The first training course I ever delivered at the DWP(it wasn’t that then) was ‘Preventing Difficult Incidents’. The training course was based on the premise you could manage the number of difficult and potentially violent incidents in a jobcentre, by treating people with respect, being clear every step along the way, and even in a system which is largely shit, you could avoid violent and ‘difficult’ incidents by basically treating people like people and understanding they had no choice but to deal with you and that made how you treat them doubly important.

We used to measure how many violent incidents there were across the region, and if a blackspot showed up, a training need would be identified. It was part of the induction package given to the staff who populated jobcentres and benefit offices. All staff were trained to know they were responsible for the way they treated people and as a matter of policy those staff were trained to internalise responsibility for system failure. Which is fine when the system is only  failing a bit….

We teach the people who work in the DWP that if there are difficult incidents, it is their responsibility. It’s mainly low paid women, attracted to a job that fits round kids and offers stability and benefits. They act as barrier between those who decide policy, in the heart of our political media, and those who receive it.

A man cut his own throat in a jobcentre.

He cut his own throat, because of a policy that won’t even cut the fucking deficit and for the sake of about 15quid a week.

There is a woman who works in a jobcentre in the vicinity(I won’t say which), I got her that job over a decade ago. She now has to walk down the street facing those caught up in these policies, day in day out is coerced for pittance to do this to people she knows, Or face the other side of the desk.

I sat in a meeting sponsored by a think tank the other year, a very young man recounted the struggles he had had getting the slow old DWP to implement policy that I knew had caused real hardship and problems on a massive scale. I sat and looked at this dipshit, at a fancy desk, discussing how much trouble he had had, while he explained his transition to Aviva, from Yvette Cooper’s office. I wanted to rip his throat out. It was the first time I understood that policy really was scribbled on a fag packet to suit the highest bidder. As angry as I felt when I watched Len McCluskey and poppet Jones sell the People’s Assembly as an opportunity to fight austerity, claiming their political capital as a voice for people like this while selling them out to Miliband.

A man cut his own throat in a jobcentre. How could you not be angry?

Oh yeah, if you have a layer of low paid and mainly welfare dependent women there to implement policy and provide a buffer between anyone devising it, and exploiting it, and anyone living it. If you only understand that part of our economy in terms of executive summaries half read in the context of possible headlines and market benefit. If you needed people not to notice this was the cost of decades of your dogma supplanting discussion of reality. Or if there was something in it for you and no chance of you and yours ever experiencing the kind of unemployment where a pittance could make that much difference.

Advertisements