IDS was confronted at the work and pensions select committee with claims that job centre staff are being handed targets to reduce the number of claimants by moving them off the register or ensuring that they have their benefit removed.{jcomments on}

An anonymous whistleblower, a former job centre worker who was employed in the Greater Manchester area, told local Labour MP Debbie Abrahams and the Guardian that on one occasion the entire staff at a job centre were warned they would be disciplined unless they increased the number of claimants coming off the register, or raised the number threatened with the loss of their benefit entitlement.

The complainant's concerns were subsequently aired at the select committee by Abrahams, but in an interview before the work and pensions secretary's appearance, the former employee told the Guardian that the system of benefit sanctions is very subtle.

"They say to you that not enough people are coming off the claimant register and that if you do not get more people off the register you may be subject to an internal disciplinary assessment – a personal improvement plan.

"If you ask managers how many people you are supposed to get off the register, they say more and more continuously. It is your job to make the claimant's life difficult, they say. It creates a target culture."

The complainant also alleged that senior managers electronically altered a claimant's file to make it appear they had been told to attend the job centre the following day when no such notification had been given. Failure to attend a job centre interview is grounds for sanction.

The DWP has consistently denied that it gives job centres targets for applying sanctions to jobseekers, or discontinuing benefit.

Read the full story here


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