Wednesday 16 March 2011

Burnt out sickies

ESA week will face a short intermission.

We have all worked ourselves into the ground. Broken of Britain are temporarily, erm, broken, and I can barely lift a finger to type.

I was just going to post "Bastards" and be done with it.

Instead, I'll post this comment from someone who actually works in the Job Centre and knows from first hand experience that everything us campaingers have been saying is true. The sickness and disability benefit system is failing like a very. very slow car crash.

If you read my blog and think what I do is important, please take over today. Tweet links, write your own blogs, find a juicy bit of research but get the message out. I'm going to bed.

" I'm a DWP worker sticking his head above the parapet and hoping not to get shot... I work in a busy Jobcentre and my customers are those 25+ who've been out of work for 13 weeks or longer. Probably 60-70% of the one hundred or more people I see every week are evidently not fit for work and yet, in theory, it's my job to whip them through the same hoops as everybody else, persecute them, attempt to stop their benefits and generally shame them into applying for all manner of wholly unsuitable jobs that they're never going to be able to do. In reality, what I do is tell them the system sucks and advise them of ways they can stay beneath the radar, or suggest they sign off JSA and move onto ESA and do whatever I can to make the transition as trouble free as possible. On the other side of the office to me are the Pathways team, who deal with customers on ESA. We all know that over the coming months most of them will be forced to migrate over to the JSA bods like myself and we won't be able to cope with either the numbers or the particular problems that this customer group represents. The point of all this waffle is that the policy makers have embarked upon their catastrophic journey without consulting the frontline workers who, without exception in my experience, KNOW that the planned changes CANNOT work. I would advise people worried about a forced transition from ESA to JSA to be brave and try not to lose too much sleep about's just not do-able in the real world, there'll be a horrible mess and people's lives will face some awful but shortlived disruption and then it'll be business as usual. Also, for those who face the indignity of having to venture into a jobcentre from time to time, please be assured - the majority of those who work in them are actually on your side, and have probably less faith in our political masters than you do, and just as much awareness as yourselves that all their vitriolic guff about benefit scroungers and feckless layabouts is simply empty, venomous scapegoating..."


  1. Bless him...and you and all the people who have to live through this awful mistake or cruel experiment, whichever it is and a little bit of both I feel...maybe I am too forgiving a soul, but I think that is what will carry me through this hell on earth experience....

  2. I've made this into a note on my FB page, making it public and encouraging others to do the same.

    Thank you for posting like you do and know that it is touching lives.

  3. Madame de Merteuil16 March 2011 at 11:05

    I admire this guy's honesty. It's not easy to openly talk against your job's directives, even anonymously. And I agree 100% with his comment 'all their vitriolic guff about benefit scroungers and feckless layabouts is simply empty, venomous scapegoating'.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I've reposted this on my own blog at to raise awareness :)

  6. thankyou DWP worker. Sue - I wish you many spoons, take care of yourself xx

  7. Like so many others, I'm getting tired of fighting this, but I know I must not give up, even though we are being backed into a corner with no escape.
    There will be some who will have all their strength sapped out of them and will have to give up the good fight, sadly some already have. But those of us who are able to continue with our battle, against the utterly despicable way we are being treated, must fight on.
    We are suffering now and will suffer more, but our time will come when the truth gets out to the wider population about how we are being treated and rest assured, there will be public outrage.
    The government will not be able to hide the truth for ever and the public will turn on them, that's a certainty.
    It's totally despicable that so many people have to suffer and lives be lost before things change, but those of us that are left must fight on, not only for ourselves and future disability claimants, but especially for those who hadn't any strength left to carry on.

  8. Thank you for this, it is very hard being on the other side of the desk, and I asked my JC+ adviser this morning if she had any idea how depressing it was to be being given minimum wage jobs to apply for aged 50+ with a wealth of years of academia, professional and managerial experience to offer. She sighed. I wept.

  9. A banker, a Daily Mail reader and a benefit claimant are sitting at a table sharing 12 biscuits. The banker takes 11 and says to the Daily Mail reader, 'Watch out for the benefit claimant he wants your biscuit' .....

  10. Labour introduced ESA to stop people capable of managing their own web site from claiming sickness benefits. In future, doctors will be enouraged to withhold medicine from people who do not work.

  11. i am so very depressed and scared over this, i feel like no matter what people say or do this government will only care for the people who mean something for them, cameron lied to us big time when he said he would care and then threw us all to the dogs. He should be ashamed of himself for being such a liar! I know they all lie but every single thing he said he would not do he DID do. I feel I have lost all hope in the future as who in their right mind would employ somebody like me who has to see how well they are every morning. Who has to have 2-3 lie downs a day just to get through to 9pm when i have to go to bed because i cannot take any more aNY COMPANY EMPLOYING ME WOULD THEN SACK ME BECASUE I AM ill. THEN I WOULD NO DOUBT FAIL AN ESA MEDICAL AGAIN AND START ON YET ANOTHER SOUL DESTROYING CYCLE OF trying to get money to live. people pay NI to have care if they get il or lose their job and now if any body dares to claim even after 40yrs of working they are immediately a scrounger. how can you scrounge money you have paid into for fourty bloody years? i wish i had millions so i would at least know my family would be ok but i dont and now i fear for the future of the life of my family because this govt will end up losing us our home and everything we hold dear. WEe will be worse off than in the 1700s at this rate

    i am burnt out because i have no more energy or the will to go on

    1. I understand where you are coming from, I was removed from ESA by ATOS a few years ago, and went through an 11 month appeal, where my challenges to the lies related in the medical assessment were ignored and my appeal was denied at each stage until I went to Chester Crown Court, for my final appeal. At this stage my ESA was re-instated.
      Two weeks ago I was once again removed from ESA following a medical assessment and once again the report was full of 'inaccuracies', e.g. "she was able to get on the the couch without assistance", whereas in truth both my son and the clinician had to help me onto the couch.
      I intend to appeal, but expect the same long battle as last time. I don't know if I have the strength for what is to come. My condition has deteriorated since that time, I am demoralised and broken of spirit and I have an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.
      I worked for 40 years and often feel as though I am meant to be ashamed of and apologize for, bieng a 'scrounger'. I am just tired. The appeal system appears designed to discourage the genuine claimants, who are often not as able to cope with the ensuing battle.

  12. Anonymous of the biscuit comment - thank you, that made me laugh like a (cynical) drain.

    Thanks for the post, Sue. Very interesting to hear.

  13. Catherine - Did you post a fascinating link earlier to the Telegraph?

    Why did you remove it? I've been doing some research and would love you to comment again. If you'd rather message me privately, my email is

    Thanks, Sue

  14. Hi, I was sent here by a friend, and I apologise for posting anonymously, but I have to.

    Until a few weeks ago, I was working for the DWP in a JobcentrePlus Contact Centre (having been subject to a compulsory transfer), and now am attempting to claim ESA after losing my job due to deteriorating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms (thanks to JCP removing the simple provisions that had been put in place while we were still employed by The Pension Service) and anxiety brought on by having to cope with threats of violence on a daily basis with no support (JSA Benefit Enquiries, aka the "Where's my f**king money?!" line, due to the number of times that would be the conversation starter).

    Despite losing my job because of my employer's inability to support my absence due to illness, I'm now informed by ATOS and the DWP that I am fit for work and need to claim JSA rather than ESA.

    Previously, ATOS had spoken clearly in my favour, requesting that the previous provisions regarding CFS be re-instated and stressing their importance in keeping me in work. Now my condition is "no hindrance to finding employment".

    I've been inside the system and know it front to back, and yet I'm falling prey to the same pot-holes as I'd see every day. Worse, I know the people on the front line are powerless to help me, and they're burned out because they've tried to care for everyone they've spoken to that day, even the ones who have ranted and raged.

    It's a difficult place to be in, and all the more frustrating because I know what small series of keystrokes and mouse clicks will make all my benefit woes go away for a while. But always know the person on the other end of the phone wants to care; because once, that was me.

  15. You people miss the point, if I may say so. By the time this is all publicly exposed for the sheer nonsense it is, hundreds of millions of pounds will have been switched from the public purse into a private company, ATOS. No doubt those who have helped with this against all advice from informed parties will get their rewards from that company. Chris Grayling and Maria Miller spring to mind here. That, in my view, is what's behind all this. It's like they say, follow the money. This is just asset-stripping.

  16. I wish that fellow worked in the jobcentre I have to sign on at. My DEA (disability employment advisor) is really nice. She put me on a program recently, work choices, which means I don't sign with her anymore but with the regular jobcentre staff.

    Every fortnight it's the same thing. I get bullied and harrassed, ridiculed and belittled for the pittence I will receive from them in order to avoid starving. Every single time I do anything at all to look for work I have to fill in a little timesheet thing explaining what it was and what will happen next. If a certain number of jobs aren't listed on said sheet... I'm going to be taking a forced diet.

    I leave the place feeling bullied, wondering if my money has just been stopped and wondering if hanging myself would be all that painful after all.

    This has actually STOPPED me looking for suitable work as effectively as I used to. If I see a job which could be suitable but I've filled in enough for the week, I'll take the details and wait for the week after to apply for it to appease the people working at the Jobcentre. Yes, I know I am risking not getting a job at all but it's better than risking having my benefits stopped and being evicted.

    All this from a government which wasn't even elected, which is totally unopposed by the political party so crabbed and cowed by the right-wing media moguls and fleet-street yobbos they'll no longer act on issues of the poorest people being scapegoated and victimized in order to excuse the excesses and greed of the wealthy.

    I a royally ticked off at the whole thing.

  17. Where's the logic... i look after my son in the daytime 3 days a week, His mum has a good job at a good company.... They are putting me on a two year course to help me find work for up to 8 hours a day.
    OK!!!!! there is no guarantee that i will get a job (there are about 50-60 people going for everyjob)
    But the way things are going she will have to give up her very good job to care for our BABY who cant even talk!! (childcare costs makes it pointless and having someone else look after your child...and we both feel he is too young to be left with strangers)
    It is there stats that matter, my job centre advisor talked to me with no soul, no concept for my values to my son.
    As i am not with the mother i am considerd single without children, she also has serious epilepsy, after seizures she has to have 8-9 hours recovery and i look after him.

  18. Anagrams for ATOS Medical: ideal mascot / lame aid cost / cost aim deal / mad toil case / claim sad toe / >>>to scam ailed<<< / I almost aced (I wish…). The whole thing is completely insane. Sick people should never be expected to look for work but the govt. clearly think it's perfectly acceptable for someone with constant pain and crushing fatigue to be out there job-hunting. Evil, evil, evil most profound.