More thoughts on the benefits system
September 23, 2010
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Having had some time to seethe (and get everything sorted out – eventually), I am thinking that the way the welfare system currently works (sorry, ‘works’) is designed to inculcate a sense of powerlessness in the people using it. Barriers are set up at every turn – you can’t speak to the people you want to without going through a central call centre first, you don’t get a say in when you have to go in to sign the paperwork (or if you do, you have to spend two hours going through the damn call centre first), you’re given incorrect or misleading information on what is already a hugely confusing system, all the easy things are simplified to the Nth degree while the complicated bits are wrapped in so much jargon, but you feel like an idiot having to ask what’s going on after so much else has been patronising beyond belief.
I’m reminded of my experiences with Choose and Book. Something that should be simple – booking a hospital appointment, applying for welfare – has been processed and chopped up and separated so you don’t know where you’re supposed to be, who you’re supposed to talk to, or even what to ask when you find them. If you ever find them. Initiative is not encouraged, they seem to want you to passively wait for them to send you a letter, for them to call you, for them to tell you what to do.
No wonder people end up there forever, demoralised.