Welcome to JCP Feedback, an independent campaign brought to you by IncomeMAX CIC which aims to improve UK Jobcentre customer experiences and services.

We want people to share their Jobcentre feedback (good and bad), ideas, partnerships and new initiatives with the aim of helping DWP to improve Jobcentre customer experiences and services across the UK.

The campaign is completely independent and is not endorsed or funded by Jobcentre Plus or DWP. What we would ask therefore of any individual or organisation contributing is that feedback is honest and constructive, because this is about finding solutions to the issues faced by Jobcentre customers and kick-starting service improvements across all UK Jobcentres.

The campaign will centre around a Jobcentre Feedback Twitter page @jcpfeedback and this blog where you can comment at any time (comments are moderated) at www.incomemax.co.uk/jcpfeedback. You can also email feedback to jcpfeedback@hotmail.com

It is also important at this point to highlight that you will need to contact your Jobcentre / DWP where urgent action is required due to sanctions, hardship or where benefits have been stopped, or for making official complaints. 

Firstly, if you have had your JSA or ESA stopped or sanctioned please talk to your Jobcentre straight away. You may need to claim Hardship Payments or challenge a sanction decision for example. All Jobcentre staff including those you speak to on the telephone will have a superviser or line manager, so if you are unhappy with the customer experience or service you are receiving ask to speak to a Jobcentre Plus manager. Getting independent benefits advice can really help, so speak to your local Citizens Advice as well. Customer service complaints should also be addressed with your Jobcentre in the first instance. You can find the relevant Jobcentre telephone numbers you might need on the benefits letters you receive. .Gov.uk also has details for contacting Jobcentre Plus.

If you have been unable to resolve the issue with your Jobcentre, then the procedure for Jobcentre Plus complaints can be found on the .Gov.uk website.

So why have IncomeMAX started this campaign? As a national welfare benefits advice service we help many thousands of customers to navigate the complicated benefits system every year. We believe strongly that getting the right advice and support is key to helping people back into work and getting the help you need during difficult times, including unemployment, redundancy, ill health, disability, caring for a loved one, bereavement and retirement.

But there is evidence that the advice and support needs of Jobcentre customers are being overlooked. Instead, the primary focus for Jobcentre staff is nearly always the administration of benefit conditions and rules which in turn are leading to sanctions, benefit claim delays, incorrect/unclaimed benefits and claimant hardship.

This recent story, published in The New Statesman, in which IncomeMAX were quoted, raised concerns about Jobcentre customer experience and services and so my hope is that the article and this campaign can kick-start positive change and discussions on solutions which can really help Jobcentres to improve.

Now is the time. The introduction of Universal Credit (UC) will remove many of the the odd working hours rules that currently exist in the benefits and tax credit system. This will potentially be a great opportunity for many claimants to try work out for the first time. But UC also poses many challenges for claimants, including the prospect of having to budget monthly, increased working hours requirements for some client groups and direct rent payments which may leave some in debt if that money is spent before it gets to the landlord.

The major increase in sanctions over the last 2 years is also a major concern.

But it is also important to highlight that there are positive Jobcentre customer experiences as well. We know there are some amazing Jobcentre staff out there that care passionately about helping their customers. Many Jobcentres that we talk to are trying to improve services and are creating new partnerships and funding new initiatives and services. Many Jobcentres are looking to form partnerships with Local Authority services, charities, advice services, social enterprises and employment experts. It goes without saying that Jobcentres cannot improve without the capacity, resources and remit to change.

So this is designed to be a positive campaign, which aims to:

– enable discussions from all parties interested in Jobcentre improvement

– create links and partnerships

– help people share experiences and ideas for improvements

– help claimants get the advice and support they need, both now and in the future

- connect innovations, innovators and influencers

- influence government to take seriously the advice and support needs of Jobcentre service users

We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Best wishes

Lee Healey

IncomeMAX Managing Director

www.incomemax.org.uk