Monday 24 August 2015


Is it just me or do others agree that Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions descending into a very unfunny farce?

We've long known that Smith himself is a figure of fun. That was never in dispute. The Quiet Man...his University of Perugia degree (or not as may be the case), his management diploma at a posh college (or the two day course he did there), his expenses for underpants and wet wipes, his wife's salary for being...erm... his wife, his sick leave... The list goes on.

We have known too about the wasted money, the inefficiencies, the lies about sanction targets, the gross inefficiency of Atos, the computer programmes that don't work and the deadliness that have not even started to be met. We even know that Cameron tried to reshuffle him away from the DWP, and failed. 

That should tell us something!

But in the last few days we have heard that the DWP have invented characters and situations, and then used “stock pictures” to make posters that support the idea of a caring sharing DWP. 

People, they implied, were actually being helped by his department. 

Of course there aren't any real success stories so they have had to make them up. Of course it wasn't IDS. His officials are to carry the can. Whatever happened to the buck stopping here?

Then we heard that, having just made 3824 people redundant, they seem to have suddenly found a need for 2,800 new staff (which the unions claim are to do approximately the same jobs and the redundant staff, but on temporary contracts of 18 months).

That's just plain rotten. IDS wastes millions on computer soft wear that isn't worth diddly, and they make up the money by paying off staff, then taking on temps.

Additionally, they listen in to staff on the telephone and nit pick when they treat clients like human beings.

But worst of all, yesterday we were told that call centre staff have been sent a leaflet on how to deal with suicide threats from “customers”.

The article in the Sunday Herald, where I originally learned of this, suggested that most of these staff earn around £15,000. That is to say they are junior admin staff.

Dealing with people who are so distressed that they may be contemplating suicide is a job for a professional with a great deal of training in how to read the situation and respond to it. Getting it wrong can make a bad situation 100 times worse, and in this case, lead to deaths.

En passant a little story. I recall a colleague in a place I worked in many years ago, was sent on a “counselling” course. It lasted a mere 2 days, and upon her return to work aforesaid colleague thought she was the very dab at counselling.  

Indeed within days she had put her new-found “skills” to work. 

However, it seems that a two day course doesn't provide quite all the skills required to do this kind of work effectively in real life situations...and, long story short, the client got very disturbed. This upset provoked a relatively dormant (and unknown to the colleague) heart condition the client had… and an ambulance had to be called.

My colleague had had 2 days’ instruction in dealing with difficult situations complete with role playing exercises. The DWP staff are getting a leaflet to read, and wave in the air if they require supervisor support! I wonder what training the supervisors have had.

According to the  Guardian: "Absolutely nobody has ever seen this guidance before, leading staff to believe it has been put together ahead of the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance cuts."

Making a mess of the staffing levels relatively incompetent management; making up names and success stories is pathetic… but suicide counselling with no training is altogether another kettle of fish.

Firstly from the point of view of the staff it is utterly ridiculous to demand untrained junior staff deal with potential suicide threats as part of their call centre work. That’s WAY above the £15,000 pay band responsibility.  How traumatised is a member of staff going to be if the client ends the call with: "Right, that's it. You can bin my claim. I'm dead by 5 o'clock!"

From the client’s point of view it is nothing short of criminal to leave untrained staff to deal with them. If you are taking away the last vestige of their humanity and leaving them to starve, the least you could do is to provide someone with a bit more than a typed out instruction list to deal with them. Surely they deserve at least that.

Then again, when you consider that paramedics and nurses in Atos have been allowed to override diagnosis made by specialist and professors of medicine, who would really be surprised at how low IDS will stoop to save a bob or two, and who could doubt that he doesn't give a damn about the people who use his "service"?


  1. One gets the general impression that the politicos really, really don't care whether someone dies or not. Whether it is a client or a stressed out member of staff.

    We are numbers to these people, and unlucky numbers at that.

    It strikes me as ludicrous that they use an algorithm and time constraints as a means of dehumanising their victims.

    There is evil here. And that is a word I rarely use.

  2. I'd not be surprised if somewhere deep down they wouldn't be quite happy if what they consider to be drains on society did in fact die off.

    I'm sure that none of them voice it, but you can;t help thinking that people like IDS and Osborne, Patel and their ilk think it to themselves.

    I think they are evil. I wish they would go away and bother some other country adn that we could get in the kind of government that Iceland is lucky enough to have.

  3. I read yesterday, can't remember where, that I.D.S. had been invited by the local M.P. to re-visit Easterhouse. Apparently he knows all about Easterhouse having visited it once before.

    Personally I hope he takes up the invite. I can already see the locals in Easterhouse building the gallows ready for a one time only use in the hanging, drawing and quartering of said I.D.S. Hmm ... I seem to recall a certain other individual was once hung drawn and quartered now if only I could remember his name ...

    Nice to see I.D.S. is using the well worn and massively trusted Carmichael clause in terms of his excuses there Tris!

    Oh as if the sight of "it wisnae me wot wrote those posts" I.D.S. isn't enough here are a few articles about more folks *smiling* and *Laughing* as they march smartly into work ... oh wait a minute that's not quite right here is it?

    1. Heart breaking stories, Arbroath.

      I was listening to a report about the reopening of the brit Embassy in Teheran, and someone mentioned that there would be harsh words between the countries over human rights.

      I think I can now see why.

      No civilised nation would treat sick people like this.

  4. TBF I think he was right claiming for his underpants. After all if the words you say when DWP Secretary of State cause your pants to go on fire, it's a legitimate work expense!

    The Scottish government has produced a paper about JSA sanctions in Scotland. 26% of sanctions are applied to people with long term conditions or disability. Bear in mind many with disabilities are on JSA, but just because they have failed the work capability assessment but also because their conditions don't mean they are incapable on ANY work and thus would never qualify for ESA. However, can you imagine the difficulty of negotiating the system with severe dyslexia or making appointments at short notice when you have unstable diabetes or asthma.

    Still Better Together, pooling and sharing and all that.

    1. Thanks PP. That's a useful resource.

      I'm inclined to take a harsher view of IDS's undergarments. I say that he intentionally set his pants on fire by lying and therefore I believe that he should fund their replacements.

      He could reduce the cost considerably by telling the truth occasionally.

      As I understand it, sickness benefits, particularly Invalidity, or Incapacity Benefit, used to take into account the fact that few employers would be likely to wish to employ someone who had certain illnesses, on the basis that their condition would impair their ability to perform, or indeed that the job could make their condition worse.

      I've worked with people who simply couldn't understand forms that they were obliged to fill in. And I know that there are many who don't have computers at him. Some don't have phones, or wouldn't be able to work them if they did.

      But, as you say, fortunately we have Britain's broad shoulders to lean on.

  5. What a horrible sight it was to open this page today and get that ghastly creature's ugly mug right in my face! I can tell you I would have vomited but I hadn't even touched my cornflakes. But I did go green and bilious and had to leave the flakes untouched and go and sit in a darkened room for an hour.

    Please can we have a health warning before such sites are made public to protect children, animals and those of a weak disposition. Thank you!

    1. Now be fair Anon. The headline and initial illustration gave you plenty of notice that this was not a post for young, elderly or those with delicate stomachs.

      I mean what else can I do.....?

      Go and have a lie down and try to think of something pleasant to banish this awfulness from your mind.

      If you need to claim compensation for time off work, please write to Munguin's solicitors "Carter Ruck"

  6. IDS making sure bone idle underclass parasites might one day have to work for living instead of lounging around drinking 'Buckie' at the expense of the taxpayer .

    1. He might start that in the Commons, or better still the Lords.

  7. Tris

    I always think of myself as someone who tries not to hate, hate is a horrible destructive word and the cause of a lot of our problems all over the world but I think I actually hate that loathsome excuse for a human being IDS. History will not believe that we allowed scum like him to punish the most vulnerable in the most vile ways that are legal and that he convinced the deluded that it was for their own good. It's heartbreaking to see what is going in our country it really is, people are starving for f s. People are killing themselves, young people don't have enough money to even get the bus to college in Scotland because bursaries are so shit, people are forced to take workfare or jobs that pay so little they end up worse off and all in the name of austerity, austerity in this country means the 1% get more on the backs of the poor. The Liberal response to this is I get an email from Willie Rennie saying that the he has waited long enough for gender balance in selection for Lib Dems and wants all women short lists, f me, is that the priority right now for the Lib Dems. You can imagine the response he is getting from me this morning before I head off to work.

    IDS though, he would not have been out of place in Hitler's inner circle he is so low down the food chain. How can any politician and Liz kindle believe that any of this is right, is decent or honest. These fuckwits waste millions, pay themselves millions, ruin the lives of millions and they think this is right and we are letting it happen. Even the SNP are starting to not acknowledge mistakes like the VandA and that spells arrogance and complacency and that is not good for any of us. I don't want politicians to say sorry every two minutes but I want them to acknowledge they got it wrong, they made mistakes or just be honest from the f start. Whoever thought the VandA would come in at 40 million must have been a nutter. No, I am pissed off today and it has not even started yet, IDS, I hope he gets uncontrollable never ending diarrhea as he deserves no less. He is a stain on society and the sooner this plank is gone the better, I really really think I hate this man.

    Thanks for the opportunity to get pissed off first thing. :)


    1. I agree, hate is a negative emotion and never really gets you anywhere.

      On the other hand it is difficult to feel anything but hatred for this bloke and his team. I see her lost his unpalatable assistant McVile, but she was soon replaced by someone who has clearly spent years training in vileness, Patel.

      I saw Ken Guild on some news programme recently, more or less admitting that they had made a mess of the V&A costings, and that they now had a team put together which would monitor the whole thing very strictly.

      Now I think the waterfront is a brilliant thing but it is, over many years, going to cost billions. So why I might ask, was there not a team in place monitoring it all?

      Must do better Dundee.

      As for Willie and his women-only short list. I suspect that this is a knee jerk reaction to the criticism of the Lib-Dems over the removal of their one female MSP.

      There's no such thing as "positive" discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination. I disapprove of all-women short lists as I would of any other ALL ***** list.

      Yes, it's important that parliament, councils, etc, reflect the population, but once you start with this nonsense, where does it end?

      Should we be sure to have a balance of minority ethnic, disabled, gay, working class, middle class, upper class, public school, state school, single parent, ...blah....

      We should try to make it easy for people from all walks of life to put themselves forward, but the public must chose. Faced with an "all-anything" list, I'd probably not vote.

    2. Pleasure's mine. I can piss off mos people, even early in the morning, before most of the world is up!

  8. I have to assume these poor folk having to do ids's (I'll not capitalise that bastard, maybe capital punish him) dirty work are not allowed to be unionised. If they are not WTF is their union doing allowing their members to be subjected to these conditions.

    There was a time when unions could have put a stop to this.

    1. That's a good question. I remember that when I worked for the DWP the unions were pretty much useless.

      I also know that our mate John Brownlie was involved in public service unions, so if you;re reading John, what's your take on this.

      Off topic...did you get Mark Frankland's address? I posted it on here. I still have it if you missed it.

    2. I did email Mark but he didn't come back. I did buy the book though and another "Toxic" pure dead brilliant so they are.

    3. His email doesn't seem to work well. I emailed him and after several days of trying they couldn't deliver. I sent the food bank a wee gift, and the next day he wrote back thanking me, so it would't be like him to ignore mail.

      I have First Base's address here if you want it.

      His books are cracking reads.

    4. They are indeed, When funds allow, I'm going to buy the rest.

    5. Mere Anarchy is another one where the funds raised go to the food bank.Another great story.

  9. The unions are powerless since the fall of the Berlin wall !

    1. I don;t see the connection.

    2. They lived off bungs from the comrades for years ,remember Scargill's thugs

    3. Yes. I also remember Thatcher's thugs.

  10. The "man" is an absolute waste of space, and an evil lying git to boot.

    1. That's pretty much the nicest thing I've ever heard anyone say about him.


    2. I fekin hope not! (Smiley thing)

  11. Can I call him a 'Fascist pig' using the unemployed as guinea pigs in his social experiment of exterminating the helpless to satisfy the financial industry?

    If he got run over by a bus the driver should get the Nobel peace prize for the greater good of humanity.

    1. LOL.

      Yes, you can call him what you like.

      Not many people as repulsive to me as he is.

    2. I always said while driving my taxi round Edinburgh that if Maggie [milk stealer] appeared in front of me, I would forget where the brake was. With ids my right foot would become very very heavy.
      Reminds me, going up Leith Walk one evening I spotted Betty Windsor's convoy behind me, as luck would have the traffic lights went to red. I slammed on the brakes and stopped. Next thing siren going behind me police battering on window telling to shift "You've stopped the Queen". Naw, naw says I, if I go through a red light you'll book me. I thought this man was going to expire on the spot, I could see other police approaching and was thinking "Oh shit" but fortunately the lights changed so I pulled away. Last thing I heard was someone shouting "I'll get you, you cocky bastard", but I never heard any more about it. Oh, and the convoy did pass me when I pulled to pick up a fare.

      Oh, happy days.

    3. And if I saw you run him over, I'd suffer immediate amnesia and get on with my day.

      I'd have thought that the polis might have seen to it that the lights were fixed to give the Saxe Cobergs right of way. The trouble with crossing red lights is that people coming in the opposite direction may not be aware that such an eminence is coming and may drive on with their green light... which could have consequences.

      I'd not cross a red light, even if the First Minister was being kept waiting!

    4. Maybe that's why I heard no more about it. Apparently there had been an EU reception on the Britannia.

    5. Just surprised that the police would risk taking such a VIP across a red light. What would happen if a police car chasing a criminal was haring in the opposite direction and went straight into HM's car ?


    This is worth a read.

  13. I can speak from experience in a few areas in the article.

    I've suffered from depression, to the point of wanting to harm myself. When you are in that state of mind, you do not behave rationally, nor are you likely to listen to anyone unless they have been trained in counselling - something I've had some training in. It's hard to emphasise how bad you can feel, but act thinking you are behaving normally. Fortunately, I've managed to deal with my issues. Not everyone is so fortunate. And if you think you are doing well, something comes along which can upset everything, and the benefit stripping is a prime example.

    I've also got experience in call centre team management and analysis. I understand how call handling times work. But a supervisor is not always the best person to deal with customers (yes, they use that word) who are feeling suicidal. Better off having people specifically trained. Putting pressure on call centre staff to answer calls, and deal with them within a target time, needs to be balanced with calls that are difficult or complicated to deal with.

    Government minsters never, ever understand the realities of this, unless there are political ramifications that will target them personally. Although IDS seems to be an exception, since he is an arrogant "person". I'd use stronger language, but even Munguin's liberal approach to language might be stretched!