My series of posts about the fake psychometric ‘test’ and the DWP/Cabinet Office’s attempts to deny it, became big news earlier this year. Among the facts that the DWP denied, then admitted, then denied again and admitted again, were:
- they were threatening jobseekers with benefit sanction if they refused to participate
- that no qualified psychologists were involved in the decision to threaten potentially-vulnerable into becoming guinea-pigs
- that no training was given to Jobcentre Plus (JCP) advisers in how to select people for the test beyond telling them to do it
- that the experiment had been subjected to none of the usual validations or safeguards
and more. The whole thing stank of the contemptuous, reckless attitude of the DWP and the Cabinet Office’s ‘Nudge Unit’ toward unemployed people.
It turns out that the psychological abuse of jobseekers – and the abuse of psychology by the government – are by no means limited to the fake test.
Disability benefit claimants are able to ask for their Work Capability Assessments (WCA – usually conducted by Atos) interviews and assessments to be recorded. The DWP’s guidance states that claimants do not have a legal right to record, but that
all requests will be accommodated where possible
The guidance also states that recording requests should always be submitted in advance, and that
Although this may slow down the benefit process it will not affect your entitlement to benefit.
(More on WCA recordings here if you need it).
Many disabled people have complained that obstacles are placed in the way of any wish to record Atos assessments. But if you’re not disabled and are simply unemployed, it appears that these commonsense rules do not even apply in theory. On the contrary, if you ask to record your JCP interviews, it appears you are likely to be labelled psychologically unstable – and deprived of your benefits.
A jobseeker has forwarded me a copy of correspondence sent to them because they insisted that they wished to record their interviews at the JCP – a request which is more than reasonable in a context of such ridiculous decisions as sanctioning a claimant for attending a job interview – something so ridiculous that even the Daily Mail condemned it!
The two documents in question are quite stunning in what they demonstrate about how claimants are regarded and treated by many within the benefits system under this government. Here’s the main letter:
The claimant was referred to a ‘work psychologist’ simply for wanting to record his/her JCP interviews. The psychologist – contrary to the guidance given to disabled people – states that the request to have interviews recorded is impacting on benefit entitlement, a thinly-veiled threat that the claimant will be sanctioned or have his/her claim discontinued if s/he refused to stop asking. The claimant is then asked to sign and return the following ‘reply slip’:
A stark choice: attend the ‘discussion’ and agree not to record it, or don’t agree – and don’t attend (with obvious consequences for the continuation of benefits.
Each time I think it couldn’t be plainer that this government despises the unemployed and has set up the system to torture them, it turns out I’m wrong. But it’s very, very evident that our current excuse for ‘leadership’ considers psychological abuse a perfectly acceptable measure to take against jobseekers for even the most reasonable requests – or for that matter, just for existing.