Monday, August 4, 2014

Former DWP staff go rogue to help benefit claimants who feel they have been wrongly penalised

Website set up to offer advice inundated with messages from people claiming their benefits were unfairly cut
Three disgruntled former civil servants have been inundated with pleas for help after they set up a website offering emergency advice to welfare claimants who believe their benefits have been wrongly docked.

The three women behind the initiative, who all worked for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), allege that many Jobcentre staff are instructed to veto a set proportion of claims. The allegation is strongly denied by the department. The women, who are based in the North-east of England and have not made their names public, launched the website in June without any fanfare.

In the last few days it has gone viral and the women have been bombarded by claimants accusing the DWP of unfairly cutting their benefits.

On one day last week the website,, received 200 messages, half from people protesting against being wrongly penalised. The website organisers, who have called on support from five other people with DWP experience, worked until after midnight to clear the backlog.

One of the organisers, “Jean”, said she had become disillusioned by the treatment meted out to some claimants during her final years at a Jobcentre, alleging that staff were pressurised to sanction needy people for the smallest mistake in their claim.

“I decided one Sunday to resign and I never went back. I had loved the job until the last three years but then I could see the way things were going. I got tired of fighting the system,” she said. “I became active on forums offering advice to people, the more I became involved, the more outraged I became.”

With two like-minded ex-colleagues, she decided to set up the website to offer free advice to claimants.