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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Disability benefits  →  Thread

Culture of Contempt?

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Stainsby
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Welfare Rights Adviser, Plumstead Community Law Centre

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I have uploaded part of the DWP response to a PIP appeal by one of my clients

You may well recognise the usual cut and paste, but this one might inadvertently expose a canteen culture of contempt among many decision makers at the DWP

I don’t know how this particular submission writer thinks they can get away with calling a claimant a “lying bitch”

      [ Edited: 19 Mar 2019 at 04:44 pm by Stainsby ]

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Jo_Smith
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Citizens Advice Hillingdon

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No apostrophe in lying bitch’s neither. The utter so and so. And what exactly is the “middle rate carers allowance”.
Joking aside- clear and unequivocal sign of rotting carcass of DWP being ridden by malicious, uneducated, bitter pencil pushers.

     
Andy G
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OMG that is truly shocking, even by DWP standards. Are you going to forward this to media outlets?

     
Stainsby
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We will most likely be taking it up with my client’s MP ( note the apostrophe)

      [ Edited: 20 Mar 2019 at 01:56 pm by Stainsby ]
ub40worker
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That’s the worst thing I have seen. This decision maker is looking at a disciplinary at the least….

     
past caring
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Obviously intended as an internal joke that was supposed to be edited out before being sent out, but instructive as to the true mindset, particularly as this was clearly meant to be shared with and approved of by colleagues.

Am wondering whether, from a tactical point of view, it might be worth managing any complaint so as to ensure the submission in its current form gets before an FtT?

     
HB Anorak
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Submission writer possibly the victim of a colleague’s prank?  Get up to make cup of coffee. come back and finish document without checking back

     
ClairemHodgson
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HB Anorak - 19 March 2019 06:48 PM

Submission writer possibly the victim of a colleague’s prank?  Get up to make cup of coffee. come back and finish document without checking back

you feeling charitable?  but in any event, doesn’t say much for the colleague or the ethos in the relevant department

i dunno, i might feel evil enough to appeal with the papers as they are ....

that is truly awful, the person who wrote it should be sacked fairly promptly?

     
Mike Hughes
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I have actually seen similar (different but equally offensive word on one occasion and same word on another) twice albeit quite some time ago. One was a sub from the PS and one from the CAU.

Having visited (and toured) the local Pension Centre repeatedly around that time notably over issues with implied consent I had no difficulty seeing the subs as a direct reflection of the office culture rather than a prank. In both cases the client had noted it and was appalled. In both cases I elected to proceed with the appeal as it stood; win the appeal and then lodge a complaint afterwards. Obviously I was not party to the outcome but it was made clear that it was taken seriously; was not a prank and appropriate disciplinary action had been taken. Bear in mind that it was easy enough for me to identify who put the sub together as they were named in the papers. I never saw their name again but I wouldn’t infer anything either way from that.

Both tribunals were equally appalled but, rightly, focused on the facts of the case albeit that the credibility of their case was damaged irretrievably. My recall (we’re going back close to a decade ago here) was that one case had a PO and one did not. The one with the PO was priceless. They had clearly picked up the papers that day as part of their “I’ve only got one case I’ve been told to represent on but it’s Friday so I’m going to stay here; pick up the odd case and do the crossword” strategy. I’m awful on eye contact/body language but even I could see them casually flicking through the papers at the outset and the sudden freeze when they spotted it. A moment of deep joy.

     
Mr Finch
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It would be absolutely wrong in any event, but it’s especially wrong when they’re not even discussing any evidence of lying, just the usual car driving and carer’s allowance. I did some experiments (in a safe place off road) recently and discovered I can steer my car with one finger, and can brake with my ankle only. Who’s the one lying here?

     
nevip
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It’s a clear breach of the civil service code, practical joke or not.

     
John Birks
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Hmmm.

I think cognitive bias may be arguable.

     
Vonny
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I did some experiments (in a safe place off road) recently and discovered I can steer my car with one finger, and can brake with my ankle only. Who’s the one lying here?

What is the point of motability if disabled people cannot drive?

     
Pete at CAB
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past caring - 19 March 2019 05:38 PM

Obviously intended as an internal joke that was supposed to be edited out before being sent out, but instructive as to the true mindset, particularly as this was clearly meant to be shared with and approved of by colleagues.

Am wondering whether, from a tactical point of view, it might be worth managing any complaint so as to ensure the submission in its current form gets before an FtT?

If your client has been sent the DWP’s response then I’m pretty sure that a copy has already gone to HMC&TS; for circulation to the Tribunal members so it may be too late for the SoS to recall it. I don’t think that this would have any effect on the HCP report which the Tribunal could most likely still consider but it could put a different light on the conclusions that the SoS drew from it as the SoS is very obviously prejudiced against the appellant

     
past caring
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That is true. However, for reasons similar to those suggested by Mike further up the thread, I would be tempted to hang fire on any complaint until after the tribunal hearing. It is just conceivable that a complaint could lead to a revision before appeal which gives the client some, but not all, she wants - and then a further submission on that revised decision.

As Mike says, the tribunal will in any event focus on the entitlement issues and the evidence and - at least in terms of what it says in its decision on the appeal and reasons for it - ignore what is said by the submission writer. However, the DWP has opened the door here, so that it becomes entirely legitimate to point out to the tribunal;

- an allegation of dishonesty is a serious matter, particularly when made by the Secretary of State against a member of the public

- such an allegation is even more serious when made in the course of legal proceedings

- where there is absolutely no evidence to support such allegations, it is only right that the Secretary of State’s whole approach to the issue of this claimant’s entitlement should be called into question. She certainly cannot be considered to have adopted the correct approach, that is, of being a friend to the tribunal.

- that such a statement - even if it is one that was never meant to make it into the final submission - surely points to an entirely rotten culture amongst decision makers.

I’d not labour these points (they are not going to be central to winning the appeal) but I would make them. The tribunal will remember them and will bear them in mind - in this and other appeals. And that last thing is important.

     
John Birks
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