DWP management target disabled benefit claimants.
Over the next 24 hours DWP management will ‘invite’ close on 2,000 benefit claimants from Birmingham to attend interviews, with a goal of getting at least 10% off the benefit register.
The group of benefit claimants being targeted are in the majority waiting for assessments to decide if they are able to be deemed ‘fit for work’. (The assessment formerly and controversially run by ATOS). Those waiting assessments are often disabled or vulnerable adults.
The ‘invitation’ letter issued makes no suggestion that the attendance to these interviews is purely voluntary, indeed DWP staff in Birmingham (and Central England) have been advised verbally and by email from management to keep it to themselves that attendance to these interviews is not mandatory. One manager in a city based office was overheard saying that the way to deal with these claimants is to ‘hassle, hassle them off benefit’.
Andrew Lloyd, PCS Midlands regional secretary that represents DWP staff said, “It is outrageous that the DWP are duping the most vulnerable by issuing this letter, and then worse still setting a target to get those off benefits, it could be argued that this approach is unlawful. Our members are totally opposed to this approach but are faced with inferred disciplinary action unless they act upon these targets.”
[Press Release from PCS Union]
If you receive one of these letters, or if you receive a letter about Work Focussed Interviews while you are in the support group YOU DO NOT HAVE TO ATTEND and they cannot stop your benefits if you don/t attend.
Here is a template letter that you can use to reply to the letter from the DWP:Dear Sir/ madam (DWP) I understand that this interview is not mandatory and my non attendance will not affect my benefit payments. I am therefore exercising my right not to attend this interview. I want to make it clear that I will cooperate with all mandatory requirements to ensure continued payment of benefits. Yours
please contact us via email if you are worried or would like more information