Thursday, 19 July 2012

Letter Reply On Job Centre Plus Bad Service

I have now received a reply from the Department of Work and Pensions which was sent to my local MP Andrew Rosindell, after Andrew Rosindell MP contacted Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State, on my behalf regarding my DWP and JCP complaints. The response from the DWP is not from Ian Duncan Smith himself though, but Elaine Benn, Head of Continuous Improvement Division, as she was asked by the Secretary of State to respond. Below is the letter received, I have added in brackets my comments to point out the things that Elaine Benn has wrongly suggested, all writing in brackets is me, you can let me know what you think of her response, I know I'm not exactly satisfied with it!

Dear M.r Rosindell,
Thank you for your letter of 1 May to the Secretary of State about M.r Ben Stuart (personal details edited out!) and his experiences (one way to put it) at Romford Jobcentre. I have been asked to reply.
I am sorry to hear that M.r Stuart is unhappy with the service he has received. We telephoned him on 15, 21 and 28 May to discuss his concerns but were unable to speak with him. (That's because I never received the calls!)
On 16 February we arranged to discuss the Work Programme with M.r Stuart at his next appointment on 28 February (After I had asked them time and time again, over the weeks, about the course). M.r Stuart contacted us on 27 February to say he had a job interview with Specsavers (True) on the morning of 28 February (Also true). We therefore rearranged the appointment for a later time in the day but M.r Stuart failed to attend. (Actually M.r Stuart did not fail to attend as M.r Stuart went to where the Job Centre Plus is located where I was due an interview, walked through the doors, queued up to alert reception staff that I was here, went into the waiting area, when I was called over for my interview I had said interview, then I left the building. Call me old fashioned but I don't call that failing to attend. Furthermore all the staff who met with me that day could verify my visit. I had arranged a time for the interview and attended the time given to me, and I explained about the time change to the advisor I saw who accepted my reasons, so I have no idea what Elaine is talking about here). M.r Stuart did attend on 1 March and we undertook his fortnightly job search review (in other words they did the usual routine of not a lot really) and asked him to come back on the 2 March to discuss the Work Programme. As M.r Stuart did not attend this appointment and did not contact us within five days (I did contact them within five days), we closed his claim. We checked our records and can find no record that M.r Stuart telephoned us (I promise you I did, no wonder their are so many mistakes made if they wrongly record who's rang them and who hasn't).
I believe that we have taken every opportuni ty to accommodate M.r Stuart's requests to rearrange appointments (huh!) and at no time have we told him that he cannot attend job interviews (they did, a lot). We have been fully supportive of his efforts to find work ( you haven't) and, as a result, I believe it is acceptable for us to expect him to attend appointments at his Jobcentre  (which I had been making every effort to, despite JCP's unreasonable attitude around them) within a reasonable (huh! reasonable at JCP!) timeframe.
Nicole Mercer, Manager at Romford Jobcentre, wrote to M.r Stuart on 30 March and fully (I wouldn't say fully) explained why we stopped his claim (which was for the wrong reasons, note she has still not mentioned their mistake). I note that we have attempted to begin three rapid reclaims for Job Seekers but on each occasion he has failed to attend the required appointment ( after I found out at the time what rapid reclaim would mean I had good reason why it would not be a good option for me, that was explained to them many times, she has neglected to mention this, so I cancelled the first one, why they started three rapid reclaims up is beyond me). As a result M.r Stuart has not received JSA since 1 March. If M.r Stuart wishes to claim JSA and any arrears that he may be due, (£748.03 but hey who's counting) I urge him to claim online at or to call us on (if you can get through to anyone on the phone before money stops existing) 0800 556688. If M.r Stuart claims JSA again, I strongly advise him to attend any future appointments we arrange or have rearranged for him (if M.r Stuart claims JSA again, I strongly advise staff to not keep saying customers did not attend appointments they arranged or have rearranged when they did in fact attend them). We also tried to arrange a meeting with M.r Stuart on 23 May (after said M.r Stuart pressed you for weeks, verging on months to do so, after a selection of staff members at JCP Romford phoneline,delayed the meeting taking place in a variety of ways) to resolve his concerns but he contacted us to cancel this meeting ( one I had to as a financial matter I had to sort out caused by the Job Centre Plus stopping the benefits) and we have been unable to book a further appointment convenient to him (that's strange, why not, as at the time I gave them many chances for booking a slot, loads, they had a wide range to choose from, and I kept trying to remind them to call me when they had a time available. I was ready, just waiting for them. Elaine seems to not have mentioned any of this, nor how they kept cancelling appointments). We would of course still be happy to discuss the issues M.r Stuart raises (good, that 3,500 page letter will be on it's way) and talk about what we can do further to support his search for work (Further? But that implies you already did support my search for work). M.r Stuart raises a question about what would happen to a single mother who had experienced the same issues as him. I can confirm that we tailor our service to support the needs of the individual jobseekers. (I can confirm you often don't). We are happy to make a number of adjustments to accommodate the unique circumstances of each claimant, such as allowing them to look for jobs that have fewer hours per week or changing the time that they have to attend the Jobcentre to enable them to pick up their children from school.
If M.r Stuart requires further information (no thanks, I'm alright, seeing as much of the 'information' you provided in this letter is untrue anyway), Nicole will be happy to help on 01708 774232 (if you enjoy waiting for 6 hours to be connected) or by post at Romford Jobcentre, 30 Main Road, Romford RM1 3HH (if I posted a message to them every time I had a complaint then I'd need £1,000 worth of stamps please).
If M.r Stuart is not satisfied with the action taken by DWP (of course I'm not satisfied with it), he can contact the Independent Case Examiner within six months of the date of this letter. ICE offers a free, impartial resolution service but does not consider matters of law or government policy, ICE can be contacted by telephone (0845 606 0777), in writing (The Independent Case Examiner, Jupiter Drive, Chester, CH70 8DR), or by e-mail ( Full details are available on the ICE website at
Yours sincerely,
Elaine Benn
Head of Continuous Improvement Division

And that's the letter from Elaine Benn

Next it's ICE

After I received my underwhelming reply from Elaine Benn, she noted that if I'm unhappy with the response to my complaints from the Department of Work and Pensions, then I could contact the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). This was something I did plan to do. I wanted to also try various organisations that are independent from the government, in particular the DWP departments (including Job Centre Plus).
If you have complaints and issues your trying to resolve with DWP or JCP, you could try ICE. ICE was set up in 1997 and is meant to offer a free, impartial resolution service, but does not consider matters of law or government policy, as our friend Elaine mentioned.
Here are ICE's contact details:

Phone: 0845 606 0777
Write: The Independent Case Examiner, Jupiter Drive, Chester, CH70, 8DR
If you'd like more details on ICE from their official website it's:

Notice something in that e-mail address of theirs? Theirs a '.gov' in their, which means this organisation, which was set up to give an impartial resolution service but does not consider matters of law or government policy, is part of the government. Hmm. I hope they do stay impartial, but I can completely understand people's concerns I've read on other websites about ICE, such as if the DWP actually advice ICE on what to say to those who have contacted them about issues with the DWP, when they have these links to the DWP and the government in general. Also, note that it was ICE Elaine picked to mention.
On my letter from Elaine Been it say's that to receive this service from ICE, I must contact ICE within six months of the date of the letter, which I'd like to point out is a bit of a cheek really. Why do certain organisations think we should have a limited time to complain about something, then if we don't do it in that time,  the complaint should be forgotten, doesn't work like that, shouldn’t work like that.  I'll let you know how I find ICE's services after I've contacted them and if Elaine Benn or anyone else gets back to me in reply to my latest letter (the reply to the one I just printed in this post for you. It's an eight page letter reply, I thought maybe with more volume she might take the hint about my dissatisfaction with her reply, and actually give me a reply on the right lines, including without the way she neglected to mention the JCP and DWP's mistakes, and making out various things that were not true. Then again she might not, and the Job Centre Plus/Department of Work and Pensions dissatisfaction saga will continue. How comes in TV soaps they never have these kinds of problems.


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