and bad in any group of people/workplace/office etc. There are also people who work like trojans doing things you never see or hear about. Like staff who work unpaid hours/time to get a claimant paid. Like anywhere else that isn't news because a claimant is rightly paid so it's not something to talk about. DWP staff, through our main union are day and daily attacking DWP/Govt policies which are a detriment to claimanst and staff, we now see some ministers saying stop Universal Credit roll out, funnily enough PCS and staff have been saying this since the first day it was introduced, concerned MP's are well behind the curve so to speak.
    The problem is with the bad/good apples argument is that in many ways it simply puts the blame for policy on individual civil servants who have little if any control of DWP regs/laws. It seeks to individualise blame as opposed to understanding that the entire policy was created not to help but to roll back welfare provision and attack claimants as scorungers etc and undermine staff terms and conditions as a prelude to reduindancies. PIP was brought in not to help people with disabilities but the cut the welfare bill, this is not some sneaky wee add on but the entire raison d'etre for this benefit replacing DLA

    Are there? You have the survey results I take it? You do understand that decisions made by indiiduals are not decided buy some abstract decision by a memebr of staff but with adherence to laws and regulations that limit, increasingly so, the ability of that staff memer to use their discretion?

    Or you stay and fight rather than leave the department in the hands of greasy pole climbers, policy wonks, rats, shitebags etc... Or more likely, you stay there because you have a partner, family, kids, mortgage, rent bills etc that whilst it isn't what you wanted as a civil servant it is a job thay, most times, pays the bills

    It does some but not all, the very fact that strikles are overwhelmingly supported when we go out. In my office the succession of office managers here routinely ask us why we bother with a picket line when we never have more that 10% who cross the line, ie 90% of staff in my office are in favour of those strikes that are always cogniscant of the damage to claimants the DWP policies are wreaking. Now don't get me worng we ain't perfect but there is no doubt that as a union/staff we have, in every step, attacked govt policies that damage and atack the very fabric of the welfare state, aye we don't always win but the point is important that we are not good/bad apples but staff who work in a highly politicised atmpsphere and do a job, we are normal people, whoo like the wider working class have too little control over our lives.

    As an aside, I genuinely used to love my job, liked the poeple I have worked with, genuinely enjoyed the ability/discretion I had to backdate claims to give people a fw hundred quid extra, aye nothing in the scheme of things but it was something I had the ability/autonomy to do to make someones life that wee bit better. I've had cases whereby i've paid someone £5000.00 in backdated benefits because it was discovered they had been underpaid. I worked for a department that seemed determined, however limited by capital, to try and alleviate some of the wors excesses of poverty in society, that is long gone with Universal Credit not just on the horizon but here every fucking morning.....
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2017
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  29. existentialist

    existentialist It could always be worse.

    I am not meaning to impugn staff in general in any organisation, let alone DWP. But I have worked in plenty of places where a toxic management style was responsible for the flight of staff who would otherwise have stayed, and it was, as a rule, the more idealistic staff, and the more competent ones, who tended to find it most necessary and possible (respectively) to leave. That isn't to say that everyone remaining is either morally bankrupt, or finding it impossible to get another job - there are many reasons for doing a particular job, and I have personal experience of at least one individual who works for DWP and, despite having some serious reservations about what they have to do, enjoys the fact that they are there to try and make life easier for the people they're there to look after; but I also know someone else personally who's currently off sick from the same employer, largely (but not entirely, TBF) because of the stress they experience working in a culture that treats them, in many ways, just as they are expected to behave towards claimants.

    In either case, the fault lies squarely with the management - right up to the minister - for fostering a toxic work environment which forces people to have to make accommodations between their consciences and doing their job.

    You'll have to take my word for it, but I really am not trying to suggest that all (or even most DWP) staff are complicit in what goes on. And I'm aware (and glad) of the work done by staff and unions to push back against that toxic work environment, and fight for the right to do a decent job in a fair way, and for claimants' right to be treated fairly, too.
     
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  30. Fedayn

    Fedayn Well-Known Member

    I'm not criticising you just pointing out that the good/bad apples is not a very useful term to use in terms of decisions made by staff because it reduces government policy as if it doesn't exist and elevates some kind of mythical individual decision making by staff to the key driver of decisions.
     

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