Report into welfare reform finds that DWP staff lack empathy
- 09 Jul
A report by Citizens Advice Cymru has found that the Department of Work and Pensions' staff lack empathy and communicate poorly with claimants hit by welfare reforms.
The report, One day at a time, is based on evidence from across the bureaux network in Wales.
It says in the section about the awareness of benefit changes: "The DWP in particular came in for significant criticism in the manner they communicated with claimants, especially by some participants living with a disability or long-term health condition. A perceived lack of empathy from frontline staff and generic letters were amongst the issues raised. Many believed more could be done to ensure frontline staff have a better understanding of some of the issues people are facing," reports Inside Housing.
The reports recommends that the DWP and Jobcentre Plus should avoid using generic letters and improve the communication between themselves and housing associations.
Fran Targett, director of Citizens Advice Cymru, said unless additional support is given to help people cope with welfare reform it'll be ‘costly' down the line.
"The research highlights that the reduction in income caused by the benefit changes is hitting people that are already on a low income very hard. The impact it is having on peoples mental and physical health is particularly worrying. Unless people receive the support they need early on to help them manage these benefit changes, it will likely lead to more costly interventions down the line, putting additional pressures on health and social care services which are already under considerable strain."
Jeff Cuthbert, minister for communities and tackling poverty, said: "We believe that responsible reform should be delivered alongside the right help for those that need it and protection for those at greatest risk."
A DWP spokesman said: "The benefits system this government inherited was broken, trapping the very people it was designed to help into cycles of worklessness and welfare dependency. Our welfare reforms will transform the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with universal credit making three million households better off and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. We continue to spend around £94bn a year on working age benefits to provide a safety net for millions of people on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs."
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Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "Sincere thanks to Michael Patterson for an excellent presentation on the HB Reform issues in Leeds last week, and for all the very helpful info and links. I do intend to respond on behalf of our organisation, Caring For Life, but feel that Support Solutions' response is excellent." E.S. - Caring for Life