In the World of Welfare, Accuracy is next to Truthfulness as Cleanliness is next to Godliness. For example, today I initiated a Universal Credit claim for one claimant and the system refused to turn the page until Bank Savings was reported right to the penny. More fool me, I had thought an approximate amount such as £20 was adequate, but the programme insisted upon the pennies too! £20.10 and it grudgingly allowed us to move to the next set of questions.
And that is why it is really really really really REALLY unfair that Jobcentre Plus does not treat its customers to the same high standards of accuracy and punctuality it (rightly) demands of them.
On the information rack in the bright new Granta Building in Wood Green, refurbished and plush, were the following leaflets:
Lastly, Equal Opportunities is reassuringly reiterated at the end of one of the leaflets, like a high priestly blessing or Imprimatur of orthodoxy. Of course, Equal Opps has become almost as foundational to Western Societies as the Ten Commandments, and possibly just as much subject to lip service. But where is the equal opportunity for benefit claimants?
Welfare, claimants, some with disabilities, and many with mental ill health, (poverty and cramped overpriced housing tends to affect us that way), need accurate information. Without it, they can easily lose what they need in terms of welfare entitlement, or indeed never attain their rights to much needed support. Yet it was only when my colleague spoke with the office manager last week that this out of date material was removed.
A law for bureaucracies and another law for citizens will remain the norm unless we stop accepting it. A contemporary example of this is the WINDRUSH documents destroyed in a clean out of the Home Office a few years back, which obliterated some peoples' only proof of legal status in the UK. If only such zeal had existed when Jobcentre Plus was organising its claimant information for Granta House.
So next time you are in the Jobcentre, or Council office, be vigilant about the quality of information on display. Be polite, be assertive and make MISINFORMATION accountable both ways.