SICK – DWP Staff harass benefit claimants in hospital
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A local council in London has called the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “grotesque and unbelievable” after they discovered claimants are being visited whilst in hospital. One claimant who missed an appointment because on an operation was shocked when a jobcentre adviser arrived at their bedside.
It’s no secret that if you’re on Universal Credit you run the risk of a sanction at every turn. However, the one place you’d expect to be safe is in hospital.
Islington Council’s Policy and Performance Scrutiny Committee have reported that not to be the case. Furthermore the DWP have defended it.
Everyone get’s ill, it’s a fact of life. For those in a job, it would involve a quick call to your employer. If you had been admitted to hospital there’d certainly be no problem.
It appears however that if you’re a Universal Credit claimant admitted to hospital, your word is worthless.
Since June 2018, Islington Council has been tracking the roll-out of the under fire benefit so as to understand how it can ease pressure on residents on it.
They found that claimants who’d already told their work coach they were in hospital, ended up with a jobcentre staff member at their bedside.
A DWP spokesperson defended the practice saying
“Jobcentre staff occasionally conduct hospital visits to confirm people’s bank account or rent details. This ensures we can pay their full benefits on time.”
Nowhere is safe
The government claim that Universal Credit is designed to reflect working life in the UK. Last time I checked, an employer had no right to question how ill you are, especially if you are a hospital inpatient.
The only time they’d visit would be to check on their employee’s welfare and see how they are doing.
Not the DWP. Instead they are turning up and scrutinising claimants for missing appointments because they were having an operation.
The committee’s vice chair, Councillor Troy Gallagher, told the Islington Gazette who first reported this;
“The fact that the DWP send people out to the hospital to interview and pursue people sends the wrong message.
“When people are in hospital they are not there to be chased and it’s not for the DWP to guess or validate if they are well or unwell. I think it’s callous.
“It’s an issue they need to amend quickly because it’s highly stressful and deeply upsetting.
“It’s grotesque and unbelievable.
“If someone says they’re unwell, whatever the reason is, you should always accept that.”
This news comes after it emerged that the DWP are in the process of designing an automated system to trawl claimants NHS health records. Doctors have raised concerns about patient confidentiality but, the DWP have ploughed on regardless.
Universal Credit and its strict rules don’t reflect being in work at all. It is designed to push people into making a mistake so they can be punished by a punitive sanctions regime.
This latest news isn’t surprising given the governments head in the sand policy. It just shows that the welfare state is slowly being eroded away at the expense of claimants health and well being.
We must be more vocal in opposing policies like these as, if we aren’t, they’ll keep pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with.
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In the U.S.A. visible minorities are visited by police and federal agents to demand to know wether the patient is a U.S. citizen or not, if not they are arrested and manacled to the bed. the justification; “They are criminals.”
In israel, Palestinians are visited in hospital by the IDF or the Shin bet and interrogated some medical staff describe even torture. The justification; “they are criminals.”
In the U.K. it is the disabled poor….Wow, Yes it is clear how they are “Our dear friends and allies,” because “they share our values.”
Woops, now I feel sick.
The next thing will fake DWP patients in the wards. So they can keep an eye on people.
What if the wards are basically shut off to visitors except immediate family due to Norovirus or some other bug? Would they allow them on the ward? If they don’t let friends in to visit then the DWP shouldn’t be allowed in to ask questions. If they turned up when I was in hospital I would have immediately emailed or phoned them and said that the wards are shut to all visitors and that includes DWP and that I will not be answering any questions they ask, plus I will be taking them to court on my release from hospital
Surely the DWP can’t just walk in to the hospital and start looking at peoples medical records ?
What about the medical staff and the laws about patient confidentiality ?