Stoke Benefits, the Saga Continues

I hear that Stoke-on-Trent City Council is recruiting fifteen benefit assessors. This comes only four months after they allowed around ten assessors to take voluntary redundancy. This is yet another demonstration of the incompetence for what passes for management at the Council these days. While I worked there, staff had been saying for two years that there were insufficient assessors to provide the service (see my earlier posts, especially How Consultants Ruined a Good Benefits Service in January 2013). So they make ten redundant, only to have to recruit again a few weeks later. You really couldn’t make it up.

If I was feeling charitable, I could say that they have at least seen their mistake and are trying to put it right. Better late than never, I suppose. However, this is not a job you can pick up in a couple of weeks: when Stoke bothered to provide proper training, it took a minimum of six months to train an assessor, and that was just for the basics.

Any charitable feelings I felt for the Council evaporated a long time ago. What this demonstrates is that the ruination of a good service that started over two years ago under one set of incompetent managers is continuing under another. It’s not just incompetence, it’s a significant corporate failure. Benefits provides a vital service, especially in such times as these, and the council have failed. They have failed their hard-working and under-paid staff, and they have failed the people of Stoke-on-Trent. Both deserve better.

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