Jobcentre Staff to ‘Assess’ Claimants Mental Health

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has come under fire after it announced a scheme whereby jobcentre sdtaff assess claimants mental health. The £100,000 scheme being rolled out in Cornwall will see claimants on Universal Credit assessed by the work coach to as “to avoid seeing their GP”.

The DWP have announced a controvertial £100,000 scheme for benefit claimants in Cornwall. The plan is for Universal Credit claimants to have their mental health assessed by their Work Coach to determine if they require extra support. The DWP desribe the scheme as;

“The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

Now usually, offering claimants extra support would not be an issue. However, the last sentence above shows the DWP have an ulterior motive – “without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

While training work coaches how to interact with claimants with mental health conditions is a good step, Having them replace trained health professionals is simply unacceptable.

Claimants with a health condition already have to go through assessments with “Healthcare Professionals” who’ve done a 30 minute seminar on mental health. These leads to, as it did in my own case, the initial assessment being incorrect.

Only a GP or HCP involved in a persons ongoing care can give a qualified opion on a patients mental state. Outsourcing it to staff who are already overworked is bound to see more mistakes made.

Lack of Privacy

The open plan of Nottingham Jobcentre Plus

There is also the fact that most jobcentres are open plan. Are claimants expected to discuss their intimate thoughts in such a public setting?

If they’re going to assess all claimants, there is no possible way they can all expect the privacy of a side room. This will lead to claimants either being less open about the help they require of completely shutting down.

Terri Whitten, spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Jobcentres reasoned that the scheme was set up for the benefit of claimants.

We know that some people – for whatever reason – don’t want to be assessed in a clinical setting.

That’s a big reason why we’ve set this up – so work coaches can help people get the support they need.

Work & Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP

On a visit to Truro Jobcentre the Work and Pensions Secretary who was retained by Boris Johnson said of the scheme’s expansion;

We want to reach people before their mental health spirals downwards – and this money will help to do just that.

The pilot proved that work coaches are well placed to make sure people get help quickly and are supported to get their lives back on track so I’m delighted that it can continue.

Rudd thinking that throwing money at a scheme were work coaches get basic mental health training is helpful, shows how unaware she really is.

It is well known that claimants are careful of talking to their work coaches. The reason for this is that they worry that anything they say will be used against them.

The Department for Work and Pensions have a track record of downplaying claimants mental health issues. They are still having to pay back claimants incorrectly assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Now they think work coaches can replace a claimants GP. This is yet another way to force vulnerable benefit claimants to seek work before they are ready.

I hope I am wrong, but unfortunately when it comes to the DWP, I like many others, am not.

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