More information on services, the benefits system and entitlements for volunteers, and clients/service users

People need to have the correct information for example on how much they are allowed to volunteer, and what their entitlements are. It is a complex system and claimants don’t know all the roles. This information should also be available to people who live and work with claimants so they can support them. More information makes the process more transparent and things like sanctions clearer and more open. This should also include better training for Job Centre staff, so they can provide clear and accurate information.

Why the contribution is important

Everyone should know their rights and be able to check that they are being dealt with fairly.

by FairerScotlandAdmin2 on October 15, 2015 at 04:31PM

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  • Posted by FairerScotlandAdmin2 October 26, 2015 at 16:21

    From the Fairer Scotland Inverness Planning Event:

    A more empathic approach is required.

    There should be information available from neutral sources. People do not trust the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to be neutral, and getting advice for example on disability benefits from a Job Centre can make people feel stigmatised. There should be a separate office. The Citizens’ Advice Bureau is of variable use and is not audited as thoroughly as other advice services.

    They should receive the same scrutiny as everyone else in order to improve their services.

    Information would need to come back from other locations that people trust. For instance, there used to be organisations through the union movement that provided neutral advice; we need them or something similar.

    Information needs to be clearly presented and there should be somewhere individuals can get proper info about the full range of benefits, especially disability info and self-directed support. The DWP don’t know about this. Other sources such as doctors can be helpful but information isn’t always readily available.

    Benefits assessments should be done by specifically/appropriately trained assessors. An example given was of physiotherapists assessing complex mental health needs. Assessments also need to be held in accessible places. Staff need to deal with people compassionately. There is stigma with the idea that people with disabilities are lazy and scroungers. The attitudes of Job Centre staff have contributed to shaping this. All staff should have equality and diversity training as standard and it should be the basis of everything they do.

    Better training for DWP staff and council benefits advice is needed. They need to have training updated regularly as they don’t always know what is correct, and they give incorrect advice. However, we should recognise they are overworked and are fire-fighting.

    This is important because it is only fair that people get the right benefits when they need them.
  • Posted by FairerScotlandAdmin2 October 30, 2015 at 16:34

    From the Fairer Scotland Midlothian Planning Event:

    A more empathic approach to clients and information on services, the benefits system, disability benefit and entitlements for volunteers, and clients/service users.

    Job Centre staff are not sympathetic. This can be a problem, for instance one person was threatened with sanctions when court ordered contact with his child clashed with a Job Centre appointment.

    The individual staff are not the problem, it’s the system and the targets they need to meet - the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff are not incentivised to get people into work. If they were, then they would have an incentive to be helpful and do things for people.

    The basic approach is around ticking boxes, not offering positive support. A participant made the point that sanctioning is part of the framework from the DWP and the Scottish government does not have control over how DWP treats people - currently it is unpredictable, harsh and focused on numbers. We want to find procedures that would alter this and alter the relationship between the individual, society and the state.

    Information needs to be clearly presented and available for volunteers and service-users. Changing the incentives on which the DWP operates could help make this information available.
  • Posted by FairerScotlandAdmin2 November 10, 2015 at 11:59

    Idea from Fairer Scotland Dumfries Planning Event:

    Services can’t always be digital by default. There needs to be better provision of support for the ‘digital by default’ agenda - how is this going to work in rural parts of Scotland? We should make sure that people have human contact where they need it, for example if their needs are complex.

    It was also highlighted that digital delivery is really good for some services. There needs to be a range of ways to access it.

    Information should be “piggybacked” onto existing points of contact. We should be packaging a range of information, for example when you get your bus pass you are also offered a health check or smoke detector.

    This is important because it is only fair that people get the right benefits when they need them. Attitudes are creating problems and contributing to stigma, and changing these can help people into work.
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