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Dispatches - Tricks Of The Dole Cheats: Fact Or Fiction?

Updated on February 16, 2013
Are Jobseeker's really pulling a fast one?
Are Jobseeker's really pulling a fast one? | Source

With the plans for welfare reform in the UK being introduced, new legislation is already wreaking havoc on the vulnerable. More and more people in the UK are becoming homeless as a result of new legislation recently introduced and their chances of finding accommodation have also been stunted by these changes. As many as 32 people die each week in the UK after wrongly being kicked off medical welfare benefits such as ESA (Employment & Support Allowance).

There is even one case of a blind man who was kicked off medical welfare benefits. He took DWP to court and eventually won his case. Similar cases like this also keep cropping up. In addition, a few Jobcentre whistleblowers have come forward to reveal that certain members of staff are expected to sanction a target amount of claims or risk losing their jobs. One member of Jobcentre staff who I spoke to directly also made a similar claim. One should remember that benefits claimants who are not (illegally) working have no other income to pay their rent and therefore they are relying on Housing Benefit until they do eventually find employment (which is no easy task at the moment). If their claim for JSA is sanctioned then their Housing Benefit is automatically suspended and they may face eviction followed by homelessness as a result. Effectively, they will have been left homeless with no income as a result of their claim being sanctioned.

I am aware of one person who was kicked off ESA after failing a medical examination by ATOS Healthcare and was made homeless at the same time, yet she was told that she couldn't claim JSA because her claim for ESA was still showing up on the system. She was left homeless with no income and at a time in her life when she was suicidal and suffering with depression and anxiety which she had been prescribed medication for. Because of her situation she could not contact her doctor and had no choice but to just suddenly stop taking her prescribed medication, which can potentially cause adverse side effects and possibly even long-term damage. She had been on the course of medication for months and was on a large dose. She received a copy of the medical report from ATOS Healthcare and she claims that is 100% disinformation and that her health issues were not addressed in any way whatsoever.

Channel 4 television documentary Dispatches aims to expose 'dole cheats' who use simple tricks to get away with not even bothering to look for work (bear with me on this!). Initially the impression you get is that they are trying to portray Jobseeker's, or those otherwise claiming JSA (Jobseeker's Allowance), as benefit thieves. Whilst this is probably true for a small percentage of claimants, it certainly doesn't apply to the majority of them and at first you get the impression that they are all being tarred with the same brush; this portrays the genuine jobseekers (and believe me there are plenty of them!) in a negative light... but once you get right into the heart of what's really going you begin to see a different picture.

Jobcentre Plus

The Dispatches documentary shows a claimant writing a shopping list on his jobseeking record (which a claimant is required to keep) instead of what he has done to find a job. The Jobcentre staff appear not to notice and pay him his benefits anyway...

In my experience with Jobcentre Plus staff they have always looked at the jobseeking record/diary and commented on at least one or two jobs to ask me how I got on.

... and so the underlying factor begins to become evident. Is the claimant guilty of cheating? No. Is it his fault they have paid him his benefits even though he hasn't bothered to look for work? No, it's not. It is the Jobcentre advisor's fault for not ensuring that he has tried to find a job. He is not entitled to his benefits because he has not stuck to his jobseeking agreement but the advisor has paid him the benefits anyway - she is the one who has cheated. In addition she is not carrying out the job that she is paid to do because she has not helped the claimant even find a job in any way which, ultimately, is what Jobcentre staff are supposed to be doing.

Another person submitted an application letter and a CV (Curriculum Vitae) which both clearly stated that he did not want to work and would rather stay on benefits. Once again, Jobcentre staff failed to notice and paid him his benefits anyway. It seems that good staff in Shropshire and Dalston must be hard to come by, even by the Jobcentre. Furthermore it appears that many of the actual benefits claimants could probably do a better job than their advisors do at the Jobcentre. In actual fact the documentary also shows how the Jobcentre had employment vacancies available which had not even been advertised on their own system (Direct Gov).

If it's true that Jobcentre staff have targets to reach in terms of sanctioning claims it also seems that Jobcentre staff may actually be using these simple tactics to ensure that they actually reach those targets. A member of staff could intentionally 'allow' a shopping list (instead of a jobseeking diary) to slip through the net knowing that it may not have an immediate effect, but would be picked up on eventually causing that person's claim to become sanctioned in the future and therefore helping her reach her target.

However, not all Jobcentres are like this and some of them use very different tactics. In wales it's a very different story.

Even more shockingly is the fact that just two days after the Dispatches documentary aired on national television, MSN released two reports - one claiming that the total amount of JSA claimants was at it's lowest level so far this year. Simultaneous to this they published another news article showing how suicide rates were up and were a result of the recession and because of unemployment! Isn't it strange how whenever unemployment figures are released they also seem to show the opposite of all the other information out there. It's no secret that Jobcentres are guilty of 'fixing' unemployment figures, this has been going on for a long time and you would have to be both blind and stupid not to realized this when even corporations like MSN are putting the conflicting information right in front of you proving that the figures are nothing more than outright lies.

Related: How The United Kingdom Is Being Torn Apart... By Their Own Government!


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    • bac2basics profile image


      6 years ago from Spain

      Hi Sparkster. There is no doubt that a crackdown needs to be made on the benefit fraudsters in the UK, there are a lot of them. However as you point out there are lots of people claiming job seekers allowance who would dearly love to be employed but just cannot find work. My daughter has been on benefits for many years, firstly working familys tax credit and now jobseekers allowance. When she first claimed JSA she was told she had to apply for 40 positions between her sign on days yet her new boyfriend only had to apply for 20.

      He had no commitments whereas my daughter has child to look after which obviously limits her chances as she has to work around school times and holidays ( there are no family living round her to help with collecting from school and holiday care etc ) When this was brought up at the jobcentre her advisor told her that she knew there were no jobs out there but she still had to apply for the 40 per week or fortnight or she would be sanctioned. It has now been dropped to 20 and her partner has moved in with her and so she has informed the jobcentre of this. Despite the fact that she has repeatedly told the jobcentre of the changes they continue to cock up her claim leaving her with no money, her rent not paid etc and on all the correspondence with the jobcentre they still continue to get things wrong even after being told time and again of the circumstances, for instance the date her new partner actually moved in with her, undoubtedly this will rear it´s head in the future and she will be sanctioned, not for lying but for cock up´s in the system. I am sure you are aware of the consequence of this, NO MONEY. I cannot see the point in jobcentre staff advising the unemployed to go for anything and everything whether they are qualified or not, it must make employers lives extremely difficult having to sort through thousands of applications from people who clearly could never fill the position advertised in a million years. So I do think the downright lazy should be held to account, but there has to be a better system than merely sanctioning someone because JC staff don´tnderstand the guidelines, have had insufficient training, or are having a bad day at the office and are feeling mean. As far as suicide rates for the unemployed going up , I can well understand this because the stress when things go wrong and you have everyone on your back from the housing office to the electricity company, no food in the kitchen to feed to your kids and no heat in the winter plus nothing on the employment front that you are capable of doing, the stress is immense.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Sparkster, The jobcentre staff locally to me are unbelievably rude and arrogant. I totally believe that they have been told to mess people around from dusk until dawn and that they have targets to sanction a certain amount of people each week. There was a point in my life not so long ago that I needed to claim jobseekers allowance and I can honestly say that I have never been spoken down to so badly in my entire life. I am a decent honest person but left the jobcentre every week feeling like trash (to put it politely). The same as you have stated here; every week there was something wrong with how I filled out the book or they took something I had said out of context and made it sound like I hadn't even been looking for work. I even got told off for writing down too many jobs that I had applied for. Quite lucky for your friend that you was allowed to accompany them. My brother travelled a long way to come and see me on the day of my sign on once, the security guard went crazy at me like I'd just walked in with Britain's most wanted man or something. He had to wait outside for me as no one else is allowed in. I am an incredibly patient and calm person but even I, at times wanted to tell them where they can shove it. I wasn't in a position to do that though and there's the problem, they know that and very often get away with it!

    • FitnezzJim profile image


      7 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Here in the States that sort of behavior used to be associated with some sort of bigotry or bias. Have you considered accompanying someone of a different race or gender?


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