Sparkhill Job Centre Closed Yesterday After Sanctioned Claimant Smashes Windows

Sparkhill JCP windowSparkhill Job Centre was closed today after five windows were smashed by a claimant who it appears had been sanctioned by an advisor at the centre. No staff were hurt in the attack, which highlights the effect on people of the savage sanctions regime put in place by Iain Duncan-Smith and the tories in charge of the DWP. This is far from the only time a desperate claimant has been placed in a position where the only response they have is one of anger or pain. Last year a claimant set themselves on fire outside Selly Oak job centre, and staff at JCPs have been given training to deal with suicidal claimants.

A Birmingham PCS Member told us

Sparkhill jobcentre management are renowned for their effort to get DMA [sanction referalls], They recently started opening their office early and it’s generally believed this is to catch out customers so they can be sanctioned. We hear that staff are very unhappy in the office

In October, the DWP increased the length of sanctions, raising the minimum sanction level from 1 week to 4 weeks and the maximum from 3 months to 3 years. Sifa Fireside, a local charity working with homeless people, say that housing benefit is increasingly suspended when job centres sanction claimants. It shouldn’t be stopped and if you are sanctioned and find your housing benefit claim suspended, you need to file a Nil Income claim to get it back. Sadly many people are unaware of their rights and having been told their benefits will be stopped, think this also means housing benefit, and find themselves accruing arrears or even being made homeless.

Sanctions are supposed to be applied to people who are not doing enough to find work, but in practice there is an increasingly long list of sanctions being applied to people in ridiculous circumstances, such as missing an appointment because they were at a job interview, or having money stopped for 3 months because they were five minutes late for an appointment.

Staff at the job centre face a targets regime, whereby if they aren’t handing out enough sanctions this will count against them in their performance reviews. Locally, one job centre even had an easter egg as a reward/incentive for the advisor who handed out the most sanctions. Coming down from the top is a culture and language that emphasises the use of sanctions to “incentivise” claimants into finding work, saying that sanctions are a good and helpful thing. Increasingly advisors are buying into this culture and a sales type, target driven culture is creeping in. No longer will job centres be about helping people to find work. Instead they are about driving people into poverty through sanctions or unpaid work through workfare.

The sanctions regime is driving people to the edge, where actions like this become the only way they feel they can strike back against the regime that has just meant that they have no money for food, heating, clothes or travel for as much as three years. With unemployment continuing to rise in the West Midlands, the prospect of finding work is increasingly distant. As Universal Credit and the Claimant Commitment are slowly rolled out, people in part time or low paid work will also find themselves caught up in this nightmare.

We need to act to stop it – from inside the job centre, PCS and advisors must take strong action against the management who are imposing these regulations and seeking to create a culture where they are used and abused as much as possible. From outside the job centre, claimants should come together to help each other deal with the bullshit that they face every day, with a group like the Birmingham Claimants’ Union. Everyone else can be involved with us, DPAC, Communities Against the Cuts, Birmingham Benefit Justice Campaign or other groups campaigning and fighting for a decent social security system that ensures dignity and a basic standard of living for everyone.

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32 responses to “Sparkhill Job Centre Closed Yesterday After Sanctioned Claimant Smashes Windows

  1. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Sparkhill Job Centre Closed Today After Sanctioned Claimant Smashes Windows

  2. rajah

    ..”…Coming down from the top is a culture and language that emphasises the use of sanctions to “incentivise” claimants into finding work, saying that sanctions are a good and helpful thing. Increasingly advisors are buying into this culture and a sales type, target driven culture is creeping in.”
    Everyone is scared for their jobs, the “performance targets” are used as redundancy criteria – in the city council anyway, where the performance nonsense is called “PDR” and the union/s went along with it’s implementation (in 2008?):- a great, missed opportunity for the union/s (mainly Unison) to turn the tide against the many many Tory-Lib coalition and now Labour attacks;
    now we have “the End of Council Services”: ask the Council Leader, or [better!] anyone still working for BCC, and the (recognised) unions arent even being told what is going on anymore (now their usefulness has gone)

  3. I can see blood being spilled soon, lots of it too. I can imagine this will greatly please Duncan-Smith and his colleagues at the DWP as it’ll be used as an excuse to suggest the system isn’t working and it’s time their friends at Unum were brought in to take over. I’m sugggesting in all seriousness the benfits system is being deliberately sabotaged by those in charge of it with a view to profiting when the entire system collapses and is replaced by compulsory private unemployment insurance who will, of course, be suitably greatful to the politicians who’ve brought this about.

  4. j henry

    i live in clydebank a once proud industrial town on the outskirts of glasgow…it was famous for shipbuilding…and the giant singer sewing machine factory…plus lots of other smaller factories…the town grew around these industrustries .the people moved here to work…in the seventies and eighties ..after maggie thatcher had destroyed all our manufacturing industries…people were thrown on the dole…they did not have any say in the matter…the dole queues were full of skilled people who learned trades that were no use any longer…we had welders..platers…boilermakers…engineers..electricians..painters…the list goes on…all these skilled people thrown on the scrapheap…these same people are now called benefit scroungers…its the same story in the engish midlands in places like birmingham/manchester/liverpool//most of northern england…leeds/newcastle etc…all these industrial cities have all but been abandoned…and the once proud workers in the mills the car factories…the mines…are all benefit scroungers…what we need to remember is that all of these people payed their money into this system and that this money is theirs…they are not benefit scroungers …this goverment is hell bent on being in complete control of us…so much so that they believe that fear is the best way to achieve this…they are setting up a system to destroy the current welfare system that people fought and died for ..so that we might have a better way of life…they must be stopped at all costs…and if that means demonstrations outside jobcentres then that will need to happen…the people must rally together…dont buy newspapers who use benefit scroungers in their headlines…this goverment is against its own people…its all for big business and banks…so when a goverment turns against its own people then its time to get rid of the enemy….start now…

  5. toploading b'stard

    More to come with Claimant Commitments and 35 pw job search

  6. DAVID LLOYD

    I HAD A PHONE CALL ON THE DAY I WAS DUE TO GO TO THE JOB CENTRE,THE CALLER SAID THE JC WAS CLOSED DUE TO AN INCIDENT SO I HAD TO GO THE NEXT DAY, WHEN I GOT THERE I COULD SEE WHAT THE INCIDENT WAS AS THE WINDOWS AND A DOOR WERE SMASHED, MY BENEFIT HAS BEEN STOPPED BECAUSE I WAS TOLD BY A VERY RUDE STAFF MEMBER THAT I WASN’T PROVIDING ENOUGH EVIDENCE THAT I’M LOOKING FOR WORK, THIS IS RUBBISH, IT’S THAT CERTAIN MEMBERS OF STAFF ARE NOT PUTTING IT DOWN ON MY FILE, I DO VOLUNTARY WORK SO THAT TELLS YOU THAT I’M NOT A LAZY PERSON, I HAVE APPLIED FOR HARDSHIP PAYMENTS FROM THEM NOW, I AM VERY ANGRY AND STRESSED OUT BY THAT WOMAN’S DECISION, SHE SPOKE TO ME LIKE I WAS DIRT. WHEN I MADE A COMPLAINT THEY DIDN’T WANT TO KNOW, I’M NOT A VIOLENT PERSON AND WOULDN’T SMASH UP THE JOBCENTRE BUT I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE FEEL SO ANGRY. I DON’T HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD BUT I WILL HAVE TO DECIDE WHERE I CAN ROB SOME FOOD FROM NOW.

    • Just wanted to check that you know you can ask for a review of your sanction, and then appeal it.
      There is also a foodbank in Sparkhill so you can ask for a referral there first rather than risk a criminal record: http://www.narthex.org.uk/foodbank.htm

      Birmingham Claimants’ Union may be able to help with support: http://birminghamclaimantsunion.wordpress.com/about/

      • I think he should go rob some food. The sooner the jails are getting full at great expense because of Duncan-Smith the sooner this nonsense will stop.

      • DAVID LLOYD

        THANK YOU, BIRMINGHAM AGAINST THE CUTS
        I WORKED IN MENTAL HEALTH FOR 5 AND A HALF YEARS, DUE TO DEPRESSION MY DR SIGNED ME OFF SICK, I WAS NOT ABLE TO FACE GOING BACK TO THIS JOB, AFTER AN APPOINTMENT WITH ATOS FOR 5 MINUTES, THEY OVERRULED MY DR AND SAID I WAS FIT FOR WORK SO I HAD TO GO ON JSA AS I SAID IN MY LAST POST, I DO VOLUNTARY WORK SO WHY DO THEY PICK ON ME AND PEOPLE LIKE ME, DO THEY SIT IN THE OFFICE BEFORE OPENING TIME AND PULL NAMES FROM A HAT TO SEE WHO THEY WILL SANCTION ON THAT DAY, THE UK IS GOING DOWN HILL FAST, I ASKED AT SPARKHILL JC IF THEY COULD GIVE ME A JOB OF CLEANING THEIR RAT INFESTED CAR PARK, I HAD NO REPLY, I WILL ASK AGAIN AND OFFER TO DO IT FOR TIT BITS OF FOOD IF I DON’T GET MY BENEFIT BACK AND WHAT IF I GET EVICTED FROM MY HOME BECAUSE JC HAVE TOLD THE HOUSING TO STOP MY BENEFIT TOO. IT’S NICE AND WARM IN THE JC SO WHEN THEY HAVE FIXED THE BROKEN WINDOWS I WILL LIVE THERE. I WONT TAR ALL THE JOBCENTRE STAFF WITH THE SAME BRUSH THE UNEMPLOYED ARE BEING TARRED WITH THE SAME BRUSH, THE GOOD PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY NEED TO STAND TOGETHER HERE, IT DOESN’T MATTER IF WE ARE BLACK WHITE OR ASIAN WE ARE HUMAN AND SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE WE ARE HUMAN. HO WELL, LETS SEE IF MY CAT WILL SHARE HIS LAST POUCH OF WHISKERS WITH ME.

    • If you’re really desperate and unable to wait for your food bank appointment/get a voucher, you could also try what seems to be a soup kitchen:

      http://www.birminghamcitymission.co.uk/middlepagestructure/Homeless/life%20at%20the%20cc.HTM although it seems you’re supposed to be homeless to receive food – it doesn’t say whether they check or not (one of the testimonials implies they help some people with shelter). It seems to be at 75 Watery Lane Middleway, but the website seems a bit vague, and not certain it’s up to date.

      Also, some churches and priests have been known to give food (sometimes their own food) to the hungry. The Salvation Army are known for that aren’t they?

      I think Wolverhampton has a soup kitchen that may be available for all (not just the homeless), but obviously if you can’t afford food it would take hours (and a lot of calories) to walk there – or require dodging the train fare, which is a less serious offence than shoplifting – to get there).

  7. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Sparkhill Job Centre Closed Yesterday After Sanctioned Claimant Smashes Windows

  8. The biggest benefit scroungers in the UK all work in Parliament with their expenses at over £60 million for the year.Everything these oxygen thieves get is subsidised by the public purse.As for Ian Duncan Smith that man is the biggest liar to enter Parliament,so we can all imagine what his staff are like.

    • Great tracts of land in the UK are owned by people who having inherited it need do no work. Instead we pay them to not build on their land. We do this from our taxes through grants and subsidies. These landowners are the real benefit scroungers.

  9. Peter

    Leave the country, then re-enter illegally, you will get it all then.

  10. phil webb

    This is a vile government. Never before have I experienced a government so hell bent on breaking the poor and forcing them into line. This country is one step away from a dictatorship. The gap between rich and poor is a gaping chasm and Britain is on the edge.

  11. samspruce

    Unfortunately the situation is cascading out of control. I realise I am living in a nightmare. I saw them doing this at school (and got expelled for my adherence to the truth). They are still doing it at school and I wonder who is going to be brave enough to STOP the rot. Iain Duncan Smith is a criminal. The list is too long to name them all. BUT WHO WILL PHYSICALLY RESTRAIN THEM? It makes you understand why the American’s want to keep their guns.

  12. Mr sMITH

    If we don’t start taking these mps out altogether then we get what we expect.he has to be eliminated once and for all.

  13. C. Pascoe

    The sooner someone shoves a bomb under this lot of parliamentary scum the better off we’ll all be. Poli… meaning many….. Tics….meaning paracites.

  14. wolfie

    By all means complain to the Jobcentre but dont stop there the more people who go their elected MPs Councillors and explain whats happened the better.Try and find out your rights and use them.Anyone that is asked to attend the jobcentre off their signing cycle of one day a fortnight should be offered the cost of the bus fare to attend if this doesnt happen then request it they cant refuse if you have a ticket.It creates them work.

  15. Pingback: Jobcentre anger and bans. What a mess. | Kate Belgrave

  16. Pingback: Sparkhill JCP – Early Morning Sessions Break Guidance – Sanctions Applied Incorrectly | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  17. johnny

    Thank-you, you are a true soldier. Just a shame there are not more people like you willing to put themselves on the line to highlight the problems with-in jobcentre plus, dont forget the Police have to side with the jobcentre. The jobcentre will do anything to refer you for sanction when there under pressure. Thank-you again.

  18. Pingback: Ask Your MP To Support Early Day Motion 686 – Sanctions At Sparkhill Job Centre | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  19. Arif Hussain

    All these sanctions are not helping its like when hitler came into power in 1930’s and forced his criminal sanctions on certain community.Im afraid to say that this time the window was smashed but what happens if a claiment who’s jsa has been sanctioned ends up harming any one of the jcp staff mark my words its going to happen and ids will not give a toss if a jcp staff got hurt or even killed….how can these managers and some staff sleep at night.
    There should be more peacefull demos outside the jcp………..REVOLUTION NOW!!!

    • DAVID LLOYD

      Well said Arif, I feel sorry for the JC staff, They take orders and mr Duncan Smith doesn’t care about their safety. The people who attack
      the staff will end up in prison and it will cost more than £140 a fortnight
      to keep them in there, I don’t have a criminal record, but i came close to getting one when i was sanctioned for a mistake that the JC made, I had no food and was tempted to go out and sit by Sainsbury’s deli counter filling my empty stomach and wait for the police to arrive. when I was young I would see starving kids in Cambodia on TV and think how lucky I was, This country is getting worse every time I watch the news.

    • Addy

      I know this sounds harsh but if that did happen if you ask me it would serve them right.

  20. When they stop my money for nothing like everybody else i can tell you now not only will windows be going through 🙂

  21. Addy

    The job centre are completely useless and pathetic. Last time I signed on was when my employers had no work to provide me, the job centre wouldn’t pay me a penny they kept sending me forms to fill in with the promise they would pay but everytime I did they kept sending me more saying that isn’t enough proof and more recently I got a letter from HMRC saying I owe tax as a result of the JSA I never got. They refused to support my Dad when he was ill saying he wasn’t ill enough and he died not long after that. Everytime I think of the jobcentre it makes my blood boil. Now I know what I’m gonna say could get me in trouble but I’d like to say that if I met the person who smashed this jobcentre’s windows I would like to shake their hand.

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