ALBA Deputy General Secretary slams DWP for Inhumane Policy
Forcing people to attend the job centre over ten times in a two week period is appalling.
A new policy being proposed that could potentially strip individuals of their dignity and basic human rights is nothing short of appalling. The policy in question is the new Universal Credit rule change which could force people to attend job centres up to 10 times over a two-week period.
This policy is not only inhumane but also counterproductive. It is unfair to expect individuals to attend job centres so frequently, especially those who are already struggling to make ends meet. The stress and pressure of attending these appointments multiple times a week can have a significant impact on their mental health and well-being. There is no actual value in this regime. It stems from an underlying rhetoric that people on benefits are ‘scroungers’ and ‘lazy’ so bringing them into the job centre for no reason other than harassment will not help them get back to work! As someone who worked for twenty years in the DWP, I can categorically attest to the fact that the vast majority of people do not want to claim benefits, especially as the process has been made so demeaning over the years – they are there merely to access the supposed ‘safety net’ that helps folks out of work to get back on their feet. It could happen to any one of us.
Furthermore, this policy goes against the very principles of dignity and respect that we, as a society, should be upholding. It treats individuals as mere numbers and fails to recognise their inherent worth and value as human beings.
Importantly, this policy is unlikely to achieve its intended purpose of increasing employment rates. In Scotland at the end of last year, employment was the highest recorded level since the labour force survey series began in 1992. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed 3.1 per cent of people aged 16 and over were out of work from November 2022 to January this year. The problem Scotland faces right now isn’t too many people out of work, it’s the Labour market doesn’t have enough people to fill the demand.
Research has shown that forcing people to attend job centres more frequently does not necessarily lead to increased employment. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, as individuals become demotivated and disheartened by the constant pressure and scrutiny.
It’s not just the claimants this affects, this policy also places a significant burden on job centre staff. The increased workload and pressure to meet targets can lead to burnout and high turnover rates, which ultimately hinders the ability of job centres to provide effective support and assistance to those who need it. That was one of the reasons I left – targets! The shift from helping people to getting claimants off the register did not sit comfortably with me. At the time, sending people into a never-ending cycle of making claims between jobseeker's allowance to sickness benefit and then back to jobseekers led to severe hardship as each waiting time led to a delay in payments and that was before the catastrophe of Personal independence payments.
It is therefore imperative that we all speak out against this inhumane policy that reduces the dignity of those it directly impacts upon.
We must demand the government prioritise the well-being and dignity of all individuals, particularly those who are most vulnerable and in need of support. We should be advocating for policies that empower individuals and provide them with the tools and resources necessary to secure stable employment and achieve financial independence.
The new Universal Credit rule change is a misguided and counterproductive policy that threatens to strip individuals of their dignity and basic human rights. We must stand up against this policy and demand that Westminster prioritise the well-being and dignity of all individuals. Of course, with independence, we wouldn’t need to constantly campaign against Westminster policies that are imposed upon the people of Scotland. Only then can we create a society that is truly just and equitable for all.