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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

DWP levels up the gobbledygook

Paul Stockton
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Epping Forest CAB

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A couple of news items in the last few days suggests that DWP announcements are rising to new heights of obscurity. The first from the Permanent Secretary:
https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/dwp-to-consider-how-it-could-improve-its-telephone-line-for-people-in-receipt-of-letters-from-its-debt-management-service

It would now seem that what we used to call “benefits” are now called “product lines”.

And this from the DWP Minister in the House of Lords:

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/dwp-confirms-it-is-continuing-to-explore-how-blockchain-technologies-could-be-used-to-issue-welfare-benefit-payments

I can only wonder if anyone in the House of Lords, including the Minister, has any idea what this means.

Personally I’d have thought the UC technology provides quite enough disruption.

Ianb
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Macmillan benefits team, Citizens Advice Bristol

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Paul Stockton - 21 January 2022 12:37 PM

It would now seem that what we used to call “benefits” are now called “product lines”.

They’ve been doing that for a while = claimant as objects on a factory conveyor belt.

Benny Fitzpatrick
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I have long suspected that DWP management are required to attend training on “non-communication”. (The process of perverting the English Language to the extent that it can no longer function as a transmitter of information.)

Professor Stanley Unwin would have loved it!

nevip
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The DWP (and it’s not alone) has obviously fallen in love with this.

http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/gobbledygook-generator.html

Stainsby
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Am I the only one who cannot abide the use of the word ” customer” in the context of welfare rights and claiming benefits?

Benny Fitzpatrick
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Stainsby - 25 January 2022 09:55 AM

Am I the only one who cannot abide the use of the word ” customer” in the context of welfare rights and claiming benefits?

I always thought the word “customer” implied some sort of choice. It also implies someone to be treated with respect, which DWP are not particularly good at.

What was wrong with “claimant”?

nevip
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Stainsby - 25 January 2022 09:55 AM

Am I the only one who cannot abide the use of the word ” customer” in the context of welfare rights and claiming benefits?

Nope!

Paul Stockton
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I guess the use of terms like “customer” and “product line” is meant to instil the idea in staff and claimants that DWP is just like a supermarket. But as far as I know no supermarket requires you to fill in a form before you are allowed to shop there, bans you from shopping if you don’t return the form on time, and reviews your right to shop there every 3 years.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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nevip - 25 January 2022 10:06 AM
Stainsby - 25 January 2022 09:55 AM

Am I the only one who cannot abide the use of the word ” customer” in the context of welfare rights and claiming benefits?

Nope!

I’ll second that ‘Nope’!!!!!!!!!!

Sadly, these ‘words’ and ‘jargon’ / gobblywobblyisms i.e. dehumanising corporate language have been adopted by some sections of the advocacy World too….............

juliem
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Paul Stockton - 25 January 2022 10:10 AM

I guess the use of terms like “customer” and “product line” is meant to instil the idea in staff and claimants that DWP is just like a supermarket. But as far as I know no supermarket requires you to fill in a form before you are allowed to shop there, bans you from shopping if you don’t return the form on time, and reviews your right to shop there every 3 years.

And supermarkets have protection against defective goods, which is generally speedily sorted out. DWP now frequently operates more like Del Boy.

Benny Fitzpatrick
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Supermarket staff don’t treat their customers like second class citizens either.

I guess supermarkets weren’t deliberately designed by IDS to be “punitive”.

Peter Turville
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The customer service course for DWP staff clearly doesn’t cover the maxim ‘the customer is always right’.

I recall DWP started to use the term ‘customer’ instead of ‘claimant’ back in the day when they wanted to appear to be ‘upping their game’ in respect of service to claimants - was that as far back as when many benefits were still administered via local offices or at the time of re-branding to the Benefits Agency (complete with bank/building society style staff uniforms)?. Presumably the DWP paid consultants a shed load of cash to come up with the ‘customer’ bull?

My retort to DWP/HMRC/LA when they trot out the ‘customer’ rhetoric is to ask them to explain how a ‘customer’ can shop around and make their claim at X supermarket rather than via their service.

Dan Manville
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Stainsby - 25 January 2022 09:55 AM

Am I the only one who cannot abide the use of the word ” customer” in the context of welfare rights and claiming benefits?

It’s particularly egregious in UC where each claim is a “contract” with the claimant.

Mike Hughes
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Benny Fitzpatrick - 25 January 2022 11:23 AM

Supermarket staff don’t treat their customers like second class citizens either.

I think there’s probably a whole other discussion to be had on that assertion.

They were only too happy to lean into government guidance on prioritizing the newly invented category of “vulnerable” when it came to allocating parking spaces; slots to shop safely or shop online from the first lockdown onwards. Anyone who had EA 10 protection suddenly found it didn’t exist and there was no complaint route bar the media. Disabled “customers” were very much treated like second class citizens.

Don’t even get me started on supermarket accessibility :)

Ianb
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And now we haver the punitive sanctions policy to be applied after 4 weeks for jobseekers if they don’t look for any work dressed up as

‘Way to Work is a step change in our offer”. Step-change and offer have both raised my hackles (leaving aside the policy itself which is not only punitive but bad policy).

https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/welfare-rights/news/item/universal-credit-claimants-to-be-required-to-widen-their-job-search-outside-of-their-preferred-sector-after-just-four-weeks-of-jobseeking-or-face-sanctions-if-they-fail-to-comply