Work coaches, who will decide whether claimants are fit for work-related activities under DWP plans, need not have even a single GCSE it has been revealed. In addition, job interviews are conducted without the DWP ever meeting the candidate and the questions asked, as well as suggested answers, are available online for under a tenner.

Disability News Service revealed last week that that the DWP had admitted that there are no minimum academic qualifications required to become a work coach in a jobcentre.

Yet under DWP plans, the work capability assessment (WCA) is to be abolished and it will be unqualified work coaches who will decide whether a universal credit claimant must undertake work-related activities.

This is a decision which is currently made by registered health professionals and the fact that it is to be handed over to work coaches with no medical knowledge whatsoever is causing alarm amongst claimants and many voluntary sector organisations.

Benefits and Work can reveal that not only do work coaches not need qualifications, but that the DWP never meet them before offering them a job and that there are websites that claim to offer a full list of questions and suggested answers for passing the online work coach interviews.

In 2020, the government announced it was going to double the number of work coaches in jobcentres by hiring an extra 13,500 people.

It wanted the first 4,500 new recruits in place within just three months of the announcement

Civils Service World explained how the DWP tackled this mass hiring challenge by using an outside company to create an entirely online, prerecorded recruitment process.

The high-speed, remote interview system that was devised at that stage is still in use today to recruit work coaches, with details of the process available on the DWP workcoach microsite.

After completing an application form, candidates are asked to undertake an online situational judgement test in which they have 40 minutes to consider 20 hypothetical scenarios. For each scenario there is a list of possible responses which candidates have to rank on a five-point scale from ‘extremely desirable’ to ‘extremely undesirable’.

Applicants who pass this test are then invited to take part in an online “interview”. A pre-recorded interviewer asks six questions, two each on: communicating and influencing; managing a quality service; and making effective decisions.

After each question, the candidate gets a minute’s thinking time and then automatic video recording begins and the candidate has three minutes to give their answer.

The video recording is then evaluated by DWP staff and successful candidates are offered a job at a local jobcentre.

A small industry has grown up to help people complete the application process successfully.

One website offers a “DWP Work Coach Mock Interview” with 30 interview questions and answer examples. A subscription to the site costs £6 for a week with anytime cancellation.

Other sites have forums where people who have been through the interview process share their experiences and lists of questions they were asked, such as:

“How do you explain something complex taking into account the end-users' needs.”

 “Tell me about a time you had to manage a complex issue to bring about great service.”

A forum poster on one site explained that some jobcentres even run groups where you can discuss the application process and talk to other people who are going through it.

All of this may be fine for people whose aim is to get a job where they can support other people into employment.

Buts as DNS pointed out, decisions about whether a disabled person must carry out work-related activity are “life-changing – and potentially life-ending – decisions”.

To have a recruitment and selection process where candidates don’t need any qualifications whatsoever and where you appoint people before you meet them seems ill-conceived and dangerous.

Under the DWP plans, entirely unqualified work coaches will decide whether someone with a complex mental health condition or a serious physical health issue is able to undertake work-related activities. They will then then decide precisely what those activities should be, without the claimant having any right of appeal. And they will then have the power to recommend that the claimant is sanctioned and suffers a catastrophic loss of income if they are unable to carry out those activities.

Abolishing the WCA and replacing it with the  decisions of unqualified work coaches selected according to their ability to answer multiple choice questions and perform in front of a web cam is not progress, it’s irresponsible and potentially deadly cost-cutting.

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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    AG · 1 months ago
    Hi - I have just been offered a work coach position subject to employment checks. Whilst I can confirm when completing the application it does not ask for your qualifications, you do have to complete an online test - which isn’t easy - 2 years ago I took the test and I didn’t pass, this time round I did. Let me tell you I have a degree in a health profession and a masters in a social care profession, so I believe with my qualifications and my vast work experience, I will be a really good fit to do this job, I really want to help people get jobs to improve their lives, their families, their self esteem and to give them a reason to get up in the morning.

    The interview questions were not easy and it was a pre recorded interview which I think is harder than a real interview because you cannot ask the interviewer for clarification of the question when it is pre recorded and you only have a certain amount of time for each question - unlike a real interview. 

    I hope the above clarifies that work coaches may have qualifications / experience, as in my case.

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    Marie · 8 months ago
    The article about the process is so accurate. I applied to be a Work Coach two years ago. I did not see someone face to face until it came to ID verification. Anyways, I ended up not getting a post, despite the fact that I have a professional background in disabilities and other benefits matters. Wonder how people with no qualifications manage to get the job. 
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    Nikki Hayes · 9 months ago
    Please do not tar all work coaches with the same brush - my first appointment was following the death of my husband, and he could not have been nicer.  I had been signed off sick by my doctor due to bereveament, was in floods of tears, and there was no pressure at all, just had to attend every couple of weeks until I got my assessment - he even made it once a month, with just a phone call every other fortnight.  My work capability asssessment was by telephone, and when I explained a certain incident to her (coughing up blood after a really bad weekend and just going to bed and hoping I would not wake up), she immediately signed me off as incapable for work and work related activity.  I have had issues in the past with my husband's claim - he had a lot of health issues - but cannot complain at all about my own treatment.  They have been nothing but nice and supportive, even writing to my GP to warn them I was suicidal.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      HJL · 9 months ago
      @Nikki Hayes It is great that you met someone supportive but it not a question of whether he was nice or not. Individuals can be decent people. The issue is that there is no control and anyone who can play the game can get power over vulnerable people. Currently, people with the skills to judge are doing the work capability assessments. We many soon have people with no ability to make any judgement in that area at all. That leaves disabled people with no safeguards at all. 

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    Scampi_fries · 9 months ago
    My stomach lurched reading this. 

    My huge local FB town community group is riddled with claimant haters - over and over it's a common theme, even in responses to non-relevant topics discussed. It's gone on for years, but contempt breeds contempt.
    We are stated as scroungers who need to get a job...

    So how will anyone with these ignorant beliefs employed in this role actually treat claimants?
    How on earth can this interview process even be considered, with no human to human connection whatsoever?
    Thinking about it, having haters knocking folks out of the benefit system is quite a cunning plan though isn't it? 

    We are nothing but ants under the shoe needing to be squashed until dead. 

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    BennyFit · 9 months ago
    How times have changed for the worst.
    Having to have bouncers (G4S) on the doors shows the times we live in. 
    I remember when job centre was like a library, you could go in, browse the jobs, and have a chat with the staff.
    The staff today are mostly stressed, unhelpful, and grumpy. 

  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    lisa10 · 9 months ago
    In that case we should get all our family and friends to apply to become a DWP work coach in order to take the system down from the inside. 😀 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Frenchiegirl · 9 months ago
    It's bad enough that currently WCA's are done by healthcare professionals with: no relevant clinical experience e.g. Physiotherapists assessing people with serious mental health issues; an algorithm and dropdown list to populate an 'Assessment' document; little room to use clinical judgement or objective assessment; nil experience of Occupational Health and no capacity to practice autonomously as everything is dictated by DWP. But at least these professionals have to adhere to their professional standards, code of conduct, be registered to practice and demonstrate continued professional development. 

    What hope have people with illness or disability got if the 'assessment' process is going to be done by unqualified, inexperienced randoms? They will receive training to dance purely to DWP's tune, so vulnerable people will be even more disadvantaged, penalised and punished than they are at present. I have been traumatised and driven to the point of considering suicide by the current system. God help us all when the new system starts.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Elaine Ward · 9 months ago
      @Frenchiegirl I totally agree I’m struggling with my health now and the normal assessments are bad enough but this new scheme is actually targeting disabled people 😡 and they think that’s totally acceptable 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    TrishH · 9 months ago
    I have had to communicate with other people all my life & my income has been totally reliant on my ability to do so. Since 2007, I have helped many clients via a national charity with various problems, but my role evolved to helping clients to complete benefit application forms then following up with procedures up to appeal level. Now after leaving this charity, I just help two close relatives with their ongoing benefit needs: one has been diagnosed with a rare life-threatening condition & the other is autistic.  Despite having Covid, I've recently completed the latter's review form, knowing that ANOTHER face-to-face assessment will be torture for him, that any report on it will not reflect what is actually said, & I may have to support a 3rd appeal for him.  All your comments have unfortunately confirmed what I suspected about the further crumbling of our 'Welfare' (ha! ha!) system.  At my new charity (I'll work till I drop, I enjoy it!) I have only Attendance Allowance clients to help: 100% success so far..... & though you don't specifically cover AA, the principles are the same.  Carry on your good work! 
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    Peter · 9 months ago
    Really darkside stuff here. 

    Lay people Paid to potentially persecute people with disabilities.

    Thanks to the site for illuminating this shadowy practice.


    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Angeline · 9 months ago
      @Jill
      I think disability is a particularly difficult issue to mobilise the public on because it's that rare marginalised identity where becoming part of that group might happen to anyone, but people it hasn't happened to (yet) are often in denial about that, and maintain their belief by victim-blaming those of us it does happen to - we mustn't have taken good enough care of our health, or else our disabilities aren't genuine. 

      Their peace of mind relies on their assumption that they'll never need to rely on a hostile system. And it's not just the nasty, judgmental people: I've had a well-meaning friend tell me, years back, that on first hearing from me and others in his life how bad Welfare Reform was shaping up to be is, his reaction had been to think, "But surely they won't let that happen to the most vulnerable..."

      This is the just world fallacy. It also leaves people prey to propaganda and misinformation about benefits claimants, because it's easier to believe that loads of us are scroungers and fakers than to really sit with the reality that the benefits system designed to fail us in large numbers.

      The people most directly affected, whether as disabled people or carers, are often either physically or psychologically unable to manage stuff like joining direct action groups and protesting in the streets. It's not all of us, but it's a lot of us: by definition, if you struggle to plan ahead, have reliable health on a given day or use public transport, you're not going to have an easy time going to a rally. 

      And then there's the many claimants who are terrified to protest in the streets (back when more forms of street protest were legal - as you've seen re: the Coronation, we're being attacked on that front too), with some justification: we've seen police violence (e.g. against women protesting after Sarah Everard's murder), and we know the police photograph crowds at rallies and use facial recognition technology to identify activists they've tangled with in the past. So claimants are often afraid their presence at a protest will be used to justify benefits sanctions.

      There are wonderful groups like DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and DAN (Disabled People's Direct Action Network, who fought for and won some of the rights disabled people in the UK have today) who can and do get disabled protestors and allies mobilised in the streets, and there are also DPOs (disabled people's organisations, i.e. not orgs run by health professionals or carers, but by us) that engage with government via more formal means - Disability Action in Northern Ireland is one example.

      But what we overwhelmingly need is for the non-disabled majority to make disability rights issues and carers' rights issues an election priority, and to tell their MPs and local councillors that. The moment that canvassing MPs are getting a load of non-disabled voters telling them, on the doorsteps and in their surgeries and at the ballot box, that keeping disabled people alive and thriving is a red-line issue that decides their vote, things will change. Right now, apparently too many of the public either don't consider us a priority, or don't realise that they have the power to help us change things.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Linda · 9 months ago
      @Jill Because 'people' on the whole agree with them! It's only the chronic/long term sick and disabled who are penalised by these treatments, and as a group we are pretty much powerless. How many of us have heard at least one person say 'but there is a man down my street who is getting paid more than me and I know there's nothing wrong with him' Judge, Jury and Executioner with not a jot of actual evidence. And this is what these new work coaches will be. My heart breaks for the people who will be caught up in this never ending circle of persecution. For myself I thank the lord that I will reach pension age and the end of this year and can escape this circle of hell.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Jill · 9 months ago
      @Elaine Ward Why do people not protest more and not let the Government away with these things?
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Elaine Ward · 9 months ago
      @Peter Surely we can get a petition done on this as it’s like disabled people are loosing their disability rights?
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    David · 9 months ago
    One word is sufficient, DISGRACEFUL!
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Freddie · 9 months ago
    Should we be surprised really? Of course not, funny how none of these Work Coach positions are advertised in the Job centre, so where are these unqualified people finding out about them.......?  
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Ron · 9 months ago
      @Freddie I got mine from my local job centre when I asked my work coach if I could do their job, she put me on a course and I had to jump through those hoops of the application and learn the role, it isn't easy. 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Michael O · 9 months ago
    WCAs should be done by experienced Occupational Health practitioners, not healthcare professionals with no Occupational Health experience or qualifications and, certainly, not Job Coaches with no healthcare or Occupational Health experience or qualifications at all. It is highly irresponsible and dangerous and I doubt a Job Coach's opinion would stand, in law, leading to a string of damning rulings against DWP by the First Tier Tribunal (Social Entitlement). 
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Sandy · 9 months ago
    I am terrified of having to claim Universal Credit.  I am currently on ESA but it's looking like I will have to change over as I cannot get help with my Housing costs on ESA.  I was widowed in 2022.  The thing that worries me so much is having to see a work coach and sign a commitment agreement.  I just know this is going to cause a deterioration in my mental health.  My experience of the Jobcentre has never been positive.  If at any point I am found "fit for work" (which I don't I will ever be due to multiple comorbidities and being on a lot of medication) my first job application will be to become a work coach.  I wonder if they would accept me as I am highly qualified and in a video call would look as though I wasn't disabled.  Just a thought...........maybe we should all apply to become work coaches and take action from the inside 😉 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      HJL · 9 months ago
      @Sandy Yes, you apply to the council for housing benefit on ESA. ESA does not give it to you. You must apply to your local county council for council tax and housing benefit. There is usually an online form. 

    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Leigh · 9 months ago
      @Sandy Hi Sandy, Having sold up my house and moving to rented property put me in the same position as you and having to move from ESA to UC just to get housing benefit. I was terrified, however, having made the switch I get more money on UC and am still on LCWRA. I was not asked to sit another WCA and everything on UC was conducted via phone or on a page on your own personal work journal which is like an email really so I actually found it easier for me as I didn't have to go and sign on physically or do any face to face with anyone. Your housing benefit is then dealt with by the UC online instead of having to go and face some bloody minded council bod.. much easier.  If you do one of those online benefits calculators it will help you to see what you should get when switching to UC. 
      Try not to get too worried that you will be worse off,  as you might not be.  The only thing I have found is that I get less council tax help but that may just be in my area. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Jill · 9 months ago
      @Sandy My thoughts too😆.During pip assessments they say we are able to interact well etc ...so yes we should all apply for these jobs and if they don't hire us why not? Sure we don't need qualifications for the role. Love to see them squirm out of that one.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Toni · 9 months ago
      @Sandy  the only commitment you would have was to notify of any changes because you are on ESA, and you can be found fir for work on ESA too if you think you can be a workcoach then apply 
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    Trish Quirke · 9 months ago
    This is very disturbing.  I worked in the Jobcentre for 20 years and did 6 weeks initial training and lots of different courses afterwards about interview techniques. I was a Supervisor and Asst D.R.O. for part of my time. Can you please publicise this and get t.v. and newspapers involved, perhaps the Guardian as they are independent.
    This should not be allowed to happen at all. I am retired now but help my friend who is disabled and has many things wrong with him. His last P.i.p. assessment was difficult but it was an ex-nurse who carried out the interview. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Peter · 9 months ago
      @Toni Having worked for government advisory services. I can confirm that the training is utter gash.

      It's dangerous and costing lives. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Toni · 9 months ago
      @Trish Quirke its not true I an a workcoach and they still get lots of training before we do the job and its ongoing all the time, this is just scaremongering
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    David · 9 months ago
    Labour has already said they will be tougher on benefits than the current government.
    People unable to work are doomed. There is nobody going to stand with them. Not labour, not lib dems not the media
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Peter · 9 months ago
      @David To think that not so long ago Jeremy Corbyn was exposing some of the outsourcing leaches feeding off of this misery. 

      Jeremy was a good guy he had to go. 
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    Louise · 9 months ago
    I volunteered to liase with a work coach after my unsympathetic doctor told me I just need to 'own' my pain and just get a different job to cope with it. The work coach was useless. She treated me like I was attempting to obtain benefits and avoid working. Her suggestions included that I work as a barista. I explained I have social anxiety and that my severe arthritis means I cannot stand without acute constant pain. Her next suggestion was to work as an IT technician. I then explained you needed training in order to do that (I cant afford to do this)and again the arthritis / carpal tunnel in my hands means I cannot type. She then said well, you will just have to work from home wont you! No suggestions on how to go about this. No useful help at all! It left me demoralised and feeling like a scrounger! It was obvious she had no idea about the affect my medical conditions have on me physically at all. Total failure both by my doctor and the work coach!
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      HJL · 9 months ago
      @Louise Change your doctor. You can change within the surgery you attend. Get  referral to a consultant. 
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    Kat Cohen · 9 months ago
    My work coach tried to send me , a 59 year old woman with sciatica and 2 dodgy discs in my neck, already working part time cleaning when I was advised 3 years ago by my GP to stop cleaning (and do WHAT??)... anyway he tried to send me for a 40 hours a week kitchen porter job!? I politely offered to bring in medical evidence as to why I couldn't do this job and to be fair he backed down and said he typed in cleaning and that job came up but I wouldn't have to apply. It's just complete madness and it'll really hurt loads of people 
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    Amanda · 9 months ago
    Truly terrifying…. And no course for appeal? What on earth is going on!
    Will this really happen? 
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    Toni · 9 months ago
    This is simply not true wok coaches have to sit a test that ,many fail so do not get any further, then they are asked question the specific questions cannot be bought as the answers are scored on all different parts of the answer, once a Workcoach is employed they go through months of training, and to say they are all condescending is rubbish, not  all people could do the job and take the abuse and sometimes violence aimed at them
     
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Toni · 8 months ago
      @Kat Cohen hi I do have proof  yes
      and the Workcoach does not decide of someone if fit to work a health assessment does and all these remote workcoaches are now paid off and if they re permanent now they will have had much more training
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      DebMM · 9 months ago
      @Kat Cohen Hiya Kat, I hope you are well. 
      Do you have proof of this? 
      Xx 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      DebMM · 9 months ago
      @Mark Hi Mark,
      I hope you are well.  
      I think we need to be careful that obviously Toni is feeling a bit defensive but it’s not the work coaches fault.  They need a job too.  It’s the people who wrote the policies.  They don’t deserve abuse and to say don’t do the job then is really unfair and fails to see the complexities of the issue. Xx
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      DebMM · 9 months ago
      @Toni Hi Toni, 
      I hope you are well. 
      It must be really difficult to read all this given that you are a work coach. I actually arrived at this site by accident. My background is in childrens services.  For over two decades I’ve worked in and across the sector, children’s homes, schools (teaching and pastoral roles), child protection/child in need, homeless young people, JCp, citizens advice etc the list goes on but basically the most vulnerable group in society bar none.  And I’m sat here reflecting on those I work with, colleagues I share a team with and those I partnership work with and it scares me just how under qualified/unprepared/in knowledgable (you get the picture) the people who work with these kids are.  Once you’ve got your foot in the door you’re in.  And we get training all the time. However, as someone said above … it’s gash!  It’s doesn’t help us do the job it just helps our employer be able to tick a box on their training and development spreadsheet. 
      I totally get you protecting those you work with but I know that work coaches are not qualified for the roles that they are placed in and the responsibility they are given and expected to do and do well when they simply aren’t qualified for many of their tasks.  It doesn’t make anyone a bad work coach  or a bad person, it makes those that write the policies the ones we should be denigrating. Not yourselves.  
      Xx
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Mark · 9 months ago
      @Toni The abuse aimed at them? Don't do the job then. What do they expect disabled people are getting abused all the time, being made to feel like spongers 🙄
  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    Amalegra · 9 months ago
    I was an Employment Adviser in an OLD FASHIONED Jobcentre. I am absolutely horrified by this. I needed both ‘O’levels (then!) and ‘A’ levels, an interview panel consisting of three people and rigorous training before I could advise the public. Each Jobcentre had a specialist DRO (Disablement Resettlement Officer) who had undergone specific training for the role. There were other specialisms too, such as ex forces and training/ government schemes. I also worked for the unemployment benefit service which was similarly resourced. I took pride in my job and enjoyed helping people. The ‘service’ now is an absolute disgrace. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Peter · 9 months ago
      @Amalegra People used to pop into jobcentres during their lunch break just for a nosey and a chat. 

      They were friendly places. 

      Could always see tge potential for it to turn nasty when DWP was formed and Job Centre Plus under Blair and Brown. 
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Sidney · 9 months ago
      @Amalegra Hello Amalegra, I absolutely agree with ever word you have written, I had a terrible experience with a staff member at the job centre, in the past and it made my condition must worse, it is still with me today.


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