DWP staff’s office antics are the worst of the lot

The DWP logo and Therese Coffey - a Universal Credit probe
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Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff have been exposed in the government’s Christmas parties scandal. And although the government claims they weren’t partying, the DWP’s actions are the most contemptible of them all. Because while they enjoyed themselves, the pandemic hit chronically ill people, disabled people, and people who rely on social security the hardest.

DWP staff: boozing away but ‘they weren’t parties’

The Sunday Mirror reported that DWP political staff and officials frequently drank alcohol after work until the early hours of the morning. They also ordered food to boss Thérèse Coffey’s office at the DWP. The Sunday Mirror said some of these evenings took place while hospitality and office parties were banned under coronavirus (Covid-19) regulations. On one occasion, Coffey also gave out presents to her team. A source told PA that desks in the office are socially distanced and there was “no party atmosphere going on”.

This comes amidst the furore over the Tory government repeatedly breaking its own coronavirus rules – something Downing Street denies. The Mirror, its Sunday version and ITV News have made numerous allegations about parties in government offices while the government forced restrictions on the rest of us. Most recently, late on Saturday 11 December, the Sunday Mirror revealed Boris Johnson hosted a quiz as part of a government office ‘do’:

Read on...

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The government has denied it broke any coronavirus rules. But it’s the DWP staff’s actions which are perhaps the worst of the lot. Because while they ate and drank late into the night, countless people who they make decisions for were suffering.

A pandemic of chaos

The pandemic put into sharp focus the state of the UK’s welfare system. For example:

  • The government did not increase so-called legacy benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) like it did Universal Credit. This affected around two million chronically ill and disabled people.
  • Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s autumn budget removed the Universal Credit £20-a-week uplift. This left millions of claimants worse off.
  • The DWP has already investigated twice as many claimant deaths in 2021 than in 2020; these are deaths where a claimant took their own life.

But ultimately, perhaps the biggest scandal of the pandemic was that 58% of coronavirus deaths were disabled people. This shows an abject failure by the government to protect those who were clinically vulnerable from coronavirus. And all this was going on while DWP staff drank alcohol at work and shared takeaways.

The DWP says…

A DWP spokesperson told PA:

Throughout the pandemic, DWP officials have followed Government guidance while continuing to deliver vital services for millions of people.

Staff worked from home where possible but a core team working directly to the Secretary of State regularly worked from the office, in accordance with the Covid-19 rules as they evolved.

The team regularly worked late into the evening and on a number of occasions they ate takeaway food and drank some alcohol. No karaoke took place.

Because ‘no karaoke’ makes it all OK, apparently.

Peak contempt

For years, the DWP and its staff have treated claimants with contempt and disregard. This led to a report by the UN which accused successive governments and the DWP of “grave” and “systematic” violations of chronically ill and disabled people’s human rights. The chair of the UN committee who did the report said they had created a “human catastrophe”.

It was only this week that Disability News Service (DNS) reported that the DWP has refused to publish a damning report. It found that despite years of reforms, the social security system was still failing to meet chronically ill and disabled people’s needs. And despite the report being “watered-down”, the DWP has failed to publish it.

Nothing changes

It seems that nothing changes in the DWP. Staff think it’s OK to booze while working. The fact they “drank some alcohol” and ate takeaways while countless claimants suffered sums up the contempt they have for the people they’re supposed to be working for: people who, for whatever reason, rely on them to deliver this country’s social security system. After so many chronically ill and disabled people died of coronavirus, the antics of DWP staff are perhaps the most twisted part of the whole government parties scandal.

Featured image via the Oxford Union – YouTube and Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. There is ONLY ONE Solution. A Democratic Socialist UK Labour Party Government, like we could have had in 2017 & 2019. Now we have a major dilemma, ‘LABOUR’ the brand is 95% Occupied by Thatcher/Blair’s Neoliberal Neo-New-Labour Party Parasite TORIES!
      They are the SAME Reagan/Thatcher flavour of Neoliberal TORY as the Conservative TORIES! Just look at their actions and historical words! They will promise you the earth for your vote but like Blair et al we’ll get nothing but their best TORY actions as they display almost daily!
      Our best hopes are to get the Neo-New-Labour Party Parasite TORIES OUT of their seats to open up and fill them with Democratic Socialists, but if we vote Brand ‘LABOUR’ for namesake, we end up with TWO EQUALLY EVIL NEOLIBRAL TORY PARTIES! Much like The USA since Clinton. We will also enter the Eternal Merry-Go-Round from Hell with no getting off.
      Voting SO CALLED “LABOUR” is probably the worst thing to do right now, not only are they more wicked than the Conservative TORIES, but we need to think and vote tactically, so that we can fill their seats with Democratic Socialists. Pretending that they stand FOR The PEOPLE will not make it so!
      “Labour for the Upper Middle Class and must forget about the ” UNDESERVING POOR!” Mattinson
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      We will be tougher on benefit claimants than the Tories” “Labour is for working people not people out of work” Reeves
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    2. I am just wondering how I can get put into prison, because right now it would be preferable to having to struggle to manage all the bills and food on less than the old age pension per week.
      At 64 can someone suggest a suitable crime which would get me the two years I need to get to my adjusted retirement age of 66 instead of the 60 yrs of age I was promised when I was working for countless years.
      I apologise for having broken so many bones due to severe Osteoporosis, but an admin error has occurred which has robbed me of both my PIP and severe disability payment.
      Please can you suggest only crimes that can be committed by a wheelchair user.
      Thank you very much for your help xxx

      1. Even in ironic jest, don’t even think about it. This veteran of HMP in England and Scotland knows that life inside is worse in very possible way. If you rent your home, you will likely lose it. You might lose your friends and family who will be too ashamed to visit. Healthcare in prisons is much worse than in the community. Afterwards, your life will have been damaged perhaps beyond repair. As for the increase in retirement age, whatever you were promised, you have attained equality with men.

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